Back in October, at the openSUSE Conference, many people were interested in the whole app store/market place/software center topic for openSUSE: we had a session about that, and several hallway discussion. There is no big surprise here, since it's a hot topic for various OS distributors, and not just our free distributions. Of course, being lazy people, we discussed what we could re-use to minimize our work; the software center used in Ubuntu and the app-install work that Richard did a while ago came to our minds.

And then we thought: Hrm, why do this in our corner? Everybody is doing this in a corner. Let's see if we can work together!

Obvious idea, right? But on the other hand, everybody is generally all for collaboration, but when it comes to do the work, it's easier to hack in a corner. So we didn't exactly know what to expect: is this something that can really happen, or is this just a blue-sky dream? I decided to give it a try.

In the past couple of months, I chatted with people from various distributions to organize a cross-distribution meeting. I first talked to Michael (Ubuntu), and Richard (Fedora) who were both enthusiastic about the idea. I met Stefano (Debian) at an event in Toulouse, and we had a great chat about many topics; that lead me to ask him if we could help find some Debian people interested in this. I discussed with Michael (Mageia) to find out the relevant people in Mageia, and a few people were interested in the topic. And of course, I knew the right openSUSE people ;-) So after a few weeks, it turned out there was great interest from Debian, Fedora, Mageia, openSUSE and Ubuntu, with people willing to attend such a meeting. I then sent out a mail to distributions@fd.o, to open this up to other distributions.

Fast-forward a bit, and here we are today: I'm flying to Nuremberg in a few hours to attend this cross-distro meeting on application installer, that will occur in the next three days with a group of 14 people. The goals are to see where and how we can work together on the end-user experience as well as on the application metadata that we want to provide. It might all sound easy, but the fact is that with all distributions building its own packages, on its own infrastructure, with different metadata and different users who could create more metadata, we're currently not set to share anything, which is a shame. This meeting will help us decide where we can mutualize our efforts to provide the best end-user experience possible for everyone.

Three days is a short time for a topic like this, and we obviously won't do everything we'd love to. But I'm optimistic about the result :-)

Thanks to Novell for hosting and sponsoring a few attendees, to Canonical and Red Hat for sending people on their own budget, to Debian for helping sponsoring a last-minute attendee, and also to some attendees who didn't need sponsorship at all!