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Novell is considering making a one-click "open-source app store" for its upcoming Moblin-based OS for netbooks. The scheme is intended as a selling point for average users largely unfamiliar with free software alternatives outside a Microsoft platform.

According to PC Pro, Novell believes baking an open-source software repository into the SUSE edition of Moblin will help sway more netbook users to uncheck the Windows option when buying their small, cheap computer.

With everyday PC owners now comfortable with the idea of an app store (largely courtesy iTunes), the platform could educate the masses about the benefits of open source, Novell asserts.

"Unlike the other stores though, they won't have to pay for any of those applications, which will be very attractive," Holger Dyroff, Novell's veep of business development told PC Pro.

"It's a new way of marketing open source," he said.

The benefit to Novell of such a store, given the company's plans, would be completely indirect if the software is intended to be free. And that means Novell would need to advertise the hell out the feature if it's aiming at the average PC user. Those who are unaware of Linux in the first place aren't going to know about its app store by world-of-mouth alone.

And as for those already tuned into the Linux scene, there's already plenty of places to get open-source applications like SourceForge and Code Haus.

It's a worthy plan, but aping Apple's application platform doesn't necessarily spell success. Apple got to where it is today by being backed with intensive marketing. And that angle has historically been open-source software's Achilles' heel. ®

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