Recently, I contacted Keivan Beigi to know his thoughts and comments on some topics related to open source and Windows ecosystem. For the uninitiated, his AppGet package manager came into the news after Microsoft announced the native Windows Package Manager WinGet at Build 2020.
It was known that Redmond adopted some core features from AppGet but failed to give him due credit. Microsoft came forward to fix the situation after the developer wrote a blog post, which was reported by several media outlets.
Based out of Canada, Keivan Beigi has years of experience working on open-source technologies. In addition to AppGet, he has developed Sonarr – an app to download multimedia content from the BitTorrent network. Currently, he is working as the head of technology at cryptocurrency trading startup MottoWealth.
Just like many of us, Keivan is also spending most of his time at home “reading a lot and catching up on some TV Shows (Better Call Saul, Bosch, etc).” So, I thought it would be a great time to have a chat with the developer.
“I’ve also been working on repairing around 24 old MacBooks that I’m about to donate to a local school,” Keivan told Fossbytes.
Below are the questions and responses that were part of our interaction. We have taken the liberty to edit parts of it for formatting purposes but the views and opinions are of the developer.
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Interview with Keivan Beigi
What inspired you to create AppGet? Please tell us about the journey of building your own package manager for Windows.
Keivan wrote in a previous blog post that he was very excited when he first heard about the package manager Chocolatey. But his enthusiasm faded after noticing some issues with Chocolatey such as the package maintenance workflow and lack of a proper package review process.
I’ve always liked the way Linux and Mac had a way to easily install apps without going through the dance of googling for an app downloading and going through the repetitive install wizard.
There was also me overlooking people searching for apps; going to some malware-infected website and downloading god knows what.
I’ve had some experience with workings of apt and Homebrew since I needed to create a package for Sonarr (another project me and a friend started).
At the end I knew we could do better, I also thought I had some ideas on how to make it easier and more secure for everyone involved.
What are the other projects you are working on these days?
There are two I’m working on,
One will be a complementary project to Plex (Which I used to work for) and Sonarr (Which I started). The idea is to have a nice UI that would transcode/remux all your Movie/TV shows so your devices could direct play them all without transcoding and buffering. It’ll also allow you to delete audio tracks and subtitles you don’t need to save you some storage space. Plex lets you do something similar to this, but it’s super basic and has a lot of room to be improved.
The other one I can’t share yet, but it’ll be a SaaS product.
In recent years, Microsoft has been more inclined towards a graphics-rich app experience, for example, by offering Microsoft Store with single-click app installation and automatic background updates. How do you think the Windows Package Manager fits in for the general users?
Actually AppGet had this feature pretty early on. You can still use it, once you had the AppGet client installed you could go to its website find an app and click the install button right from the website. (I was pretty proud of that)
As far as how important I think it is, I think it’s pretty critical. As I mentioned before one of the reasons I created AppGet was to protect less tech-savvy users from malware. If you could go to a single trusted source to get all your apps without having to worry about a bunch of ads masquerading as “Download Now” buttons everyone on the internet would be much safer.
Many developers start open-source projects as a hobby and use a license to protect and distribute their work. But what if, as in your case as well, the core concept is adopted without due credits or compensation? Does it discourage open-source developers? What’s your take on this?
Spend a bit of time understanding the licence you pick and its implications. I was fully aware of what licence I was picking and its implications, and I don’t regret it either. I think there is a positive trend happening in the OpenSource community where many popular projects (eg. Cockroach DB, Sentry, Redis, MariaDB, etc) are relicensing as Business Source License where a user could self host the project for free but if a company like Amazon, Microsoft, etc wanted to sell their software as SaaS they wouldn’t be allowed to. I really like this approach and I think we are headed in a good direction.
What do you think about Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) and Microsoft’s move of fusing Linux into Windows 10? Do you think it will impact the traditional Linux-based operating systems in some way?
I think it’s a fantastic move from Microsoft. I’m pretty sure they noticed they are leaking developers to Mac like the Titanic. Thanks to git most developers were running a franken-build of Unix utils through MinGW anyway so the developer’s need/will was there. As far as solutions go this is bang on (whoever came up with this idea should get a huge raise). To be fair the initial releases were pretty bad and had a bunch of deal breakers but it’s getting better with each release.
Microsoft is trying to add more of Linux into Windows as we speak, and now that includes a full-blown Linux kernel as well. While the move is helpful for many developers, do you think it will bite the already limited user base of desktop Linux in the long run or anything else, as people would find all the stuff in one place?
I don’t think WSL is going to persuade a significant number of people to switch from Linux to Windows; But it has the potential to lower the number of devs that are migrating away from Windows to Mac or Linux. I’m sure there will be cases where a developer had contemplated switching to Linux to have a better dev experience, and now they can have the same experience in Windows, without having to give up any of their other apps (Office, games, Adobe Suite, etc). But then again, the most common reason I hear for people moving away from Windows is privacy or other ideological reasons which WSL doesn’t address.
Contrary to its older image, Microsoft seems to have developed a special liking towards open-source software in the past few years? What’s your take on this? Has the company been successful in changing its image?
Yes and no. It’s definitely better than it was in the 90s/2000s. But there are always people that bring up EEE etc. For the sake of our industry, I hope they have really changed and it’s not all just for show. Most things sign to them being good players (VS Code, TypeScript, .Net Core), etc., but then you get an episode like AppGet and you wonder.
What are your views on open-sourcing Windows? A campaign was started by the Free Software Foundation, asking Microsoft to open-source Windows 7. So, if not Windows 10, should Microsoft go ahead and open up the older versions, at least?
Crazy idea. Won’t ever happen (watch me eat my words in a year). Oh boy, let’s talk about the FSF Campaign. Someone should tell the fine folks at FSF; if you want someone to do something for you, especially something that they really don’t have to; don’t start by bad-mouthing them; regardless of how true you think the statements are, e.g. “Bringing an end to its updates as well as its ten years of poisoning education, invading privacy, and threatening user security.” That will persuade them for sure!
Also, maybe don’t sound so entitled? “We demand that Windows 7 be released as free software.” At the end of the day it’s their software.
Also, I’m pretty sure there are tons of non-Microsoft code embedded into Windows that would just make the idea a non-starter.
What operating system do you prefer as your daily driver? If you were to add some features to Windows 10, what would they be?
Windows 10 is still my daily driver, every once in awhile I tip my toe in the Linux world to see what’s happening there, next one on my list is Pop!_OS (based on Ubuntu). I had tried using a Mac/OSX while I was working at Plex, but couldn’t get used to the window management.
I use a Pixel/Android as my Mobile/OS and iPad (pretty much forced since no-one else makes a decent tablet). I’m not sure what I would add, but I for sure would remove all the bloatware that comes with Windows 10, Candy Crush? Seriously?
So, this was my interaction with AppGet developer Keivan Beigi. If you want to know more about Keivan’s projects you can go to his personal blog.
If you want to read more of such interactions, you might be interested in reading the experiences shared by Red Hat CEO Paul Cormier.