Linked by David Adams on Tue 27th Jul 2010 07:35 UTC, submitted by sjvn
Linux Some people hate the idea of adding proprietary software to their desktop Linux. For these people, there are Linux distributions such as gNewSense that use only free software. For the rest of us, who use distributions such as Fedora, openSUSE and Ubuntu, there are times we either want to, or feel forced to, add proprietary programs such as Adobe Flash or Skype or the ability to play proprietary audio and video formats such as MP3 or commercial DVDs to your Linux desktop. Here's how to do it.
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On the desktop there is a huge degree of proprietary lock-in, applications are often written only for windows, data is often stored in proprietary formats only supported by specific applications... In virtually every other market linux is doing extremely well, be it servers, supercomputing, phones and all manner of other embedded devices.

Now all this proprietary lock-in is the sign of an immature market, combined also with constant progress taking place. As the market matures, the users will move towards more standard data formats (as is already happening in places), and you will reach a point where the current systems are adequate for your needs so there is no longer any compelling need to upgrade.
Once you reach this point, the market becomes commoditized and prices start being squeezed. Among a list of several adequate tools, the cheapest one will usually win - especially for business or government use.

Look at how windows was successful, it was crap, massively inferior to its competitors (proprietary unix boxes, novell, apple, even amiga) but it was much cheaper and ran on commoditized hardware.

Look at today, you can argue that openoffice is inferior to msoffice but at the end of the day its more than adequate for the needs of 99.9% of people while being considerably cheaper. Look at it purely from a business perspective, you have an office containing 300 people who need to write simple letters, both products will do the job but one costs $100 per user the other is free. It's the same decision that resulted in a sale for windows rather than a more expensive but massively superior sun/sgi/dec workstation or mac.

The only things holding it back are lack of user awareness (poor marketing) and proprietary data formats, the latter is gradually being addressed and if oracle dont address the former someone else will sooner or later.

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