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.

Format compatibility is far more of a problem for MS Office than it is for OpenOffice. I run OpenOffice under Linux, and I can easily open documents produced by various versions of MS Office. I can also save my data in MS Office-readable legacy formats, I can export them to PDF, and I can save them in ISO-approved standard formats.

If I was exchanging documents with another party who was using MS Office, and both of us forgot to save to a common format before sending to the other, then it is the MS Office user who will have the problem reading documents we exchange and not me.

Thats right folks ... MS Office cannot correctly handle the default (and standard) document formats produced by another Office suite that has 10% to 20% of the overall Office market. This is a major, major failing for a far-more-expensive-than-the-main-opposition Office suite.

If a small-to-medium non-complex business needed 300 Office application seats, then OpenOffice is an ideal solution for them. No cost to install, no concerns about tracking license compliance, and no problems with interoperability (given that they are not dealing with highly complex documents). In addition, there would be no need to re-train staff on "how to use the ribbon interface" (OpenOffice is easier to pick up how to use it than new versions of MS Office). None of those same benefits would apply if the small-to-medium business had to use MS Office instead.

Edited 2010-07-30 07:04 UTC

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