Linked by David Adams on Thu 29th Sep 2011 23:47 UTC, submitted by lucas_maximus
Linux Linux is struggling on the desktop because it only has a small number of "great" apps, according to the Gnome co-creator. Miguel de Icaza, co-creator of the Gnome desktop, told tech journalist Tim Anderson at the recent Windows 8 Build conference "When you count how many great desktop apps there are on Linux, you can probably name 10," de Icaza said, according to a post on Anderson's IT Writing blog. "You work really hard, you can probably name 20. We've managed to p*** off developers every step of the way, breaking APIs all the time."
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Misleading article title
by BeamishBoy on Fri 30th Sep 2011 00:07 UTC
BeamishBoy
Member since:
2010-10-27

The title of the article really misses the point of what Miguel said. The actual substance of the story, as far as I can see, comes in two separate points.

First, he's making a point about how Linux's open-source nature has led to fragmentation of APIs on the desktop. This is a perfectly valid complaint. In an ecosystem where there are many competing window managers for Linux, not to mention vastly more competing distributions (all of which are different and none of which are dominant), you're bound to run into obstacles to producing truly great desktop apps.

However, the second point I take from the story is one that Miguel actually seems to miss. For a long time now we've been moving towards a situation where many of the most important desktop applications are actually quite platform agnostic. In part, this has been fuelled by a drive for portability in code that's proved largely successful. Lately we've seen the process accelerated by loads of new platforms being released, each of which competes with traditional desktops, but on which users still want to have available their favourite applications. Platform agnosticism for desktop apps is a really, really good thing.

Personally speaking, of the eight or nine desktop apps I use daily, only one (Visual Studio) doesn't run on Linux. Everything else (Matlab, R, Eclipse, emacs, various compilers for C/C++/Scala/Erlang, etc) works just as happily on Linux as it does on Windows or Mac, so for me the fact that there aren't any truly great Linux-only desktop apps is an irrelevance.

Reply Score: 13

RE: Misleading article title
by ngaio on Fri 30th Sep 2011 00:29 in reply to "Misleading article title"
ngaio Member since:
2005-10-06

I'm not disputing what you're saying with respect to the complexity that comes with different options on the Linux desktop, but I do recall Miguel talking in the past about the need for Gnome to keep legacy APIs in place so that applications written years ago can still run without modification today. Perhaps his point was that Gnome is a moving target.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[2]: Misleading article title
by lemur2 on Fri 30th Sep 2011 01:30 in reply to "RE: Misleading article title"
lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

I do recall Miguel talking in the past about the need for Gnome to keep legacy APIs in place so that applications written years ago can still run without modification today. Perhaps his point was that Gnome is a moving target.


I have some help for Miguel to find freedom software applications:

http://www.fsf.org/news/directory-relaunch

Free Software Foundation re-launches its Free Software Directory, with over 6500 programs listed

Unfrotunately, both Miguel and the Free Software Foundation tend very much to utterly ignore KDE and Qt applications, which are easily amongst the best free software desktop applications available today.

I can perhaps help there, too:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_KDE_applications

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Software_that_uses_Qt

KDE also features platform abstraction layers such as Phonon and Solid, which effectively will allow applications written (or updated) in the past few years to still run without modification in many years time.

Miguel: "You work really hard, you can probably name 20. We've managed to p*** off developers every step of the way, breaking APIs all the time."

Hey Miguel, I can easily find hundreds of great free software desktop applications. I can even find a great sub-set of these applications (outside of GNOME) which work with an abstraction layer to avoid API breakage!

Enjoy!

Edited 2011-09-30 01:35 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 4

RE: Misleading article title
by Darkmage on Sat 1st Oct 2011 00:14 in reply to "Misleading article title"
Darkmage Member since:
2006-10-20

Every single one of those applications is something which no normal person uses on a daily basis, just people in scientific/engineering fields. This is not the norm.

Reply Parent Score: 1

BeamishBoy Member since:
2010-10-27

Every single one of those applications is something which no normal person uses on a daily basis, just people in scientific/engineering fields. This is not the norm.


All of this is true. But it's completely irrelevant to the discussion at hand.

The reason is quite simple. A desktop application can be considered "great" based on one single criteria: how good it is at its intended purpose. It doesn't matter one little bit whether it's a music player, a web browser, or an application for scientific computing. If it's head and shoulders above the competition, it may legitimately be considered as being great.

The fact that the applications I mentioned are all of a statistical/comp-sci nature is irrelevant. Each of them (with the exception, perhaps, of the compilers) is an example of a truly great desktop application. And all of them (with the exception of Visual Studio) are truly great platform-agnostic applications.

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE: Misleading article title
by allanregistos on Mon 3rd Oct 2011 04:23 in reply to "Misleading article title"
allanregistos Member since:
2011-02-10

The title of the article really misses the point of what Miguel said. The actual substance of the story, as far as I can see, comes in two separate points.

First, he's making a point about how Linux's open-source nature has led to fragmentation of APIs on the desktop. This is a perfectly valid complaint. In an ecosystem where there are many competing window managers for Linux, not to mention vastly more competing distributions (all of which are different and none of which are dominant), you're bound to run into obstacles to producing truly great desktop apps.

However, the second point I take from the story is one that Miguel actually seems to miss. For a long time now we've been moving towards a situation where many of the most important desktop applications are actually quite platform agnostic. In part, this has been fuelled by a drive for portability in code that's proved largely successful. Lately we've seen the process accelerated by loads of new platforms being released, each of which competes with traditional desktops, but on which users still want to have available their favourite applications. Platform agnosticism for desktop apps is a really, really good thing.

Personally speaking, of the eight or nine desktop apps I use daily, only one (Visual Studio) doesn't run on Linux. Everything else (Matlab, R, Eclipse, emacs, various compilers for C/C++/Scala/Erlang, etc) works just as happily on Linux as it does on Windows or Mac, so for me the fact that there aren't any truly great Linux-only desktop apps is an irrelevance.

You reasons here are also one of the reasons why Linux failed to achieve large applications database. Talk to graphic artists, if Desktop Linux is feasible just to show you an example.

Reply Parent Score: 1