Four new articles appeared today regarding Linux on the desktop: “As business looks to Linux desktops, some critical apps lacking“, “Microsoft Says Linux on Desktops Would Hurt Growth“, “Red Hat chief: Linux will take desktop market share from MS“, “$199 PC with no Windows, no Intel inside“.
Linux on the Desktops, Once More
2002-12-05 Linux 24 Comments
We NEED to develop a significant market for commercial software on Linux. There were some early hopefuls like Applix and Loki, but the market for commercial Linux applications has been a near disaster. I really hope that this new Desktop initiative changes that. I would love to be able to write some for profit software for my favorite operating system and make some money at it.
The only way commercial software can sell to Linux users is if it offers something free (as in beer) software doesn’t. There are a few ways to do this:
1) Offer power that free software doesn’t. Note that stuff software full of useless features doesn’t count. I think the major thing that free software is showing is that people don’t need all the features included in commercial programs, and don’t want to pay for them.
2) Offer interoperation that free software doesn’t. If buying a commercial program enables people to access a knowledge store they could not access before, people will buy it. Bring out a perfect MS Office file importer, and people would snap it up. Same for those programs mentioned that allow interoperation of Evolution on Exchange networks.
3) Offer a user interface that free software doesn’t. Cross Over office partly falls into this catagory. WINE is difficult to configure, and Cross Over makes it much easier. Thus, people buy it. Matlab, also, falls into this catagory. GNU Octave does much of what Matlab can do, and is largely Matlab compatible, but Matlab is a good GUI program, and Octave is a CLI program.
4) Is a catagory busting program. VMWare fits here. There is nothing else that does what VMWare does. If you want to do what VMWare enables you to do, you buy VMWare, as simple as that.
Unless a program fills one of these criteria, it’s pointless selling it commercially. Linux users are far to saavy to buy it. Face it, you’re not going to make money selling a text editor, web browser, IM client, multimedia player, compiler, etc on Linux. Just not going to happen…
It’s useful to take a look at some successful Linux programs.
1) DB2, other high-end data bases. When PostgreSQL and MySQL can’t handle the load anymore, people *will* buy into a commercial high-end database. If the free versions meet people’s needs just fine, they won’t.
2) Houdini, Maya. There are no comparable programs on Linux, and won’t be for the forseeable future. Thus, they’re ideal for Linux, and are indeed being bought by those switching graphics workstations to Linux. Ironically, Adobe has decided not to port Photoshop to Linux, even though Photoshop is an ideal example of a piece of software that would do well on Linux. InDesign, too, or Quark would be another application well suited for a Linux port.
3) Mathematica, Matlab. Again, both pieces of software offer power that’s not available on Linux. Also, since they are standards in their respective fields, they offer a great deal of compatibility with a large existing userbase.
That said, there are still several niches to fill:
1) A good multimedia jukebox program. Something like MusicMatch or OpenMG (sans commercials and crap, of course). But be quick about it, several KDE programs are already making strides in this area.
2) Map program: MS Street Map or TripMaker.
3) Scientific software: simulation packages, GIS (geography imaging).
4) Engineering software: Autocad, SolidEdge.
5) Web development tools: Dreamweaver, FireWorks, Flash.
DTP. Good professional 3D/cinema software (Blender doesn’t do it all). Video software. Encyclopedias and family software. Good audio and *easy* to use audio apps (check the Mac market for which ones I am talking about).
Hmm.. I think there are commercial market for some highend software such as Maya/Mathematica, probably Dreamweaver and Flash will secure a market there, but for other simpler apps, open source already provide strong and decent alternatives – I think many commercial vendors are scared to compete with costless open source rivals – of course software that provides additional online service will get by.
About Blender, somehow combining it with Wings3D and ExtremeUV (still in beta) creates a formidable animation solution that other 3D app vendors might be wary of.
Good professional 3D/cinema software: Maya, Softimage XSI, plus the mentioned Wings 3d and a few more. Not sure what could be wrong with Blender, work quite well.
Video software: FilmGimp, Cinelerra,(I’m sure there are more video soft for Linux, I just don’t want to bother to find it), otherwise buy a Mac or a SGI box.
Encyclopedias: Who needs that antiquated museum thing when you have Google?
family software: What the hell is that? you mean the BSD games?
Good audio and *easy* to use audio apps: http://linux-sound.org/ … more? look in google. Not sure what you mean by “easy”, but none of the *professional*(eg: *good*) audio apps are what most people understand by “easy”, not for Mac, or Win32, or Linux, no *professional* app is “easy” to use, it takes months to learn to use any professional app, maybe years if you want to use something like XSI to it’s full capabilities. Any way, I’m sure there is some “easy” apps out there… just look for them.
“Dreamweaver and Flash”
For God’s sake, keep that crap away from me!!
“We” need? Why? “We” don’t give a hoot about Linux, it’s success or failure.
I know this is going to be a shock for you, and I am really sorry to break it to you like this, but not every single person in the world is derangedly in love with Linux.
it would be nice to have a competitor on the desktop, but Linux ain’t it. Thanks to moving targets (APIs spring to mind, as do all those ridiculous variations of shared libs that create the dependencies that we all know and love) nobody wants to waste time developing anything for the OS and the people who HAVE done so have learned the hard way. Either that, or they treat it like a second-rate business.. for a prime example, compare Loki (failed) to IBM (Linux is the second-class-citizen). Then there’s the atrocious performance of KDE/GNOME (and why the heck should I choose between them, anyway? asks the newb) and of course that hoary old goat Xfree86 that never quite seems to die. Thanks, I’ve tried all the latest distros and they all suck. Every last cotton-pickin’ one of ’em. Kill Xfree and I’ll give it another shot on the desktop – until then, my Linux remains on the server where it belongs.
Mario> “I know this is going to be a shock for you, and I am really sorry to break it to you like this, but not every single person in the world is derangedly in love with Linux.”
Please, Mario, read the title. It´s about Linux. I invite you to choose any other OS you like and discuss improvements to its interface. it will work bet if the article is about that OS.
Poop> “keep it CLI please”
CLI does things a GUI can´t — and also the reverse is true: sometimes, for a few specific tasks, a GUI is better. I, for one, don´t want to stay just with one of them. Also, please observe that Linux changes too fast. In 1998 I would agree that it was not ready for the desktop. In 2004, your comment might look obsolete, IMHO.
“We” need? Why? “We” don’t give a hoot about Linux, it’s success or failure.
For those of you in that “We” category, enjoy trusted computing and palladium.
Unfortunately, those of “us” using *free* software won’t have the benefit of our computer babysitting us.
Maybe you’re not an ms-lover and want <fill in favorite os here> to take over. GNU/Linux is the most realistic replacement that runs on x86 hardware. (Hey, I love the BSDs, but for someone making the switch, there is a lot more documentation for GNU/Linux).
But I guess this all the documentation “you” need…
Although I think the support of the commercial software industry would help Linux it certainly isn’t needed. Linux will win over the desktop and the server markets, its just a matter of time. What I find amusing is all the people who think their little proprietary audio application is going to stop Linux from taking over their market by storm. Linux hasn’t even really begun to focus on desktop software, they’re still hammering out a solid stable usable desktop UI. Once that is completed watch out! All your base are belong to us!
I have not had a problem with changing APIs on any free OS. GNOME and KDE both offer compat libs which make sure all of your old software works and the standard Unix libs have been stable for years.
Now, if you want to get into Java or the ever-changing MFC debacle…
re: poop: I use slackware, metacity, GNOME and KDE as my desktop. KDE/Konqueror is a much better filemanager than Nautilus, IMHO. My video card is a Trident, and since they haven’t released the specs on it I barely have accelerated graphics on my laptop. But it works, streams MPEG-4 and windows media very nicely over a network. And has automated scripting to burn me a CD from any of my oggs (over the network). Uses windows shares and printers nicely. There are slight problems with the OS, this is true. But I got 2 updates on the GNOME 2 desktop this month, along with several new applications (Even a GUI for desktop/software sync), antialiased fonts look really nice and readable now, and it is fast enough to use overall. It hangs from time to time, which may be the slowness you are talking about, but I find that it never crashes and usually catches up to your last click if you either be patient or kill the process causing it to hang, like I had to do with artsd the other day.
Actually I take that back, because of Trident and their crappy video card (Which I can only assume since there aren’t proper drivers for it) it crashes all the time when I play one too many videos. But these lock-ups have never lost me any data, thanks to ext3. Aside from the xv lockups there are GUI problems, it is under heavy developement, so occationally I have to type <CTRL><ALT><F1> and init 3; init 5 the thing, which is now scripted into a restartx script that reinitializes the audio drivers since apm always kills off my sound.
I’m not saying this system is ready for everyone right now, but if the hardware manufacturers worked together with all OSs in the computer industry most of these problems could have been avoided. If you want to blame these hardware lockups and lack of documentation to write the proper drivers on a free OS, written by contributors, go right ahead, I won’t stop you. But some day I may laugh at you and jokingly tell you things like ‘rm -rf /’ will backup all your data.
FUD@reuters.com (alias MS):
>> Unlike proprietary software such as Microsoft’s Windows
>> operating system and Office productivity application, the
>> Linux language can be copied and modified freely.
>> Connors said Microsoft would stick to its view that PC
>> growth would remain moderate, with growth this year
>> expected to be in the “low single digits.”
perfectly – just two centences causing so much shareholder-fear, able to influence many governments.
This is very smart commercial-black-reverse-aikido:
Use your own weakness against your opponent.
“GNU Octave does much of what Matlab can do, and is largely Matlab compatible, but Matlab is a good GUI program, and Octave is a CLI program.”
I use Octave now, but am seriously considering buying Matlab. It has nothing to do with CLI vi GUI; Matlab has an optimization toolkit add-on that would definitely be worth the $160 for the overall package. Considering I’m a poor college student, it makes a lot more sense to spend nothing on the OS and pay for the software that runs on it. I already bought Mathematica (only $10 through my university).
The only problem I have with Linux is that there are some sites on the web that offer streaming audio that can only be accessed through the realplayer plug-in. Does anyone know how to make this play nice with artsd? I start realplayer with “artsdsp realplay”, but I can’t figure out what to do with a plugin!
This would be very usefull app. I know there was a beta test, but it was aborted for unclear reasons. Maybe it was just politics from Microsofts side.
By the way, does anybody sell a copy of Framkemaker for Mac?
The level of commercialisation that exists on the windows platform doesn’t exist on linux and thats a bad thing.
Its bad because people can create apps on the windows platform knowing they can make alot of money through the sale of their software even when its full of bugs. Many a time, apps or games can be rushed out and patched up later or a newer more stable version comes round after a period of time. Its a clever way of making more money all the time. Not saying this always happens but it does.
A majority of windows users don’t fully understand everything to do with computers and companies can take advantage of this. However this cannot be done on the linux platform as such because its users are “aware” of the more technical of issues concerning software releases and the like.
If something doesn’t work on linux, its users can either do without (like some do already), create their own product (time consuming but it can be done) or fix the software anyway for themselves.
Linux can harm very creative markets and this can be attributed to being a reason as to why software companies might not port software to linux, they would be selling software to an educated more clear thinking market.
They can see this as a threat to their business practices or they could adapt and develop new ones.
Thats my reasoning behind its success, if everybody’s motive is profit and everything depends on it, its kinda worrying that people out there have different passions and money isn’t one of them. Hence the lack of crap and commercialisation in linux.
But is this commercialism really good for us? It gives us money, but does it do anything else beneficial for society? No, but it does cost us our sanity. Many kids grow up today thinking its good to look like Britney Spears and NSYNC. What’s good is to look like yourself and take care of yourself and be pleased with yourself for who you are. But you’re never enough to a commercial entity. They don’t even see us as human anymore, we’re all just consumers, who are mindless and will shop for the easy sale. This is why companies don’t produce products designed for everyone. Instead they only cater to the ignorant masses. When was the first theme introduced into Windows? In XP. Unless you count Windowblinds, but I never did see that one in the stores.
For example I know how to install and configure software on linux. I’m a musician. I would love SoundForge or Fruityloops to run on Linux, but they won’t port them. Why? Not because I don’t want to pay for them, but because they would have to support the ignorant morons who might attempt to install on Linux. Because it would cost them more than its worth. Because its not profitable. Fine, fuck ’em, I’ll write my own. And that attitude is common in the community. Oh, btw, its a worldwide community. Everyone is invited.
The Linux application market does need to more closely resemble the Windows market. This will satisfy the desires of the ‘Wallmart’ types that may experiment with these new inexpensive PCs that don’t have Windows. There is a lot of popular Windows software that a typical Linux user (like me) wouldn’t touch with a ten foot poll. (Think ‘Martha Stewart Greeting Card Maker’ or ‘Big Buba Deer Hunter’) But they would pay money for.
Why do we care? Because increasing the number of Linux based desktops will increase the leverage of the platform with hardware manufactures and OEMs. Its that or in a few years all PCs will arrive pre-rooted by M$ and several branches of the government. This current charge on the Desktop front may be the decisive battle.
I also have a machine with a 2MB Trident 9680.
Do you use XFree 4.x with ShadowFB on?
If you don’t know, well I’m not 100% sure, but it seems to write to a buffer, which is continuosly refreshed. I _guess_ main memory operations are faster than repeatedly using the video card memory for every operation.
Using ShadowFB deactivates acceleration automatically, but you can invoke:
startx — +bs -su
(meaning “use backing store and deactivate save unders” — check the messages upon X startup, to see if I’m correct).
Using “save unders” caused video corruption; “backing store” helps even further… I had 32MB of main RAM… with less memory, go without ShadowFB…
Even with acceleration off, and with the increased memory consumption (I used 16bpp 1024×768 or 32bpp 800×600), results were better — specially during quake and realplayer usage (btw, set that CPU usage to the middle of the scale for better results).
Thanks for the tips. I have a trident cyberblade XP, or Ai1 or whatever its called. Barely has accelerated drivers for Linux because of the lack of documentation released by Trident. Brand new laptop.
It does support the xv extention, but it keeps locking up after playing between 5 and 20 videos. Usually stable enough to play a few movies or TV shows, or if I restart X between each video it won’t crash. For all I know it could just be a bug in X 4.2.0, haven’t tried updating X in a while, but their changelog doesn’t look like they fixed anything on these chipsets since 4.1.x
“The Linux application market does need to more closely resemble the Windows market. This will satisfy the desires of the ‘Wallmart’ types that may experiment with these new inexpensive PCs that don’t have Windows. There is a lot of popular Windows software that a typical Linux user (like me) wouldn’t touch with a ten foot poll. (Think ‘Martha Stewart Greeting Card Maker’ or ‘Big Buba Deer Hunter’) But they would pay money for.
Why do we care? Because increasing the number of Linux based desktops will increase the leverage of the platform with hardware manufactures and OEMs. Its that or in a few years all PCs will arrive pre-rooted by M$ and several branches of the government. This current charge on the Desktop front may be the decisive battle.”
Devil’s advocate here. I’ve heard this “leverage of the platform with hardware & OEM’s” argument before. It’s even been used to justify binary drivers. So Linux is suppose to have numbers larger that Apple. Were’s the leverage? Seems the hardware companies are as tight-lipped as before. OEM’s are no better. We need to be careful were we draw the lines with our actions. Not every reward is worth giving up your soul for.
I feel it’s the exact opposite: FreeBSD has a much better documentation than Linux. However, I don’t see neither of them Linux nor FreeBSD taking over the desktop anytime soon.
BTW, I don’t see the point of your Microsoft link. You’re just assuming too much. If you want to know my preferences for a desktop OS, it’s BeOS.