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Desktop Linux: The dream is dead

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Edvard:
Well linux stopped attracting me when major software corps didn't came up with any paid software so far. There are very few paid apps for linux and i guess too much clutter in license and open-source issue is the reason behind it. Besides that if OS is free, how come many customers are going to pay me for building custom apps for them (i came across many such people who think like this i.e. why pay for apps if OS is free ?). Consultancy, maintenance, support will not sustain the developers business(atleast solo developer will have hard time).
-mahesh2k (November 09, 2010, 09:50 AM)
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I think you've really nailed a key failure in the Linux community.

The Linux community seems to have attracted too many people that are attracted to "money free" versus "freedom free", and that entire cheapo "I'm not going to pay for anything" mind-set has basically become synonymous with Linux and open source. It's not created a healthy ecosystem for Linux, and Linux has suffered for that.
-Renegade (November 09, 2010, 08:29 PM)
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Sorry, but I have to make a stand and state my opinion that these are BIG misconceptions.
There is nothing in any license that says you cannot or should not charge money for your work.
The GPL license only protects the use and distribution of GPL code.
I have seen software authors give many legitimate reasons why they don't develop for Linux, and "users are cheapskates" is the most LAME excuse you could possibly use.
Of course that element exists, it even exists in the Windows community (I think you call them "pirates"), but anybody who takes their choice of Linux use as some sort of entitlement to "free everything" is frankly not worth the bother, not the target you'd aim at if you were smart, and I am certain not the majority of the Linux community.

Personally, I greatly admire the folks who have taken the bold step to open-source their software, and I think those applications are all the better for it.
Would the Gimp be a better Photoshop contender if it were closed-source?
I seriously think not.
Would I buy it if I had to pay for it?
Sure, if the price was right and the features attractive; no different than any other software.
Like Zaine said, if Adobe made a feature-for-feature Linux version of Photoshop, you can bet there would be a substantial market for it.
Not huge of course, (what do you expect from 1% of the desktop market? :-\ ) but certainly worth the effort and it would start a nice ball rolling.

How do I know?

Just look at a few proofs (admittedly small, but they are real) from the gaming market:

* 1- 2DBoy and Frictional games have proven beyond any doubt that you can make money putting out a decent game on the Linux platform.
-point 1: http://jeffhoogland.blogspot.com/2010/05/why-there-is-market-for-linux-games.html
-point 2: http://www.shacknews.com/onearticle.x/66172Linux cheapskates users average donation was almost twice that of the other platforms?
5, 10, 12% of sales (sales!) coming from users of a platform that only has 1% desktop market share?
Give me a break...

* 2- With things like Unigine in active development, the divide between DirectX and OpenGL is narrowing.
Really.
* 3- Despite the recent flap about a Steam client coming to Linux, and then suddenly not, I seriously doubt all that effort on Valve's part was for nothing.Once they see the demand, you KNOW it'll happen.
I mean, come on, if there's money to be made, even just 5% more (according to the evidence), why WOULDN'T you?

I just realized I may have snarked a bit in this post; let it be known I don't mean any malice to anybody, but I do stand by my opinions.
It's just I very much resent being called out for being cheap just because I use an operating system that's free (as in beer) and I'm sure there are MANY who stand with me.
There are MANY reasons other than "it's free" that I use Linux and because the web is full of others who have stated those reasons much more eloquently, I will refrain from enumerating them here.
I open my pocketbook where I can, when I can, and I'm sure that folks who pay for the majority of their software do much the same.

P.S. Mono can eat my shorts.[/list]

40hz:
Personally, I greatly admire the folks who have taken the bold step to open-source their software, and I think those applications are all the better for it.
Would the Gimp be a better Photoshop contender if it were closed-source?
I seriously think not.
Would I buy it if I had to pay for it?
Sure, if the price was right and the features attractive; no different than any other software.
Like Zaine said, if Adobe made a feature-for-feature Linux version of Photoshop, you can bet there would be a substantial market for it.
-Edvard (November 10, 2010, 01:14 PM)
--- End quote ---

You guys make an excellent point. Because (as has been discussed before) the choice of OS is largely immaterial to most users. What drives adoption is the availability of applications for a given OS. And where there is sufficient expertise to make the choice of OS an issue, there's many in the know that prefer running on top of Linux if possible.

So why the hesitancy to release commercial Linux applications?

I think it's a combination of inertia; a desire to avoid multi-platform technical support expenses; a misunderstanding of exactly who uses Linux - and for what; and the fear of jeopardizing cozy developer relations with the likes of Microsoft and Apple more than anything else.

But that hasn't stopped everybody. Some very high-end, very expensive graphic packages (ex: [email protected]$3K and [email protected]$3K+ per copy) have already released versions that run on Linux.

Hollywood is also onboard with Linux. And it's not just for the cost savings.

The Road to El Dorado, Antz, Chicken Run, Deep Blue Sea, Star Trek: Insurrection, Fantasia 2000, Men in Black, Hollow Man and many many more, were created with Linux software such as RAYZ, Maya or Shake. Now, don't think all the software used in movie production is free, because most of the applications cost somewhere between $8,000 and $15,000 or even more, but hey, it's Hollywood!

Another example is the very popular Shrek movie made at the DreamWorks studios, and the renderfarm used has a 1,000+ processors, 80% Linux and 20% IRIX. DreamWorks created a render tower made up of dual 1GHz P3 2GB RAM computers housed in a 1RU (1.75") package stacked 41 units high, which can replace computers consuming 40-50 feet of data center rack space. Also, DreamWorks uses both internally developed programs tailored to the needs of their animation production and commercially available animation software, and because most of their internal developed software was originally created for the SGI IRIX operating system, it's much easier to port the applications to a Linux system, which is much more similar to IRIX than Windows or Mac OS X.

http://news.softpedia.com/news/Hollywood-Loves-Linux-45571.shtml

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-and-

Weta Digital

“Linux is an integral part of what we do here at Weta”, says Production Engineering Lead Peter Capelluto. “It's very well suited for the dynamic needs of the visual-effects industry. Our department would have a much more difficult time accomplishing our goals with any other operating system.”

“Weta predominantly uses Linux for our workstations and also for our renderfarm and servers”, says Capelluto. “There are a few applications that require the use of Mac OS X, Windows and Irix. Whenever possible, we use Linux. The open-source nature of Linux and the many Linux applications are a major advantage. We also prefer it for stability, low cost, access control, multiuser capabilities, control and flexibility.” Capelluto's department develops pipeline software, such as the digital asset management system and the distributed resource management system for their renderfarm.

“We have 500 IBM Blade Servers, 2,560 HP BL2x220C Blade Servers and 1,000 workstations”, says Weta Digital Systems Department Lead Adam Shand. “Ubuntu is our primary render and desktop distro. We also use CentOS, RHEL and Debian.” The workstations are IBM and HP. Weta uses NetApp DataOnTap, NetApp GX, BluArc, Panasas and SGI file servers. Storage is mostly NAS, not SAN. For open-source apps, they use Apache, Perl, Python, MySQL, PostgresSQL, Bind, OpenOffice.org, CUPS, OpenLDAP, Samba, Firefox, Thunderbird, Django, Cacti, Cricket, MRTG and Sun Gridware.

“We're big fans of open-source code here at Weta”, says Capelluto. “We're utilizing Sun's Grid Engine for distributed resource management and have helped them fix a number of bugs. It's very powerful to be able to improve upon open-source software and to fix any problems you encounter.”

http://www.linuxjournal.com/article/10301

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Renegade:
The Linux community seems to have attracted too many people that are attracted to "money free" versus "freedom free", and that entire cheapo "I'm not going to pay for anything" mind-set has basically become synonymous with Linux and open source. It's not created a healthy ecosystem for Linux, and Linux has suffered for that. -Renegade (November 09, 2010, 08:29 PM)
--- End quote ---
That's a licensing/distribution issue, though. Why pay for something that was built to be free? Companies have tried (Linspire, Xandros, Corel, etc.), and have failed. I really appreciate not having to upgrade on a corporation's [profit] schedule. No matter, public institutions (libraries, schools, park services) and governments (local, state, federal) should not be spending taxpayer dollars on proprietary software, ever. Especially not using proprietary formats for their files. Any future for public files in the cloud will depend on open data formats.
-zridling (November 10, 2010, 07:31 AM)
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This is one of those things that we disagree on. While I fully support open formats, I don't think government should sacrifice interoperability with the world at large.

I think that government should go with the solution that costs the least. That isn't dependent on whether the software is produced by a commercial or FOSS company. Some FOSS software is more expensive than commercial software. Those decisions need to be made on a case by case basis.

If using a commercial, proprietary solution costs less, I'm all for it.

If using a FOSS solution costs less, I'm all for it.

Governments need to spend our money wisely.

I would prefer that they use FOSS solutions, but I don't think that they are always the best solution.


What is really needed is for more developers to write software for Linux to make Linux a more attractive platform for people to adopt. At the same time, the lack of users, or rather the lack of users willing to pay for software makes Linux unattractive for developers. Why write software for unappreciative people? So it's catch-22.-Renegade (November 09, 2010, 08:29 PM)
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More developers to write desktop software. For example, if Adobe had a Linux version of Photoshop, that would make a world of difference. But we settle for GIMP, however quirky it is. There was so much cross-platform software between Windows and Linux four years ago that I made the switch quite comfortably. Which specific programs would you like to see?
-zridling (November 10, 2010, 07:31 AM)
--- End quote ---


Desktop -- Absolutely! I'm 100% on board there!

For specific programs, Microsoft Office is a must. Or an office suite that is compatible at a professional level. OpenOffice doesn't measure up at the moment. I know... it's unrealistic. But if it were there, I would have the option to us Linux as my primary work machine.

I'd also like to see some other major packages like the Adobe programs.

But it's really the massive choice on the Windows platform that's nice. So, more specifically, just plain LOTS~!

Add to it all the massive fragmentation in the Linux community, there's nothing but confusion for people. Ubuntu? SuSe? Fedora? Linspire? WTF?-Renegade (November 09, 2010, 08:29 PM)
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You say fragmentation I say choice.
-zridling (November 10, 2010, 07:31 AM)
--- End quote ---


For YOU it is choice. For ME it is choice. For the normal people that matter when it comes to mass adoption of a platform, it's not choice... it's confusion.

Let me make an example with 2 lists. Choose which one you think would make sense for most people:

List #1:

* Fedora
* Redhat
* Mandrake
* SuSe
* opensuse
* Ubuntu
* Kubuntu
* Edubuntu
* Gobuntu
* Xubuntu
* Debian
* Slackware
* etc.

Compare that with this list:

List #2:

* Ubuntu Christian Edition
* Ubuntu Muslim Edition
* Ubuntu Satanic Edition
* Ubuntu Jewish Edition (Jewbuntu)

And heck, let's do 1 last list of ONLY Ubuntu...

List #3:

* Ubuntu
* Kubuntu
* Edubuntu
* Gobuntu
* Xubuntu
* Ubuntu Gnome
* Ubuntu KDE
* Ubuntu Xfce
* Ubuntu Education Edition
* Ubuntu Christian Edition
* Ubuntu Muslim Edition
* Ubuntu Satanic Edition
* Ubuntu Jewish Edition (Jubuntu)
* Debian * (the Ubuntu base)
Which list makes sense? Well, I'm quite sure that they will make sense to most people here, but will it make sense to Joe Blow out on the street? #2 might. Those are meaningful. Or at least more meaningful.


That's what I mean. Linux, when you start to look at it from the perspective of an average user, is simply terrifying. Which one should I use? Not a question most people can answer.


Ubuntu is making a move to lock-in certain programs for its distribution. I don't agree with it since it's been tried before and didn't take, but it's their prerogative. Intel and Nokia are working to unify the mobile side with MeeGo, while Novell has long tried to standardize the certification of applications for distributions. However, any standardization faces the issue of getting developers to cooperate. If a standard is deemed too restrictive, it'll be difficult to get a good base of developers creating applications that follow it.

For a lot of purposes, Linux just isn't a viable OS because there's just not enough software for it. Sure you can play with Audacity, but you can't use Audacity for anything but playtime. It's a good piece of software for amateurs and hobbyists, but it's not up to snuff for work. The bar is continually being raised, and it can only become more difficult in the future to bridge that divide.-Renegade (November 09, 2010, 08:29 PM)
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Okay, that's an example. For people who've downloaded it 70 million times, however, it is cross-platform, available for Windows, Mac OS X, BSD, free, open source, and good enough.
-zridling (November 10, 2010, 07:31 AM)
--- End quote ---


"Good enough" doesn't cut it where people work and use tools to put food on the table. There are no albums being cut/mastered/edited/whatever with Audacity. It's ProTools and a handful of other programs, with ProTools being THE main one.

Now, to be fair, Audacity is fantastic for 99.9999% of people out there. For casual home use, it's great.

For large studios/enterprises, they can afford the massive costs behind Linux based solutions.

For small businesses though, Linux is tough. If you balk at a million dollar solution price tag, and would rather spend somewhere under $1,000, moving to Linux will be really, really hard for a lot of businesses.

But audio editing is only 1 example. There are many others where Linux makes more sense than anything else. Still... having more software with larger user bases makes using a platform easier. The reason why Linux is a bad "workstation" choice is because it doesn't run Microsoft Office, and everyone out there is already using MS Office. It's the ubiquity of Office that drives people to Windows, which only exacerbates the situation. But that's really the extreme example for large user bases making a platform attractive.



I think that the best hope for Linux at the moment lies with .NET and Mono. If more developers can target Linux with very little additional cost to themselves, then having more software available for Linux will make it more attractive. It's a matter of costs. You can't spend 6 months or more in development for 3 people that won't pay anyways. Despite what some people think, developing software requires a large skill set, lots of time, and it flat out isn't free. Mono makes it easier to develop software for Linux at a minimal cost to developers. I don't see anything else really being viable on a massive scale. (RealBasic and other cross-platform development tools have smaller communities, and while they are good, the size presents a problem.) So, I'm back to rooting for Novell. I hope that we continue to see more great advances from Miguel and his team. They're what I see as the key to an open and free future for computing. -Renegade (November 09, 2010, 08:29 PM)
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Except when you go the Mono route, you start down the slippery slope of dipping a toe into Microsoft's patent bullshit, which as we know, any corporation is more than happy to spend a decade suing the living crap out of anyone that gets near their IP. For me, it's not worth the headache, even though Miguel de Icaza has done some wonderful things for us all.
-zridling (November 10, 2010, 07:31 AM)
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Microsoft doesn't have a history of running around and suing people. That would be Apple. (And a bunch of other companies that do nothing but patent litigtion.)

So what other solution is out there? Java? That failed. There aren't any others.









Well linux stopped attracting me when major software corps didn't came up with any paid software so far. There are very few paid apps for linux and i guess too much clutter in license and open-source issue is the reason behind it. Besides that if OS is free, how come many customers are going to pay me for building custom apps for them (i came across many such people who think like this i.e. why pay for apps if OS is free ?). Consultancy, maintenance, support will not sustain the developers business(atleast solo developer will have hard time).
-mahesh2k (November 09, 2010, 09:50 AM)
--- End quote ---

I think you've really nailed a key failure in the Linux community.

The Linux community seems to have attracted too many people that are attracted to "money free" versus "freedom free", and that entire cheapo "I'm not going to pay for anything" mind-set has basically become synonymous with Linux and open source. It's not created a healthy ecosystem for Linux, and Linux has suffered for that.
-Renegade (November 09, 2010, 08:29 PM)
--- End quote ---

Sorry, but I have to make a stand and state my opinion that these are BIG misconceptions.
There is nothing in any license that says you cannot or should not charge money for your work.
The GPL license only protects the use and distribution of GPL code.
-Edvard (November 10, 2010, 01:14 PM)
--- End quote ---


I've tried to point this out numerous times.

Still, it doesn't change the general perception. Go into some software development forums and start reading the discussions. They're all pretty much the same. Nobody is willing to develop for Linux because Linux users are perceived as cheap and there just aren't enough of them. (I'm just reporting the facts.)

Every Linux desktop machine to date has died an unceremonious death. Sun tried to put out a Solaris desktop machine and it suffered the same fate. Dell tried it. It died. There's a problem here. A very serious problem. It's not a misconception. It's fact. The Linux desktop ecosystem is not healthy. (Perhaps 'ecosystem' is the wrong term -- I specifically mean the market where vendors can create products to get to consumers.)

This is kind of the opposite of Apple. Apple can take a dump in a paper bag, hype it as the cure for cancer, and sell a trillion copies by noon.

In the Linux world, it seems like they create a cure for cancer, hype it as a dump in a paper bag, then wonder why nobody is buying/using.

There's a serious image problem.


I have seen software authors give many legitimate reasons why they don't develop for Linux, and "users are cheapskates" is the most LAME excuse you could possibly use.
-Edvard (November 10, 2010, 01:14 PM)
--- End quote ---

It doesn't matter whether it's lame or not. That's what happens, and that's why a lot of developers don't/won't develop for Linux. It's just about always the top reason as well.



Of course that element exists, it even exists in the Windows community (I think you call them "pirates"), but anybody who takes their choice of Linux use as some sort of entitlement to "free everything" is frankly not worth the bother, not the target you'd aim at if you were smart, and I am certain not the majority of the Linux community.
-Edvard (November 10, 2010, 01:14 PM)
--- End quote ---


There are developers writing commercial software for Linux successfully. But most of the ones I know aren't doing mass market software. It's the mass market software that can drive adoption.



Personally, I greatly admire the folks who have taken the bold step to open-source their software, and I think those applications are all the better for it.
Would the Gimp be a better Photoshop contender if it were closed-source?
I seriously think not.
Would I buy it if I had to pay for it?
Sure, if the price was right and the features attractive; no different than any other software.
Like Zaine said, if Adobe made a feature-for-feature Linux version of Photoshop, you can bet there would be a substantial market for it.
-Edvard (November 10, 2010, 01:14 PM)
--- End quote ---

Photoshop is one of those mass market packages that could drive adoption. People would setup Linux machines just for it.


Not huge of course, (what do you expect from 1% of the desktop market? :-\ ) but certainly worth the effort and it would start a nice ball rolling.
-Edvard (November 10, 2010, 01:14 PM)
--- End quote ---


It can be worth the effort for companies that can absorb the costs to bring a port to the Linux platform, but I really don't think a lot of software companies can afford the costs. Again, back to major/popular mass market software like Office, Photoshop, games, etc.



How do I know?

Just look at a few proofs (admittedly small, but they are real) from the gaming market:

* 1- 2DBoy and Frictional games have proven beyond any doubt that you can make money putting out a decent game on the Linux platform.
-point 1: http://jeffhoogland.blogspot.com/2010/05/why-there-is-market-for-linux-games.html
-point 2: http://www.shacknews.com/onearticle.x/66172Linux cheapskates users average donation was almost twice that of the other platforms?
5, 10, 12% of sales (sales!) coming from users of a platform that only has 1% desktop market share?
Give me a break...

* 2- With things like Unigine in active development, the divide between DirectX and OpenGL is narrowing.
Really.
* 3- Despite the recent flap about a Steam client coming to Linux, and then suddenly not, I seriously doubt all that effort on Valve's part was for nothing.Once they see the demand, you KNOW it'll happen.
I mean, come on, if there's money to be made, even just 5% more (according to the evidence), why WOULDN'T you?
-Edvard (November 10, 2010, 01:14 PM)
--- End quote ---


5% more isn't enough for a small company quite often. For a large company that can afford the additional overhead, 5% is a lot. It's all about volume. For a developer making 100,000 a year, 5% isn't worth it because they can likely get better returns elsewhere because development costs will be above profit potential. For a software publishing house making 100,000,000 a year, 5% is certainly worth it. The development costs are far below the profit potential.

Larger or well funded companies in mass market software are the ones that can drive Linux adoption. Small developers can't.


I just realized I may have snarked a bit in this post; let it be known I don't mean any malice to anybody, but I do stand by my opinions.
It's just I very much resent being called out for being cheap just because I use an operating system that's free (as in beer) and I'm sure there are MANY who stand with me.
-Edvard (November 10, 2010, 01:14 PM)
--- End quote ---


If I came off as calling all Linux users cheap, that was not my intent. I wanted to point out a common perception/misperception.

On a side note, I really do hate the "free as in beer" analogy. What does it mean? I find it confusing. What is it that encumbers the beer or what encumbrance is the beer liberated of? Free as in cost and free as in freedom make sense to me. Or is it a beverage that is free of beer? :)


There are MANY reasons other than "it's free" that I use Linux and because the web is full of others who have stated those reasons much more eloquently, I will refrain from enumerating them here.
I open my pocketbook where I can, when I can, and I'm sure that folks who pay for the majority of their software do much the same.

P.S. Mono can eat my shorts.
-Edvard (November 10, 2010, 01:14 PM)
--- End quote ---

What is it with the Mono hatred? I don't get it. It's simply fantastic! It's the only truly cross-platform development solution. No, it's not perfect, and yes there is room for improvement. But I don't see anyone else addressing the problem at the same level. RealBasic and similar solutions are really small. Mono brings a whole banquet of languages to the table with massive amounts of community support out there. Mono is the cross-platform version of the Death Star or a nova bomb (for Andromeda fans). It just kicks everything else's asses so bad.

And it's managed code! That's such a massive step forward. Just that in itself is a blessing.

I just don't get why anyone would hate Mono... They're even underdogs... Like who hates the underdog?


f0dder:
Audacity is... I was going to say "a joke", but it's an OK "small sound clip editor with very limited features". It's slow, the way it deals with compressed files isn't optimal (last time I checked it required decompressing the entire stream to disk, without a destination override), there's a very limited featureset, and the keyboard shortcuts suck (making it utterly useless for transcribing).

It's a decent little editor for very limited needs, but it's entirely unsuitable for anything beyond that.

mahesh2k:
You can't pay your bills/support your familly by programming for free software in india. Atleast this is truth for this part of the world. Open source ? that is different discussion.

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