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  • Proprietary software in Linux

    Originally posted by johnc View Post
    It's pretty much been the religious-like zealotry that has kept linux back and stuck in the "hobby OS" territory... which, if you think about it, is really where a lot of those religious types wish it to be. Which is fine. But then you can't complain about proprietary video drivers and lack of software and no games for linux. If they want to keep their clutches on it and not open it up to a general user base, then don't expect developers and publishers to support the platform.
    I doubt you've ever heard a Linux zealot complain about the lack of games on Linux. I think they, like you suggested, are quite happy with Linux being a hobby, or being a manifestation of their philosophies. I doubt zealots care about Linux becoming a mainstream desktop OS; some of them may even actively oppose the idea.

    The people you hear complaining about lack of software are probably not zealots. They are users who like Linux because of its merits rather than its core philosophies, but are unhappy with software selection. Truth be told, it's probably a silly desire. Using an OS which has deeply rooted philosophies but still desiring support from vendors who actively oppose those philosophies is, frankly, idiotic.

    But I am one of those idiots. I am one of those guys who uses Linux because it feels more usable than any alternative (regardless of price), but I still wish there were more software vendors targeting Linux. I wish that Linux was a first-class citizen in the OS society. But it's not, and there are many reasons why it may never become one. Hell, for all I know my wish is actually a bad one. Perhaps if vendors became interested in Linux it would drive away devoted zealots (who do a lot of work, by the way) and ultimately destroy the community? I don't know, I haven't been around long enough to make those kinds of predictions.

    My point is that you shouldn't be surprised when it seems like the Linux community seems to contradict itself. The community isn't one person, it's many. Some people want a walled garden while others want a public park, and those ideals are mutually exclusive.

  • #2
    I've got similar feeling about all of this. There were things were Linux wasn't so good at like audio and graphics. Linux is still far less popular on desktops than Windows, but it has nothing to Linux's philosophy as some people may think. Mainly because of its philosophy, so also development model, license it conquered other areas. When the audio and graphics (Wayland, drivers) will finally be done, Linux will be in far better position to start conquering a desktop market. I don't consider packaging as a serious problem, but I'd like to have a unified system. It seems systemd will have a big role in this.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by kraftman View Post
      When the audio and graphics (Wayland, drivers) will finally be done, Linux will be in far better position to start conquering a desktop market. I don't consider packaging as a serious problem, but I'd like to have a unified system. It seems systemd will have a big role in this.
      I've been quietly hoping that Wayland makes a dramatic impact. I've worked a tiny bit with audio on Linux -- just enough to know what an absolute NIGHTMARE it is. Graphics I'm sure are the same. I'm really hoping that Wayland matures quickly over the next couple years and that it gets adopted, and finally I hope that it simplifies life for Linux developers. But for now it's all just hope.

      Another part of this equation is resistance from "old timers". There are a fair number of people that oppose Wayland, either because of its lack of network transparency or because of some other gripe. I think Wayland has the potential to be one of the biggest advancements for Linux as a desktop OS in a decade, but a lot of people disagree. Luckily we have some big names (like Intel) to back us up on this one.

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      • #4
        I'm not sure an unified environment can ever be achieved. Just like many think someone should mandate every system have rpm, systemd, pulse and whatnot, there are as many who find those inferior to other solutions, and the act of someone trying to force those the very antithesis of linux, of the choice inherent in there.

        The result of more vendors etc will probably be just like now, the practical and philosophy camps separate, among many other camps.

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        • #5
          Many things HAVE been mandated (RPM, for example), and it still hasn't solved anything.

          Linux is an ecosystem, for better or worse. It's not a centrally planned product designed at an executive meeting.

          This has downsides, but also advantages. The distribution mess is a very Linuxy thing, and it has provided Linux with the flexibility to survive the deaths of important backers in the past, as well as saved it from putting all eggs in one basket and suffering the consequences when the basket is the wrong one.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by curaga View Post
            I'm not sure an unified environment can ever be achieved. Just like many think someone should mandate every system have rpm, systemd, pulse and whatnot, there are as many who find those inferior to other solutions, and the act of someone trying to force those the very antithesis of linux, of the choice inherent in there.
            Maybe it won't be perfect unification, but unification which should be good enough to satisfy some third party vendors. For example if Ubuntu, Fedora, OpenSuse will use systemd (it's on the good way already), pulse audio (this one is used by all of them) and Wayland (it seems all of them are interested) companies can focus on those three distros. I don't believe they'll accept some unified package format soon and this will have to be resolved somehow, but it shouldn't be hard. Other distros like Arch, Gentoo don't seem to be interested in commercial support too much, but it seems they won't be left behind - they evolve around current Linux's stack, so it's very easy to install pulse or systemd on them. In my opinion if some other distribution will be interested in good commercial support it will follow the UFO.

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            • #7
              I've never really met an audio API I got along with. This isn't a Linux thing. More like an "acoustically-oriented programmers are masochists who love to overengineer" thing. (Or "Adobe didn't see the need for decent mixing in Flash", etc.). The Windows jungle is arguably just as bad.

              As for the "Hobby OS" argument, I thought we'd buried that! Suffice to say, you'd be hard pressed to call the hosting business "hobbyist". We've got a few hundred Linux servers (we're small) and all of our Ops and Support staff use Linux because we can get work done. And we're not unique in this: I can think of only one company off the top of my head that actually offers Windows hosting without a VPS (unfortunately, we just bought them. It's pretty awful).

              On the point of vendors' philosophical opposition...they said we were crazy for demanding 802.11 drivers open and in the kernel. I'm sure more than a few called us crazy, possibly publicly. But we won that fight. Somewhat small but terribly significant.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by ean5533 View Post
                I've been quietly hoping that Wayland makes a dramatic impact. I've worked a tiny bit with audio on Linux -- just enough to know what an absolute NIGHTMARE it is. Graphics I'm sure are the same. I'm really hoping that Wayland matures quickly over the next couple years and that it gets adopted, and finally I hope that it simplifies life for Linux developers. But for now it's all just hope.
                I read at some Pulse Audio page many Linux audio problems were due to bugs in hardware or drivers, but they are known and should be resolved. There are companies like Intel which are interested in Wayland, so there's a chance it will mature quite fast.

                Another part of this equation is resistance from "old timers". There are a fair number of people that oppose Wayland, either because of its lack of network transparency or because of some other gripe. I think Wayland has the potential to be one of the biggest advancements for Linux as a desktop OS in a decade, but a lot of people disagree. Luckily we have some big names (like Intel) to back us up on this one.
                Yeah, there are "old timers", but the big distros are interested in Wayland, so there shouldn't be many problems in adopting it. I'm very interested in Wayland and I hope it will speed up 2D.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Wyatt View Post
                  As for the "Hobby OS" argument, I thought we'd buried that! Suffice to say, you'd be hard pressed to call the hosting business "hobbyist". We've got a few hundred Linux servers (we're small) and all of our Ops and Support staff use Linux because we can get work done. And we're not unique in this: I can think of only one company off the top of my head that actually offers Windows hosting without a VPS (unfortunately, we just bought them. It's pretty awful).
                  Sorry, I was unclear about what I meant. I meant that paragraph in the context of Linux as a mainstream desktop OS. Linux is undeniably important in the world of business; no one sane would argue otherwise. But as a desktop OS it barely qualifies as a contender. That's why I qualify it (for now) as a hobby OS; usually only computer enthusiasts (or relatives of enthusiasts!) use it as their primary OS at home. It's getting easier to use for casual users, but it's just not quite there yet.

                  Originally posted by Wyatt View Post
                  On the point of vendors' philosophical opposition...they said we were crazy for demanding 802.11 drivers open and in the kernel. I'm sure more than a few called us crazy, possibly publicly. But we won that fight. Somewhat small but terribly significant.
                  Agreed 100%, this was an incredibly big win. I just wish it wasn't such an isolated victory.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by kraftman View Post
                    Yeah, there are "old timers", but the big distros are interested in Wayland, so there shouldn't be many problems in adopting it. I'm very interested in Wayland and I hope it will speed up 2D.
                    Thankfully this is one battle where all the major players are on the side of progress. The malcontents are a small enough crowd as to have no effect on Wayland's development. There's a lot of money being thrown (indirectly) at Wayland, so now we just need to wait and see if it does everything that it promises.

                    I think it will.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by kraftman View Post
                      Maybe it won't be perfect unification, but unification which should be good enough to satisfy some third party vendors. For example if Ubuntu, Fedora, OpenSuse will use systemd (it's on the good way already), pulse audio (this one is used by all of them) and Wayland (it seems all of them are interested) companies can focus on those three distros. I don't believe they'll accept some unified package format soon and this will have to be resolved somehow, but it shouldn't be hard. Other distros like Arch, Gentoo don't seem to be interested in commercial support too much, but it seems they won't be left behind - they evolve around current Linux's stack, so it's very easy to install pulse or systemd on them. In my opinion if some other distribution will be interested in good commercial support it will follow the UFO.
                      I think it's an excellent idea. If those three distributions could agree to a "standard libraries" spec that vendors can refer to, then closed source apps could bundle their own additional libs against a known base and everyone would be happy. Other distributions could either meet that standard lib spec, or users could be educated about how to make their install match up with that spec. That would eliminate the whole "moving target" problem that vendors run into so often.

                      So, who wants to go propose this idea to Mark, the Fedora board, and Novell?
                      Last edited by ean5533; 08-08-2011, 01:49 PM.

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                      • #12
                        I'm probably one of the morons that thinks package management for the user (on Ubuntu at least) is a step ahead of Windows. To me it's much easier, though I do think there are some changes that would be nice. But as it is now, if it's in the repo, or a PPA is available for the software, to me it's a million times easier to install and keep up to date than on Windows. It's one of the reasons I've decided to stick with Ubuntu.

                        Now developing and distributing software for a broader linux is probably a much more difficult manner, since you can't just come up with a PPA to drop your .debs in.

                        I do think that this area has improved so vastly that it's worth examining as a case study of what's been done right. I remember fiddling with linux for awhile in the past and the most recent time was just as RPMs were starting to come about. Getting even the simplest software was a pain in the doofus. You had to get the source, then find all the dependencies, then compile the dependencies, then find all their dependencies, ad nauseam. I mean I'm a software engineer with a comp. sci. degree who has been dinking around with software since the sixth grade and even I didn't have any patience for that crap. If I wanted an mp3 player I just wanted to get it, install it, and run it... not work on compiles for 40,000 hours. But I'm telling you, there were people back then that thought that's the way it should be.

                        But all in all, if there is a user base for commercial software vendors to target, they would find a way to drive their software to consumers.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by ean5533 View Post
                          I've worked a tiny bit with audio on Linux -- just enough to know what an absolute NIGHTMARE it is.
                          what is wrong with pulseaudio?

                          they dev pulse audio to fix thix problem. the only problem is old software do not support pulse audio.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Qaridarium View Post
                            what is wrong with pulseaudio?

                            they dev pulse audio to fix thix problem. the only problem is old software do not support pulse audio.
                            The only time I tried to work with audio was about 3 years ago, back when PulseAudio was a buggy mess and was very poorly integrated with the few distros that used it. I haven't attempted it since then, though I've heard that the situation is much better than it used to be.

                            To be fair, I probably shouldn't be running my mouth about something I haven't tested in years.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by johnc View Post
                              I'm probably one of the morons that thinks package management for the user (on Ubuntu at least) is a step ahead of Windows. To me it's much easier, though I do think there are some changes that would be nice. But as it is now, if it's in the repo, or a PPA is available for the software, to me it's a million times easier to install and keep up to date than on Windows. It's one of the reasons I've decided to stick with Ubuntu.

                              Now developing and distributing software for a broader linux is probably a much more difficult manner, since you can't just come up with a PPA to drop your .debs in.
                              but the main -or bigger- problem is not how the user gets his packages. there are some problems there but not that big in general. the devs -be it proprietary or FOSS- have to do a lot of job to get thing running and give them to the user.

                              and that hurts the "ecosystem".

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