[nSLUG] Proprietary Software for Linux

Sheldon Tower sheldontower at gmail.com
Sun Aug 15 12:44:58 ADT 2010

  I also believe that hardware should be 100% open. There's nothing more 
frustrating when you get a new piece of hardware, only to discover that 
it relies on proprietary software. I recently spent a bit more money on 
an HP All in One printer, simply because my wife could print from her 
Windows Vista machine, and I could (finally) print from my laptop 
running Ubuntu. Linux compatibility is the most important quality when I 
choose hardware now. It's sad I have to search for Linux compatibility. 
It should be a given.

The reason I think proprietary software is here to stay is because it 
gives people an incentive to become a professional developer. 
Proprietary software = salary for a developer, doesn't it? I read in 
Linux Format a while back that even the original creator of Debian went 
to the dark side, and took a job with Microsoft.

I use to have a Creative Zen V Plus, and it worked great under Linux. I 
gave it to my brother in law after getting an iPod Touch for Christmas, 
which I absolutely love, even if it's proprietary. I did try to sync it 
using GTKPod, with no luck. I will try Hipo, but I might have to 
jailbreak it in the end. That's alright with me, as long as I can use it 
independent of Windows.


On 10-08-15 12:08 PM, Scott Walsh wrote:
> I'm really torn in this issue, part of me thinks closed software is
> evil, and part of me thinks that we need some closed software to gain
> credibility. To be clear, I only think that closed software appeals to
> the people that aren't already running something *nix. It's the "well
> Company XYZ is releasing their applications for Linux, it must be a good
> platform" mentality.
> It really is a critical mass sort of thing, there are closed software
> solutions for Linux that are server specific(databases come to mind),
> but not very many that are targeting end users on the desktop(Last.fm
> actually does an excellent job, they even support FBSD, but I can't
> think of many others). Critical mass turns into a chicken and egg
> problem, users won't be there without the apps, and app developers won't
> be there without user base.
> When it comes to hardware, I'm very much against having a closed stack.
> It irritates me that I'm supposed to be running software X, which is
> only released on platforms Y, to connect to device Z. Plugging in
> hardware should be like plugging in a lamp(for things that can function
> as USB storage); there are a few well defined standards for NA
> electricity, and if I plug something in, I get light. I understand that
> the business model really hinges on iTunes for Apple; the software makes
> it very easy to get into the store and start buying things.
> I think that for the specific example of iTunes, you can't convince
> enough users running Linux that it's worthwhile to harass Apple. We're
> used to being ignored, and we've found ways to compensate.
> This is enough rambling for one Sunday :)
> -Scott
> On 2010-08-15 11:29 AM, Sheldon Tower wrote:
>>          A few weeks ago, a developer on an IRC support channel asked me if it
>> was possible to sync and update his iPod Touch in Linux. I was working on
>> the same issue, so I told him the few options I was tying:
>>       1. Try syncing using Rythmbox or Amarok.
>>       2. Try running iTunes for Windows under Wine.
>>       3. Run Windows Vista or XP using a virtual machine.
>>       Most forums we consulted said it was possible to sync an iPod using
>> Rythmbox or Amarok, but you couldn't update the firmware. Regardless, we
>> were unable to even connect for syncing using either program. We were able
>> to install and run older versions of iTunes under Wine, but we required the
>> latest version, which gave us errors. Windows it's self installed nicely
>> using a virtual machine under VirtualBox, but again, the latest version of
>> iTunes gave us trouble. I know that jailbreaking is an option, but I've read
>> that it drastically shows down the performance of the iPod Touch. Finally, I
>> decided to contact Apple support.
>>       I asked Apple if there were any plans to develop a version of iTunes for
>> Linux. After all, MacOS X is Unix based, so I think it should be pretty easy
>> to port iTunes to Linux. Of course, the Apple support representative didn't
>> know if there were any plans to develop iTunes for Linux, but encouraged me
>> to send an email to Apple feedback. This made me think about Linux and
>> proprietary software in general. Maybe that's just what the Linux community
>> needs: more proprietary developers developing Linux versions of the most
>> popular proprietary software. A lot of Linux users take advantage of the
>> proprietary drivers for NVIDIA and ATI graphics cards. I know that a lot of
>> free software users discourage the use of any proprietary software, but if a
>> iTunes for Linux, or Adobe Illustrator for Linux is what it takes to convert
>> average users from Windows or MacOS X to Linux, wouldn't it be worth it? If
>> DirectX for Linux would encourage developers to create and sell native games
>> for Linux, wouldn't it be worth it?
>>       I think it's up to us to create a demand for these programs, not for
>> free software users, but for the average user. Whether we like it or not,
>> proprietary software is here to stay, and the average user will continue to
>> rely on it. I think it would make sense to attract the average user closer
>> to some free, open source software using some proprietary software, rather
>> than loose most average users all together.
>> Sheldon
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