[nSLUG] Proprietary Software for Linux

George N. White III gnwiii at gmail.com
Sun Aug 15 13:32:36 ADT 2010

On Sun, Aug 15, 2010 at 12:44 PM, Sheldon Tower <sheldontower at gmail.com> wrote:

>  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.

It is only linux that suffers -- at work we have a bunch of HP all-in-one
printers that stopped working when XPSP3 was pushed out by IT.  Those
same printers do work on Mac OS X!

Hardware vendors use proprietary software to protect IP.  These days
many hardware devices are built from generic hardware bits and the
real IP is all software.   To prevent someone from selling cheap knock-offs
the vendors want to ensure that their software can only be used with
their products.    On windows, many programs rely on 3rd party libraries
that have license costs and may not exist on other platforms (because
the capabilities provide by the library are already present in linux/unix).

Once a vendor has proprietary software they have to decide which
platforms to support.    Such decisions are based on projected sales.

> 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.

And salary for developer is only part of the cost of providing proprietary

> 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.

The only real solution is to have a complete open source OS for
the iPod Touch or some hardware "clone" of the Touch, such
as the Samsung Galaxy YP-MP2:

> Sheldon
> 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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George N. White III <aa056 at chebucto.ns.ca>
Head of St. Margarets Bay, Nova Scotia

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