Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

An obstacle for Linux desktops: Windows applications

Let's analyse the situation:

You wanna leave Windows for some reason:
* You wanna reduce costs for your business?
* You don't like MS's "anti-piracy" measures?
* You're just sick of the cycle of spending money on a new system when your existing one is fine?
* Maybe, just maybe, you do NOT want to be tied to Microsoft any longer?
* ("Insert your own reason")

Whatever it is, you may end up looking at Linux as a cost effective alternative. (Often its usually someone mentioning it on the web or through a friend that is technically inclined).

Assuming all goes well with the LiveCD or install, you boot up to the desktop (typically Gnome or KDE based).

The first thing that comes to your mind is: Will the apps I use (and need) in Windows, run on Linux?

Well, that's not an easy question to answer. Currently, we have three options: (I call it "pick your poison" because no one approach is perfect).

(1) Dual boot
Install Linux alongside Windows, and whenever you need Windows, you reboot into it. This is fustrating, as it feels like breaking your workflow. And things can get problematic if the boot sector gets messed up.

(2) Virtualisation (VMware, VirtualBox, Qemu, Xen, etc).
This is great! Run Windows when you need it without rebooting!...Except you can't run all the games and other apps (flawlessly) that require some sort of 3D Acceleration. (mainly DirectX). And its not quite as fast as native machine speeds. Again, you need a copy of Windows. Sad

(3) Application Layer ie: Wine, Cedega, or CrossOver.
You don't need a copy of Windows, and you don't get a performance hit that comes with virtualisation. The problem is, its not perfect. When you try your Windows app; there's graphical glitches, loading issues, anti-piracy nonsense to deal with, and in some cases (like The Sims 1/2 or Office 2007), they just won't run, PERIOD.

So what the heck are we to do?

The only real solution is native Linux versions of the applications we need. But that's not gonna happen. Just look at this article.

Intuit slow on Quicken and Quickbooks for Linux
http://www.itwire.com/content/view/15280/1023/

Look at this excuse: There would be significant challenges in porting the whole codebase over to Linux, and it would have to be worth the effort. For now, the share of Linux on the desktop is still small.

I'm sorry, how did this Intuit rep come to that conclusion? I mean think about it:

* Web statistics can be manipulated.
=> Like MS getting Godaddy.com to switch to Win2k3/IIS6.0 on "parked domains". (How many is that? 5 million votes to MS on Netcraft?)...Even a loadbalancing solution will cause Netcraft to display odd results. (They even publically admit that!)
=> Using "Modify Headers", (a Firefox extension) to trick a website in thinking you're running some other OS. (Mine says "Firefox", but it doesn't reveal the OS).

Regardless, you can make Linux large or small as you please. Just add or remove factors to make your side look good!

* Linux isn't based on the number of licenses sold.
=> So how do you accurately gauge Linux adoption as a whole? Simple, you can't! Every time someone (like IDC) pulls out some nonsense about how Windows is more adopted, I'm very skeptical at how they arrive to that conclusion and what methods they use. (aside from the fact that the study or report is often sponsored by Microsoft themselves.)

* You are too small, you aren't worth it.
Intuit took the time to port their desktop solutions to the Mac, and yet, when it comes to Linux, they pull out an excuse? How much different is Linux and OSX under there? Is it massive such that a major re-write is needed? We don't know! I guess we'll have to take their word for it.

Let's face the truth. The majority of large software corporations that develop for Windows are swallowing MS's nonsense about Linux. They assume we don't matter, so they won't bother. (This applies to both business AND game software companies).

I'm sick of it. I'm sick of being treated like some second class citizen. Its BS excuses one after another, and we all know it.

Deep down, I wanna say: Screw it! F**k'em all! Let's grab a Windows box (not connected to the web), acquire the software we mostly use, and figure out what makes it tick, how the file formats or protocols work, etc...Then write our own opensource implementation from scratch.

This is what Samba has essentially done. And guess what? Microsoft couldn't do crap about it! (as its within the bounds of the law).

Do note: when I say "figure out", I do NOT mean directly hacking the code ("reverse engineering"). That would be breaking the law, depending on where you live. Either way, it'll get you into legal strife, given the number of lawyers these corporations can throw at you. (Usually by the dozen after they've sent you a number of "cease and desist" notices).

What is done (based on what I hear of Samba and the Nouveau driver projects), is that they figured things out through observation.

An analogy: You go on a holiday to another country. You have absolutely no idea of the local language. So what do you do?

(1) Observe the locals.
See/hear what they ask and what result they get.

(2) Try it yourself.
You may not get what you want the first time around. So you go back to step (1) and look for more clues.

(3) Keep repeating...Until you get it right.
Eventually, based on this approach, you'll get it right.

The problem with this approach is that, its time consuming. (maybe a few years of patience and persistance). Its something a lot of people don't want to do, given the nature of our impatient "instant satisfaction" society. (At least the Western ones).

The thing to note about re-implementing an idea under the opensource model, is that we should NOT blindly copy GUIs of the existing solution. We should look at what's good and what's bad. There is always a better (more intuitive) way to do something. Apple's OSX has proven that you don't have to emulate Windows to create a user friendly solution. (looks also play a big role).

As well, our implementations should be lean on system resources. uTorrent (on Windows) has proven that, in this age of dual/quad-core with 2GB+ RAM systems, nothing beats a small, well coded application that does the job well. Bloat and resource hungry are bad. No user wants to wait. Just because systems are more beefier than they were a few years back doesn't mean we should be careless in writing apps!

So what's the other choice?

See what's already out there right now, and see if we can use that, or if we have some coding skills, improve it.

* Does the existing solution allow me to share files with others, but without compatibility issues?

* Do they offer the same feature set as commercial solutions?

Take for example, accounting software.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_accounting_software
http://www.linux.com/feature/61672

* Which one has the best GUI? Can we do it better?

* Which one is the most used? Feature set?

* What formats are out there that need to be supported?
ie: MS Money (OFC), Quicken/MYOB (QIF), Comma Separated Values (CSV), Open Financial Exchange (OFX), etc.

I guess what I'm saying is that we shouldn't put up with our current situation. We need to band together, organise, and start some opensource projects (or join existing ones) with some clear goals.

But remember, when critiquing someone else's application, don't do it like a troll. Offer good constructive view with examples backing your point. Acting like a teenager is gonna bring a negative response!

If no one listens to you, that's OK. Its not the end of the world. Take the code of the existing solution and either change things yourself OR work with someone who shares the same view as you. (There's a few million coders out there, I'm sure there's atleast one person who agrees with you and would like to help!)

We simply can't rely on large corporations. They only think of money and how to make more of it regardless of how they treat people. They really don't care, as money matters more.

I say forget them! Let's take the initiative and do it our way. If we start growing, eating into their marketshare and thus, their profits? Tough! Maybe they'll listen next time! (I doubt it...Money is the substance that corrupts most of humanity).

More in Tux Machines

today's leftovers

  • GTX 760 Vs R7 370 4G In Company Of Heroes 2
    Liam has done his initial port reports and such so it's my turn to feed you some information. I'm once again putting my GTX 760 against the R7 370 to see what kind of performance we can expect from Company of Heroes 2.
  • KDE Plasma 5.4 Enhances Linux Desktop Experience
    The K Desktop Environment (KDE) is one of the earliest Linux desktop environments, dating all the way back to 1996, predating even the popular GNOME desktop environment, which was started in 1999. On Aug. 25, the core KDE desktop, Plasma, got an incremental update to version 5.4 that builds on the innovations that the first Plasma 5 release introduced in July. Among the many changes that users will notice with Plasma 5.4 are more than 1,400 new icons for all KDE applications, providing a more streamlined, modern look and feel to the desktop. Also new to Plasma 5.4 is an optional Application Dashboard that provides a different way to open up applications. Finding an application, or anything else on the KDE desktop, is also improved by way of enhanced search history in the integrated KRunner search tool that is part of the desktop. Plus, the 5.4 update now provides initial support for the Wayland display server that is intended to be a replacement for the decade-old X-Window server. KDE as a desktop environment is available on multiple Linux distributions, including Ubuntu, Fedora and openSUSE. In this slide show, eWEEK examines some of the key features of the KDE Plasma 5.4 desktop.
  • KDE Sprints - who wins?
    To start with, KDE sprints are intensive sessions centered around coding. They take place in person over several days, during which time skillful developers eat, drink and sleep code. There are breaks to refresh and gain perspective, but mostly sprints involve hard, focused work. All of this developer time and effort is unpaid. However travel expenses for some developers are covered by KDE. KDE is a frugal organization with comparatively low administrative costs, and only one paid person who works part time. So the money donated for sprints goes to cover actual expenses. Who gets the money? Almost all of it goes to transportation companies.
  • GNOME Developers Discuss Codenames, GNOME 3.18 Might be Dubbed "Gothenburg"
    Allan Day, a GNOME UX designer working for Red Hat and renowned GNOME developer/contributor, opened an interesting discussion on the official GNOME mailing list, about possible codenames for upcoming releases of the acclaimed desktop environment for GNU/Linux operating systems.
  • ReadySpace Joins Red Hat Certified Cloud and Service Provider Program
    Hong-Kong based cloud service provider ReadySpace announced Thursday that it has joined the Red Hat Certified Cloud and Service Provider program. The new Red Hat partner program, launched in July, allows ReadySpace to deliver solutions based on Red Hat’s open source technologies. ReadySpace CEO David Loke said customers building on open source software and Linux servers had been asking for Red Hat solutions by name to run critical workloads in private and hybrid environments. The company will now offer private cloud build-outs, Linux infrastructure and PaaS solutions based on Red Hat.
  • Ubuntu, Canonical, and IP
    Recently there has been a flurry of concerns relating to the IP policy at Canonical. I have not wanted to throw my hat into the ring, but I figured I would share a few simple thoughts.
  • Canonical urges customers to ditch Windows 10 for Ubuntu
    In a recent posting, Canonical has tried new methods to appeal to Chief Technology Officers (CTOs) and cost conscious home users that they should switch to Ubuntu in lieu of Windows 10.

Leftovers: Software and Games

  • Gnome Boxes – A Front-end Tool For QEMU And KVM
    As we all know, there are is no doubt that Linux has tremendous support for Virtualization. There are so many virtualization softwares available including VMWare, VirtualBox, OpenVZ, XEN, KVM, Docker and the list goes. These software are mainly for intermediate and advanced Linux users. If you’re a beginner and having very little knowledge in Virtualization, then it is bit difficult to use the above mentioned tools. You may, probably, need an Intermediate or an expert user’s help. I bet you what? you don’t need anyone help. Yes. Meet Gnome Boxes, a beginner friendly, lightweight, graphical tool that makes virtualization lot easier.
  • Zbackup 1.4.3 Has Been Released. Install It On Ubuntu Or Arch Linux Now
  • Company of Heroes 2 Released on Mac and Linux
    Developed by Relic Entertainment and previously published by SEGA for PC, Company of Heroes 2 is also available now for Mac and Linux via Steam, with the Mac App Store version to follow shortly afterwards, Feral Interactive announced.
  • Carmageddon: Reincarnation Is Still Coming to Linux
    Carmageddon: Reincarnation is a game developed by the same team that made the first title all the way back in 1997. They have already released the game on Windows, and they plan to make it available for Linux users as well.

today's howtos

Embedded/Devices