Free Software on Windows and Mac

Apple

In depth: There's a long running argument between two opposing groups of open source advocates. Does the availability of free software for a proprietary platform promote or inhibit open source adoption?

Some, such as Richard Stallman, argue that running free and open source software (FOSS) on OSes such as Microsoft's Windows or Apple's OS X gives people one less reason to switch to GNU/Linux. Others feel that the availability of free GPLed software gives people a taste of software that may be otherwise out of reach, promoting the quality and diversity of open source development.

But is there really enough cross-platform free software out there to tempt users?

Inkscape is a good example. It's available pre-built for Windows, OS X and Linux, and shouts 'Draw Freely' as a slogan from both its web page and the application's About window.

Hopefully, freedom is infectious. Over the last few years software that's free, as in speech and in beer, has embedded itself within Windows and OS X and become an essential tool for many. Even if people don't understand the politics behind freely available office suites, top-class web browsers or Samba networking stacks, more users means more bug-testing, more publicity and more pressure on the third-party vendors to support the applications we, as Linux users, rely on.

If Mozilla Firefox hadn't become a household name, we'd still be fighting websites to ensure compatibility, and OpenDocument might not have become a ratified ISO standard. It also means that users of IBM's ancient OS/2 operating system can still run cutting-edge open source applications such as Scribus.

Free development

The best thing about free software on proprietary OSes is that even when you can't choose your computer system – such as when you're at work or in a cafe – you can still run software that reminds you of home. Many projects provide packages for other operating systems, and you might be surprised to find that some actually work better on Windows or OS X than they do on Linux. Many are easier to install and upgrade.

But nothing can touch Linux for providing the fertile development environment from which many open source apps initially blossom. It's the combination of open source tools, an inclusive community and a desire to provide free functionality for an alternative OS that has driven free software development. And it's forcing companies like Apple and Microsoft to re-evaluate their approach to open source. That can only be a good thing.

FOSS on Windows

The first thing many of us do when we're faced with a new Windows installation is to download Firefox. The Windows version is functionally identical to its Linux-based cousin, and once it's installed and running, your web browsing experience will be the same. Firefox is arguably more secure than the browser that's bundled with Windows by default, and certainly takes a harder line on such annoyances as pop-up windows and embedded applets.

One of the most important extensions for working with several different installations of the Firefox browser is Foxmarks, which keeps your bookmarks and (if you want) your passwords synchronised across computers by storing them online. What's more, if you're at a different computer and don't want to install Foxmarks there, you can get to your bookmarks online from a special URL. Yes, all this data is tied to the Foxmarks server, and while we can't recommend trusting your entire browsing life to someone else, it's nice to have a backup, especially if you've spent years building a collection.

The second prerequisite installation for a Windows machine is OpenOffice.org. As with Firefox, this suite of applications will feel very familiar, and everything behaves in exactly the same manner as OpenOffice.org running on Linux. It's now a viable alternative to an office suite that costs a great deal more than nothing.

Firefox and OpenOffice.org are the easiest applications to run on Windows because they're built on system-independent platforms. Things get much harder when you look at applications that are reliant on various Linux technologies. One of the most popular is Gimp, the image editing tool that we all know and love.

Gimp goes to Windows

Gimp is built with GTK 2, a toolkit that's so integral to the Linux desktop experience that it is the Linux desktop experience. Gnome uses GTK extensively for much of its functionality. But GTK has been ported to both Microsoft Windows and Apple OS X, and this is a requirement for both operating systems before you can install their flavours of Gimp.

The way that GTK is used by the operating systems is quite different. With Windows, you'll find that GTK is embedded within the application you download, and is usually included as a library (a .dll file) installed into the same directory as the application.

This means there's no sharing, but it also means there's no version compatibility, with each GTK application requiring a different version of the GTK library. In Gimp, this is all hidden behind an automated installer provided by Jernej Simoncic. This includes 5.5MB of the GTK 2 Runtime Environment for Windows, alongside 2MB of Gimp binaries. Installation of both can be done with a single .exe file downloaded from SourceForge.

Many open source packages can be installed on Windows with a single click.

Many open source packages can be installed on Windows with a single click.

Occasionally, you might be asked to install an extra package or two. With Scribus, which is your best option for a free desktop publishing package on Windows, you also need to install Ghostscript to enable PostScript and EPS import and printing. This is a simple download that automatically unzips the installation to a destination directory, after which Scribus will behave just as it would in Linux.

GTK is also required for the Windows version of Pidgin, the application formerly known as Gaim, and it's the Pidgin library that's used behind the scenes of another popular Windows instant messaging client, Miranda. Two other essential applications for your Windows installation are the Audacity audio editor and the vector graphics editor Inkscape. Both have very few rivals and are immensely popular.

Audacity features a VST Enabler as a separate download, and this enables Audacity to use any of the hundreds of freely available VST audio effects – a big advantage over the Linux version. Meanwhile Inkscape's developers have stated that they want their application to be accessible to all, regardless of platform, putting a lot of effort into a single, unified user interface.

Running Gnome on Windows

Install Cygwin

Install Cygwin: For a Linux environment within Windows, Cygwin works by converting POSIX system calls into those used by Windows. Start by downloading and running the tiny Cygwin executable.

Pick your packages

Pick your packages: Choose your closest Cygwin package repository. You can add additional repositories for the Gnome and KDE builds manually. The installer will then download the package list from the remote site.

Download Gnome

Download Gnome: Select the packages from the list and click on Next. With a Gnome installation, Cygwin will download almost 1GB of data and create a desktop icon to launch the Linux desktop.

FOSS on OS X

Working with free software on Microsoft Windows is relatively straightforward. Applications are downloaded and installed just like any other Windows application, and the user will be used to each application taking a different approach to user interaction. But things aren't quite the same for the average Apple user.

OS X is a streamlined system that uses very strict, very well researched user-interface guidelines. While the Gnome desktop is getting closer to apeing the OS X approach, right now open source applications lack much of the finesse and good design of OS X applications. But look past the aesthetics and OS X offers the closest Linux experience you can get if you have to spend money.

More X than X11

Thanks to Apple's OS X being a Unix-like operating system, it's a great choice for running open source software. It comes with a free development environment, and Apple even uses certain open source projects to insert essential functionality into its operating system. The Samba networking stack, the Apache web server and KHTML are all integral parts of the OS X experience.

But when it comes to the Mac, things are complicated by the differences between OS X and Linux. Many FOSS applications, including those that use GTK, rely on an X11-compatible windowing layer. In Linux, this is provided by the X Server we use, and we take the X Window System for granted.

OS X, on the other hand, uses its own internal graphics rendering engine. But you can install an X Server, either as a download from Apple's website or by using the discs that came with your shiny new Intel Mac.

The only problem is that installation can take a while (a couple of hours), as OS X wants to run through the entire installation procedure. If you've got the luxury of installing OS X from scratch, choose to install the X Server along with everything else.

If you'd rather stick to community-driven projects, the XDarwin project also provides X11 compatibility, using the XFree86 source code to build a Mac package. But the extra hassle of ensuring X11 compatibility is worth it for developers – they need to change very little to get their applications to recompile using Apple's X Server, as it's functionally identical to its Linux counterpart. Just try typing man startx from the OS X terminal to see what we mean.

Inkscape and Scribus

Thanks to the ease that applications can be ported, you'll find more open source software for OS X than you will for Windows. Gimp and Inkscape both feature as major projects, with their own OS X builds and installable packages. Scribus, on the other hand, still has other requirements, including Apple's Xcode development tools – go here for a detailed install guide.

Despite this, ported Linux applications running on Apple's X Server behave as you'd expect. They even look like OS X applications, but there is a slight trade-off. You'll lose clipboard integration, copy, paste and other common keyboard shortcuts (Ctrl+X replaces Apple+X for cut).

You also lose a level of desktop integration, as X11 applications don't know anything of the OS behind the current session. For instance, you can't drag and drop files into Gimp's tool palette as you can with Linux and Windows – instead you need to drag the file on to its small icon in the dock.

Plenty of applications use a simple enough GUI API that there's no need to use the X Server. These ports will 'just work'. Good examples include possibly the most versatile media player, VLC, and two of the best planetarium applications available for any system, Stellarium and Celestia.

Free astronomy applications, such as Celestia, would cost a small fortune if they were commercial.

Free astronomy applications, such as Celestia, would cost a small fortune if they were commercial.

These work faultlessly under OS X and Windows, and are good examples of quality open source applications that just work: the best possible advertisement for open source. Thanks to Trolltech releasing a GPL version of its Qt API, there's even a fully functional version of the MythTV front-end for OS X – something that would require a serious amount of effort to develop for a Windows machine, due to its strict use of libraries, configuration files and file locations.

Trolltech was able to take advantage of the similarities between Linux and OS X to make building from the original source code relatively straightforward.

X therapy

The extra layer Apple's X Server adds to your desktop has been a problem for some, and several projects are trying to build 'native' free OS X applications from the original source code. The best known is NeoOffice, which rips the guts out of each OpenOffice.org release and transplants them back into an OS X application.

For example, NeoOffice places the menu bar at the top of the screen, and also uses OS X fonts and printer drivers. It also runs without using the X Server. Back when OOo didn't have OS X support as standard (ie, pre-3.0), NeoOffice basically had the marketplace to itself. But even though OOo does officially support OS X natively, NeoOffice development continues on, It is, however, always a version or two behind OpenOffice.org, the current release being a beta of OOo 3.0.

Another project that attempts to remove the X11 requirement from a popular open source project is Seashore. This is the unlikely name given to a project that's used Gimp source code to create a native OS X app. Unlike NeoOffice, Seashore doesn't attempt to recreate every feature of its open source cousin. There's no control over font rendering, for example. But it does keep the important bits, such as the layer and brush palettes, and the various filters that make Gimp so much fun to work with. Seashore doesn't get much love from developers these days, but it's still a competent (and free!) tool for Mac users who don't want the full-fat Gimp.

Remarkably, some applications even run better on OS X than they do on the Linux desktop, and one of those is Ardour, the exceptional audio multi-tracking application. Ardour requires X11 and the audio interconnecting patchbay Jack. The OS X version of Jack can be installed from a single, downloadable package, which makes it about 1,000 times easier to use than on Linux.

The audio multi-tracking application Ardour uses a Mac version of Jack for audio interconnectivity.

The audio multi-tracking application Ardour uses a Mac version of Jack for audio interconnectivity.

And thanks to all Macs using the same Core Audio API for sound, Jack plugs seamlessly into your current audio setup. It's a much easier way to work with one of the most powerful and free audio applications available, and will hopefully lead to the Linux setup becoming easier to use.

But for the ultimate in compatibility, and the widest selection of open source software, there are two projects that aim to port Linux applications without the associated hard graft that's required to make them run on OS X. The two projects are Fink and Macports.

Both install a Linux-like development environment on your OS X system and use a package manager to install applications and source code into a 'pretend' Linux workspace. Fink will even install a working apt-get system, which works exactly like the same tools on Debian-based Linux system (Macports uses a port command in the same way to install and upgrade packages).

The result is the closest you'll get to running Linux on your Mac without resorting to either a dual boot or a virtual machine, and can be a viable alternative to running Linux if you have to stick with OS X.

With a properly configured build environment installed through Fink, you can even download the freshest Linux applications and compile them against the Fink-installed libraries. In this way, you can run applications such as GnuCash that aren't currently ported to OS X in any form.

Installing Nethack from Fink

Find a program

Find a program: Fink installs a graphical package manager that feels just like Synaptic. You can update installed packages and install new ones by browsing the list of 7,000 packages or searching for files.

Choose install method

Choose install method: You can install either the binary executable or the source code for any packages you select, and Fink will automatically install the dependencies. These are downloaded from internet repositories.

Run and play!

Run and play! Once installed, packages are executable from the regular OS X terminal. In this example, typing nethack will transparently run the application we installed through Fink.

First published in Linux Format

First published in Linux Format magazine

You should follow us on Identi.ca or Twitter


Your comments

Yes on FOSS for Windows

I got tired of IE, got used to Opera, and then Firefox, and finally realized there was an option to WinME. Never looked back.

My only suggestion would be to lable the windows version of Firefox with "Brought to you by those nice folks over at Linux!"

In faith, Dave
Viva Texas

Great idea!

Great idea!
A "Runs even better on Linux!" popup the first time you start a ported app like Pidgin or Gimp! ; D

Richard Stallman may be right but...

Richard Stallman may be right, but is the goal for OSS to kill Microsoft or Apple ? I don't think so.

I recently switched from Windows to Ubuntu, and am very happy with that. But i don't think proprietary software nor Microsoft are evil. There's space for both models, and each have pros and cons. Even on Ubuntu i still use "closed" software, such as Bibble Pro.

What's evil is proprietary trying to lock/forbid use of free software, as well as "OSS guys" arguing OSS should be only for those "good guys" who pray the same god.

FOSS converted me to Linux

It was using FOSS on Windows that led to my being interested in Linux in the first place. having this software available for Windows and Mac users is a good way to spread the word.

A great opportunity for marketing

> But i don't think proprietary software nor Microsoft are evil.

M$ is evil in the way that in my opinion it is suppressing competition, bribing politicians, etc.

I think it is a good idea that the OS projects that are related to Linux advertise Linux in some ways. I can imagine that the installer of Firefox shows some nice screen-shots about Firefox on Linux distributions while the setup.exe is running, also some links about where to download the distros. Like games say sometimes that this game is best played on NVIDIA cards, firefox could also say that this application runs best on Linux.

I think this would be good marketing, question is if it would be legal to do so - actually I think it would also be legal.

Microsoft Not Evil But Close

>>M$ is evil in the way that in my opinion it is suppressing competition, bribing politicians, etc.

I couldn't agree more. Not forgetting their involvement in the Iraq war, they use of children for their propaganda etc.

Let's be politically correct and avoid being judgemental. Microsoft are a group of people that might be not necessarily evil themselves. However, they certainly have no idea of what behaving ethically means.

A quick search on corporatecritic.org gives Microsoft and ethical score of 6 out of 20 (20 being ethically perfect). While that is not as bad as Barclays, Tesco, Nestle' etc. is still pretty bad. Basically it means that at Microsoft they have no idea of what "ethics" is.

Anyhow, FOSS geeks aren't Microsoft managers...thanks God!

Nice the idea of "marketing" Linux on other systems!

Tx,
G.

Here we go again!

FOSS on Windows and Mac systems allows the rest of the world to see that there is an alternative and it isn't just for the technical elite. Many Windows and Mac users currently enjoy safer browsing thanks to Firefox. Most of them don't understand or even know about the principals of "Open Source", to them its just an anti-Microsoft movement, and with all the talk of "FOSS shouldn't run on Windows" who could blame them.
We should be happy that others who are still locked in to Windows and/or Mac can enjoy at least some of the software freedom that we so enjoy. Fanaticism benefits no-one and just alienates people. We are free but we should also learn to be open.
@Murrayy - unfortunately the nice chaps here at TuxRadar & LXF benchmarked it and Firefox actually doesn't run as well on Linux at all :-(
Now who do we hang for that travesty?

#tuxradarfreebooks

Ubuntu or any generic linux guides would be nice!

FOSS consultant

Until recently I was of the opinion that it was a waste of time,talent and effort for Free/Open Source Software (FOSS) developers to port their software for Windows and Mac OS X - as well as for Linux/UNIX.

However I am now convinced of the opposite, since the entire
(National) Police Force of France has moved to Linux - as a result of "gradually" converting to OpenOffice, Mozilla Firefox and Thunderbird and other FOSS applications on Windows to now using Linux. It is thus proven that gradual comfort with FOSS on Windows will serve the willingness of computer users to next step of conversion to new Operating System.

W. Anderson
wanderson@nac.net

Trouble is

Jose_X is that most people are happy with proptrietary software and operating systems, this is the "Free" in freedom we have a freedom by the very GPL to use what we want, that may be open source software or operating systems but it may be a closed application or OS, we have that freedom to choose.

The other problem is, Windows users dont have vast problems with their operating system, or stability problems, and by saying they do is only a disservice on your own integrity.
The Windows users (and there are alot of them KNOW different) saying it over and over does not make it so, and its usually said by people who seem to have had their last Windows experience with W98, or 3.1.

The GPL is about freedom, even stallman used a proprietary operating system to develop his GCC, there is room for both, and stallman would be one of the first to run open source on a proprietary OS when we write and tested and ran GCC... !!

FOSS on Windows is a good thing ...

I respectfully disagree with Mr. Stallman that the availability of FOSS on MS Windows is "one less reason to switch".

On the contrary, given that MS Windows has a marketshare of about 90% world-wide and that its GUI and those of both commercial and FOSS software are still (after 8 years of development) better and less buggy than those of Linux (like KDE, Gnome and plain X), it is unrealistic to expect end-users (which make out more than 90% of all users) or (more importantly) businesses to switch to a platform they know nothing about (like Linux). Especially since MS Windows comes pre-installed on just about 99% of all PCs. End-users see no reason to switch to something unknown, especially if that means learning new applications (of sometimes dubious quality).

Much of that is inertia, and in the case of businesses a well-founded fear of tinkering with a platform (any platform) that already works. This is no more than logical since any time spent on coping with potential "gotcha's" or even plain and straightforward conversions is time that can't be spent on the primary business process. Even if the TOC for a different platform may, in the long run, save them money.

If, on the other hand, FOSS applications are available on both MS Windows and Linux without modifications (so that users don't need to get to grips with new applications) the role and importance of the OSS shrinks. As it should. And with it the strength of the lock-in of the OS. When that happens it becomes much easier to switch OS. And of course there are reasons to switch from MW Windows to Linux: no more costly upgrade cycles, much less vulnerable to viruses, more flexibility in how and where you deploy it, and generally a lower TOC. But these are small advantages compared to the cost of switching. Reduce the cost of switching and you accelerate the rate at which people will switch.

That's why I believe Mr. Stallman is wrong to view the availability of FOSS software on MS Windows as a retardant factor as far as switching is concerned. Quite the opposite I believe.

Providing free software for

Providing free software for non-free operating system isn't just about letting people get a taste of it to tempt them over to another OS. It's also about making an easy transition. If someone uses Internet Explorer for 95% of their computer use and then tries to switch to Linux, the change is jarring. If they use Firefox, as I did, and then make the switch then it greatly eases the transition. I doubt I would've switched to Linux if my initial browser of choice didn't run on it. As it happens, the greatest difficulty I had was leaving foobar2000 for Amarok, although now I find Amarok fine for my needs (though considerably less powerful). If Amarok had been available on windows and I had used it, I could've switched to Linux with virtually no disruption. If a user uses applications such as Firefox, OpenOffice.org etc. and then tries a Linux live CD and finds the same apps there, they are much more likely to realise that they don't need to pay the Windows tax or suffer its technical inferiority.

>> most people are happy

>> most people are happy with proptrietary software and operating systems

It's hard to remain happy with closed source software when you consider that you basically have to pay for it and lose control over a lot of things.

BTW, were you quoting a survey? I'd love to see how that was carried out (but it's anecdotal, I know).

>> this is the "Free" in freedom we have a freedom by the very GPL to use what we want, that may be open source software or operating systems but it may be a closed application or OS, we have that freedom to choose.

Did you read my comment and understand it? The GPL creates restrictions. It does this to minimize the degree to which GPL software is leveraged within closed systems to lock-in users. The aim is most clearly to grow the amount of FOSS that exists.

Maybe you didn't understand the analogy or haven't read the GPL. If so I can try and explain it to you. Ask though, because I won't take the time otherwise.

>> Windows users dont have vast problems with their operating system, or stability problems, and by saying they do is only a disservice on your own integrity...usually said by people who seem to have had their last Windows experience with W98, or 3.1.

Funny you didn't mention what is considered to be the most unstable Windows ever (possibly with the exception of Vista, though I haven't used Vista at all): Windows Me. I supposed I might now have reason to doubt your integrity.

I've heard many different negative stories and have experienced some myself despite not spending much time with Windows; however, I do believe people will adapt no matter what system they use. Computers aren't perfect and to first approximation (ignoring the malware infestation problem on Windows) Linux and Windows desktop aren't too unlike each other.

But of course, I wish you would have quoted me because I think you misread what I wrote. Or at least refresh my mind.

Fact is no-charge (free) and lacking back doors is an attraction to software. To the degree Windows fails to support FOSS, Windows will suffer in front of users' eyes and lose more and more users each day. FOSS won't protect you on Windows (you need an open OS like Linux), but eventually many users will get the feeling any amount of FOSS will be an improvement to their protection.

I am encouraged that, no matter how much WinFOSS will ever exist, users will migrate to Linux when they realize that closed source means things are being done behind their back in preference of the business running the show. Why not go all the way and just jump on Linux. [good message]

>> The GPL is about freedom, even stallman used a proprietary operating system to develop his GCC

When these first steps were taken, almost no FOSS existed. Linux didn't exist. LiveCDs didn't exist. I could question your integrity as well, but it's just easier to believe you are confused.

At one point in time people did not use computers. Are you suggesting, in today's world, they follow that ancient practice of not using computers? What was your point here?

FOSS is the smart future. Ignore it to your loss.

>> stallman would be one of the first to run open source on a proprietary OS when we write and tested and ran GCC... !!

Like I said (bears repeating), you truly are confused to attempt to use this analogy to support WinFOSS. I suppose I could question your integrity.

In a nutshell... Linux long-term viability is what is at stake

>> If, on the other hand, FOSS applications are available on both MS Windows and Linux without modifications (so that users don't need to get to grips with new applications) the role and importance of the OSS shrinks. As it should. And with it the strength of the lock-in of the OS. When that happens it becomes much easier to switch OS.

You are correct about "shrinkage", all else being the same, but there is a cost to everything. The gains from WinFOSS (negligible in most cases since you can get used to FOSS on a simplified Linux dedicated to some particular small set of apps, remember) don't compare to the losses in motivation to switch to Linux if you can just more or less get all the new free apps you want from Windows.

The problem is that many people may not be able to dump Windows. There is too much lock-in: data files of some types; certain apps users won't dump, period; certain online services they can't dump yet; certain hardware that doesn't yet run on Linux or won't for x or y reason; etc.

And let's not forget that Linux will *always* be a little new and scary for many people the very first time. You need some motivation to look at something new. Gratuitous changes are not appreciated by organisms (ie, by humans). Linux adoption speed will correlate strongly with the perception among users that change will lead to improvements.

So the goal for the user is for them to have sufficient motivation/gains to be had from Linux so that Linux is adopted alongside Windows.

Another goal (for developers) is to free up time spend porting and designing to cater to Windows to instead code for Linux improvements and features. This way Linux and its applications advance faster and with less bagage. This helps everyone, ultimately.

The Linux GUI is very similar to Windows. The web works the same way to a large degree even if the browser shell is a little different. Most of the "comfort level" is alreay there.

When you have Windows and Linux side by side, then the user can migrate over from their locked-in data files; favorite apps/hardware/services.. as slowly as they want over time (maybe these will become supported or a better FOSS one will grab their attention, etc). With Linux there on the side, you have leverage against Microsoft's costly upgrade treadmill.

So the first moves aren't that bad. There is little need for WinFOSS because Linux is free and can be run alongside Windows.

The reason to avoid WinFOSS is to give Linux better chance long-term (and for this to take effect quicker). People may appreciate what Linux brings to the table (once they understand it), but people won't use a system if it were to end up continually lagging in almost all respects. What you use has to have enough things on it where it leads. WinFOSS hurts these prospects.

Finally, with enough people using Linux (the quicker the better), it becomes more likely that governments and other major players will stop making excuses for proprietary lock-in formats. It also means it will be politically easier to effect some changes in government that are in the best interests of all citizens but currently are difficult to carry out since most people still don't carry around Linux.

How to migrate, to what degree, and when

>> Much of that is inertia, and in the case of businesses a well-founded fear of tinkering with a platform (any platform) that already works.

Now who is supposed to believe that Windows "just works"?

However, any business application that you have built and debugged significantly for platform X does present some migration issues (less so if you use Java, web interfaces, or even Qt); however, who says you have to migrate? Legacy apps aren't migrated over night. They remain "legacy" and are integrated into the overall system through various mechanisms [See bottom.]

>> This is no more than logical since any time spent on coping with potential "gotcha's" or even plain and straightforward conversions is time that can't be spent on the primary business process.

Looking only at this statement (ie, ignoring the context that not quoted above), I have to say I agree.

In fact, this is one (co)reason why many people will never switch to Vista or to Windows 7. How many times has Microsoft extended the end of life deadline for Windows XP? That speaks volume. Of course Vista has other problems besides a learning curve.

>> it is unrealistic to expect end-users (which make out more than 90% of all users) or (more importantly) businesses to switch to a platform they know nothing about (like Linux).

Of course it's unrealistic. You have to test out the new platform first. Don't tell me you honestly think that a company moves over to a new platform without testing?

There is no easier platform to test drive on your existing hardware than Linux.

And let's not forget that the very young and the very old (to use some stereotypes) are converted to Linux every day.

Most people using Linux, drop Windows only after years of keeping it around ("just in case").

>> and that its GUI and those of both commercial and FOSS software are still (after 8 years of development) better and less buggy than those of Linux (like KDE, Gnome and plain X)

That's a matter of opinion.

I'll say this. Try it first. Grade the overall experience. That's the check mark that counts. There are many things that run faster and smoother on Linux, but you wont' know if you don't sample. Take some time before you settle down with a specific distro.

Also, most of the "cooler" or more popular distros aren't the most stable. That goes with the territory. [Generally speaking Debian stable is considered very stable.]

For important environments, you take the time to sample lots of things and plan and ask questions. For unimportant environments, as I said in the last comment, Windows and Linux are similar enough (except for the Windows malware infestation problem).

As software develops, steps back are always taken. It's up to the user to hold off on migrating forward until kinks have been removed. Find a stability point you like and stick with it. With FOSS, you have that option (if you are a large business, you may want lots of support and hence will not have the same flexibility unless you are willing to switch vendors or do some of the support yourself).

>> But these are small advantages compared to the cost of switching. Reduce the cost of switching and you accelerate the rate at which people will switch.

Again, you don't have to ever switch 100% or anything like that. You can and should do it piecemeal (eg, as your Windows staff learns more about Linux).

Have you heard of virtualization (running Windows and Linux side by side)? Have you heard of switching a part of staff at a time (use the short-term license savings as bonuses to stimulate voluntary switching)?

Don't underestimate the motivation the comes with enabling lots of free goodies.

As for corporations that have in-house apps under their control, these should get ported or have a web interface added to them so that they can be used from Linux (after you port the active X components or remove them from the apps).

If only...

Stallman could be right, but for entirely different reasons from what he imagines.

Yes, FOSS on Windows and Mac OS X is a good thing because it's easier to get something like VLC running on the closed platforms than on a CURRENTLY SUPPORTED version of RHEL. RHEL4 might not be the latest and greatest, but neither are OS X 10.4 and Windows XP. Funnily enough I can run some sweet FOSS media players on the closed platforms, but on RHEL4? No way -- that way lies dependency hell.

I had the same problem with Firefox 3.0, until RedHat backported it for GTK+2.4 on RHEL4.7. You dig and dig through dependencies, and discover (around the point where dependencies stop being reported and the software still doesn't launch), that basically, you'd have to upgrade the entire OS by hand (and deal with the RHN Update consequences) ... or just install the next version.

Sorry, can't ditch application vendor support just to run a media player or a browser.

The irony is that we *have* to use XP to run some of the latest FOSS. At home, I'd gladly run Linux, if only there was a decent PowerPC distro that could replace OS X...

No thanks. But I'll keep supporting Linux in its roles as the ultra-stable engineering workstation platform, and the Internet server platform.

Once FOSS projects reach a point of being truly platform agnostic, and not actively *favouring* the proprietary platforms, we can have this discussion again.

Great KDE4 Ports

Hi all, to those of you who want to use KDE Software differently...

windows.kde.org/ /*Download KDE 4 Windows Installer*/
mac.kde.org /*Download KDE 4 MAC Installer*/

latest version: 4.2.1

ALL FINE KDE APPS FOR FREE!
Marble 0.70
Kalzium
Koffice
Kbounce (game)
Amarok 2.0.11
KATE
....
EVEN PLASMA (not fully working yet)...
cheers, from Germany
AndreasP

The Mak taketh, but the Mak does not giveth away.

They only take, and take and take. And no matter how much open stuff they use, they keep on closing door after door for the rest of the world.I say: open stuff may never, EVER be used for commercial use or in closed platforms!

Can windows go

am tired of this window os. ve tried downloading linux ofcourse the free stuff but i keep breaking off can some one direct me to a fast n reliable source.
thnx

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

Post new comment

CAPTCHA
We can't accept links (unless you obfuscate them). You also need to negotiate the following CAPTCHA...

Username:   Password:
Create Account | About TuxRadar