Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Linux Business Businesses IBM Software

IBM Exec Bemoans Lack of Industry-Specific Linux Apps 302

Posted by timothy
from the windows-lacks-compiz-fusion- dept.
Ian Lamont writes "Bob Sutor, IBM's vice president of open source and standards, used his keynote appearance at LinuxWorld to complain about the lack of industry-specific open source apps. Despite some encouraging signs in the educational field with Sakai, Sutor said that he was 'tired of waiting' for specialized applications to appear in other sectors, adding that the proliferation of different licenses — and changing legal requirements for using the same software over time — is holding some businesses back from using open source applications."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

IBM Exec Bemoans Lack of Industry-Specific Linux Apps

Comments Filter:
  • Just a thought... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by amazeofdeath (1102843) on Friday August 08, 2008 @07:00AM (#24522609)

    Maybe IBM might wish to consider throwing some money at someone developing those apps.

    • by fork_daemon (1122915) on Friday August 08, 2008 @07:08AM (#24522645) Journal

      Ah.. I was about to say that.

      In the world of open and free software, people develop software only becuase they are motivated to make one usually for personal gain.

      Unless someone motivates them, you wont expect them to make softwares that they do not plan to use. There is no lack of talent.

      We could have seen a GTA clone on the Linux front by now, but we don't for two reasons, no one is sponsoring any project and no one really is motivated enough to start one.

      If someone throws in enough money, they will get what they want.

      • The major problem with the "throw money at it" argument is that ALOT of money is going to be needed to effectively bridge the gap between M$ and Open Source. If we could go back in time (say, 1994) and get Open Source the same level of support as it has today, without a doubt, we would be living a completely different world.

        The major problem is as follows: If I spend money to build application X for an Open Source platform, will anyone switch when that same application is also being built on Windows (which

        • Re:Just a thought... (Score:5, Interesting)

          by ShieldW0lf (601553) on Friday August 08, 2008 @08:10AM (#24522999) Journal

          It's not a major problem. Businesses can make sweeping statements about how they don't wish to deal with license proliferation. But they have been riding all this time on the tail of an install base that was funded by a lot of consumers, and reducing their costs because someone else has been footing the bill. That isn't going to last. When these closed source companies are maintaining an increasingly complex codebase for a shrinking segment of the market, the cost to the shrunken segment is going to increase until there is no longer a business case for using it. When that point is reached, businesses that refuse to get with the program will go out of business.

          If IBM wants to see more people using open software, they should send their legal guns in and start tearing down the tyrannical legal structure that prompted this license proliferation in the first place. After all is said and done, they helped build those legal structures that created this situation in the first place. If we had a system that enshrined the peoples right to have access to ideas, rather than one that enshrined the right of individuals and corporations to erect barriers, this wouldn't be happening, and people could stop funding the rich lifestyles of jet-setting lawyers and get down to the business of being productive and making the world a better place to live in.

          The lawyer bills are, at the end of the day, what they're complaining about.

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

            I'm you are so fucking smart why don't you invest your life savings in an industry-specific open source app? No, I didn't think so either.

            • Re:Just a thought... (Score:5, Interesting)

              by ShieldW0lf (601553) on Friday August 08, 2008 @09:01AM (#24523477) Journal
              I'm you are so fucking smart why don't you invest your life savings in an industry-specific open source app? No, I didn't think so either.

              I don't have a life savings. I don't trust economies or currencies and I don't like participating in modern capitalism, so I don't keep large amounts of liquidity or financial investments. But I have been investing years of my effort and surplus income into creating an industry specific infrastructure to support artists who release Creative Commons so there will be alternatives to copyright available for people to turn to. And of course, once it's ready and live, I'll release the technological advances I've made to the community. If you want more details, you'll have to wait till I'm ready to handle the load of a slashdotting. But I put my time and money where my mouth is, and I always have. So, fuck off.
              • Re:Just a thought... (Score:4, Interesting)

                by j-pimp (177072) <zippy1981.gmail@com> on Friday August 08, 2008 @10:27AM (#24524789) Homepage Journal

                I don't have a life savings. I don't trust economies or currencies and I don't like participating in modern capitalism, so I don't keep large amounts of liquidity or financial investments.

                Your participating in modern capitalism whetherr you like it or not, just like I participate in modern socialism and modern communism to the extent that its implemented by my country and the countries that make the goods I buy. I'm not sure how you can't trust economies in general. Where there are people there is commerce, in the general sense of the word. Where there is commerce there is an economy. The Creative Commons is simply a different form of commerce and a different form of economy.

                But I have been investing years of my effort and surplus income into creating an industry specific infrastructure to support artists who release Creative Commons so there will be alternatives to copyright available for people to turn to.

                So your participating in the economy, following its rules very traditional ways in an effort to change it?

                And of course, once it's ready and live, I'll release the technological advances I've made to the community. If you want more details, you'll have to wait till I'm ready to handle the load of a slashdotting. But I put my time and money where my mouth is, and I always have. So, fuck off.

                Personally I always tend towards the "announce the creation of the svn repo," as opposed to, "big secret until I deliver a finished product," but I understand the logic of the "TADA" release. That being said, saying, "I have something. It will be big, but I can't show it to you yet. Fuck off." will not win you any support. That being said I wish you luck and hope you do change the world. I am a die hard capitalists, but I don't think the current model of artificial scarcity with "intellectual property" is ideal.

                • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                  by ShieldW0lf (601553)

                  I'm not interested in winning support on the basis of my friendly demeanor. I don't have one. I'm interested in supporting individuals by providing them practical infrastructures that allow them to walk away from their feudal masters, and I'm good at it. Personally, I think capitalists should be executed for crimes against humanity, but I'm pragmatic enough to recognize that to truly win, the social organization they provide must be replaced. Once that's done, they'll be rendered irrelevant.

                  Yes, I'm par

                • by orasio (188021)

                  You fail it. The guy just said he doesn't like participating in modern capitalism. And using the same system to subvert it is a valid way to do it. The GPL does so with copyright, and succeeds, as an example.

                  I kind of agree with your last paragraph, although I am more radical against "intellectual property" stuff.

          • When these closed source companies are maintaining an increasingly complex codebase for a shrinking segment of the market, the cost to the shrunken segment is going to increase until there is no longer a business case for using it.
            .

            I believe it was the IBM exec whose best estimate put Linux at 0.6% of the market.

            The numbers haven't much improved since. Top Operating System Share Trend [hitslink.com]

            If we had a system that enshrined the peoples right to have access to ideas, rather than one that enshrined the right of

      • Actually, you might see a GTA clone some day. There is already an Elite clone (http://vegastrike.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net]). Development on Vega Strike is slow compared to commercial projects but there is a handful of hobbyists who keep the project going.

        Now industry specific software is far less fun and enticing (read: boooring). In that case, I believe it will take real money in the form of salaries for the developers ;-)

      • by tehcyder (746570)

        If someone throws in enough money, they will get what they want.

        I am intrigued by your ideas and would like to subscribe to your newsletter, signed A Deranged Venture Capitalist.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by LatePaul (799448)

      Thing is even if they did (are?)

      a) we're talking about a lot of money to fill even a small proportion of the missing apps

      b) for the health of the Linux software eco-system there needs to be many developers of such apps, not just IBM and a few other big corporations

      Thing to realise is this is a keynote speech at a conference. Despite the tone of "I'm tired of waiting" he's not really talking about what applications he personally, or IBM as an organisation want/need, he's trying to throw out a challenge to th

      • by zappepcs (820751)

        I agree with you but think you missed a point: IBM has a vested interest in seeing F/OSS grow exponentially. Their business plan is based on that happening. Lets try to finish his thought:

        I'm tired of waiting.... so I'm going to try to goad you developers into starting a few new projects. The trouble (as mentioned) is what projects are needed? What industry/sector is missing applications? Are those industries covered by in-house software already? Are the applications so specific that joe bloggs can't possib

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by ThePhilips (752041)

          I'm tired of waiting.... so I'm going to try to goad you developers into starting a few new projects.

          I presume that Sutor meant "industry software" as narrow specialized tools used by many companies internally.

          But the Sutor seems to not to get the problem with the industry software. (Or he is intentionally pitching at lack of backward compatibility in Vista). Such software has few buyers and often developed with very sophisticated model called "snow ball." 20 years ago, somebody written little tool for DOS to do some work. Then somebody added another function. Then somebody sold it to another company.

    • by pionzypher (886253) on Friday August 08, 2008 @07:48AM (#24522875)
      I agree, but with a caveat.. I've had the opportunity to attempt to transition some of our scada systems at work to linux. One issue though, linux is sorely lacking in this area. There are a few pieces of software out there, but nothing that can hope to begin to compete with win32 solutions. I'd argue that this isn't due to lack of interest or talent; but more of a confidentiality concern. The best solution I've found for mudbus TCP interfacing is at tuxplc.net. It's by no means an optimal solution, however. I'd be very surprised if I were the only one considering this. But I'll never be able to contribute.. I've been working on my own implementation to log and control the mbTCP devices available. I'd love to give my work away in the hope that it would help others.... but there's no way in hell my employer would ever allow me to release the code or binaries.


      I guess my point is, this is one point where FOSS seems to break down. A lot of industry specific apps are (at least viewed as) highly proprietary and simply won't be prolific in FOSS. This isn't simply a case of no one being interested, or a lack of financial support. More of a NDA / confidentiality / trade secret realm issue perhaps.
      • by richlv (778496)

        wouldn't it be more efficient to build upon the existing solution and submit the improvements, thus getting a cheaper and better solution ?
        have you tried to inform your employer that such an approach would require less resources to implement and maintain - and that in the end it would result in a better quality software (with all respect to your coding skills, but there's always that one bug other coder will see instantly, and there's always a ton of bugs each additional tester will find ;) )

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by christoofar (451967)

      Most package managers aren't going to be happy with handling distribution packages for COTS software that is mostly pre-compiled binaries.

      That's a burden for COTS distribution unless you're Java-based.

      Plus, there's that whole Gtk/Qt mess (which one should I use), testing in multiple languages, and the COTS package having to support multiple platforms.

      In the COTS space, for industry-specific apps... Mac is finally getting some attention. However, plain jane dumb users (the kind in OfficeSpace) aren't going

      • by jedidiah (1196)

        Total bullshit.

        The challenges for running COTS software on Linux are the same as they
        are for Windows. If you want to be in the business of managing the
        customers system level pre-requisites then you need to actively
        manage those. Running on top of Windows doesn't make these magically
        go away.

        Have you really ever actually installed any Windows software ever?

        Nevermind actually writing the installers.

        This is just another aspect of the usual fear mongering.

      • by richlv (778496)

        you keep talking about binaries & compilation from the source all the time. so which is it, binary packages or compilation ?

    • by barzok (26681)

      Just throwing money at "someone" to develop the apps often isn't enough.

      http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/archives/001158.html [codinghorror.com]

      Perhaps IBM should start writing these apps themselves instead.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      I realize IBM is a big company but some of those apps are not cheap to develop. Example, Autodesk invested 10's of millions of dollars in developing the core of Inventor, I'm not talking about all the UI, spit and polish, along with all the changes that have happened over the years.

      There are a lot of apps missing for Linux:

      Mid-range CAD (AutoCAD, Inventor, SolidWorks, etc)

      POS (Point of Sale) for the small/medium business. IBM does have Linux based POS solutions, however, they are exorbitantly expensive fo

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Hatta (162192)

      They already throw a lot of money at Linux.

      What's really needed is for those businesses stuck on proprietary windows software, spending thousands or tens of thousands of dollars every year for their niche software to get together and hire some coders to put together a free solution for the benefit of the whole industry. It's boring stuff, no one is going to write this stuff for free. But since they're paying someone already, they might as well get source code they can modify to their own needs. And yes, t

    • Maybe IBM might wish to consider throwing some money at someone developing those apps.

      Or, the people with the skills to write software whose SOLE purpose is to make money for companies in a specific industry might prefer to not give away the source code and instead trade the binaries for really large amounts of cash directly from the companies who will make money with that software and leave IBM completely out of the picture.

      This really isn't an argument about open source software. This is more an argument about a big company (IBM) who really, really wants to be able to sell software and ser

  • by wisty (1335733) on Friday August 08, 2008 @07:12AM (#24522675)
    A company might spend hundreds of thousands on an industry application, then turn it into an industry standard (or consortium developed) open source application. This gives them a slight advantage (as they already know the program), and allows them to focus on core business, not programming. The problem is, the GPL doesn't stop a competitor forking the project and gaining a competitive advantage developing extra features in house (obviously not distributing back to the world). There are other licenses, (RPL) that fix this, but FSF says they are too free or something.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by fsmunoz (267297)
      I think that the GPL actually always had that advantage over non-copyleft licences: while it doesn't stop a competitor from taking the code it pretty much guarantees that any "competitive advantage" that arises is smoothed out since they must make that available. This makes it somewhat preferable for a company that wants to release some in-house developed code ans is concerned about that angle.

      I've read the RPL briefly, and it seems that the main difference is that it requires that everything related to
    • That argument doesn't make sense. If they develop extra features in house and don't distribute it, then how are they getting a competitive advantage ?
      • by smellotron (1039250) on Friday August 08, 2008 @07:30AM (#24522759)
        I believe the GP is referring to another company developing extra features for in-house use, then distributing the app in-house. AFAIK the GPL licensing requires the company's developers to provide the source modifications to the company's users, but the company as a whole can keep those modifications private.
        • by mr_mischief (456295) on Friday August 08, 2008 @07:52AM (#24522909) Journal

          IANAL, but I don't think placing the binaries on company-owned computers for use by company employees is considered distribution. If the company gives an employee a copy for their own PC to work from home, that's a whole new can of worms.

        • And what's preventing the employees from releasing the said source code to the outside world ? apart from getting fired of course ? From what I know of GPL, the company can't say "Here's the source under GPL, but don't distribute it".

          So the employees or for that matter any party which obtains the source code from the company is perfectly within their legal rights to distribute the code to the outside world .

          Or am I missing something ?

  • Very true (Score:5, Insightful)

    by markdavis (642305) on Friday August 08, 2008 @07:22AM (#24522715)

    This is extremely true. We are a 95% Linux site- servers and clients, and it is nearly impossible to find industry specific Linux applications. The kicker is- we would be happy with even CLOSED source, commercial applications. There are needs for specific types of software for just about every industry: medical, dental, car repair, musician, distribution, auditing, education, scientific, etc, you name it.

    But what is worse is the lack of applications for NON industry-specific business applications. EVERY business needs payroll, GL, AP, and AR. At least there are some choices with those, but surprisingly few. When you are trying to use Linux on the server AND client side, it is quite a challenge. I know. We are trying to get payroll, GL, AP, and AR *right now*. Fortunately, we found Southware- impressive stuff, although it is expensive, and text-based only.

    And no, WINE doesn't cut it- we need real support. And no, we are not able to develop such apps ourselves. And no, we don't have the time or resources to start such development projects. But we have money and want to spend it on something that allows us to use the platform of our choice.

    What is needed is a COMPELLING, modern, cross-platform, open-source, GUI, business application development environment. It is 2008. It shouldn't be difficult anymore for existing vendors to port their software to all major platforms and support them. Eventually this will happen, at least with a few major vendors. But in the meanwhile, Linux is suffering horribly in business outside of being web/file/print/compute servers.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by segedunum (883035)

      We are a 95% Linux site- servers and clients, and it is nearly impossible to find industry specific Linux applications. The kicker is- we would be happy with even CLOSED source, commercial applications.

      For industry specific and niche applications it is doubtful whether you will ever get a set of open source applications for a lot of set purposes. What is required are reasonably straightforward development frameworks for application developers to pick up, create a wide variety of software and be able distri

    • Mod parent up (Score:3, Insightful)

      by TheLink (130905)
      I agree. It's not the lack of industry specific apps that should bother people that much.

      It's the lack of non industry specific apps - HR, Finance/Accounting. You mentioned that sort of stuff. Stuff that every fair sized company needs.

      Then there's also stuff like calendaring/scheduling.

      Lots of people are resorting to MS Outlook and Exchange because the OSS options just aren't compelling.

      You need an OSS client AND server that work well together for email, calendaring, etc AND the client must run on Windows/O
    • This is extremely true. We are a 95% Linux site- servers and clients, and it is nearly impossible to find industry specific Linux applications. T

      Maybe it depends what you do. In math/science fields, there's a ton of Linux stuff. Many applications have unix/windows versions, but many open-source applications are pretty much unix only - or at least, you're on your own if you want to do it in Windows.

      If you're talking about polished, high-end business apps, then the problem is the article itself - companies

    • Then resell it, or open source it.

    • Aside from pre-installed Windows on PCs I buy (which I usually wipe), I rarely pay for software - in the past few years the only thing I bought was World of Warcraft. I run Gnewsense on my desktop at home and always look for libre software first.

      Last year I began looking for some business accounting software (or maybe even ERP). One important thing for me to point out is I know next-to-nothing about accounting. So all those wizards and helpful hints and documentation are a must for me. So I took a look

  • Notes? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by linuxpng (314861) on Friday August 08, 2008 @07:25AM (#24522723)

    Can you run notes without wine?

  • Myopic execs (Score:2, Insightful)

    by sleepyfox (946245)
    I would suggest that Bob visits his optician, for there are many open-source industry-specific enterprise applications out there, should he care to look. In Healthcare IT two high-quality FOSS enterprise applications that I've come across recently are Mirth ( http://www.mirthproject.org/ [mirthproject.org] ) a cross-platform standards-compliant interface engine, and Tolven ( http://www.tolvenhealth.com/ [tolvenhealth.com] ) an EHR solution. I can't comment about other verticals, but I suggest that the parable of 'look, and ye shall find' is a
    • by Fred_A (10934)

      There aren't many. There are a handful. At best. For people who try to run Linux shops it's indeed very difficult.

      For something that impacts pretty much every business, finding a proper accounting package that will be accepted during yearly audits (in Europe) is pretty much impossible at the moment.

      More specialised packages for innumerable industries simply don't exist although in many case you can hack something together fairly easily from what's out there (but most businesses aren't too keen on that kind

  • i dunno (Score:3, Informative)

    by nawcom (941663) on Friday August 08, 2008 @07:26AM (#24522727) Homepage

    but I think a company could get open source programmers to work on open source industry-specific apps by *shocked* paying them for it! I sure as hell would take time out of working on my own apps to do contract work for IBM, as long as a check is coming to me in the mail. No money? I'll just continue to put my heart into my own open source applications. Heh, no, I did not RTFA yet.

    • by Locklin (1074657)

      You would think that a company that makes a metric arse-load of money selling hardware that *runs* business applications, could invest a bit money to make sure there are some applications to run on that hardware. Not that IBM doesn't invest heavily in FLOSS, but this just sounds like the government whining that taxes are too low.

      • by jedidiah (1196)

        Yeah... it's time for IBM to step up and clone QuickBooks.

        They could even charge money for it.

        They key thing they should do if they do not make the program
        libre is to make the data libre. They could create the equivalent
        of PDF for accounting data (if that doesn't exist already).

        That way, there's some means to ensure portability of your data.

        They could build it on mysql or posgres. They could build a spiffy
        GUI dev environment for both or either and make their QB clone a
        model application for that dev environ

  • Why Sakai? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Flambergius (55153) on Friday August 08, 2008 @07:30AM (#24522757)

    I wonder why the example mentioned is Sakai? Anyone working with Open Source Software in the education knows very well that the real success story is Moodle [moodle.org]. Unfortunately the article doesn't go into details in this regard, so I'm left just thinking that it's another case of Big Organization Blindness.

    • by Dan East (318230)

      I'm also curious about Sakai. It is a java-based web app, so it's not really specific to Linux at all, and those that "use" it don't even know that Linux is powering the back-end. I assumed he was referring to Linux desktop apps.

    • by iamhigh (1252742) *
      That's a website (will run on windows). Completely different story. Just cuz it's in PHP doesn't mean it's an enterprise *Linux* app.
  • by Urkki (668283) on Friday August 08, 2008 @07:36AM (#24522799)

    It's quite understandable that a business that needs some industry-spesific application and comes to the conclusion that they must pay to have it made, won't make it open source. It's kind of against traditional business sense to pay for something, and then give it away so that your competitors get access to it for free... And even the usual open source arguments of getting "community development" benefit won't fly here. It's unlikely the competitors would "give back" their modifications/fixes with GPL, if they are just using the software internally, as they probably would with a lot of "industry specific" software. And even if they're distributing it, they probably wouldn't put any effort in "giving back", they'd do it only if somebody found out and actively requested they comply with the license.

    I think a yet different kind of licence is needed... It could for example require at least read-only online version control repository for anybody who compiles the software from source and uses it in any way, and also require that the internal version is compiled unpatched from the public repository, and that if some closed code is used with it, the open code must not depend on the closed code (only the other way around). Or something like that, making sure that whatever competitors do with the open software, they can't hide their improvements easily.

  • by mr_mischief (456295) on Friday August 08, 2008 @07:38AM (#24522811) Journal

    This "changing legal requirements for running the same software" bit is obviously a crack at the GPLv2 to GPLv3 transition and similar license changes some projects go through.

    Anyone speaking on behalf of IBM should realize that the EULAs for proprietary software change between versions all the time. Hell, many of them allow the publisher to retroactively change the terms of the EULA by posting the new wording to a website.

    It isn't really fair to call one group out as being inferior for having clearer licenses that just happen to change more noticeably. It's the changes you don't notice until you're being sued that are the really painful ones, after all.

  • Hear hear.... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by christoofar (451967) on Friday August 08, 2008 @07:39AM (#24522817)

    I encounter this problem daily. I'm in a corporation that makes software.

    EVERYBODY in the company knows that Linux is great, has been proven to be stable, the kernel can be adapted to run on anything, and now has a superior GUI (factoring in compiz/beryl + emerald), and you can use every programming language known to man on it.

    Our particular problem is that the Microsoft monopoly has held on for so long, we're populated with a lot of Microsoft druids from the highest levels of the organization to the bottom.

    We can't fire those people, obviously, and replace them with OSS-devotees; that would cut off our nose to spite our face. And besides, our clients (power industry, oil and gas) are almost always 100% windows desktop shops, with the random chance that their SAP system might be on an AIX server or HP-UX or if it's a brand new IBM mainframe... would be on a Linux mainframe.

    But, I don't see anybody that wants a native SAPGUI for Linux, much less see the product I work on, which is graphics intensive, to run natively on Linux.

    Shoot... imagine your average SAPGUI corporate druid that would want to run SAPGUI on Linux natively... this is what they would have to do:
    http://www.linuxquestions.org/linux/answers/Applications_GUI_Multimedia/HOW_TO_Run_SAP_GUI_On_LINUX_To_Connect_SAP_R3_Systems

    You think they're going to do that? Unless they're a geek... no.

    And that little example is just a product I work on that is 80% Java based. Think of that huge mountain of little VB6 apps still out there.

    Most corporations have tons of home-grown apps that sit internally which take care of important processes that keep the company humming. Sure, most of them could be reduced to python scripts with a CLI front-end, a Berkeley DB instead of Access and the users could just use PuTTY to get to them; but is that realistic? Who wants to do that work all over again?

    What would convince companies it is worth their time to move to a FOSS platform on the desktop?

    I mean, we already have a nice office suite that does most of everything you want and has that neat free-PDF generation stuff Office doesn't have (OOo), email clients galore, seamless wireless connectivity has gotten better, plenty of browsers, lots of security, every networking app and util you can think of, and every day--more native OSS clients you can shake a stick at.

    These are just some of the problems that have to be worked around. I do my part where I work. My desktop at work is Linux, and so is home. Been that way for years now.

    Always run the bleeding-edge version of Compiz and when other admins, execs, system architects and other geek-minded people pay a visit to my desk, I make sure they are wowed and dazzled by my desktop display [face it... candy does lure them in].

    The problem out there in corporations is the population of people who are more than willing to dump and reload to a new version of Windows whenever it comes out, but mainly too afraid to run Linux on anything other than trash boxes--at best.

    If you want people to embrace the desktop, you need to convince people that they love it, not argue with them when they try to compare KDE+GNOME to their old Windows installation.

    Apple seems to have accepted this reality--and the market share of OSX in the desktop space has been increasing the last 5 years.

    Just keep doing cool stuff on your own workstation or your laptop, and share it with.

    Jealousy is the best and fastest way to spark adoption.

    • If you want people to embrace the desktop, you need to convince people that they love it, not argue with them when they try to compare KDE+GNOME to their old Windows installation.

      Well said - belittling someone else's tools is not the way to win them over to your side.

      Apple seems to have accepted this reality--and the market share of OSX in the desktop space has been increasing the last 5 years.

      But Apple has a big advantage over Linux - a tightly controlled environment that simply works. No need to build pr

  • by jimicus (737525) on Friday August 08, 2008 @07:40AM (#24522825)

    Forget about licenses for a minute. There's no law that says "Applications running on Linux must be GPL'd".

    The thing is, nobody's going to develop a Linux equivalent of, say, your favourite accounting/payroll application for free. It's as boring as hell to write and doesn't really directly benefit the person writing it so it is (and is likely to remain) the enclave of commercial software houses. GnuCash and the like don't really count here - I'm talking about the kind of application used by business accounts departments with at least a couple of people working fulltime.

    And seeing as porting the software to Linux costs money - you've got to pay those developers somehow - you're not going to do it until such time as you've got a reasonable number of customers saying "Do you have a Linux version available? Because if not we're going elsewhere." (And that threat needs to be credible. Migrating your entire accounting department to another application isn't something you do lightly.)

    Similarly, the businesses using these applications are more concerned about being able to run them than the OS they run on. "I can save you a bunch of money on Windows licenses" doesn't sound so attractive when you add "...but you won't be able to use products X, Y and Z on which you've built your business, and right now there is no credible alternative."

    • by Kjella (173770)

      And seeing as porting the software to Linux costs money - you've got to pay those developers somehow - you're not going to do it until such time as you've got a reasonable number of customers saying "Do you have a Linux version available? Because if not we're going elsewhere." (And that threat needs to be credible. Migrating your entire accounting department to another application isn't something you do lightly.)

      This doesn't need to be so chicken and egg as you might think. If you have clients with a mixed environment, and you keep getting inquries on whether your application can run on Linux, not as a must-have but as a preference then they're not going to sit on their ass even though there's no credible alternative today. What if a competitior released a Linux version and you haven't even evaluated making a port yet? Is there a business opportunity here to steal some of the competition's clients? Sure, it doesn't

  • by ciw42 (820892) on Friday August 08, 2008 @07:41AM (#24522829)

    I know it's very much a chicken and egg situation, but a small developer writing software for specific smaller market sectors will probably only realistically be able to afford to develop for the one platform, and that platform is going to have to be the one used by 95% of businesses - Windows.

    There's the potential for this to change with the (relatively) recent arrival a number of good RIA solutions, but these are essentially platform neutral and so aren't likely to help Linux adoption.

    Any smaller business trying to find a nearby support company who are fluent in and can advise them on Linux systems will often struggle to do so, and the majority of others will of course advise them (often with generous helpings of FUD) against going the Linux route, as it's not in their (the support company's) best interests.

    I'm a user and huge fan of Linux and FLOSS in general, but as a software developer who's pretty much always worked in niche markets, I'm also realistic about these things. I have to be - I need to earn a living.

    • by itsdapead (734413)

      There's the potential for this to change with the (relatively) recent arrival a number of good RIA solutions, but these are essentially platform neutral and so aren't likely to help Linux adoption.

      Why not?

      To use RIAs you need a good, reliable web server platform plus a lightweight and economical "thin client" OS with standards-compliant browsers and low per-user licensing fees.

      Does an obvious candidate spring to mind?

  • Asterisk and OpenSER are leading industry specific apps.

    But yes, we could use some really good Business Process Management software also. Although that isn't necesarily industry specific.
  • by Ed Avis (5917) <ed@membled.com> on Friday August 08, 2008 @07:47AM (#24522873) Homepage

    This is an interesting new kind of FUD about free software: that there are legal requirements for 'using it'. The GPL is quite explicit: running the program is not restricted; unless you are modifying or distributing the software, you can do absolutely what you like. Every other free software licence is the same. This message needs to be spread more widely.

    • Actually, with GPLv3, there is now legal requirements for using it. That is, if you modify GPLv3 code and use it, but not distribute it, you are still legally obligated to made the modification public. That is the main reason why Linux is against v3.

    • What you say is true.

      However, when you're a serious user of vertical-market software, you're always getting changes made. Even with closed-source, proprietary, commercial software the big customers who use it the most get the features for which they ask.

      When you give a customer like that an open alternative, they'll have it modified by any consultant, freelance contractor, or in-house programmer they can. They then need to know what they can do with the modified versions and what they can't.

      This still leave

    • by itsdapead (734413)

      The GPL is quite explicit: running the program is not restricted

      Well, as we all good /.ers know, the GPL is not an EULA, but sadly, some GPL software still presents it as a click-through, making it look like one. This could be even worse with the more legalistic and impenetrable looking GPLv3.

      Perhaps, strategically, it would be better if the GPL came in two documents - a (minimal) "EULA" which just dealt with what you could do *without* committing to the full GPL and a "full GPL" describing your rights and responsibilities if you did. That might help dispel the "using

  • by erroneus (253617) on Friday August 08, 2008 @07:54AM (#24522925) Homepage

    For example, if someone wanted to build an Open Source CAD package, it would be an expensive and time-consuming chore and the odds of other people picking it up and building on it themselves would be very low. For every successful growing F/OSS project out there, another 100+ out there have crashed and burned for a variety of reasons.

    What needs to happen is a bunch of people, preferably businesses, with similar interests should hire programmers and developers to work together with a common goal in mind... and that goal shouldn't be to "sell software" either. It should be to build the tool that works the way they need it to work. They can give that tool to other people in their fields so they can read and write their files and grow on from there.

    Once upon a time, when a business needed software, they hired programmers to write and maintain them. And an interesting reality is that it's quite likely that programmers are cheaper than software licenses. I could be wrong, but the price of software seems to be ridiculously high. I know my own office spends a ridiculous amount of money for an AutoCAD seat... every year. Maybe it's not as much as the cost of a drafter, but still. After enough seats are purchased and renewed annually in a large enough setting, you could keep two or three good programmers on staff. And if industry related businesses could team their smaller programming staff together, a larger team would emerge and could actually put some interesting things together for a price that is less than or equal to what they are paying now for software that doesn't quite ever meet their needs.

    So if industry specific software is needed, the industry needs to get off its ass and stop wasting money on commercial software and put it into programmers.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by DogDude (805747)
      What needs to happen is a bunch of people, preferably businesses, with similar interests should hire programmers and developers to work together with a common goal in mind... and that goal shouldn't be to "sell software" either. It should be to build the tool that works the way they need it to work.

      Why are competitors going to want to help each other, exactly?
      • by erroneus (253617)

        Because even though they may be competing with each other in one arena, it doesn't forgo the need for common applications and standards. Those needs are often dictated by their pool of clientele and not by some inner proprietary struggle. (In fact, I believe it is precisely for reasons like this that the U.S. is still using the "English" measure system.) And when those applications and standards are actually or effectively controlled by a single software vendor, all sorts of expensive problems come along

    • "And an interesting reality is that it's quite likely that programmers are cheaper than software licenses."

      If programmers were more expensive than licenses, the software companies would alredy be bankrupt. That is the nice thing about FOSS, it does also spread the cost, just like boxed software.

      • by erroneus (253617)

        Yes, with the added bonus of not having to deal with some corporate quasi-police organization like the "BSA."

  • They put the linux trolls on the frontpage now ?

    Seriously though. There are many industry specific apps for Linux, but perhaps not enough. They come when somebody writes them. Everyday this problem is becoming smaller - what does he want ? A miracle ? Then put your money where your mouth is.

  • This IBM guy is pretty clueless or just a vulture waiting for easy pickings to come around.

    At the moment there are quite a few industry specific applications based on Linux, but they cost, often a lot and they come with their own servers. For those solutions, Linux was an attractive, because the development platform was easily available and the OS was free, thus reducing the cost for the vendor (but not the client).

    Those companies make good money by selling those solutions and from them there's very little

    • by necro81 (917438)

      At the moment there are quite a few industry specific applications based on Linux

      Examples, please?

      • by Confused (34234)

        At the moment there are quite a few industry specific applications based on Linux

        Examples, please?

        There are quite a lot of element managers for Telco equipment that run on Linux. But those things usually come with a server included, pre-installed as a black box.

        If you take a look at the IBM Tivoli Products, there are a lot that also run on Linux.

        There are many more similar cases, but those companies are mostly in the business of selling their product or service and they don't seem themselves as Linux advocates.

        Linux to them is about as important as the brand of Petrol they use in their BMW.

  • Echoing previous opinions that have already been written, the choice for many software vendors is limited by economics. If I have a limited number of developers and over 90% of my customers want to use windows, then economics dictates that I will allocate the majority of my resources to building and maintaining the software that I perceive that those users want. My employer faces a similar situation. We build measurement equipment (dataloggers and sensors) and write software to support communications wit
  • What this exec *really* is bemoaning is that OSS developers aren't writing software that he can just download for free, repackage as IBM's, then sell for-profit to their customers.

    This is why it perpetually boggles my mind that OSS developers would release their code with a license under which their unpaid -- but far from costless -- work can be sold for-profit by anybody willing. Unless you truly don't care about your code, it seems stupid to me...

  • In my recent work experience, I've been directly involved with two different industries for which there are almost NO APPS, let alone OSS options. Your choices are either Huge Vendor A, Huge Vendor B, or Crappy El Cheapo C.

    That's not exactly a sea of options. Especially when the options offered by 'A' and 'B' are only marginally better than 'C', but cost ten times more. None of these products have been developed by anyone with real experience in the industry, so your Business Analysts are forced to hack

  • Okay okay, Swing is slower than c/gtk+ or c++/qt. So nobody is going to write graphic intensive software with Swing. But it is just fine for business applications. And quicker and easier to develop than web apps.

    Why do people not use it? Because PHBs do not think "Java/Swing" sounds enterprise like "Java/J2EE" does. IBM and Sun could probably fix this with a bunch of ads in those "industry magazines" that sit on every PHB's desk.

  • What seems to be another spin on the same talk: IBM To Linux Desktop Developers: 'Stop Copying Windows' [informationweek.com].

    Nice to see someone else noticing that little problem. I wonder if this will convince Gnome and KDE to dump the bloat... or maybe get some of the lighter weight desktops like Windowmaker (and toolkits like GNUstep) some traction on teh Linux desktop.

    (yes, I know GNUstep is copying NeXT, but NeXTstep on a 40 MHz 68030 was faster and more responsive than any of the leading contenders on processors 10 times

  • by Sloppy (14984) on Friday August 08, 2008 @10:33AM (#24524893) Homepage Journal
    I don't dispute the complaint about the lack of industry-specific apps, but this..

    "When customers say 'I'm ready to use open source,' [they] don't want to see the license du jour," Sutor said. They won't tolerate a lot of ongoing change in the legal aspects of using a piece of software, he said.

    .. is bullshit. The license diversity in Free Software is raindrop in a storm, compared to the license diversity in proprietary software. Every fucking company has a different proprietary license, and even within some companies, different products are licensed differently. And every single one of those licenses is more restrictive than even the most restrictive Free Software license. What a joke!

    And then, on top of all that, to buy or use the Free Software in question, it usually isn't even necessary to become bound by the license, so the license becomes irrelevant anyway. If you're going to create a derived work of one of these products (and the need of customization and maintenance isn't all that rare), then the license starts to matter, but again, even the most restrictive (GPL3?) is vastly easier to comply with, than anything in the proprietary world. Where's your customized version of MS Windows or Adobe Photoshop? Oh, that's right, you don't have one, because they haven't offered you a license that lets you maintain those products.

    I can't find the tiniest amount of merit in that complaint. There's absolutely not a single shred of truth in it.

  • Why are we still whining about license proliferation? For someone like IBM who might actually have liability issues to worry about, pay a lawyer a $(few thousand) to evaluate licenses that are acceptable to you and be done with it! Beyond that, there really aren't that many licenses. There are basically four: GPL, BSD, Apache, and CC. Everything else is a variant of these.

If you think nobody cares if you're alive, try missing a couple of car payments. -- Earl Wilson

Working...