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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."
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IBM Exec Bemoans Lack of Industry-Specific Linux Apps

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  • 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.
  • by fsmunoz (267297) <fsmunoz@me m b e r . f s f . org> on Friday August 08, 2008 @07:21AM (#24522707) Homepage
    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 the code must be distributed (scripts, auxiliary programs not directly related with the program, etc), which is a bit to much IMO since it becomes very unclear what must and must not be shared - but perhaps I'm not reading it with the necessary attention
  • by curmudgeon99 (1040054) on Friday August 08, 2008 @07:28AM (#24522751)
    If you have been in the job market in the last ten years, you know that IBM has gone from being a great place to work to a huge source of off shoring. They really do not hire any Americans in significant numbers. And, duh, where do you thing a large number of open-source enterprise apps would come from? The United States. So, they have themselves to blame for his mess. If you want to harvest the fruits, you have to plant seeds. The last remaining benefit of American culture is our tendency to foster creativity in our kids. In the US, we build things, we have junk drawers, we make tree forts when we are kids. These habits of creation then aid our imaginations and we take those imaginations with us when we enter the IT field. Hard as it may be for the Indian workforce to accept, their culture does not work the same way. I cannot explain it but over the last several years I have yet to see an Indian developer who was trully creative and innovative. They are just not raised in a culture that fosters it. I do not want to sound like a racist--this is not a racial thing--it's a cultural thing.
  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • by frangalista (1297219) on Friday August 08, 2008 @08:28AM (#24523141)
    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 with that equipment. The situation given above plus the decision, made years ago, to write many of our applications in Delphi with a lot of win32 specific calls makes it prohibitively expensive to properly support any other OS than windows.
  • 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 @ g m a il.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.

  • by SgtChaireBourne (457691) on Friday August 08, 2008 @10:53AM (#24525239) Homepage

    ... There is no market for Linux versions of Adobe apps. There cannot be a market for what doesn't exist. There can be a demand. Demand does not create a market. Only the combination of supply and demand create a market.

    If you wish to say that Adobe does not feel the demand is great enough to bother creating the market, than say so. Don't try to insinuate that Adobe hates open systems or that they are in bed with MS.

    Even without using the correct definition of a market (supply + demand) you figured it out. No I do not wish to say that I think that Adobe does not feel the demand is great enough to bother creating the market. Neither you nor I can say what Adobe execs really are thinking.

    What can be said is that there is demand for Adobe applications for Linux, natively [cnet.com]. There is also enough demand that Photoshop has been a goal of WINE [arstechnica.com]. There is demand, but strangely no supply.

    Regardless, I don't have to insinuate. I can make accusations based on circumstances and past transgressions. It could be something as simple as an NDA for some MS SDK which prohibits work on competing platforms, like the NT SDK appeared to do for OS/2.

    For several decades, MS has put pressure on software houses and OEMs to curb their activities with competing systems. Even Apple, which has an on-again, off-again, relationship with the Microsoftians was under strong pressure [roughlydrafted.com] to drop technologies MS was gunning for. That includes Quicktime and the now defunct OLE-like OpenDoc, and quite possibly the OpenDocument Format.

  • Re:Just a thought... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by wtfispcloadletter (1303253) on Friday August 08, 2008 @11:40AM (#24526201)

    No, there is not. I, unlike everyone else who has given a similar answer has actually looked. Not to mention I, unlike everyone else who has given a similar answer am actually in need of POS software and know what to look for in terms of features and usability. Not just looked up a project name on SF or hit some website and said "see there you go".

    The 2 Linux POS solutions I've seen that also happen to be open source and free, but are immature and in one case abandoned. Their user base of ZERO apparently couldn't keep it alive.

    I don't care if it's free, closed sourced, open sourced, etc. I would prefer open sourced and free as in speech, but still don't care if I have to pay $500-1000/per register. I'm looking for SOMETHING that is a POS solution for Linux that doesn't cost 10s of thousands of dollars. There isn't anything. The current "solutions" are either in alpha or pre-alpha stage and is a "web-based" solution which I don't care for when it needs to sit on a desktop and actually be functional or haven't been touched for years, BananaPOS. The only other "solutions" I've seen are to industry specific, like for the Restaurant industry. Actually solutions for the Restaurant industry are the ONLY other solutions I've seen.

    Unless you want to and can spend 10s of thousands of dollars there isn't a POS solution for Linux for a small retail store or small chain (less than 5) of retail stores. And when you get to that level of POS solution you get a single use register like what you see in any of your big chain stores like Target, Wal-Mart, Safeway, Fred Meyer, Costco, etc. Not something the small ma-n-pa is looking for as their lone workstation in the store needs to function not only as a POS, but also be able to get the accounting, email, word processing, flyer design, etc work done.

    I'd love for someone to prove me wrong. Hey, it looks like LemonPOS is in Beta now, but it's still only got one lone developer and is lacking in many features that even inexpensive POS solutions like RetailEdge has. I'll have to try out LemonPOS, but I'm not holding my breath, I really don't believe that a web-based app can be as functional for power users as a desktop based app. Sure, Gmail is close and has some nice shortcuts, but it's still not as feature full or flexible as a stand-alone email client sitting on a desktop.

UNIX was not designed to stop you from doing stupid things, because that would also stop you from doing clever things. -- Doug Gwyn

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