[clug] retail software

Paul Wayper paulway at mabula.net
Wed Nov 5 07:48:08 GMT 2008

Hash: SHA1

David Cottrill wrote:
| I work for a retail software company that is rapidly porting all its
| Windows/Mac programs to Linux.
| The programs cover pretty much the entire spectrum of applications - from
| Asterisk to Audacity to VLC.
| What I've been wondering is: how many of you would be willing to install
| such things. As a rule the software is far easier to use than the standard
| open source alternative and with only a few (significant) exceptions it
| works better.

I'll fourth the other comments and perhaps make it a bit more explicit:

What I'd recommend is what Adobe has done: set up your own repository which
hosts binary packages in RPM and DEB format.  Your packages should have good
dependency resolution - i.e. the potential user should be able to install your
repository as a source and run your software after no more than a 'yum install
cottrill-media-player' or 'apt-get install cottrill-asterix-configurator'.
You should try to minimise your dependency on non-standard repositories, and
at the very least any requirements for them should be explicitly stated
somewhere on your web pages.  Debian people may get twitchy if you're
installing a server configuration program that depends on things outside the
'stable' repository.

This doesn't require any source being opened up, so your closed-source
application is safe.  But it plays nice with existing distributions' packaging
methods.  Sysadmins hate having yet another method of installing and updating

As to my personal preference of using non-FOSS software, I'm a pragmatist.
I've installed the Linux game Ballistics and the closed-source nVidia drivers
because I need them to do what I want and can't without those things.  I
respect Stallman's uncompromising stance on FOSS, but while I aspire to his
principles I fall short in my execution.  To pick an example, I would gladly
buy a copy of MixMeister if it existed on Linux; however, since it doesn't, I
have plans to work on developing an alternative which would be free and open
sourced.  (I own a copy for Windows.)

If anything, one thing I have found in using Linux and FOSS is that I now have
more respect for licenses.  I am going through purging all those *cough*
backup copies of software I have lying around for which I haven't bought
licenses.  Given that FOSS has so much scope and can get a level of developer
and community involvement that even Microsoft has trouble getting (how many
kernel developers are there?), if I do need software to do a particular task,
I now take the approach that if I can't find it in FOSS but can in proprietary
software, I should buy the license.  I wouldn't want Microsoft using code from
FOSS without obeying the license - why should I do the same?

Hope this helps,

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