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June 2, 2006

Will Linux Rule the World?

I posted earlier that Google builds Linux ports for Picasa and Google Earth, or actually improves Wine to support them. The post has generated interesting comments:

What I said:

"Many Linux users think Google should build native versions for their software, instead of using Wine, but if Wine becomes powerful enough to run (almost) any Windows software everyone will gain: more people will adopt Linux because they can use their favorite applications and companies will have a wider audience for their software."

What my readers think:

"And the software would suck as much as it does on Windows. The idea of Linux is to have a better alternative to Windows. Not to implement all their design-mistakes."

"Personally, I am not a member of the audience of those companies. And be sure - your favorite applications will never make it to my desktop. Picasa managed to stay about 30 minutes, just enough to make sure that it completely sucks."

"A lot of applications exist in the windows world, and/or are superior to their Linux counterparts, simply because of the larger user base it enjoys. I'm all in favor of getting Wine to be as powerful as possible, since application support is the only reason to use Windows. When Wine becomes perfect, that's not an argument anymore."

Linux has many applications that are clones of Windows applications (for example, XMMS is a Winamp clone), so if you could run the same setup on Windows and Linux, install the applications and use them, you wouldn't need to build native versions for each operating system. Of course, in an ideal world, you would have the source code for every application, you would compile it for your platform and run your optimized version.

Another problem for Linux is hardware support. I found a Linux distribution (PCLinuxOS) that has different builds for different graphics cards, but I couldn't find another Linux distribution that works on my Acer notebook: all crash in the setup phase. Ok, maybe I didn't try every distribution, but I tried to install Ubuntu, Gentoo, Mandriva, Slackware and many other small ones. I'll keep burning boot CDs and DVDs until I find a decent distribution that works with my notebook.

I think open source it's great, but most users don't want open-source software. They use Firefox because it's fast, secure and better than Internet Explorer, not because they can find the source code and change it. So we shouldn't say: I don't like Picasa because it's not open-source. It's Google's decision and that shouldn't influence our opinion about the software itself, which has a very nice interface and it's very easy to use.

So how do you think Linux will rule the world? Or, at least, my world and my notebook's world?

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