Articles / Is Free Software for Window…

Is Free Software for Windows Good?

We at freshmeat regularly receive submissions of Windows software for inclusion in the appindex. Sometimes it's something that obviously doesn't belong here, like a commercially-licensed closed-sourced word processor. Other times, it's not as clear whether we should include it or not, as when we get a Windows port of a GNU utility or a piece of software that helps dual-booters access the data stored on their ext2 partitions when they're booted into Windows. In today's editorial, Steve Killen discusses the possibilities of free software in an unfree world. We look forward to hearing your own ideas on the subject and on whether such software belongs on freshmeat.

Update from jeff covey: I'll post my own thoughts on the issues soon, but first scoop asked me to clear up some confusion people are having about this editorial. No one has any intentions of turning freshmeat into winfiles.com. Windows users already have plenty of places they can go to find software. You will not be seeing announcements of new versions of Excel popping up between sendmail and gcc.

With the Free Software/Open Source movement well under way in the Linux community, we have transformed from crusaders and vigilantes to explorers and conquistadors. Where we were once aggressively defending a scorned corner of "enterprise computing,'' we now stand by our achievements and the newfound recognition (and investors and developers) they bring. At this point, it's time to think about where to go from here -- to begin to focus not inward, but outward. If free software can propel the GNU/Linux community to stardom in just 8 years, what could it do to an existing, well-established platform such as Microsoft Windows?

The Free Software Foundation, headed by Richard Stallman, supports the idea that software should be free, which entails the following:

  • The freedom to run the program, for any purpose (freedom 0).
  • The freedom to study how the program works, and adapt it to your needs (freedom 1).
  • The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor (freedom 2).
  • The freedom to improve the program, and release your improvements to the public, so that the whole community benefits. (freedom 3).

These four freedoms define the core of the GNU GPL (General Public License), under which a good part of software for Linux is licensed today. They are also in extreme contradiction with the fundamental precepts of Microsoft's EULA and other similar software licenses, which state that the software is not the user's, but rather belongs to the company that wrote it and can be revoked at any time if the terms of the licensing are not obeyed. GPLed software is also pretty much guaranteed to include or have availability of its source code, whereas closed software isn't, and for the most part doesn't. As a result of the closed and restrictive nature of Microsoft Windows, the software developed for it is released in binary-only format, and the user is generally required to pay for it either immediately on receipt or after a trial period (for software known as shareware). With Windows's rise in popularity/market share, the shareware market also grew. In order to get people to pay for the binary-only shareware, the coders released their utilities with built-in nag boxes, missing functionality, a time period to use the software before it automatically disabled itself, or any combination of the three.

What if, however, instead of binary-only releases, nag boxes, and sometimes poorly functional, overpriced software, Windows users could also download (and even compile) their favorite utilities, games, and applications? What if they could take advantage of the free software development cycle, added to the familiarity of the Windows platform? Being a classic download junkie when I was a Windows user, I would have been ecstatic to get software that I didn't have to ignore nag-boxes to use, or to avoid that guilty feeling about downloading cracks for utilities that I used all the time on my system, or to get a full-featured, quality word processor on which to write my papers that didn't cost $100. Free software is a good thing, on any platform. In Windows, it would balance the cost of owning the operating system by providing the software that makes it useful under terms that essentially make it free. For programmers, it would provide nearly limitless resources of reference and help, in the form of other programmers and the work they've done laid out in the open. For the everyday user, it would open the door to focusing on getting work done, rather than worrying about whether they have registered and paid for the commonest utilities on their computers. For the administrators, it would mean Christmas bonuses for everyone, because the per-seat license fees that are in common practice would just disappear.

It's not an immediately viable solution, however. In order to attract Windows programmers to release their code as free software, they need a reason. After all, personal changes in attitude only happen when they're wanted. One good carrot to get the cart moving would be the existence of a good, free, visual development environment for Windows, in the same vein as the incredibly expensive Microsoft Visual C++ or Borland Turbo C/C++. If tools to do the job are totally free in the Free Software community, why shouldn't they be free to encourage the development of free software in the closed community as well? If it costs nothing but time to get the job done under Windows, the programmers will be more inclined to offer their products as tools, rather than with the intent of making money, like in the GNU/Linux community.

I'm hoping that this becomes a reality. With the DoJ in position to take Microsoft to the can, a really good way to promote the eventuality of this would be to push for a full and complete documentation of the APIs Microsoft uses, if not a total opening of the Windows and friends' source. It has the possibility of making Windows a useful tool, rather than a market-driven wallet-vacuum.


Steve Killen is attending UMBC as a student of Computer Science and a recent Linux user of only one year, and is freshmeat's night-owl maintainer.
residentgeek@freshmeat.net
http://www.gl.umbc.edu/~skille1/


T-Shirts and Fame!

We're eager to find people interested in writing editorials on software-related topics. We're flexible on length, style, and topic, so long as you know what you're talking about and back up your opinions with facts. Anyone who writes an editorial gets a freshmeat t-shirt from ThinkGeek in addition to 15 minutes of fame. If you think you'd like to try your hand at it, let jeff.covey@freshmeat.net know what you'd like to write about.

Recent comments

01 Jan 2008 12:04 Avatar dewittdale

Re: Wow....is all I can say
Additional details are warranted. Drag and drop functionality as well as immediate out-of-the-box connectivity satisfaction was obtained with a vm appliance (running on vmware player) . . . a regular download from http://www.bagside.com/bagvapp/ linked from http://www.vmware.com/appliances/directory/856 called 64 Studio 2.0 Electric. The bagside website does all drag & drop tested distros. So there are probably better candidates than I originally let you to believe. That is, I'm still scouting and finding better luck out-of-the-box functionality. Sorry for having to postscript my original thought.

> I have to admit, I myself have been

> impressed with the impressive growth and

> change i've seen with the Linux

> community over the past few years.

>

> Being a long time Windows user, I

> remember a time when I was like,

> "What the heck is a Redhat?"

> all too clearly.

>

> Unfortunately it seems that at least a

> few companies involved in the Linux

> world have sadly followed a very

> Microsoft like change in behavior and

> gone for the almighty dollar of profit.

> SuSE being one prime example, you can't

> even get a copy of their full

> distribution of Linux without paying

> them directly for it. Are the days of

> being able to download full Linux

> distro's via FTP becoming a thing of the

> past? I have to admit that I worry that

> might happen.

>

> I understand and see the value of

> promoting free software for easy use and

> access on Windows. Afterall, it is the

> default standard that most everyone with

> real computer experience is used to

> dealing with.

>

> However, there comes a problem with that

> as well. How do the creators of free and

> totally open software on a Windows

> platform compete? I honestly don't know

> the answer to that. I've spent a lot of

> time looking all over the net, and sure

> i've found a few freeware or open source

> CD/DVD burning applications, but not one

> comes even remotely close to offering

> all the various features and capability

> offered by Nero or Easy CD/DVD Media

> creator. So, is that what we are stuck

> with if we go the route of free software

> on Windows? Stuck with getting software

> that is free, and that provides source,

> but that has such limited functionality

> that people who want or need to use

> software of its type are stuck having no

> choice but to use the big commercial

> applications anyways?

>

> Try it, look anywhere on the net, see if

> you can find a open source CD/DVD

> creating software that works on Windows,

> that offers not only the ability to burn

> but also encode, and create menus for

> VCD/SVCD/Photo-Cd's. Also try finding in

> that application the ability to create

> your own CD labels that you can

> customize from a huge number of

> templates, and even download duplicates

> to the original CD or DVD movie labels.

> Try then also finding the ability to

> burn audio CD's, MP3 CD's, bootable

> CD's/DVD's, and mixed content

> CD's/DVD's. Software like that just

> doesn't exist. Sure, you can find a few

> apps that put together make some attempt

> to offer all that, but even all put

> together, the big commerical apps still

> offer more in comparison.

>

> Open office, as another example, doesn't

> offer near the amount of useable

> templates or clip art, animations, etc.

> that are all easily there for use in

> Microsoft Office.

>

> Sure M$ Office is bloated, and its a

> huge system and resource hog, and a lot

> of times it doesn't work right, Nero is

> the same. But, you need to realize that

> not every person who uses a computer is

> a programmer living in his parent's

> basement who wants the leanest slickest

> thing that runs pure command line with a

> variety of codes and switches that it

> would take a translator to explain in

> plain english. Most computer users are

> like me, we don't like the bugs, the

> crashing, the incompatability, and

> resouces consuming of the huge retail

> apps, but we have little if any

> knowledge, training, or skill for

> working non GUI applications, especially

> those that require an extensive

> knowledge of command line coding just to

> install in the first place.

>

> We might not admit it, even those who

> have taken the plunge to Linux, but it's

> the simple truth. We like our pretty

> fancy graphics, we like our easy point

> and click, we like our ability to do

> everything we'd want all in one single

> application. We don't like pure text

> command lines and confusing codes and

> switches. We don't like having to import

> and export between 5 different

> applications to get one thing done that

> we could do in a single application of

> the big commercial releases.

>

> You need to realize a new generation is

> out there. A lot of your brothers,

> sisters, aunts, uncles, and even parents

> are growing up in a computer world where

> DOS doesn't exist, and where learning

> DOS or learning any sort of command line

> functions are simply not part of any

> computer learning or practice that

> exists nearly anywhere at all anymore.

>

> If you grew up using DOS, or grew up

> with DOS still around and worked with it

> in and out of Windows that is one thing.

> Most new computer users have never even

> seen, much less used a DOS prompt. So

> expecting and huge likelyhood for them

> to throw away Windows and dive into

> having learn complex Unix commands, is

> an expectation that will never ammount

> to anything or get you anywhere.

>

> I myself admit, I despise Microsoft, I

> do not like their practices or

> activities. I really dislike using their

> oppurating systems. I would love to

> erase everything having anything to do

> with them from my computer and go to

> using Linux. However, will I? Can I?

> That question remains to be seen.

>

> First of all, I don't like messing with

> command lines, and from what i've seen,

> a variety of Linux distrobutions can't

> even install Nvidea video card drivers

> without messing with complex coding to

> make them install, much less work.

> Likewise, I'm a gamer. Sure Wine and

> Cedega have made huge progress, and

> throw in DosBox, and your doing pretty

> decent on compatability. Yet, all 3

> together are a complicated pain to setup

> properly, and they all 3 together still

> lack a good amount of support for what a

> huge amount of gamers want. The ability

> to run not DOS games and not the latest

> greatest top of the line releases like

> DOOM 3, but the ability to easily

> install, setup, run, and use games from

> the Windows 9.x era. Thats where the

> buck stops. Sorry bout the luck there.

> No matter how good DOSbox does at

> emulating DOS, it has no ability to

> emulate the 9.x Windows sytem. Sure

> Direct X support via Cedega is nice, but

> nearly any game that expects 9.x Windows

> to be there, in addition to Direct X,

> simply will not install or run on any

> variety or version of Linux, or if they

> are somehow possibly able to work, they

> simply won't work without a huge

> complicated pain in the rear end to

> install and use.

>

> The concept of a simple icon on your

> desktop, you click, type in a few

> answers like your name and serial

> number, then it installs, adds all the

> entries needed to a system, sets itself

> up to work exactly as it needs to, then

> leaves you free to just click another

> icon, open it, use it, save it, and go

> on to something else, seems a bit alien

> to the world of Linux. Until that is

> there, people will keep using Windows

> even if they grow to despise the ground

> that Bill Gates walks on, they will

> still use it.

>

> Now, if it is somehow managed to get a

> free, and open source office suite out

> there that yes, OFFERS EVERY LAST BIT of

> bloat that you get in M$ Office, but

> installs easily, and can easily switch

> back and forth from one application to

> the next, has no complicated setup

> WHATSOEVER, and offers full support for

> easily accessed document templates and

> an insanely huge database of clipart,

> animation, and graphics.....and it

> becomes possible to not only install but

> also play any DOS/Windows 9.x game ever

> relased.....and you can find a media

> creation software that is every bit as

> huge, bloated, resource hogging, and

> full of nice pretty graphics as Nero 6

> Ultra Edition....that offers every

> single function that it offers, all from

> the same application....on Linux....then

> Linux will start to win people over in a

> massive scale.

>

> The trick though, is the to offer every

> last bit of that without a single end

> user even having to look at a command

> line once. The instant end users have to

> learn some foreign language of codes,

> scripts, commands, switches, and

> whatever else is the instant you lose

> them.

>

> Sure, to a super user that can talk Unix

> and Dos code in his sleep, that is slow,

> its buggy, its laggy, its inefficient,

> and its really a poor way to work a

> computer. Most home end users are not

> superusers, despite what we might think

> or claim. Our needs have to be me in

> what we want and expect out of an

> oppurating system, otherwise, we'll keep

> blinding using Windows, no matter how

> much we don't like it.

>

> I'm right here. I'm waiting. I'm also

> more than willing to listen, read, and

> learn. I'll even openly admit to the

> hardware in my system if needs be.

>

> I just need one Linux user, just one,

> that can help me find a distribution of

> Linux I can get that is actually FREE to

> get a copy of, hence what FREE software

> is supposed to be, I.E. I don't have to

> pay a penny to get a copy of it to

> anyone, that I can get installed onto my

> computer, get all my devices to work

> properly with it, including my cable

> internet connection. Then be able to

> help me setup DosBox, Cedega, Wine and

> whatever else is necessary for at least

> a good number of my games to work, and

> can do it all without me even having to

> look at a command line even once....then

> i'll gladly be a full time supporter and

> user of Linux. Until then, as much as I

> hate using Windows, XP is staying right

> where it is on my hard drive, as is MS

> Office, Nero 6 Ultra edition, etc.

>

> So i'm waiting? Anyone up for the

> challenge of proving that it can be done

> to win me, the average, non-super user,

> end home user, over to Linux? Message me

> online sometime, and show me how it can

> be done, i'm willing, ready, and able to

> toss Windows, but it has to be easy, no

> command line messing or code learning,

> and full of nice pretty looking GUI

> goodness. Otherwise XP is where i'm

> staying, like most people.

31 Dec 2007 17:53 Avatar dewittdale

Re: Wow....is all I can say
Try vmware player with ubuntu gutsy. It operates out-of-the-box as you would want on even home edition. A 10 G paw print isn't obtrusive. The fedora and gentoo distros didn't connect off the bat (thus . . . though gentoo-secret sauce had an impressive drag and drop from windows/ubuntu is ctr-alt exit to windows). Ignore the printer scanner and related devices since driver support isn't there (I've yet to try a networked printer option barring the driver issue). But it will automatically update all packages and itself. Networking is merely making a shortcut to your router assigned urls (and assigning the permissions as is done with windows) A little terminal use is nice using instructions such as "Terminal for Beginners" in the ubuntu forum (just enough to get some satisfaction/results is the key to learning that which you'd think is an antiquated mind-device. I used it to install plone/webDAV is rock solid justifying a virtual installation on those grounds alone!). Using a virtual machine is a safe sandbox for unsafe experiments. The torrent file and download will get it all visible in about 1 hour all said and done. Try it (all free). If you have the HD space you'll be pleasantly surprised (in getting the best of both worlds).

> I have to admit, I myself have been

> impressed with the impressive growth and

> change i've seen with the Linux

> community over the past few years.

>

> Being a long time Windows user, I

> remember a time when I was like,

> "What the heck is a Redhat?"

> all too clearly.

>

> Unfortunately it seems that at least a

> few companies involved in the Linux

> world have sadly followed a very

> Microsoft like change in behavior and

> gone for the almighty dollar of profit.

> SuSE being one prime example, you can't

> even get a copy of their full

> distribution of Linux without paying

> them directly for it. Are the days of

> being able to download full Linux

> distro's via FTP becoming a thing of the

> past? I have to admit that I worry that

> might happen.

>

> I understand and see the value of

> promoting free software for easy use and

> access on Windows. Afterall, it is the

> default standard that most everyone with

> real computer experience is used to

> dealing with.

>

> However, there comes a problem with that

> as well. How do the creators of free and

> totally open software on a Windows

> platform compete? I honestly don't know

> the answer to that. I've spent a lot of

> time looking all over the net, and sure

> i've found a few freeware or open source

> CD/DVD burning applications, but not one

> comes even remotely close to offering

> all the various features and capability

> offered by Nero or Easy CD/DVD Media

> creator. So, is that what we are stuck

> with if we go the route of free software

> on Windows? Stuck with getting software

> that is free, and that provides source,

> but that has such limited functionality

> that people who want or need to use

> software of its type are stuck having no

> choice but to use the big commercial

> applications anyways?

>

> Try it, look anywhere on the net, see if

> you can find a open source CD/DVD

> creating software that works on Windows,

> that offers not only the ability to burn

> but also encode, and create menus for

> VCD/SVCD/Photo-Cd's. Also try finding in

> that application the ability to create

> your own CD labels that you can

> customize from a huge number of

> templates, and even download duplicates

> to the original CD or DVD movie labels.

> Try then also finding the ability to

> burn audio CD's, MP3 CD's, bootable

> CD's/DVD's, and mixed content

> CD's/DVD's. Software like that just

> doesn't exist. Sure, you can find a few

> apps that put together make some attempt

> to offer all that, but even all put

> together, the big commerical apps still

> offer more in comparison.

>

> Open office, as another example, doesn't

> offer near the amount of useable

> templates or clip art, animations, etc.

> that are all easily there for use in

> Microsoft Office.

>

> Sure M$ Office is bloated, and its a

> huge system and resource hog, and a lot

> of times it doesn't work right, Nero is

> the same. But, you need to realize that

> not every person who uses a computer is

> a programmer living in his parent's

> basement who wants the leanest slickest

> thing that runs pure command line with a

> variety of codes and switches that it

> would take a translator to explain in

> plain english. Most computer users are

> like me, we don't like the bugs, the

> crashing, the incompatability, and

> resouces consuming of the huge retail

> apps, but we have little if any

> knowledge, training, or skill for

> working non GUI applications, especially

> those that require an extensive

> knowledge of command line coding just to

> install in the first place.

>

> We might not admit it, even those who

> have taken the plunge to Linux, but it's

> the simple truth. We like our pretty

> fancy graphics, we like our easy point

> and click, we like our ability to do

> everything we'd want all in one single

> application. We don't like pure text

> command lines and confusing codes and

> switches. We don't like having to import

> and export between 5 different

> applications to get one thing done that

> we could do in a single application of

> the big commercial releases.

>

> You need to realize a new generation is

> out there. A lot of your brothers,

> sisters, aunts, uncles, and even parents

> are growing up in a computer world where

> DOS doesn't exist, and where learning

> DOS or learning any sort of command line

> functions are simply not part of any

> computer learning or practice that

> exists nearly anywhere at all anymore.

>

> If you grew up using DOS, or grew up

> with DOS still around and worked with it

> in and out of Windows that is one thing.

> Most new computer users have never even

> seen, much less used a DOS prompt. So

> expecting and huge likelyhood for them

> to throw away Windows and dive into

> having learn complex Unix commands, is

> an expectation that will never ammount

> to anything or get you anywhere.

>

> I myself admit, I despise Microsoft, I

> do not like their practices or

> activities. I really dislike using their

> oppurating systems. I would love to

> erase everything having anything to do

> with them from my computer and go to

> using Linux. However, will I? Can I?

> That question remains to be seen.

>

> First of all, I don't like messing with

> command lines, and from what i've seen,

> a variety of Linux distrobutions can't

> even install Nvidea video card drivers

> without messing with complex coding to

> make them install, much less work.

> Likewise, I'm a gamer. Sure Wine and

> Cedega have made huge progress, and

> throw in DosBox, and your doing pretty

> decent on compatability. Yet, all 3

> together are a complicated pain to setup

> properly, and they all 3 together still

> lack a good amount of support for what a

> huge amount of gamers want. The ability

> to run not DOS games and not the latest

> greatest top of the line releases like

> DOOM 3, but the ability to easily

> install, setup, run, and use games from

> the Windows 9.x era. Thats where the

> buck stops. Sorry bout the luck there.

> No matter how good DOSbox does at

> emulating DOS, it has no ability to

> emulate the 9.x Windows sytem. Sure

> Direct X support via Cedega is nice, but

> nearly any game that expects 9.x Windows

> to be there, in addition to Direct X,

> simply will not install or run on any

> variety or version of Linux, or if they

> are somehow possibly able to work, they

> simply won't work without a huge

> complicated pain in the rear end to

> install and use.

>

> The concept of a simple icon on your

> desktop, you click, type in a few

> answers like your name and serial

> number, then it installs, adds all the

> entries needed to a system, sets itself

> up to work exactly as it needs to, then

> leaves you free to just click another

> icon, open it, use it, save it, and go

> on to something else, seems a bit alien

> to the world of Linux. Until that is

> there, people will keep using Windows

> even if they grow to despise the ground

> that Bill Gates walks on, they will

> still use it.

>

> Now, if it is somehow managed to get a

> free, and open source office suite out

> there that yes, OFFERS EVERY LAST BIT of

> bloat that you get in M$ Office, but

> installs easily, and can easily switch

> back and forth from one application to

> the next, has no complicated setup

> WHATSOEVER, and offers full support for

> easily accessed document templates and

> an insanely huge database of clipart,

> animation, and graphics.....and it

> becomes possible to not only install but

> also play any DOS/Windows 9.x game ever

> relased.....and you can find a media

> creation software that is every bit as

> huge, bloated, resource hogging, and

> full of nice pretty graphics as Nero 6

> Ultra Edition....that offers every

> single function that it offers, all from

> the same application....on Linux....then

> Linux will start to win people over in a

> massive scale.

>

> The trick though, is the to offer every

> last bit of that without a single end

> user even having to look at a command

> line once. The instant end users have to

> learn some foreign language of codes,

> scripts, commands, switches, and

> whatever else is the instant you lose

> them.

>

> Sure, to a super user that can talk Unix

> and Dos code in his sleep, that is slow,

> its buggy, its laggy, its inefficient,

> and its really a poor way to work a

> computer. Most home end users are not

> superusers, despite what we might think

> or claim. Our needs have to be me in

> what we want and expect out of an

> oppurating system, otherwise, we'll keep

> blinding using Windows, no matter how

> much we don't like it.

>

> I'm right here. I'm waiting. I'm also

> more than willing to listen, read, and

> learn. I'll even openly admit to the

> hardware in my system if needs be.

>

> I just need one Linux user, just one,

> that can help me find a distribution of

> Linux I can get that is actually FREE to

> get a copy of, hence what FREE software

> is supposed to be, I.E. I don't have to

> pay a penny to get a copy of it to

> anyone, that I can get installed onto my

> computer, get all my devices to work

> properly with it, including my cable

> internet connection. Then be able to

> help me setup DosBox, Cedega, Wine and

> whatever else is necessary for at least

> a good number of my games to work, and

> can do it all without me even having to

> look at a command line even once....then

> i'll gladly be a full time supporter and

> user of Linux. Until then, as much as I

> hate using Windows, XP is staying right

> where it is on my hard drive, as is MS

> Office, Nero 6 Ultra edition, etc.

>

> So i'm waiting? Anyone up for the

> challenge of proving that it can be done

> to win me, the average, non-super user,

> end home user, over to Linux? Message me

> online sometime, and show me how it can

> be done, i'm willing, ready, and able to

> toss Windows, but it has to be easy, no

> command line messing or code learning,

> and full of nice pretty looking GUI

> goodness. Otherwise XP is where i'm

> staying, like most people.

05 Apr 2007 13:05 Avatar alienwear

Bill Gates
He used to have a dream. "Cheap and affordable home computing." Where's that gone? Vista Ultimate - £250! Free software's great, thats why I like Linux, and even paying a small amount <£30 is fine. But Microsoft have gone too far. I mean £250 thats way too mych. Please email me if you have a view on the subject alienwear@hotmail.co.uk .

26 Jan 2005 01:28 Avatar syntax01010

addition
I just wanted to add that my previous post was in no way meant to insult or flame anyone or anything, but simly to bring across the sheer level of frustration that most Windows uers have when face with the choice of staying with M$ or diving over to Linux.

I am more than willing, ready, and able, to toss Windows and every M$ anything off my hard drive. The problem is, at least at the moment, unless a maracle happens, I can't.

I simply do not have the knowhow for working around complex command line interefaces, and following complex steps that might work or might not, not only depending on if i'm using Linux or not, but on which build or version of Linux i'm using.

So yeah, find a way to make it easy, full of pretty graphics, and no command line efforts needed, and i'm all about giving it a try. Until then, much like many users, i'll be using Windws.

26 Jan 2005 01:22 Avatar syntax01010

Wow....is all I can say
I have to admit, I myself have been impressed with the impressive growth and change i've seen with the Linux community over the past few years.

Being a long time Windows user, I remember a time when I was like, "What the heck is a Redhat?" all too clearly.

Unfortunately it seems that at least a few companies involved in the Linux world have sadly followed a very Microsoft like change in behavior and gone for the almighty dollar of profit. SuSE being one prime example, you can't even get a copy of their full distribution of Linux without paying them directly for it. Are the days of being able to download full Linux distro's via FTP becoming a thing of the past? I have to admit that I worry that might happen.

I understand and see the value of promoting free software for easy use and access on Windows. Afterall, it is the default standard that most everyone with real computer experience is used to dealing with.

However, there comes a problem with that as well. How do the creators of free and totally open software on a Windows platform compete? I honestly don't know the answer to that. I've spent a lot of time looking all over the net, and sure i've found a few freeware or open source CD/DVD burning applications, but not one comes even remotely close to offering all the various features and capability offered by Nero or Easy CD/DVD Media creator. So, is that what we are stuck with if we go the route of free software on Windows? Stuck with getting software that is free, and that provides source, but that has such limited functionality that people who want or need to use software of its type are stuck having no choice but to use the big commercial applications anyways?

Try it, look anywhere on the net, see if you can find a open source CD/DVD creating software that works on Windows, that offers not only the ability to burn but also encode, and create menus for VCD/SVCD/Photo-Cd's. Also try finding in that application the ability to create your own CD labels that you can customize from a huge number of templates, and even download duplicates to the original CD or DVD movie labels. Try then also finding the ability to burn audio CD's, MP3 CD's, bootable CD's/DVD's, and mixed content CD's/DVD's. Software like that just doesn't exist. Sure, you can find a few apps that put together make some attempt to offer all that, but even all put together, the big commerical apps still offer more in comparison.

Open office, as another example, doesn't offer near the amount of useable templates or clip art, animations, etc. that are all easily there for use in Microsoft Office.

Sure M$ Office is bloated, and its a huge system and resource hog, and a lot of times it doesn't work right, Nero is the same. But, you need to realize that not every person who uses a computer is a programmer living in his parent's basement who wants the leanest slickest thing that runs pure command line with a variety of codes and switches that it would take a translator to explain in plain english. Most computer users are like me, we don't like the bugs, the crashing, the incompatability, and resouces consuming of the huge retail apps, but we have little if any knowledge, training, or skill for working non GUI applications, especially those that require an extensive knowledge of command line coding just to install in the first place.

We might not admit it, even those who have taken the plunge to Linux, but it's the simple truth. We like our pretty fancy graphics, we like our easy point and click, we like our ability to do everything we'd want all in one single application. We don't like pure text command lines and confusing codes and switches. We don't like having to import and export between 5 different applications to get one thing done that we could do in a single application of the big commercial releases.

You need to realize a new generation is out there. A lot of your brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, and even parents are growing up in a computer world where DOS doesn't exist, and where learning DOS or learning any sort of command line functions are simply not part of any computer learning or practice that exists nearly anywhere at all anymore.

If you grew up using DOS, or grew up with DOS still around and worked with it in and out of Windows that is one thing. Most new computer users have never even seen, much less used a DOS prompt. So expecting and huge likelyhood for them to throw away Windows and dive into having learn complex Unix commands, is an expectation that will never ammount to anything or get you anywhere.

I myself admit, I despise Microsoft, I do not like their practices or activities. I really dislike using their oppurating systems. I would love to erase everything having anything to do with them from my computer and go to using Linux. However, will I? Can I? That question remains to be seen.

First of all, I don't like messing with command lines, and from what i've seen, a variety of Linux distrobutions can't even install Nvidea video card drivers without messing with complex coding to make them install, much less work. Likewise, I'm a gamer. Sure Wine and Cedega have made huge progress, and throw in DosBox, and your doing pretty decent on compatability. Yet, all 3 together are a complicated pain to setup properly, and they all 3 together still lack a good amount of support for what a huge amount of gamers want. The ability to run not DOS games and not the latest greatest top of the line releases like DOOM 3, but the ability to easily install, setup, run, and use games from the Windows 9.x era. Thats where the buck stops. Sorry bout the luck there. No matter how good DOSbox does at emulating DOS, it has no ability to emulate the 9.x Windows sytem. Sure Direct X support via Cedega is nice, but nearly any game that expects 9.x Windows to be there, in addition to Direct X, simply will not install or run on any variety or version of Linux, or if they are somehow possibly able to work, they simply won't work without a huge complicated pain in the rear end to install and use.

The concept of a simple icon on your desktop, you click, type in a few answers like your name and serial number, then it installs, adds all the entries needed to a system, sets itself up to work exactly as it needs to, then leaves you free to just click another icon, open it, use it, save it, and go on to something else, seems a bit alien to the world of Linux. Until that is there, people will keep using Windows even if they grow to despise the ground that Bill Gates walks on, they will still use it.

Now, if it is somehow managed to get a free, and open source office suite out there that yes, OFFERS EVERY LAST BIT of bloat that you get in M$ Office, but installs easily, and can easily switch back and forth from one application to the next, has no complicated setup WHATSOEVER, and offers full support for easily accessed document templates and an insanely huge database of clipart, animation, and graphics.....and it becomes possible to not only install but also play any DOS/Windows 9.x game ever relased.....and you can find a media creation software that is every bit as huge, bloated, resource hogging, and full of nice pretty graphics as Nero 6 Ultra Edition....that offers every single function that it offers, all from the same application....on Linux....then Linux will start to win people over in a massive scale.

The trick though, is the to offer every last bit of that without a single end user even having to look at a command line once. The instant end users have to learn some foreign language of codes, scripts, commands, switches, and whatever else is the instant you lose them.

Sure, to a super user that can talk Unix and Dos code in his sleep, that is slow, its buggy, its laggy, its inefficient, and its really a poor way to work a computer. Most home end users are not superusers, despite what we might think or claim. Our needs have to be me in what we want and expect out of an oppurating system, otherwise, we'll keep blinding using Windows, no matter how much we don't like it.

I'm right here. I'm waiting. I'm also more than willing to listen, read, and learn. I'll even openly admit to the hardware in my system if needs be.

I just need one Linux user, just one, that can help me find a distribution of Linux I can get that is actually FREE to get a copy of, hence what FREE software is supposed to be, I.E. I don't have to pay a penny to get a copy of it to anyone, that I can get installed onto my computer, get all my devices to work properly with it, including my cable internet connection. Then be able to help me setup DosBox, Cedega, Wine and whatever else is necessary for at least a good number of my games to work, and can do it all without me even having to look at a command line even once....then i'll gladly be a full time supporter and user of Linux. Until then, as much as I hate using Windows, XP is staying right where it is on my hard drive, as is MS Office, Nero 6 Ultra edition, etc.

So i'm waiting? Anyone up for the challenge of proving that it can be done to win me, the average, non-super user, end home user, over to Linux? Message me online sometime, and show me how it can be done, i'm willing, ready, and able to toss Windows, but it has to be easy, no command line messing or code learning, and full of nice pretty looking GUI goodness. Otherwise XP is where i'm staying, like most people.

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