Over the past few years, I've watched the progress of the Linux desktop continue to evolve beyond my wildest expectations. I've smiled with satisfaction as the Linux kernel and various distribution developers kept up with their proprietary software developer counterparts – and in some cases surpassed them.
Yet despite all this success, it seems like adoption of proprietary software on the desktop Linux platform remains spotty at best.
What's interesting about this situation is that Linux on the desktop is ripe with opportunity for proprietary vendors looking to sell their wares. Even forgoing the Ubuntu Software Center, there's enough users among other competing desktops alone to attract proprietary vendors to produce a Linux-specific software product.
So what exactly is the problem then? What's the hold up?
In this article, I'll be highlighting my own theories and relate personal experiences I've had using proprietary software with desktop Linux over the years. Feel free to add your own thoughts in the Comments section below.
The demand is clear
Even if you believe that proprietary software is something to be avoided, you have to admit that it would be nice to have select closed-source applications on the Linux desktop. Like certain Microsoft products or a couple of well-known Adobe applications, plus a few popular mainstream video game titles.
I wouldn't say that we cant live without these software options, I'm merely questioning the wisdom of the proprietary software world continuing to ignore us.
Now before I go any further, allow me to point out the following. First of all, I realize there are likely business and technological hurdles preventing any of the above software titles from becoming available anytime soon. That being said, there is still software functionality that is not adequately being addressed for the Linux desktop.
Somewhere along the line we need to find a way to meet in the middle and offer practical solutions for the end-user. Even if you're among those who say this is a moot point, I see countless forums filled with people who adamantly seek a solution.
Function, not platform
Like many Linux enthusiasts, users such as myself use Linux on our desktops because of the overall experience it provides. Yet even with the positive experience, there are times where the lack of proprietary software creates a circumstance where I must boot into a secondary OS just to finish a given task.
It's extremely rare, but it does happen. This has me wondering why we're not seeing a bigger push for software vendors to get their proprietary software goods into the Linux space. Not just in the enterprise realm, but for task-oriented concepts as well.
Speaking for myself, I'd like to live in a world where I'm able to simply use the software I like without having to give a lot of thought to which platform is running at the moment. A lofty wish perhaps, but the idea is becoming more mainstream as web apps continue to take hold throughout the world.
But as I said before, there are likely technological restrictions that prevent many of those missing Adobe and Microsoft applications from...wait a second here. Microsoft already offers their Office suite on the Web and last time I checked, it runs great from Firefox on Linux!
Well, I guess that's one application suite down, with only software from Adobe and Intuit left to go.
Open source exclusively
Perhaps I'm in a unique situation because I work from home, but I've found that there is nothing compelling me to seek proprietary software at this point in my life. On the flip side, I've been known to hire out work for projects needing Adobe After Effects or even advanced Photoshop work.