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The Future of Closed Source Software and Linux 566

slashy writes "What is the future of closed source software and Linux? delves into the subject and emerges with a possible answer. Quote: "I have been struggling with one major problem lately with the Linux operating system and that problem is the amazing lack of new and exciting software. It's frustrating because by the time said software does finally make its way down to the Linux user, the Windows crowd has been using it for nearly a year or longer. Perhaps some of this is because there does not appear to be a clear, simple to follow outline cooperative for companies to design for the open source operating system. Arguably this is because of the perceived need to keep things "open," however, I feel it's time for Linux to grow up and find some kind of common ground with the closed source community. I am a firm believer that both parties could learn a lot from each other; unfortunately I don't see that happening any time soon."
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The Future of Closed Source Software and Linux

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  • by harris s newman ( 714436 ) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @01:55AM (#15837634)
    "Lack of new exciting software"? Try xgl/compiz! It's the most exciting software I've seen since a windowing environment!
    • by kripkenstein ( 913150 ) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @03:37AM (#15837897) Homepage
      Try xgl/compiz! It's the most exciting software I've seen since a windowing environment!

      Yes, exactly. Just to throw out a few other names besides XGL, how about GLScube [] or Xen []. None of these (XGL included) is ready for prime time yet. But they show the exact opposite of what TFA claims - Linux, if anything, has plenty of 'exciting' software.

      If there is something lacking, it is boring software for Linux. TFA basically admits this when it talks about a "lack of exciting software", then complains about not having Outlook on Linux. Is Outlook then his idea of 'exciting software'? I doubt it, Outlook is the most boring piece of software ever. Perhaps it is necessary for certain corporations. But it isn't exciting.

      I read TFA, looking for examples of really 'exciting' software missing in Linux. Couldn't find any.
      • Which of these packages is interesting to a desktop user?
        I think TFA talks mainly about productivity software, not about OS components or servers.
    • by nmg196 ( 184961 ) * on Thursday August 03, 2006 @07:04AM (#15838382)
      > "Lack of new exciting software"? Try xgl/compiz!

      It's a f***ing window manager. If you think a window manager is exciting then you're a bit of a loser - even by Slashdot geek standards. Do you really think that 99.9% of people think that a window manager is exciting new software?

      If you people with the mod points (yes you) also think window managers are exiting, then please mod me down and I'll shut up and find a new website to read over my lunch hour.
  • by Red Alastor ( 742410 ) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @01:56AM (#15837636)
    If you find there isn't enough software for Linux, you haven't browsed your repositories. I'm not saying that "I miss software X" isn't valid but if you think there isn't enough new things to try in general, you are not trying very hard !
    • If you find there isn't enough software for Linux, you haven't browsed your repositories.

      Ahhhhhhhh, but he's not really talking about software, is he? He's talking about Microsoftcompatibleware and Buzzware.

      • by NickFortune ( 613926 ) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @03:47AM (#15837926) Homepage Journal
        Agreed. The whole thing reminds me of how I felt in my first couple of months using linux, when I really, really wanted Linux versions of GetRight and ZoneAlarm. Shows how much I knew then, really.

        He's on firmer ground with flash - as in the browser plugin, anyway. Even then, I'm not too worried. All those flash ads out there provide therir own pressure on Adobe to keep Flash as cross platform as possible.

    • maybe s/he means the "happy dog that makes ... faces ... when you need to find something" is missing from Linux ... fortunately it is pattented, as I heard, so we won't have it any time soon.
    • by aztracker1 ( 702135 ) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @03:32AM (#15837884) Homepage
      Damn, and I have mod points... still. Part of the problem is a lot of software, but very little *good* software.. Video editing comes to mind... Kino is nice for basic edits (cut/order) but handling additional audio tracks, and the interface for some parts is cumbersom. Pitivi is at least a few years away from being usable... Live seems interesting... As do a few others.. but spending the time to setup programs that *aren't* in the repositories, to find out they suck, and don't uninstall properly/completely... after a few days of trying, it sucks..

      Honestly, I am pretty comfortable with linux, but this is just one area that irks me to no end... There's plenty of other areas, but honestly, I'd pay $100-300 for a mid-grade video editor (Similar in features to say Pinnacle Studio, or iMovie) ... Unfortunately the market isn't there on that end for linux.

      Photo editing is another big thing.. and no, the gimp does suck... not feature wise, function/UI wise.. GimpShop goes a bit towards making it better, would be nice to see those changes migrated into the main tree... I've always liked Paint Shop Pro... and if it ran decent under WINE would use it there instead of VMWare... It's one of the few Windows apps I still rely on.

      Generall office apps, email and web browsing, pretty much there... outside of that, there is a *LOT* to be desired... how about a decent bittorrent client? I would KTorrent is decent, would like to see it approach uTorrent, or Azureus on usability/features... and in all honesty, if I had more time, I would donate some of it towards improving things... However, I do a lot more web based programming, and far less desktop/gui development.. it's a bit of a different mindset.
      • by 70Bang ( 805280 ) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @05:12AM (#15838099)
        ...I have mod points (same here)... still. Part of the problem is a lot of software, but very little *good* software

        I'll one-up you. The major problem isn't there little good software, but very few good software engineers.

        Read it in toto before modding it. Thanks.
        I've said before [that] 98% of the people in the industry don't belong and usually get a lot of private rants 'n raves when I've said it before[1], so I've reduced it to 95% to provide some leeway for compromise, attempting too make them happy[1]. People think it's fun, they make decent money, it's a challenge, and people direct comments to them as though they ran into John Holmes at Roselawn, Indiana[2]. You da man! All of that put together makes their ego make them take a swing at every ball which comes across the plate.

        Code is inflated, buggy, a log of it written via trial & error, and if an actual review were to audit a sizeable fraction of code when prepared to be used, there'd be a lot of rewritten code or better coders who keep their jobs.

        The best way to explain it is one of my quotes from a long, long time ago. It's a simple compromise, but if people knew what they were paying for, there would be a lot of unhappy people (and companies) running around:

        "In this industry, you don't have to be good, just good enough."

        [1] Now, if you were to fall into the category of good why would you be p%ssed off about the other (larger) percentage? There are a lot of people who get upset when I assert these numbers. But it's like teaching a chess class: "Everyone who is a beginner or non-player go here ; everyone else ." Which side of the room are people going to put themselves in? It's the same with coding. If we were to break it out on a voluntary rating basis, how many people would go to the left and right sides of the room? I'll assert the left side of the room is going to be mighty empty. As you are reading this, do you consider yourself to be on the left or right side? Realistically. If you had to assert your position on the right-hand side, what's your evidence going to be?
        [2] When it was intact and he was alive. I'm trusting I shouldn't have to explain either of these, but that's what Google and Wikipedia are for.

        • "In this industry, you don't have to be good, just good enough."

          I can think of few industries where this isn't the case (Medicine perhaps, at one time I would say NASA but no longer). With unrealistic deadlines and tight budgets, "good enough" isn't just the minimum acceptable goal, it's the only acceptable goal. Don't blame the software engineers for a problem inherent in the system.

      • Regarding photo editing I recently found the program F-Spot for Linux. It was the reason I (once again) switched to Linux to play some with it. It's not so much editing as photo management. But in that aspect it does a better job than many Windows/OSX programs. Or perhaps more accurately, it has "versions" so you can have different edits of the same photo.

        Why no other programs have this is beyond me. It seems like an obvious feature.
  • Article Summary (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SnowZero ( 92219 ) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @01:57AM (#15837638)
    Summary: I like Outlook, but its not available for Linux. Evolution doesn't work enough like it, and Microsoft is unlikely to release a Linux version of Outlook. Boo-hoo. Why can't we all get along?

    I was kind of hoping for something a bit broader than one example heaped with a few generalities...
    • by kfg ( 145172 ) *
      I was kind of hoping for something a bit broader than one example heaped with a few generalities...

      You're new there, aren't you?

    • Re:Article Summary (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Melllvar ( 911158 ) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @02:42AM (#15837772)

      Ya know, I read and re-read the article at least three times (I really did!), because all I kept getting out of it was the sheer cluelessness of its premise. Seriously, Outlook? Is there anyone out there whose spent more than five minutes ruminating over computer OS issues who believes that Microsoft is seriously gonn get behind Linux/Unix versions of its flagship products?

      Besides Dvorak, I mean.

      The article also cites Shockwave and iTunes as examples; but I've never felt even remotely outta the loop for being without either one of them. I frankly don't understood the weird obsession with those silly little Mac music players (my 2-year-old, 20gb, non-DRM compliant, format agnostic iRiver still kicks serious enough ass, thank you); and as for Shockwave ... well ... in I dunno how many years of XP usage I've had to put up with, I've never even had to bother with using Shockwave, so why install it? So I can ... what ... finally have that full, uncrippled [] experience?

      There's only one thing that ever brings me back to Windows with any regularity. And that's gaming, pure and simple. You show me a critical mass of support from the mainstream PC gaming industry for Linux/Unix support, and I'll be outta here faster than Mindy Gates can say "Microsoft Bob."

    • Re:Article Summary (Score:5, Insightful)

      by killjoe ( 766577 ) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @04:26AM (#15838011)
      Gimme gimme gimme. Open source will die when too many people are whinging and not enough people are doing. Open source only works when YOU contribute. Find a way to help.
  • by WindBourne ( 631190 ) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @01:57AM (#15837639) Journal
    Apache, mosaic, jabber, etc were started on *nix. But these are server apps. There are many more desktop apps that were started on Windows and then FINALLY ported to *nix. What it will take is to make Linux a competitive place for desktop. Hopefully, as Google moves their apps on over linxu and forces other companies to compete on the same platform, then things may change.

  • by AnyThingButWindows ( 939158 ) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @01:58AM (#15837645) Homepage
    "I feel it's time for Linux to grow up and find some kind of common ground with the closed source community"

    I believe it is time for the closed source community to grow up and find some common ground with Linux.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 03, 2006 @02:07AM (#15837682)
      Why would any company want to open their source code and share their intellectual property with everyone? Hours later, someone would be trying to sell a rebranded version of their hard work.
      • Why would any company want to open their source code and share their intellectual property with everyone?

        What the GP actually said was:

        I believe it is time for the closed source community to grow up and find some common ground with Linux.
        I can't see anything there that says "open source code" or "share ip", can you?
      • Why would any company want to open their source code and share their intellectual property with everyone? Hours later, someone would be trying to sell a rebranded version of their hard work.

        That someone is in no special position, because anyone can sell a rebranded version. So why would I buy from that one? I'd rather buy from the original company because they're the ones in a special position of knowing their product, and being able to support it better than a random guy.

        On the other hand, if that s

    • by ozmanjusri ( 601766 ) <> on Thursday August 03, 2006 @02:15AM (#15837699) Journal
      I believe it is time for the closed source community to grow up and find some common ground with Linux.

      There will come a time when proprietary software will be routinely written for Linux, but I would prefer it didn't happen too soon. At the moment, the consequence of proprietary software developers ignoring Linux (and other FOSS OSs) is that open source developers are having to create the entire software stack.

      The FOSS community won't just be developing an OS, but office apps, graphics tools, audio, video, CAD etc. It makes the task of creating a viable alternative to Microsoft harder, true, but the end result will be that an entire suite of FOSS software will exist for the platform by the time commercial interests start noticing the market.

      At the moment, the lack of pressure from commercial interests is allowing the FOSS solutions to develop at their own pace, so the longer the proprietary companies keep shooting themselves in the foot by ignoring Linux, the better. Given time, any company wishing to compete in the Linux market will have to produce software which is significantly better than the established FOSS tools, and that has to be good for us computer users.

      • by FireFury03 ( 653718 ) <> on Thursday August 03, 2006 @04:39AM (#15838036) Homepage
        the end result will be that an entire suite of FOSS software will exist for the platform by the time commercial interests start noticing the market.

        Whilest I will always to choose open solutions over closed ones where possible, I'm not convinced that having the entire software suite implemented before the closed source people take notice is necessarilly a good thing (if that were even possible). The closed software producers are often large corporations with a lot of marketting muscle and Linux may well benefit from them promoting their Linux versions of their software (and thus promoting the whole OS).

        I mean, lets that a theoretical example:
        Lets say Adobe ported PhotoShop to Linux. They put a bit of marketting behind it and a large chunk of PhotoShop users migrate over to Linux. (Ok, I guess this isn't necessarilly the best example since they're pretty attached to their Macs, but bear with me). A migration to Linux like this would give it quite a boost in the desktop market.

        Conversely, let's just imagine that The GIMP gets as good as (or better than) PhotoShop before Adobe start caring about Linux. So now they have a viable free (as in beer) competetor to their rather expensive product. Are they actually going to want to promote Linux (which usually ships as standard with The GIMP)? Of course not, they're going to want to use their marketting weight to push people away from Linux in the hope that they can keep as many people as possible from discovering that they can get something as good as PhotoShop for free.

        Yes, ok, so The GIMP is available for other platforms, but people are more likley to discover it if it's already installed when they get their computer.

        Given time, any company wishing to compete in the Linux market will have to produce software which is significantly better than the established FOSS tools, and that has to be good for us computer users.

        It's worth noting that (in my experience) most commercial decisions are not based on "what's best for the job" or even "what gives the most bang for our buck". I've lost count of the number of times employers have forced me to use some very expensive piece of software that really is nowhere near as good at the job as some FOSS software. In most of these cases, the expensive commercial software is a good 10 years behind the free equivalent. Many of these purchasing decisions seem to basically just be made on the "noone ever got fired for buying IBM" premise (replace "IBM" with any large corporation who has been selling expensive software for a long time).
      • I agree with most of your argument but I also can't help feeling that the lack of closed source development for Linux is hurting the community as a whole. Perhaps companies developing closed source software for Linux won't advance the Linux code base much but having, potentially, tens of thousands of software developers using the libraries and reporting bugs should help improve the to the point where they are far better than any closed source set of libraries.

        I think part of the problem companies see with

    • Sure, right when Linux shows multi-BILLION dollar profits, a SUCCESSFUL business strategy and doesn't have thousands developers each creating their own 'perfect' GUI.

      With the exception of servers and anti-virus software, Linux is far, far away from being a serious threat to Windows (and Macs.)

      • by foreverdisillusioned ( 763799 ) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @04:27AM (#15838014) Journal
        Seriously now...

        when Linux shows multi-BILLION dollar profits

        Linux and the GPL weren't designed to make money (though some people do make money off of Linux); they SAVE people money.

        SUCCESSFUL business strategy

        News flash: "Linux" in and of itself is not a business. And last I checked Red Hat and IBM were doing alright.

        With the exception of servers and anti-virus software, Linux is far, far away from being a serious threat to Windows (and Macs.)

        I have 5 machines in active use in my house. All of them dual boot XP/Ubuntu. No matter what machine I'm working with, when (re)installing XP I have to deal with the installer's MBR-related retardation and I have to hunt down and manually install the drivers for the network card, video card, and sound card. With the latest release of Ubuntu, ALL of my hardware is detected right out of the box. 3d-acceleration doesn't work, of course, but there are a few third party applications such as EasyUbuntu which automatically set this up for me. Installing Ubuntu and running EasyUbuntu is easier and by default requires less user input than XP and doesn't require hunting down drivers, and after it's done I can watch DVDs, check my email, surf the web, open or create MS Office documents using, play from a vast selection of Linux games (no, they're not Battlefield 2 but they're hella better than just Pinball, Minesweeper, Solitaire, Freecell, and Hearts... varients of which are all of which are included in the Ubuntu repositories, btw), easily install and run most simple Windows programs under Wine, and easily upgrade every single application on my computer with two mouse clicks.

        Yes, there are still plenty of rough spots, but its flaws aren't 1/100 as bad as the flaws Windows 98SE had. 99% of XP's non-gaming desktop functionality is there, and the remaining 1% is largely a result of Microsoft's anti-competitive practices and/or Window's momentum (Windows-only programs/drivers/APIs, IE-only websites, etc.) And on top of Window's functionality, you get immunity to most forms of malware, the benefits of the Debian package managment (makes InstallShield look like rocket science in comparison, and it automatically keeps your stuff up to date), and all-around predictability and stability--weird stuff still occasionally happens, but it isn't an constant, everpresent fact of life like it is with XP. (And don't give me that "XP/2000 is just as stable as *nix" argument--that'scrap. It's a big improvement over 9x, but that's akin to saying Ramen noodles is an improvement over eating dog crap. It still crashes. It still causes apps to crash. It still behaves in an extremely unpredictable fashion--problems seemingly coming out of nowhere--at least a couple times a month.)

        In terms of market share no, no it isn't a threat, but then Linux isn't a business, so market share isn't a terribly fair metric. Linux can thrive (and indeed has) even on an extremely small user base; Windows cannot.

        I hearby pronounce the neverending joke about this finally being the "year of the Linux Desktop" officially dead. Linux IS on the desktop, and my grandmother DOES use it for everything most people use Windows for--email, web browsing, music, watching movies, casual gaming. ...and if you are indeed arguing that desktop Linux is nonexistant, then you're a goddamned ignorant troll.
        • P.S. (Score:3, Insightful)

          Linux and the GPL weren't designed to make money (though some people do make money off of Linux); they SAVE people money.

          I should clarify-- by "people", I meant companies as well. Hence, close sourced companies should learn to grow up and play well with Linux not because they can sell it, but because they can save money. Plus, since it's open source, they can easily modify any part of it as needed (they don't even have to redistribute the changes, so long as they don't distribute the binaries outside
    • by dnaumov ( 453672 ) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @03:50AM (#15837936)
      "I believe it is time for the closed source community to grow up and find some common ground with Linux."
      ...the ant told the elephant.
  • Wha? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by RandUser ( 799024 ) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @01:59AM (#15837646)
    What is he talking about? Linux doesn't need new or exciting features, it needs further usability improvements and for the products currently available to mature. Feature bloat is not something I wish to see in the GNU/Linux world - function over flash has always been the mantra and it is definitely not outdated.

    When there is a gap for new programs, they will be created. When someone needs to get a task done and there isn't a tool, he will scratch that itch - eventually, if enough people have the itch it becomes widespread. I also have no idea where he is coming from about this release gap between windows and linux, unless we're talking about games which is a whole other can of worms.

    And finally, has he checked out XGL/compiz? That is some bleeding edge technology that is unmatched currently and definitely some cool stuff to play with. Basically I don't understand what this guy's beef is and how it relates to closed/open source - GNU/linux has all the software it needs being developed and the few closed source vendors who don't want to play nice and port are not the fault of the open vision.

    Of course, I am basing this entirely on the summary so who knows. *shrug*
  • WAAAA???? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Fluffy_Kitten ( 911430 ) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @01:59AM (#15837648) Homepage
    are you kidding me? most innovations now start at the linux level. Aero? Vista eye candy? compiz did it a year BEFORE not AFTER. Workspaces? windows still doesn't have that. all the new desktop usability comes from linux, while windows kept the windows 95 desktop going for 10+ years with minor changes. linux thinks AHEAD not 3 year ago like closed source. OPEN means you can risk new ideas, while CLOSED means risks can rouin you. I chose to take bold new innovations out for a spin.
  • Pro graphics apps (Score:5, Interesting)

    by edwardpickman ( 965122 ) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @02:02AM (#15837658)
    Ironically it's the pro applications now that port first. Things like Maya are more and more focasing on Linux. I doubt you'll see most consumer applications paying much attention to Linux anytime soon but the professionals are adopting it faster than any group. The 3D realm likes the power and stability. Photoshop is still dragging it's feet as far as I know but but there are plenty of higher end 3d animating and modelling apps availible and they tend to be released before even the Mac versions.
  • Excitement = Bad (Score:2, Insightful)

    by rai4shu2 ( 987626 )
    If you're excited, it's probably because it barely works. We don't need more of that type of software on any OS.
  • Wait a second... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MostAwesomeDude ( 980382 ) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @02:03AM (#15837665) Homepage
    So, what he's saying is that Linux people aren't trying hard enough to make closed software available on Linux? ...

    I almost feel like Obviousman here. Linux can't accomodate closed-source software easily BECAUSE IT'S CLOSED AND THUS IMPOSSIBLE TO INTEGRATE SEAMLESSLY INTO OTHER APPLICATIONS. Linux has no obligations whatsoever when it comes to compatibility -- they've published all their docs, spotty though they may be, and they use standards. Microsoft, Adobe, and now-defunct Macromedia have done neither, with some exceptions such as SWF and PDF formats.

    If this guy wants more integration, he should stop bitching at Linux, which has an open kernel API; he should stop bitching at GNU, which is completely and totally open. He should be directing his trolling at Microsoft, who has made no efforts to make their software work on top of Linux kernels.
    • by geminidomino ( 614729 ) * on Thursday August 03, 2006 @03:57AM (#15837949) Journal
      Unless he's not talking about OSS developers. The first thing I thought of when I saw that comment about "growing up and looking for common ground" was the eternal NVidia flamewar. This IS a proprietary company trying to serve the OSS community, but they're constantly getting flack because they're not willing to go all the way to open-sourcing their drivers. Personally, I don't care. My interest is in making my computer work, but it seems I may be in the minority there.

      That sort of behavior could conceivably make other companies disinclined to even consider linux.
      • Re:Wait a second... (Score:3, Informative)

        by Per Wigren ( 5315 )
        The case with NVidia is very different. NVidia is a hardware company and their "software" is nothing more than a bridge to make their hardware work in various operating systems. Their revenue comes from their hardware, open sourcing their driver can only help them sell more hardware...

        Also, it runs inside the kernel which means a bug in the software can kill the whole OS. The kernel is GPL meaning that a closed source module is illegal. They use a GPLed wrapper though, putting it in the legal grayzone inste
      • Personally, I don't care. My interest is in making my computer work, but it seems I may be in the minority there.

        Well good for you - others however, have an interest in making their computers work reliably. This means being able to expect support from their vendor & the people.

        However, running a closed source kernel module, means giving up that support (as the kernel developers cannot diagnose problems over which they have no control).

        My interest is in making my computer work, and work relaib
    • Re:Wait a second... (Score:3, Informative)

      by cnettel ( 836611 )
      The "open" kernel API of Linux is not constant, and it's not open in the sense that you can link even non-open code to it. That's why you have those thunkings to binary "drivers", with a thin layer under a GPL license, that just communicates with the binary code.
  • by Were-Rabbit ( 959205 ) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @02:05AM (#15837668)
    Perhaps some of this is because there does not appear to be a clear, simple to follow outline cooperative for companies to design for the open source operating system. Arguably this is because of the perceived need to keep things "open," however, I feel it's time for Linux to grow up and find some kind of common ground with the closed source community. I am a firm believer that both parties could learn a lot from each other; unfortunately I don't see that happening any time soon."

    Actually, this is exactly what I have heard from a number of software vendors. I review software and gadgets for a few web sites. One of my testing criteria, particularly for hardware, is if the hardware is Linux-compatible. When it comes to software I always ask if there are any plans to offer a Linux version of the software. The answer that I hear the most often is in regards to a lack of available resources, which I certainly can understand since I review a lot of software form independent companies. But when I question further about asking Linux coders to help with the conversion, the major of companies that have shown an interest in a Linux port say that they've attempted to do so, but the programmers that they approached expect the software to be open-sourced if the company is to get their help. I've even had some developers of software that's geared more towards a particular science admit that they think there would be a huge demand on their software for Linux, but the "requirement" by Linux coders that the software is open-sourced killed the prospect of releasing a Linux version.

    As much as I'd like to brush that off as "just an excuse", look at a lot of the replies here on Slashdot about Linux and open-source and you'll quickly see that HE'S RIGHT! I love open-source (or at the very least open standards) just as much as anyone else here and I use it whenever feasible. But there is definitely an assumption among a lot of Linux users that if it's available on Linux the course code has got to be made available or else it doesn't belong on Linux, like it's some kind of plague.

    Now, I'll confess that this attitude has been diminishing as Linux eeks its way into the mainstream. The attitude is shifting away from open source and more towards open standards. But there is still a big movement and big preconception that "Linux == Open Source" and "Closed Source != Welcome On Linux".

    NOT flaming here, folks. Just relaying what I've been told by software developers and what I've seen here on /. Sorry if you don't like it or don't believe it, but that doesn't make it less true. Or at least, that doesn't it make it less true in the eyes of software developers.
    • by L.Bob.Rife ( 844620 ) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @02:26AM (#15837733)
      The counter-argument is that many companies are basically seeking people who will port their code for free, and then profit from their efforts. Companies can either pay actual salaries to programmares and get it coded closed-source, or donate their intellectual property and get it ported for free, eventually. Either way, they have to pay.
      • Actually, one in particular tried to get paid, Linux coders a few years ago for one of their projects. Granted, this was many years ago before Linux became as mainstream as it is today, but the few people that they spoke to supposedly voiced displeasure with not making the code available and the deadline for the project was approaching, so they decided to scrap any Linux conversion. Once again ... what I was told. An excuse? Could be. But I could tell by the tone of this particular developer's e-mail t
    • Sooo... you think it's totally reasonable to ask the Linux coders, committed to free software, to help port closed software, so the closed software companies can make more money...? I don't see the commitment on part of the Linux coders to help companies with too much money make more myself.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        Ummmm ... If no one is willing to take the jobs to port software to Linux, does it make sense to then turn around and complain that there's not enough commercial software available for Linux?
    • But there is definitely an assumption among a lot of Linux users that if it's available on Linux the course code has got to be made available or else it doesn't belong on Linux, like it's some kind of plague.

      And it's correct! The whole point of the FSF and the GNU operating system (usually running on a Linux kernel) is to make an entirely Free operating system, with Free applications. The whole point of this entire exercise is to make closed source software superfluous, not just Windows. That's the main

    • I'm glad someone has said it and said it well. I think there are quite a few companies, especially ones producing highly specialized software, that would quite like to release Linux versions but they are held back due to the whole "if it's on Linux it must be open" thing. I always felt that the whole OSS movement was more about providing people with free and open tools not completely replacing / removing all closed source software. An open OS fits in with the idea of producing free tools, it's pretty easy t

  • by SocietyoftheFist ( 316444 ) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @02:12AM (#15837692)
    No coherent vision with a bunch of competing vendors. One target needs to emerge with the kind of support that Windows has down the whole stack. I've been hearing about Linux taking over this and that for 6 years now, I only see it replacing UNIX.
  • Its really quite simple.

    Linux, and most of the other software distros bundle with it, is all licensed under the GPL, and is generally licensed as such for a reason: the developers are dedicated to Free Software. The question of proprietary kernel drivers, and many other issues, are consistently decided in favour of continuing to strictly adhere to GNU/Free Software standards.

    On the other side of the fence, proprietary software is Closed Source in order to maximize revenue. Much of it will stay closed
  • like, if all i cared about was reproducing cool audio software, i wouldn't say *nothing* was going on, but rather that XXN0YXX was lacking development momentum.

    as for me, i like amarok. screw itunes, love ya xmms, but bye, and the featureset for 1.4.2 is actually better than any other alternative, period.

    and since i listen to music ALL day while working, this is not a minor thing for me... it's great.

    god bless amarok and all who sail with it.
  • It's not all bad (Score:4, Insightful)

    by also-rr ( 980579 ) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @02:22AM (#15837718) Homepage
    Woohoo, I get to recycle my +5 comment [] from last night

    Proprietary software, as long as it doesn't make the system less free, is not necessarily bad.

    For example a proprietary document system that uses open formats and has open APIs does very little to harm the user and potentially fills a niche that cannot be served by free software very well (eg handles certain legal compliance issues, which requires expensive insurance and research).

    As long as you *could* write your own software to replace bits of the system, or interoperate with the system, then you dont necessarily have to for the benefit to be very real indeed.
    • by rolfwind ( 528248 ) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @03:30AM (#15837878)
      On the other hand, I am finding proprietary operating systems becoming less useful all the time. For instance, does MS's refusal to open up NTFS hurt its competitors? Not really, linux has great file systems available to it, so one place I would have potentially had a dual setup, I went all linux because I didn't want FAT32 (no permissions), nor can Windows interface with a lot of the file systems I use out of the box.

      The same can be said with Open Office vs Microsoft Office in regard to open documents. I am finding closed documents a hassle because that means I can use only a very limited subset of apps to manipulate said document - and not every should be a one size fits all (except emacs:) )

      I'm probably the exception these days, as with some hassle, drivers can be added to Windows to let it read other filesystem, and Open Office can run on Windows.

      But other benefits of Open Source are repositories, as you mention, and I find the convenience of one central spot on my computer to download and automatically install known good software with a few button clicks (sans spyware/adware) beats any Windows experience hands down (which usually includes searching the web, downloading, installing, hoping it's not malware, adware, etcetera for every app).

      I really could not see going back to something like Windows. It just seems like too much work and money. Quite a reversal from the Linux experience like around 1999 or so.
  • by RotateLeftByte ( 797477 ) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @02:25AM (#15837724)

    As has been stated, this article is nothing more than "I want outlook on Linux".

    If you take a good look at real world closed source software (ie sold by companies not based in Redmond, WA) you will find most of the top app providers already selling Linux versions of their products. For many, this was a no brainer as they already had Unix (of various flavours) versions of their key products.
    Then you get companies like IBM who are (IMHO) actually looking at replacing windows with Linux as the key dev platform. For example, if you look as some of the WebSphere range of products. Until fairly recently, there was always a need for at leat one windows system to act as the dev host. Now, with the switch to Eclipse based dev tools they can also use linux instead of Windows in this key area. Ok, they are not betting the farm on linux succeeding in this area but with each release the need to use windows grows less and less.

      We don't need Outlook on Linux. What we need is a decent email/groupware client that will interact seamlessly with MS Exchange that provides all the functionality of Outlook but without the underlying problems that it has.

      What bugs me about Office 2003 is that outlook had lost its ability to export the account settings. What you have to use is the office exporter which produces a file which is a horrible missmash of Binary & XML (no the binary is not wrapped in XML) that only the office imported can read. I know this is part of the M$ lock in policy but previous versions of lookout so that other email clients can read them easily. So now, you have to import them manually. I get really annoyed with M$ when the go on about their interoperability policy. It if nothing more than pure FUD.

  • by l3v1 ( 787564 ) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @02:27AM (#15837736)
    mazing lack of new and exciting software

    Yes, sire, I shalt bow before thee. Am I alone to think such opinions come from the usual thinking-to-be professionals who don't actually use those "exciting" software but find it fashionable to talk about having it and using it and knowing it, etc. ? What is "exciting software" anyway ? There are of course applications which have some purpose and are designed nicer, slicker than the others, some even are more usable than others, some are more professional, etc. Still, "new and exciting software" is a so broad and bland formulation that it makes the whole opinion unworthy of any serious consideration.

    Apart from the above, OSes other than Windows happen to have very many good applications for a wide variety of goals (and yes, the job and the goal is what defines what software to use, we don't just use a software because it's "exciting" and "new", unless the special family of what I usually call toy apps), and surprisingly (well, not for us) they are usually developed in a much faster pace than in the case of some other OS. Also, needs of the crowds and recognition of some missing niche software (and the implementation of it) usually happens more frequently and faster in the non-Windows world.

    If just talking about the number of maintained and developed apps, and the number of areas these applications target, then Linux is better performing in some of these areas than any other OS out there. There are probably a lot of people who at least once thought how nice would it be if this app existed also on Windows, and guess what, these wishes come true more frequently than not. In my world this is one of the biggest strenghts of FOSS development which also makes such developers much more evolved in my book, since they are mostly developing to be platform-agnostic.

    If I were wearing my troll-boots, I'd tell you where to go with those new and exciting software you so hardly seek, but I can't find them so there you go, all I can advise you now is to take a much broader point of view upon the Linux and FOSS world, formulate goals and try to find existing software to achieve your goals, and after experimentation you still feel the lack of those exciting pieces of software, than all you can do is search for other pastures where exciting-software-trees grow by the dozen.
  • by Chaffar ( 670874 ) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @02:28AM (#15837737)
    "Evolution is a very clumsy feeling program with a lack of fluidity. Getting it to work with the MS Exchange plugin works about half the time (tried it on many distributions) and it's just a pain to use in the first place."

    Go ask Microsoft why they lock down their products the way they do, it's not really the OSS community's fault.

    the fact remains that I am tired of having to boot back into my Windows install to do some pretty basic stuff. [...] There is one application that cannot be run at all because of its dependency on Internet Explorer - Outlook 2003.

    Well if you're sooo dependent on Microsoft products, and you admit it, then you should now understand WHY OSS is so important. We're seeking to empower the individuals, who in today's setup are at the mercy of software companies. And your experience of Linux has only highlighted even more this need to have an open alternative to Windows and its flagship "products".

    If you want to exclusively use Linux, then the first thing you need to learn to do is to COMPROMISE. Understand that you'll be better off not using MSN messenger or Outlook, and start looking at the alternatives. We're not here to emulate windows, we're here to offer a different desktop experience.

    As for the lack of new interesting things in the OSS world, well I'll just say that you haven't been looking hard enough. Not all the interesting stuff comes in a .deb or .rpm ...

  • What's to follow? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Todd Knarr ( 15451 ) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @02:31AM (#15837746) Homepage

    I'm not sure why companies would need any special outline for Linux. That it's open-source is irrelevant for most software, really. If you're making a kernel module the issue comes into play, but very few things other than actual hardware devices need kernel modules. If you include GPL'd libraries in your software there's a licensing issue, but then if you include any libraries licensed from third parties you've got a licensing issue when you start distributing them and you're going to have to do some negotiating and cough up some money. I don't think there's any GPL'd libraries that apps on Linux have to use, so any app should be able to avoid the issue if they want to. The only thing left is integration into the system:

    • Installation of the software. Not much to say here. A simple tar file that can be unpacked and copied under /usr/local, or that's got an installation script that does the work, should work on any Unix out there including Linux. At worst you've got to add a library directory to /etc/, but usually a small wrapper script that sets LD_LIBRARY_PATH appropriately obviates the need for that. If you want to use the native packaging system you've got to build binary packages, but that's usually straightforward and covered in the documentation for each distro.
    • Integration into the system startup scripts. There's a couple of different layouts for the startup script directories, and each distro has it's own little customizations you have to accomodate for perfect integration (things like how the script should check for the software already being started during runlevel changes, stuff like that). But how much software really needs to be set running during startup? Most doesn't, but the few packages that do have some complexity on their hands.
    • Desktop integration. This isn't a Linux issue, it's a Gnome and KDE issue (those being the two major ones these days). Their Web sites have guides on how to do this right IIRC, and if you follow them it should work for that desktop on any platform the desktop runs on. Linux is simply another platform.
    • Integration with the desktop. Um, this is Unix. There is no single desktop. Any user on the system can run any desktop, and in fact run different desktops at different times. Best bet is to follow the guides for integration, check for each desktop and integrate with all that're installed, and provide a single executable (or a wrapper script) that a user can run from the command line that'll start your app. That last insures users can use your app without any desktop integration at all by simply manually creating a launcher for it where they want one.
    • Copy protection. This can be an issue. The world outside Windows is remarkably hostile to the sorts of copy-protection schemes seen in Windows software, and Linux isn't unique in this. License key servers can be used, but they tend to cause more headaches for your customers (even when working properly) than for pirates. Hardware keying is a pain since Unixes tend to hide the hardware so well the detailed information isn't readily available (you can get it, but it takes a fair amount of hackery).
    Have I missed anything? I don't think I have, and aside from the issue of copy protection none of the above needs any special communication or coordination between the software vendor and the Linux community or distributions to deal with beyond reading the relevant docs. Maybe it's that the vendors have a problem believing it can be that simple after all these years of dealing with the complexities of Windows?
    • by killjoe ( 766577 )
      You don't have to do anything like that. If you just provide the binaries and give people permission they will happily package the thing up according to their distro.
  • Tell me about it (Score:3, Insightful)

    by loomis ( 141922 ) * on Thursday August 03, 2006 @02:33AM (#15837751)
    I am a novice linux user who is currently struggling through converting my computers completely to Ubuntu.

    It has really been a challenge for me, not so much due to anything wrong with Ubuntu, but because the "aftermarket" software just doesn't exist, or is really poor.

    For example, can you believe that there are no good graphical FTP clients for linux? It's true. I have been using gFTP, which most people consider to be the best one, for about a week. It crashes almost daily, isn't very good option-wise, and it is soooo slow. I want something simple, say something like WSFTP for windows, and lo and behold it just doesn't exist. Seems remarkable that a good graphical FTP client doesn't even exist.

    The same can be said for a Mavis-esque typing program, and a simple photo editor like the immensely popular Irfanview.

    Indeed these are the stumbling blocks for me. Not the distribution, but rather the software inavailability.

    • Re:Tell me about it (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward _equivalent_to_Windows_software [] should help nicely.

      for gui ftp clients: Kasablanca, GFTP, KBear, FireFTP Konqueror

      for IfranView: XnView, GQView

      for a Mavis-esque typing program: KTouch and GNU Typist
    • Re:Tell me about it (Score:5, Informative)

      by PeterBrett ( 780946 ) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @03:18AM (#15837860) Homepage
      For example, can you believe that there are no good graphical FTP clients for linux? It's true. I have been using gFTP, which most people consider to be the best one, for about a week. It crashes almost daily, isn't very good option-wise, and it is soooo slow. I want something simple, say something like WSFTP for windows, and lo and behold it just doesn't exist. Seems remarkable that a good graphical FTP client doesn't even exist.

      It's called Konqueror. It has these wonderful things called 'ioslaves' which can be accessed by special 'protocols'. Not only does it support browsing the local filesystem and the web, but also ftp sites (, secure ftp (sftp://blah), info and man page viewing (info:/libc, man:/fstab), and a whole host of other resources. And it presents a unified and self-consistent interface to all of them.

      There are fantastic GUI clients for FTP on Linux, and sometimes you don't realize you're already using one on a day to day basis (assuming you're a KDE user).

      • Re:Tell me about it (Score:3, Informative)

        by _Sprocket_ ( 42527 )
        Actually - Konq and ioslaves is one of the several reasons I've gone all-Linux at work. It's a nifty feature. And not only do ioslaves work within Konq, they also work for many KDE applications from the file open dialog.
  • Businesses do not really care if something is open source or closed source or whatever. This is a fallacy. Businesses care about ROI, pure and simple. And when you care about ROI you want to maximize your returns for a given size of effort. Which in our case, in a very watered down analysis, would mean:

    1. Tapping into high-margin customer segments (server software, niche workstation software)
    2. Tapping into the mass market (read: consumer)

    In case 1. Linux is King (TM). Look at Amazon, Google, e-Bay, with mo
  • Which plan looks most promising to a typical entrepreneur?
    1. write up a great idea for a proprietary product, stressing that it will run on millions of Windows desktops;
    2. look for venture capital;
    3. develop and market product;
    4. profit!!!


    1. write up a great idea for an open source product, stressing that geeks will love it;
    2. look for venture capital;
    3. develop and market product;
    4. attract praise for its open and innovative nature!!!

    There is some tremendous stuff running in the Linux/BSD world (especially server or

  • by dbIII ( 701233 ) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @03:08AM (#15837839)
    I think the article should be entitled "The future of MS Windows compataible closed source software and linux". There is plenty of other stuff in the feilds of geophysics, engineering, databases and system integration that is closed source but runs on a variety of platforms - including linux. A lot of it has done so for more than five years. A lot of it I wish was open source (eg. a closed source seismic data processing app has had a lot of bug fixes recently - but these won't be released to customers like my users until next year) but I just have to be happy that it exists.

    There are more uses for a computer other than a glass typewriter, a ledger book or a toy.

    One last comment about the example - Outlook not so good. Nearly every other email client stores data in a form that can be recovered by a even a text editor or by tools from the same vendor - not an obfiscated database that requires dodgy shareware tools to fix.

  • by jeswin ( 981808 ) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @03:15AM (#15837853) Homepage
    Here is a point many Slashdotters are missing, when they see the word "Closed Source".

    Closed source should not be defined as anything packaged in disks or as installable on the local machines. The majority of closed source is now disguised as Web Applications. When we raise arms against Microsoft, we are supportive or at best silent about the dozens of useful web applications that spring up. Google Maps, Spreadsheets, BaseCamp and the rest are as closed source as Microsoft are. And so are the algorithms that power things like search engines.

    As Google and others bring newer applications on the Web, and as the desktop applications get replaced by Web Applications we will have "Closed Source 2.0".

    Actually they might be worse that the current breed of closed source.
    - When Web Applications shut down you have nothing!
    - You dont have code to reverse engineer
    - Hell, you don't even have the data with you
    - You have no idea what they do with your data!
    - Can we depend on their security?

  • by dbIII ( 701233 ) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @03:27AM (#15837874)
    OK - so you have a computer network with different machines.

    You want Outlook on your screen - no problem - just export it via X windows from your MS windows box to wherever you are. You mean that hasn't worked since NT 3.51? OK - it looks like you are stuck with MS windows since VNC is too much of a pain for constant use - but you can do things the other way with an X server on your windows box letting you run things remotely at full speed on other machines on the network. Exceed, cygwin and many other implementations of X Windows on MS Windows let you do this.

    The single user non network aware model still exists with MS Windows - the idea of exporting an entire terminal session is still about as clunky as an IBM 3270 terminal from decades past. Thankfully it only cuts one way - almost everything else works OK with MS Windows over a network even if MS Windows works with practicly nothing else.

  • by jkrise ( 535370 ) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @04:19AM (#15837994) Journal
    Replying to this Flamebait Troll of an article? This is what I was doing when I refereshed my Slashdot page and found this chump spewing misinformation:

    In our site, we've got Active Directory for a group of 700 systems, and about 1200 users. I think Craptive Directory is a better word for this piece of junk. We tried migrating from Win2K server to Win2K3, and the damn thing called domain-prep and forest-prep threw out an error page some 500 meters long. Smoke's coming outta' my ears just reading reams and reams of error messages.
    So, I ask the security chap..

    What if we migrate to a better Directory server.. we're thinking of OpenLDAP or Fedora Directory Services. I asked this bloke to backup Active Directory, just in case. He says It Can't Be Done!!! It's just not possible to take a backup of the bloody damn POS s/w that's used to store the company's most valuable information. It's JUST NOT POSSIBLE TO transfer it to a better config. or even upgrade to a higher version smoothly. Seriously, why people ever choose Crapware like Active Directory, Exchange, LookOut or Office is beyond me.

    And so, we're sitting down, thinking long hard thoughts... wondering what we should be doing, to ensure we're fine, atleast 2 years from now... some points: (Actually this bloke Matt Hartley may have done us a big favour - he's made all the wrong arguments and points in one piece!)

    I. Use ONLY open standards and specs. No compromise on this at any cost.
    1a. We've decided to go in with HTML for 'documents'. Why do we need docs? We need to look at them, we need to print them, we need to email them so others can see, and we need to be able to write tools that can manipulate OUR data in OUR docs. And so, it's gonna be HTML from here on out. The Nvu editor seems the best suited for this thing, so we're going with it.

    1b. We don't use spreadsheets a lot. For those rare cases, we've decided to go in for Gnumeric, and csv as the format. No more of those bloody macros in the a/cs dept. We've developed all their apps on a server, we're giving them Import and Export to cvf where needed, and that's it.

    1c. PowerPoint: We've told the suits to go in with Impress for the time being... under OpenOffice. Until we figure out the best Open Source tool for presentations, that works to Open Standards, that is. All told, we have very few suits.. less than a dozen, so let them start picking up these skills NOW!

    II. Groupware: No more fiddling around with the Exchange Server or the Notes server trying to figure out how to build some site-specific features we need. No point. We've figured the only thing MS or IBM care about is licensing money, not adherence to standards, delivering something useful to us, or anything. They just want license money, so we're looking elsewhere.

    We're also trying to build in some CRM functions... we heard Dynamics works only under Craptive Directory, so we're giving it a miss. SugarCRM seems useless without their commercial license, so we're ditching it too.

    We're experimenting with vTiger, Drupal, Mambo, phpBB and Moodle.. yes, Moodle. It looks the easiest of the lot to actually build community-oriented features, and has the most elegant of interfaces. No need for any client, no Evolution, no Zimbra, no nothing. Just a customised Groupware client that does the job for us. That works the way we like. That helps our users relate to what software we provide them.

    So, we asked ourselves, what are we doing with our email system?
    1. Announcements, Circulars and Notifications: We've decided to have them at the top of our Groupware page. Every intended recipient to indicate they've read the message.. some option for a feedback. No more tons of "Read" messages to the sender, no more Acknowledgement emails... no nothing. Just a one-page report to the Sender of which users have Read, Not Read, and Comments. That's it for this category of mails.

    2. Calendaring: We figured out this is not really important for all users, and the few who need it, need it in diffe
  • by pandrijeczko ( 588093 ) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @04:21AM (#15838000)
    And with me only two score and four years on this earth, there I was thinking that software only had to be "useful" and "usable".

    Look, I have no problem with people using Windows (I do myself a little), I have no problem with people disliking command-line tools in Windows or Linux but can *both types* of people please STOP imposing their view of the world on the rest of us! Now!

    The fact is that NOBODY (repeat N-O-B-O-D-Y) can appreciate the power of a Linux or UNIX operating system until you dive into the command line, learn shell, Python, Perl or another scripting language and start putting together INCREDIBLY POWERFUL AND VERSATILE TOOLS yourself.

    For the uninitiated, from the shell prompt in Linux or UNIX you can log into remote systems, view web pages, burn CDs, rip CDs, play MP3s, convert images, perform countless system diagnostics, edit files, etc. etc. On top of this, you can do some of the most amazingly powerful text manipulation using complex regular expressions that end up looking like a spider has crawled across your screen with inky feet. Admittedly, to a GUI-based user, none of this looks particularly "exciting" but when all of these tasks can be combined in countless ways within scripts, NOTHING (repeat N-O-T-H-I-N-G) within a GUI environment comes CLOSE for automation and sheer power.

    No, I'm not a command line zealot. I believe it's up to the user to decide what software/OS they are comfortable with, I personally have favourite tools in Windows, Gnome, KDE, BASH and even MS-DOS and I just use whatever I need to use to get a job done as quickly as possible. But the fact is that the UNIX command line is the most common place for me to work in.

    But to all the uninitiated out there, please do not voice opinions on a subject you do not fully understand. Linux and Open Source is NOT waging some kind of anti-Windows war with the goal of total Microsoft destruction - it's an ALTERNATIVE way of doing things where everything is done in an open fashion and the sole aim is to write useful, usable but NOT NECESSARILY PRETTY software, nothing more.

    And if you're waiting for Linux to drop into your lap as a ready-packaged alternative to Windows that you can immediately start using like Windows from day one, then I'm afraid you're in for a long wait. To become a Linux user means taking more time to learn about how your computer works and, to be an effective Linux user, ramping up your learning curve so that you know how to take best advantage of the wealth of excellent free software that has become available to you.

    If you're not willing to devote that time then, so be it. Stick with what you are comfortable with and enjoy it with my blessing - just don't be so quick to judge the rest of us.

  • MythTV (Score:3, Insightful)

    by RoboJ1M ( 992925 ) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @05:09AM (#15838094)

    I'd just like to say my PC was propping up dust until I discovered MythTV. After I read the myth features page I immediately backed up my personal stuff, wiped WinXP and installed Ubuntu Breezy. I've not been this excited about computing since I went to university and started using the web for the first time.

    I was disappointed when I learned of all the limitations of XP MCE (*why* can't I play a DVD on one machine and watch it on a different TV?? It's mine isn't it?) and Mr. Demerijan off of the Inq mentioned mythtv to me.

    Now I dream of multi TB servers with many DVB-T and S tuners and diddy mini ITX boxes under every TV.

    Some day, eh? Not exciting my rosy red arse.


  • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @07:29AM (#15838443) Homepage
    They are busy patenting every obvious thing on the planet trying to make sure that something exciting and origional CANT be created. OSS programmers do not have multi million dollar LEgal teams to fight the asshole companies that believe they own exclusive rights to something as trivial as a bubble sort or something that has been done for hundreds of years but now "on a computer" so either the programmers must work in secret and release in a country that is not stupid enough to have redicilous IP laws or risk getting sued.

e-credibility: the non-guaranteeable likelihood that the electronic data you're seeing is genuine rather than somebody's made-up crap. - Karl Lehenbauer