There's trouble with three major Linux desktop application developers

There's trouble with three major Linux desktop application developers

Summary: An old myth is that the Linux desktop doesn't have the applications most users need, but lately some companies that have long supported Linux are pulling back from the Linux desktop and that's a worry.

TOPICS: Open Source

The Linux desktop is great... if it keeps getting the right applications.

The Linux desktop is great... if it keeps getting the right applications.

The Linux desktop has long had most of the apps anyone could ever really need. Sure, it doesn't have some specific applications, like Adobe Photoshop or Quicken, but it had other apps. Such as Gimp for Photoshop and GNUCash for Quicken and QuickBooks that can do the job. Lately, however, companies that have supported Linux are moving away from the Linux desktop and that worries me. These companies and groups are: Adobe, Google, and Mozilla.

The first one doesn't come as much of a surprise. Adobe has long had a “difficult” relationship with Linux. We, the Linux community, wanted the full Adobe suite and what we got was Adobe AIR, Flash, and Acrobat. Well, we used to get AIR and Flash anyway. In February, Adobe announced that Adobe Flash Player 11.2 would be the last native version for Linux.

Newer versions of Flash will still be available for Linux... if you use the Chrome Web browser with its Flash Player browser plug-in. Listen, I love the Chrome Web browser, but I don't love feeling like I'm forced to use it because Adobe won't release a universal plug-in for any browser.

Now, some people hate Flash. For them, this is just another nail in Flash's coffin as HTML5 slowly takes over its place in delivering video, animation and games to users. That's a nice idea, but the bottom line is today the vast majority still rely on Flash, and not on HTML5, for all those elements. A Web browser without Flash support in 2012 is a crippled Web browser.

There are open-source alternatives to Adobe Flash. My favorite is GNU Gnash, but it hasn't kept up with the latest Flash formats.

Adobe AIR is dead. The badly out of date Air 2.6 is still available for Linux, but “Adobe has discontinued support for Adobe AIR for Linux operating systems.”

As for Adobe Acrobat Reader, Linux is not listed as an Acrobat X supported platform. Adobe Reader 9.4.7 is the latest available version for Linux. In stark contrast Windows users' can now download Acrobat 10.1.3. The open-source PDF readers, however, are better than their Flash cousins. I recommend KDE’s Okular myself if you want to read PDF and avoid Adobe's offerings.

Google is perhaps the oddest case with its hot and cold support for the Linux desktop. Google runs Linux itself on its servers. You could argue that Google is Linux's biggest success story.

On the other hand, Google has pulled support from Picasa for Linux, a simple, good photograph archiving and editing program. There are many other easy Linux photo programs, like Shotwell, but I always liked Picasa and I was surprised and ticked off to see Google shut Picasa down.

In addition, while I really like Google Drive, Google's personal cloud storage service, I wasn't happy that Google didn't immediately bring out native Google Drive support for Linux. It's coming real soon now, but it's still not here today.

Moving along, while it is indeed great that Google Chrome supports Flash, I find it more than a little annoying that, thanks in part to this, you can watch Netflix movies on Chromebooks or PCs running Chrome OS, which is just the Chrome Web browser running on top of Linux, but you can't watch the same videos with Chrome on any other Linux distribution. I mean come on guys, let's make this happen!

Finally, there's Mozilla, Firefox's parent group. The Mozilla crew is working on a way to install native Web applications on a browser's operating system. In short, they want to invent yet another app. Store. That's all well and good, but they won't be supporting it on Linux. At least, it won't be in Linux at first anyway.

Some Mozilla developers seem upset that it's been discovered they've placed Linux on the back-burner. On the other hand, it also seems to have lit a fire under some of them to take developing for Linux more seriously again.

And, that last part is a good thing. What I see happening here is that too many companies and programmers, ones that should know better, have started neglecting the Linux desktop.

Sure, the Linux desktop is a small market, but it's also a vital one that many of the world's best programmers and developers use every day And, besides the server side of Linux is what makes some of the biggest 21st century businesses go and the mobile side, Android, is in more smartphones than any other operating system. I hope that Adobe, Google and Mozilla all realize that since they're already supporting Linux in so many other venues they also need to keep supporting it with vigor on the desktop as well.

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Topic: Open Source

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  • Google Chrome and Linux

    One of the things we like about Linux is the OS stability. "If it works, dont break it", and all that. But Google Chrome upgrades themselves break that philosophy: they have hard-coded GLIBC dependencies (as Firefox does NOT), so that the only way you can get recent Chrome versions to run is to do a new-OS-version install,
    breaking who knows how much other stuff.

    The latest Chrome version that will run on my production systems (which can't be taken down for that sort of frivolity) is 11.<something>. And as for building from source: the Chromium build system is so *buntu-specific that trying to build it on something else is hopeless.

    Not true for Firefox -- running the latest Firefox or Thunderbird (or even a development snapshot) is easy.
    • .

      chakra linux comes with a bundle manager that solves the dependencies problem.
    • Anything Google is a tracking device

      I don't use chrome anyway so it doesn't matter to me. Normally I use all browsers available to an OS all at the same time but I don't like the way Google operates. Everything is for the benefit of the advertisers. I use Android but with custom roms so I can tweak it not to be a tracking device. I also change roms once a month because i like to and can. It is a easy process.

      These articles are just to cattleherd the gen public in accepting Windows 8 as being the only viable option. Hey, MS is for CISPA you can have MS I'm done.
      • Anything Google is a tracking device

        I turn off tracking on all the Android devices I have. A few.

        I don't use my Nexus One as a phone, I have a cheapy garage pay as you go phone for that.

        Still, I don't trust that I'm not being tracked. Maybe I should put Cyanogen on it.

        I use Google Chrome as a development platform, but I use FireFox to browse. Restricted cookies, noscript, adblock. It's not as fast as Chrome, but it's a lot more comfortable.
    • Chrome and Linux

      When Fedora flags an update, the odds are about even that it's only Chrome.

      So I get one or two chrome updates a week.

      I haven't looked to see how current they are, but they are frequent enough.
    • Thats odd, cjcoats -

      I'm running Google Chrome dev channel (currently 21.0.1145.0 dev) on my 64-bit and 32-bit Ubuntu 12.04 boxes, and while it updates itself frequently, I've *never* had to re-install my OS for this reason. As a matter of fact, I'm running Frirefox Nightly (currently 15.0a1) as my default browser, as I find it more flexible (it offers me, among other things, a sidepanel which I can toggle on and off and on which I can display my Delicious bookmarks, but I sometimes use Chrome when the lack of Flash support for Firefox mentioned bySteven causes problems on certain webpages. (I have stopped using the Chromium ppa as it no longer seems to be being updated.) What Linux distro are you using ?...

    • re:Google Chrome and Linux

      Even Slackware has Slackbuilds, where you go get the .deb Google Chrome file, and then the Slackbuild file builds you a spanking fresh Google Chrome.

      As to the Flash problem, just install Google Chrome, then symlink the Chrome Flash plugin to /usr/lib/mozilla/plugins (using su/sudo). Then any and all browsers will have flash. [Edit] I just wish you could do this with the Google Chrome PDF plugin.
  • To save a troll the trouble (Mods please feel free to remove)

    It makes perfect sense for developers to pull back from Linux. Who wants to compile their kernel every time they need to turn the computer on? Nobody has the time to work in assembler language any more, much less binary code. Since adding any program to Linux requires hundreds of punched cards, and who wants to resort all those cards if they are dropped, it's not worth the effort to upgrade to a newer version of Firefox, Chrome or any Adobe product any way.
    • Recompiling the kernel

      You've been reading too much propaganda. *No* Linux distro requires the kernel to be recompiled that often. Indeed the vast majority of them distribute the kernel in binary form.

      And if your app is dependent on a specific kernel, it was probably written badly.

      Reply from whatagenda:

      I guess I did.
      John L. Ries
      • John L. Ries

        You forget to switch on your sarcasm detector?
      • Sorry about the confusion

        My first comment was made out of exasperation with certain comments from trolls. All the computers in my home run exclusively Linux. My most recent computer came with Win 7 already installed. I gave that OS a try for one week, but then removed it. I find Linux to be far easier to maintain and to use.
      • I"m a Linux Newbie & Love It!

        I just switched over. Saw Windows 8 and said heck no. It is so ugly and regressive looking. Anyway if I was going to undergo a radical change in OS design I might as well learn something more progressive like Linux. I test drove through VMWare 8 most of the distros. Learned them fast too. Very impressed and it loads fast and light. I dual booted and hate to go to the Windows 7 volume but mainly to use PS. Everything else was easily replaced. I never liked Gimp so that was no deal breaker and I use at least on the average 2 to 3 browsers and I hate IE. Glad I don't have to see it.

        Windows 7 is so heavy and to me buggy with all those processes running in the background and sure can turn some of them off but just give me something that is designed to function straight-away. Linux does just that. The apps are good and I use Android and have over 200 so yes I know apps. MS Windows usage will decline once people actually see or work with 8, yikes what were they thinking? The Linux OS I chose as main has LTS.
      • Timdor is a cousin to Loverock Davidson

        The minute you hear recompile the kernal you know he follows Loverock Davidson posts. That's a favorite line of Loverock quote "If you run Linux all you do is recompile the kernal all day long" .......
        Over and Out
      • Re: timdor being a cousin to LD

        Thanks, SoYouSaid. You made my day. I'm sure LD is quite thrilled to find out he is related to me. Currently I am running Ubuntu 12.04 with Gnome 3.4.1 and Arch with Openbox and KDE 4.8. Been Windows free, except for a period of 1 week, since 2006.
    • Dude, you Broke my Sarcasm meter!

      I demand compensation.

      (OK, Ok -- maybe I should have switched to a more robust one before coming into a ZDNet blog).
    • So why the dumb LD-like comment, timdor?

      Were you being sarcastic?

      Mimicking Lovie Dovie around here will earn you no favors.
    • @timdor

      hehe... some people perusing this thread are thi--I-ick! ;) I'm afraid my +1 is not doing much to counteract the -8 others though....
    • You forgot about cassette tapes ...

      ... they're waaayyyyy faster than punch cards now. Loading programs off cassettes is the future! And they're portable enough to be sent through the US Mail system. Mark my words, if Linux users adopt these cassette things, usage will skyrocket! Everyone will want a Linux box with cassette-based storage!
      • With trolls like LD, laughter is the best weapon

        To bswiss, Traxxion, imalugnut and everybody else who understands sarcasm - thanks. I really loved the comment about cassettes.

        I have read comments on these forums for years, and the trolls, particularly LD, consistently pollute the conversation with their FUD. I have tried arguing with them in the past -- an exercise about as rewarding as arguing with a pig. You just end up smelling like a pig while your opponent continues wallowing happily in the muck. Ignoring these people is about as effective as ignoring athlete's foot. In neither case does the fungus go away.

        So on this thread, I decided to apply sarcasm and what I hoped was humor. Perhaps if these sad individuals encounter ridicule on this forum and nothing else, they will find some other place to spread their toxicity.
      • true story

        back in the day my wife wrote a column on Multiplan run on every form of small computer then available for one of the mags. Commodores, RS 80s, TI-99s, etc. She received an original Apple Mac to review. Put in the new fangled 3.5 inch diskette to load it up.15 minutes later still nothing so she called Apple. They said just wait. She did, and it worked.The cassettes all loaded the program faster than the diskette did.