What Linux needs

Learning about Linux has been as much an education about computers as it has been about human behavior. Take, for example, this somewhat elderly thread complaining about photo management.

Linux Needs a GOOD photo management app … Does anyone else agree that great photo management software for linux does not exist? Something along the lines of google picasa would be excellent. (Yeah I know it can be run under wine, but I really would rather run a native program).

It is slightly irritating (only slightly these days … I’ve been watching that thread pop up again and again for years now) that, because nothing fits in the “great” category for this one particular person, that such an animal doesn’t exist. Or rather, “Can we all agree that this animal doesn’t exist?”

Here‘s another one.

No REAL PIMs for Linux? … If the definition of a PIM is where all your notes, appointments, tasks and contacts are stored but more than that, linked then I have not found any PIM available in Linux. I have to use Windows XP under Virtual box and that is slow.

Perhaps it is my understanding of English, but I find that even more acid. Define your animal, and then insist the animal is impossible to find.

One more:

Is there a REAL replacement for MS Project? … I have been looking at several open source PM programs, but all of them have serious issues. … Does anyone know of any program that is a true replacement for MS Project? In other words, something that can calculate task logic and critical paths correctly?

Probably not as crass as some of the others, but still somehow arrogant. Here, there are animals that are similar to the one I describe, but they are not exact duplicates. Therefore, I seek the “true” animal.

I hope this doesn’t sound like a personal attack against any of these people, because really, what amazes me is the method of argument, not the person behind it. I have no formal training in logic or dialectics, and added to that I have a rather unusual grasp of English at times, but in each case the tendency toward generalization is interesting. Each one seems to be saying, “Because the options didn’t work for me, it doesn’t exist.” Because I didn’t find the grail, the grail is a myth.

I wonder what makes humans do that? Why are we all so sure that our case is the only case, and that our experience is replicated endlessly, six billion times over and over again, over the surface of our teeny blue planet? 😐

For me, the oddball part of all three of these threads is that in each case, the original poster knows exactly what they want, and asserts — more or less — that nothing short of a mirror image of that program will suffice. Let me be equally blunt, then: You should be using Windows.

In fact, I can answer all three questions in one fell swoop: If the only application that will fit the bill is mired in Windows, then you should be using Windows. If the game you need to play doesn’t behave as cleanly or run as quickly in Linux, then you should be using Windows. If the icon you want for the button you like on the application you prefer is only available in Windows … then stop telling us what Linux needs.

Because what Linux needs is people who want to use Linux. I said a long time ago that if Linux was Windows, nobody would need Linux. By corollary, if what you need is Windows, don’t tell me Linux has shortcomings. Linux doesn’t need application X, it needs someone who is so prepossessed with the idea of creating application X that they spearhead an independent movement to duplicate it, gather a few like-minded and talented peers, and as a group they roll up their sleeves and get to work making application X.

Aha. Now that is what Linux needs.

Or maybe I should just learn to avoid threads with words in all capital letters in the titles. 🙄

P.S.: Yes, I know, there is another level of irony at work here: Windows XP Classic makeover for IceWM, anyone? 😳 :mrgreen:


18 thoughts on “What Linux needs

  1. anon

    i’d kill for a [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foobar2000]foobar2000[/url] clone for linux. really. i’m currently using mpd and quite frankyly, i love it. it’s just that fb2k seems to go the extra mile. so, i should be using windows? because i like a single windows app (actually, i love not one but TWO windows apps, the other one being µtorrent)? that’s almost like saying that there’s not a single piece of software for windows which outperforms it’s linux counterpart. quite unlikely if you ask me.

      1. James

        Goggles is about as close as you’ll get right now. Some like Quod Libet (I can’t stand it). DeaDBeeF (http://deadbeef.sourceforge.net) looks promising. Maybe something using XMMS2?

        The problem is that any Foobar2000 replacement needs to be absurdly fast and very extensible. Right now? Pick one!

  2. normman

    While I agree that the tones of many of these messages are arrogant, and perhaps their wording is poor, I don’t necessarily agree that they simply desire Windows in a different package. Perhaps they–as has often been the case for myself–are quite pleased with the variety and reliability Linux offers in many areas, amazed at the speed at which programs run on antiquated hardware and likewise awed by the uptime they can achieve (at absolutely no cost). They may merely appreciate a feature, or set of features, available in a single proprietary Windows program, and may desire it on Linux.

    I know that in many cases I have searched to the point of exasperation for a Linux program that satisfies my needs like a Windows equivalent does. It is not because I don’t appreciate Linux, and not because what I really want is Windows. Far from it. I have been so impressed by the free software movement that I often come to expect that I can find a free and effective Linux version of an expensive Windows tool, because I have done just that so many times in the past. I definitely don’t have the programming skill to make it, but I’m sure someone in the FOSS community does–just look at the GIMP, Screen, Firefox, or even the Linux kernel itself.

    Thus, I think you can look at the presumptuous posts you have quoted from a different point of view: the posters may in fact have a deep respect for the operating system and the community, and realize that they don’t want to keep Windows for just a single program when a superior alternative is available. They probably know what they want exists, but are frustrated by their lack of success in searching. Unfortunately, they have an odd way of expressing it.

    1. Bryan

      In the same vein, there are significant shortfalls with some pieces of software that users are, in some sense, right to gripe about – not necessarily because of anything having to do with the platform the program is running on but rather that the piece of software they are looking to emulate (or rip off, however you’d like to look at it) is best of breed. For instance, take the GIMP. The implementation of CMYK colorspaces they offer is crude, at best. I’ve been whining for CMYK colorspace implementation for years and it still hasn’t happened. I’m not whining because it’s a feature of Photoshop, but because it’s a feature that’s necessary to me adopting it full time due to my line of work. (I’m a web and graphic designer) GIMP works wonderfully for some aspects of my work but, like I said, to adopt it full time, I need to be able to work in a full CMYK colorspace so that I can see, within a reasonable amount, what my printer will see.

      It’s not that we want to have programs ‘like we do on Windows’ but we want the featureset that is now standard. The Linux community has a habit of getting software ~80% of the way to commercial viability and then stopping. I’m inclined to believe it’s simply lack of motivation to fill a feature set entirely because it’s a more obscure or hidden feature of best of breed programs.

      Not to say that the arrogance of some users isn’t entirely silly, not to mention outright rude. However, the fact that some features are not implemented after they’ve been clamored after for years is also rather frustrating – even if you take into account that the developers are doing this for themselves.

  3. LinuxLover

    Linux is not perfect. Who cares? It fulfills 90%+ of my computing needs and it’s a joy to use as well. The only thing I say Linux, and more specifically FOSS, needs is to get back to its roots and get less buggy and more stable. Many major distros have shown to be more and more buggy in recent releases than they ever were before. I suspect this is due to the rapid pace of development FOSS has seen lately, but it’s still annoying. My favorite app of all, Inkscape, is being constantly released with major show-stopper bugs. I’ve even tried the “stable” Windows version, only to find the same bugs. This simply wouldn’t be tolerated from Adobe. It makes me wonder if the app is even being tested before it’s released.

    Getting back to the topic, I don’t find too much truly missing for 80% of all computer users. There will be those that say there isn’t a substitute for Solidworks, or AutoCAD, whatever, but really? Did anyone really suspect differently?

    There simply is no other OS on the planet that I can install in about a 1/2 an hour, have all my hardware working in another 15 minutes, and have a huge assortment of software available just a few clicks away. I’m not one of those people that want something for nothing, so I contribute to my favorite distros. I’m still amazed at what that gets me: lots of quality apps that do more than I’ll even need them to do.

  4. devnet

    The reason people think in this way is because they are selfish. They don’t care to look past the bubble that surrounds them for explanation…instead, they generalize things and think that everything that happens to them HAS to happen to others because no one could be different from their own self centered view.

    It’s what the internet has done to people now. Twitter, facebook, myspace…all of them put individuals on self centered pedestals. Thus, everyone thinks they are the center of the universe.

    Welcome to the future…where everyone serves self. Thanks social media!

    1. mulenmar

      “It’s what the internet has done to people now. Twitter, facebook, myspace…all of them put individuals on self centered pedestals. Thus, everyone thinks they are the center of the universe.

      Welcome to the future…where everyone serves self. Thanks social media!”

      Sorry, but I fail to see how that’s any different from . . . well, pretty much all of human history. It’s human nature, unfortunately, to place self above everyone else. Civilization is built by such people, and then some of those people try to say that being civilized is putting othersIt’s what the internet has done to people now. Twitter, facebook, myspace…all of them put individuals on self centered pedestals. Thus, everyone thinks they are the center of the universe.

      Welcome to the future…where everyone serves self. Thanks social media! above self. Others try to conquer others so that their pedestal is taller than those of the people they conquered.

      All the internet has done is give the people on the pedestals megaphones and bigger ears.

      1. mulenmar

        Darn touchpad, always moving the mouse cursor when I’m typing. 👿 Sorry about that, I’ve got to start disabling it when I’m writing something. :/

      2. devnet

        You fail to see how the internet has influenced attitudes to be this way?

        I suppose you fail to see how mass media affected the world too?

        I can’t help you there.

        1. mulenmar

          To use a chemistry analogy, the Internet wasn’t one of the reactants (stuff put in) in the change, it was a catalyst for what was already there — human nature, specifically the need to feel important. To be important, is to have others listen to what you think.

          Facebook, Myspace, Twitter — these services dissimenate ideas to a much broader audience in a short period of time, without the filter of the source necessarily being known and recognized for intelligent ideas. This, I think, causes an illusion that people are becoming stupider overall because of the Internet, when everyone was no less stupid before — they just didn’t have a voice.

          I am of course aware of the irony of my presenting my opinions on this subject. 😀 I’m quite possibly a bit inaccurate, it’s been a long day.

    2. Xyzzy

      I think that for the USA, the primary change is actually just that people with destructive, self-centered, inaccurate viewpoints now often have them reinforced by others that share them, to the point that they feel comfortable voicing & acting on them. In the past, most people kept certain (not always wrong/harmful!) viewpoints to themselves to avoid being shunned; the ones that spoke up were “corrected” by the more-respected members of the community and gossip warned others to keep quiet.

      On the other hand, literature from past eras shows that the universal-experience assumption & lack of empathy isn’t itself new — the easiest places to notice it are where ideas are stated/assumed about kinds of people that we know are horribly wrong. (Edith Wharton wrote some very disturbing novels based on how women that didn’t conform to men’s ideas of how they were “supposed” to be were treated, for example.)

  5. CorkyAgain

    It happens everywhere, not just on Linux.

    On FreeBSD, “Why doesn’t installing packages work the way it does on Linux?”

    In Seattle, “Why aren’t there any deli’s like the ones I used to go to in New York City?”

    … and everywhere the answer is the same, “If you don’t like the way we do things here, go back to where you came from.”


  6. Todd Partridge

    Well, Ubuntu does pander to Windows users. One of my first treks in Linux was for just as such: a photo management application. Should I be using Windows. I hope not. I like my Linux very much, thank ya kindly. I still have, and use, Windows. It’s just one of those little treks into the unknown, liking the view and then discover you don’t have any water at the moment revalations. Kinda unlike you K, get a new computer… already looking for a speeding ticket :P.

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  8. R.

    There is great photo management software for Linux. What I miss is a photo management program that is not stuck to Wine or either KDE or GNOME libs.

    When will we see a suckless photo management tool?

    1. James

      Oh yes, because anything dependent on Gnome or KDE has a distinctive quality of suck. *eye roll*

      Shotwell is as close as you’ll get to that right now. Gnome, but otherwise fairly lightweight and doesn’t have Mono dependencies.

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