Attracting users

Story: Why Wine is Important!Total Replies: 12
Author Content

May 15, 2012
5:33 PM EDT
Quoting:I guess some people who really want people to use open source software (because of ethical values) might possibly not want people to use Wine on Linux because the chances are that people who are using wine on Linux will use it to run proprietary software. But let me assure those people, this is the long term solution. Wine will get people 'ver the hump' as it were using Linux but after a while those people would hopefully start using FOSS/Linux native software more and more (even though they still use Wine.)

(emphasis added)

You might believe that providing the ability to run games, written for Windows, on Linux would be the best solution to attracting a larger user base. If only wine was easy to use and adapt to every Windows application program. The reality is that, eventually, these new "Linux users" would begin to expect and demand that hardware drivers written for Windows work on Linux, too.

"Well, if the Linux kernel cannot handle my webcam driver written for Windows, out of the box, then something is wrong with Linux." Because their Windows games will run correctly on Linux, users will expect more and more Windows compatibility from Linux. You end up on a fast-moving slippery slope where everything is adapted to work for Windows drivers, libraries and applications, rather than the native ones.

Quoting:Secondly I'd like to encourage companies such as Google to invest in wine. Believe me it is the key to making the use open source software grow.

The logic escapes me. How is encouraging the use of proprietary programs the key to increasing the use of FOSS?

May 15, 2012
5:53 PM EDT
Wine is good for what it is: a way to run some Windows programs in Linux without having to mess with a VM and an actual running instance of Windows OS. For large-scale installations, it might even be a good way to run legacy Windows applications without having to pay license fees to Microsoft, as long as Wine runs the application sufficiently well.

And "ethical values" shouldn't be an absolute bar against Wine or Windows programs; while there are some more extreme people who refuse to run anything proprietary and closed-source on their computer, there's lots of people who simply don't want to support a convicted monopolist and their poor excuse for an OS, though they'd still like to run closed-source software from other companies that unfortunately only runs on that OS. Then there's also people (which set partially overlaps with the previous set) who want or need to run some 3rd-party proprietary software, and have no problem paying money for that software, they just don't want to pay money for Windows that it's supposed to run on. Wine gives both these groups an alternative.

Unfortunately, Wine doesn't run everything perfectly, the way a VM usually does. However, a VM is more work (you actually have to install and use Windows inside it, and it doesn't interact with your Linux system very well, and really is like using a completely separate computer through VNC or similar), and requires you to pay for, install, and use Windows.

Quoting:The logic escapes me. How is encouraging the use of proprietary programs the key to increasing the use of FOSS?

That's easy: by providing a transition path. Suppose some company would like to dump Windows and its high ongoing licensing costs and support costs for its 1000 desktop systems, and move to Linux, but there's one custom or obscure program they absolutely require for their business and of course it only works in Windows. If it's easy for their IT people to instead install Wine and set that up to use this program seamlessly, then they can dump Windows altogether. The customer company wins, the 3rd-party application maker wins, FOSS wins, and Microsoft loses. If you're a FOSS purist, you might tell that company to just not use that program, but they'll tell you their business requires it and they'll just give up on FOSS as "unworkable" and go back to Windows. Or if they really like Linux that much, they might switch to it, but then install VMs on every computer, along with Windows licenses, just to run that one program, which is a lot of extra hassle, plus extra cost (VMware license, Windows license). There's not much economic benefit to running Linux if you still need to pay for Windows licenses, plus VMware licenses on top of that; in fact this just massively increases your support costs because now your IT department has to support 1 Linux PC plus 1 Windows PC for every worker (though the PCs are sharing the same hardware, which is the only savings here).

May 15, 2012
6:44 PM EDT
@Khamul: "That's easy: by providing a transition path"

That's it exactly.

It means you can go halfway.


May 15, 2012
6:47 PM EDT
@Khamul, why VMware necessarily?

May 15, 2012
7:29 PM EDT
An OS in a VM is nearly useless for any modern 3D game due to inherent performance limitations.

May 15, 2012
8:09 PM EDT
@ta: I haven't exactly tried them all out, that's just what my last employer used. They used VMware on top of Windows XP (later 7) so they could run both Linux and Windows XP in VMs on the host computer. That way, the main system wouldn't give admin rights to the users, but on the XP VM instance, users could have admin rights and would be able to install any software they wanted, including pirated software. Apparently, they had problems with some workers installing pirated software on their computers; the IT people would clean it off, and the workers would just re-install it. The IT department head told me he was really worried about the BSA doing an audit on them for stuff like this. By running XP within XP, and letting the users do whatever they wanted on that XP instance, they wouldn't have to worry about this.....

Anyway, I presume VMware is popular for a reason amongst corporations compared to the alternatives. However, if you want to change the parameters above and replace VMware with KVM or Xen or whatever, it doesn't change my argument much; you still have to pay for that Windows license.

May 15, 2012
9:54 PM EDT
"An OS in a VM is nearly useless for any modern 3D game due to inherent performance limitations."

Some VM's allow pci-express pass-through, so it's more of an inconvenience that an impossibility.

May 15, 2012
11:07 PM EDT
Debian wine -- -- can't argue with that

May 16, 2012
12:22 AM EDT

Is that a stand-alone, a core package, or a dependency?

May 16, 2012
6:22 AM EDT

May 28, 2012
12:57 AM EDT
Wasn't that a big part of OS/2's downfall? Companies said "Hey, since OS/2 can run Windows programs, too, lets just keep developing for Windows." Nobody ever developed anything exclusively for OS/2, so nobody used it. WINE is bad. The same time, energy, and money, that could be put into WINE, would be better served promoting and improving Free Software, and speaking with companies to try and convince them to port their software.

Think, how much more likely would Valve had been to put Steam on GNU/Linux and how much faster, if OpenGL, OpenAL, and the Open Source video drivers were the software being drastically improved?

May 28, 2012
1:38 AM EDT
@AwesomeTux, WINE is irrelevant. At least going by the number of smaller development houses that I've spoken to by email, and suggested they contact the WINE team to help get their Windows application running on Linux, who have simply never bothered, even when it's pointed out that the cost to them is trivial, and the work would all be done by the WINE team for free, if the APIs were made available.

The response I usually get is "That looks interesting", then nothing happens.

May 28, 2012
1:57 PM EDT
Wine is just one facet of the problem. It attempts to solve one part of the puzzle, that being how do you convince people that Linux is worth a try in the business world?

There are many reasons why businesses don't go the Linux route, particularly for the desktop. One of those problems is legacy software.

The problem is people look at something like WINE and says, it is irrelevant because they see that there are other more substantial reasons why Linux is not chosen.

To tackle Microsoft's stranglehold on the software environment, you must look at all the angles.

Even outside of the business world, one of the biggest issues for those wishing to rid themselves of Windows is games. This is one of my pet issues, one of which is, at least partly, solved for me with WINE. The WINE developers know this and that is why the biggest effort, by far, is the DirectX development effort.

More Windoes software than not works in WINE these days and it mostly works pretty well. It solves one facet of the problem for many thousands of people and I think the developers should be praised for their dream of a Window-less world.

Like Khamul said above, it is one less reason to have to stick with Windows.

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