Sunday, January 10, 2010

The maturing of Linux… applications.

For years, since I installed (very very painfully) Slackware Linux v2.1 in 1995 I have heard about how Linux is “ready for the masses”, at the time it was totally untrue and now… well it is as ready as windows but… 

To sidetrack for a bit, I was recently ogling over a nice bit of freeware and gave a copy to my colleague who equally appreciated the usefulness of the software and my comment to him was it is nice to have someone around that appreciates a good piece of software (if we were more geek-inclined we would have been ogling over the code) and his response was “most people just use a computer as a glorified typewriter” which is not far from the truth. That is most people still don’t understand computers very well… it seems that nowadays if you can use facebook and an iPhone you are considered a computer savvy person but most of those people would have mental meltdowns if they were asked to do a fresh install of windows or Mac OS X not to mention Linux. I would argue that now Linux’s main weakness is not its usability but more the weakness of its application base. Now mind you, there are some damn good/rock solid Linux software out there but it is not accessible to the masses as there is still a lot of Linux software that requires a healthy dose of comandline kungfu to use (care to even imagine how to edit a video using a command prompt driven piece of software?). I have argued many times that that most people just need a browser, an office suite, and solitaire and they are set… Linux can totally do those things, but I digress.

But now, it seems that Linux applications are coming of age. I was recently looking for a good alternative to Adobe Premiere and found the Wikipedia video editing software comparison page and noticed, most of the free editing packages out there are… Linux only?! I went to many of these sites and without having used the software I can truthfully say these are very capable pieces of software, worlds away from MS Movie Maker for sure. I was floored that there were only 1 or 2 freeware windows video editing programs compared to the 8-10 programs for Linux. This is not a bad thing, as I think I have mentioned in a previous post, my primary reason for using windows is the availability of applications out there, but I am happy to report that gap appears to be narrowing.