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Why Canonical’s move to bring close-sourced applications to Ubuntu is a good thing

By on January 20th, 2010 
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A few days ago, there was a post in Ubuntu Forum asking for user's feedback on what applications they would like to see in Ubuntu. The surprise part was that the list of softwares has close-sourced softwares like Photoshop, iTunes etc. The plan is to make these applications available in the official repository so that  users can install them easily. Of course this has created a lot of ruckus as Ubuntu has always been about open source.

If Canonical go ahead and make these applications available in the official Ubuntu repository, it will definitely stir up a hornets nest and make a lot of open source puritans declare war against Ubuntu. (Remember the GNOME episode not long ago.) Some users may even leave Ubuntu. But such a move will eventually pay off for Ubuntu.

First of all, bringing new applications is always a good thing. More choice of applications has always been something that the open source (or Linux) community has preached. So bringing in new applications (close sourced or open source) which can run in an open source environment is not neccessarily a bad thing. It is simply making more choice available to the user. If users don't like the close sourced application, they can just use an open source alternative instead. This will empower the user to get the best available application, regardless of it being open sourced or close sourced.

Another point to consider is the quality of open source softwares. No doubt, there are lots of amazing open source softwares. However, sometime the open source solutions just don't cut it. For example no open source softwares comes even close to many paid softwares like Adobe Premiere, AutoCAD etc. Of course, users will have to pay for many of these softwares. However, sometime it is better to have paid options rather than have no choice at all.

If you have ever introduce someone to Linux, you will know that they always ask "Will this software work? Will that software work?". If you say "No they won't work", they instantly loose interest. For example, I have been asked if Photoshop will work when I try to get my friend to install Ubuntu. When I told him that it will not, no amount of convincing from me that Gimp is a great alternative could move him. However, if Windows (or Mac) users get to use their favorite applications in Ubuntu as well it will increase the number of Ubuntu users greatly.

From Canonical's point of view too this makes a lot of sense. If they make paid softwares like Photoshop available in their repository, they are effectively acting as an online store. This can potentially be another revenue source for them.

Links:

Ubuntu Forums

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Why Canonical’s move to bring close-sourced applications to Ubuntu is a good thing was originally published on Digitizor.com on January 20, 2010 - 2:50 am (Indian Standard Time)