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Errata: Linux needs cross-platform applications

Friday, 2 November 2007 linux

Some time ago I wrote that Linux needed "golden applications" to succeed on the desktop. I was wrong because I’ve seen the light that is Amarok. Cross-platform FOSS will cause platform freedom.

Some time ago I wrote that Linux needed “golden applications” to succeed on the desktop. My reasoning was that as it was single-platform applications keeping some people on Windows, perhaps Linux needed a few best-of-breed applications that would only run on Linux to help people decide to migrate. But I was wrong.

You won’t see me say that often so enjoy it while it lasts.

I realised this a few days as I was salivating over the prospect of being able to run Amarok 2 on Windows. For some time (years!) I’ve been trying to break my unholy tie to WinAmp. I use it, a habit of good file-naming and Windows’ Explorer as my media system and while it’s worked for me in the past, I’ve grown green with envy seeing the features in other systems.

To me, all the Windows audio-playing applications have some fatal flaws:

I think the hardest part of all this is a) there’s so much choice and b) I’m a fussy bastard who wants his cake and to be able to eat it. I want a slimline player that has awesome library functions. Amarok fits the bill so thoroughly that I’ve moved to Linux (and been here for some weeks).

I’ve got the features of a “big” player:

But even with all that functionality, I can reduce it to a tiny icon in my system notification tray and even control it from there either through hotkeys or via the icon directly: middle click to play/pause, mousewheel for volume, right click for more options.

But getting back on topic: this is how Linux and open source platforms will take over: superior apps. You slowly hook people onto apps that are cross platform and when they re-evaluate their platform choice, they’ll notice they don’t need the cumbersome stain (that is, Windows) slowing their computer any more.

You can see echoes of this in Firefox, Thunderbird, Evolution, OpenOffice — targeting apps, building up a solid development base and cranking it all the way up.