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Dear Adobe: Make Software for Linux Too

By Jack M. Germain
Feb 18, 2014 5:27 PM PT

What if commercial software developers for popular Windows products sold Linux versions to a waiting market of open source users? Think in terms of paying a subscription fee to use a Linux version of Adobe's Photoshop image manipulation software, for starters.

Dear Adobe: Make Software for Linux Too

Is porting commercial products like Photoshop as a licensed -- that is, paid -- product for Linux a viable idea? That is precisely what one Linux server administrator wants Adobe to find out.

The idea to create a groundswell of support for paid access to Linux versions of some Windows workhorse programs began several weeks ago as an Internet petition on

"I think Adobe would think about it if we can show them that there are thousands of people around the world who don't like Windows anymore and can't buy a Mac. For me, the only reason [for] installing Windows is Photoshop," Gao Nagy, a Linux server administrator living in Budapest, Hungary, told LinuxInsider.

If Adobe executives have been considering such a business move, they haven't been champing at the bit to let the world know. Company officials for more than two weeks ignored LinuxInsider's requests to discuss the merits of offering commercial versions of their software for the Linux desktop.

Mum's the Word

Adobe finally provided a written reply to our queries -- but only to decline to discuss the issue.

"Adobe doesn't have any specific plans to share at this time, but is constantly evaluating new hardware and software capabilities, and designing and building features to take advantage of the latest technology," wrote spokesperson Deane Allie.

Grassroots Effort

The desire to unite Linux users worldwide on a software support campaign led Nagy to start his Internet petition drive. He hoped word would spread like wildfire via social networking.

So far, it has not. More than a month into the campaign, he has persuaded just 124 signers. However, Nagy hopes that some media attention will kick-start his petition efforts and result in an outpouring of support.

"It's really hard to reach people," he noted.

Despite the so-far disappointing response, Nagy thinks his idea will grow as more Linux users learn of his proposal to Adobe.

"I think half of the people whom I can reach via Facebook or Google+ are supporting this petition. But people don't really like to share anything on these sites," he said.

Needy Idea or Redundant Software?

Besides his Linux server duties for a large company, Nagy always needs to design things for his work. He also takes on other design jobs and is active in several creative circles. He uses Gentoo Linux at home and networks with associates who would like to try Ubuntu or Cent OS because they are easy to use.

He creates home pages for websites, programming in PHP, JS, Java and C++. He relies daily on designing and video tools. He even bought Photoshop despite the fact that it does not run on Linux, which means he has to shift to the Windows OS to use it.

Some may criticize him for not remaining with GIMP and other open source creative software, Nagy said. However, these programs do not always provide the performance levels of Adobe's professional creativity products.

"Yes, GIMP is a great tool, but I think GIMP is just a little boy who is playing in a sandbox and trying to build a castle. He needs some years to be a king with a real castle," Nagy quipped.

Petition Basics

Nagy's Internet petition calls on Adobe to make its products for the Linux OS. He challenges Adobe to be the next big thing in the open source marketplace.

The petition:

The first success for Linux was a webserver called Apache, the second was Oracle with their database engine. Now it's time for the next huge step. There are many people who would use Adobe products and many companies could save money with using Linux so it would be a great success for the Linux world to use Adobe Photoshop, Premiere Pro, etc.. on Linux. Save money and use professional softwares in one step.

Nagy posts updates on the number of online signers and asks supporters to "just keep going." He urges visitors to the petition page to share their support of the petition every week on their Facebook, Google+ and Twitter pages.

Not a Free Option

Nagy does not want Adobe to join the open source ranks to provide Linux users with more free software. He is not asking Adobe -- or any other software developer who would port to Linux -- to open their code or source it to the Linux communities.

Nagy does not even want Adobe to distribute its software for free. Instead, he wants Adobe to port Linux versions of its titles and let Linux users pay monthly subscription fees. Of course, buying it outright might be another option.

This marketing approach is already in play by other software developers bringing commercialized packages to Linux. Nagy simply wants Adobe to join that market of paid Linux software providers.

"Now there is Steam for Linux," he pointed out. "It's not open. The games are not open, and they cost some dollars," he observed.

If more commercial software developers pay attention to the Linux market, all Linux communities would benefit, according to Nagy.

"If a big company like Adobe one day says, 'Now I'm supporting Linux,' maybe Autodesk will say the same and some other big companies too," he suggested.

Marketers' Choice

The petition asks Adobe to take the opportunity, but the challenge needs critical mass. Different standards, platforms and options are good because they promote competition, according to Tuong Huy Nguyen, principal research analyst for Gartner.

"It gives consumers choice and leads to the best rising to the top," Nguyen told LinuxInsider.

Still, the issue boils down to this: When publishers and developers -- or even manufacturers -- are faced with multiple options, they often have to choose one, or at least prioritize, he added.

"The opportunity with Linux would be considerably smaller than with Windows, OS X, etc. So would the time and labor of porting the application make sense for all developers? If so, which of their applications should they port?" Nguyen wondered.

"You see this in the gaming world," he continued. "A game may come out on console and not PC, or vice versa -- or maybe console and PC but not Mac. And this is gaming -- a sizable market in relation to the software market as a whole," he noted.

Size Matters

The bottom line for Nguyen is the potential size of the Linux market. When you think of Linux, you are thinking of a smaller addressable market than Windows or Mac.

"As such, you need to be more careful with how you approach the market to ensure you get a return on your investment. This is something the publishers all consider when they launch their applications," Nguyen said.

Besides market share, there's the power of the purists. Those two factors might well never be overcome by a petition of any size.

"With the desktop market the way it is today, I don't think pure proprietary players like Adobe will be able to find a significant audience for Linux. Those who have adopted Linux for desktops can be described as techie purists. They are purposely shunning commercial software for philosophical reasons and will continue to be drawn to open source solutions for their needs," Mac McConnell, vice president of Bonitasoft, told LinuxInsider.

Those of us promoting open software love these guys, McConnell said, but until there is a financial incentive, it's not clear why traditional commercial software companies would be willing to build for Linux desktop.

Jack M. Germain has been writing about computer technology since the early days of the Apple II and the PC. He still has his original IBM PC-Jr and a few other legacy DOS and Windows boxes. He left shareware programs behind for the open source world of the Linux desktop. He runs several versions of Windows and Linux OSes and often cannot decide whether to grab his tablet, netbook or Android smartphone instead of using his desktop or laptop gear. You can connect with him on Google+.

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