Linux needs commercial applications

I'm a reluctant Windows user. Those that know me will probably be able to tell you that I have wanted to ditch Microsoft's cash-cow and switch to Linux for some time. Each iteration of Windows has increased this desire. As an aside, I actually liked Windows 8 at first but after using it for a bit and getting caught in an eternal update-fail-restart loop, I'm well over it and would like to switch to Linux.

Sadly, there are still some reasons preventing me from making the switch. I still need to use certain software that doesn't have a counterpart in Linux when I'm working with other people and I'd rather play recent computer games on my PC than on a games console (Skyrim for example).

The first reason is probably my biggest issue. If I'm provided with a layered Photoshop CS6 file, what am I supposed to do with that in Linux? I'd like to slice the image up and optimize the pieces in Fireworks. I can't. I have lots of emails that I'd like to manage easily. For that there only seems to be one decent choice of email client (Thunderbird). The others all try but like Thunderbird, they're just not quite Outlook.

The lack of commercial applications support is the biggest issue stopping me from leaving Windows forever. Without such software, I have to rely on the applications that the open-source teams have worked hard to provide but good though many of them are, they're not capable of working with the files that the commercial applications used by industry professionals produce.

To be blunt, Linux needs closed-source commercial applications if it is to become a mainstream desktop option for normal computer users (as opposed to geeks and tinkerers).

Don't get me wrong; I love open-source software. I love using an application that has been peer-assessed for quality and security because its source-code is open to inspection and improvement by an entire community of users and developers. Without the open-source software movement the Linux that I'd like to adopt wouldn't exist nor would most of the applications that make the operating system such an attractive alternative to Windows but the tools I need just aren't there.

Unfortunately, there are individuals such as Richard Stallman that jump on their soap-boxes and start ranting that if the source isn't available, an application is not welcome in any distro. I disagree. One of Stallman's latest diatribes was incited by the news that Valve's Gabe Newell has announced that he is working with developers to port Steam to the Linux platform (apparently Gabe isn't a Windows 8 fan, calling it, "a kind of catastrophe").

Stallman don't want users to be able to play DRM-protected, closed-source games on Linux. Apparently, "Nonfree game programs (like other nonfree programs) are unethical because they deny freedom to their users". I'd welcome the freedom to ditch Windows and be able to play all my favourite games on my platform of choice. I'd like to be able to use Microsoft Office or Adobe Creative Suite natively in Ubuntu or Linux Mint but I suspect that people like Richard Stallman work hard to deny me that freedom because they're afraid of the commercialization and mass adoption of Linux.

Whilst I applaud the efforts of open-source development teams for some of the more excellent projects out there, I have to admit that I'd like to see commercial software available on Linux because it's quite simply, more polished. I've tried to use Thunderbird, The Gimp, Inkscape and LibreOffice as alternatives to the commercial software that I'm used to on Windows but they've always felt like poor substitutes that I've had to wrestle with to achieve many of the tasks I routinely perform on Windows. I've yet to meet a viable Fireworks alternative in Linux at all. Blender is one piece of open-source software that I love but this point is probably moot because I don't have to work with 3DSMax or Cinema4D professionally.

Canonical has controversially decided to ignore the Luddites in the community and started offering paid-for applications for installation and commercial results in the Dash search feature of Ubuntu. I will admit, initially I had a problem with this until I considered that I accept this as the norm in my Google search results. I would personally disable it though (look in Settings > Privacy to do so). Unsurprisingly, Richard Stallman doesn't like Canonical much.

If Linux is to be taken seriously as a viable alternative to Windows, it needs to offer the ability to professionally interact with the users of other operating systems. For example, I should be able to use Linux knowing that if a designer was to send me a file created in Photoshop CS6, I could open and work with it in Linux. Adobe aren't going to go to the trouble of porting their software to Linux as long as people like Richard Stallman are standing in their way, pointing the finger and calling them 'unethical' for not making the source code to their products available to all.

I love open-source software and I'd like to see more open-source projects offer the same usability experience provided by commercial applications on Windows and OSX. Some open-source projects are excellent but they fall short of offering the sort of experience that common computer users will expect if they are to switch to Linux from the two main desktop environments.

Wine tries to offer this but the compatibility issues with the majority of applications I've tried to install has resulted in a disconsolate return to Windows. The computer that I'm typing this post on dual-boots into Ubuntu 12 and Windows 7. The only time I really boot into Ubuntu is to use Blender these days. Admittedly that's largely because this is my desktop and the main reason for its existence is as a games machine.

I'd like the freedom to use commercial software or play Skyrim via Steam on my desktop running Linux. It's funny how the definition of freedom changes according to bias, isn't it?

Ultimately, I really want to use Linux, especially since I installed Linux Mint 14 in Virtualbox and started to play with Cinnamon. I really want to make it work for me and it irks me that some figures of the community actively attempt to prevent the widespread adoption of the platform simply to suit their own agendas.

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