Earlier this week I was on the “How Do We Get More Apps on Linux?” panel at the Linux Foundation’s Collaboration Summit. I certainly have to agree with Danese Coopers‘s comments about being on panels. The more questions from the audience, the better IMHO.
As she alludes to, I personally think that #1 sin for any panel member is to be boring. I am always willing to go out of my way to try to keep the conversation lively. It’s always nice to see my efforts noticed 🙂
More seriously, the point I was on at the time was that most ISVs want to add Linux as one of their supported platforms, and need tools and application frameworks to do so. Ideally, those frameworks should allow the same code to be portable across Linux variants, Windows and Mac. There needs to be a way to reduce the development cost and risk of adding Linux as a supported platform. Of course, we at Eclipse think that RCP is a pretty good technology for doing that.
One audience member also mentioned Mono as a technology they had used with great success. Unfortunately, there didn’t seem to be a lot of interest by the distro vendors in the room — other than Novell — in picking Mono up.
Without some sort of “standard” for application frameworks in the Linux world that also supports Windows and Mac, I predict it will remain difficult to attract mainstream app and ISV developers to Linux. I haven’t spent any time looking at it, but perhaps Qt Jambi is another potential solution.
One interesting cultural point of interest: I was pretty careful to always talk about “…tools and application frameworks…” but what resonated back from the audience questions was always just “tools”. I have a personal theory that few people in the existing Linux ecosystem really grok what application frameworks are about and why they’re important for platform adoption. This is classical “Crossing the Chasm” technology marketing, and I got the impression that Linux is struggling a bit with figuring out what it needs to accelerate past the early adopters and become truly mainstream. (At least in the more consumer/desktop space.) Definitely the plethora of distributions with minor variations doesn’t help with adoption. An issue which the LSB will hopefully help address.
Personally, my favorite part of the panel was actually when someone asked why there aren’t Eclipse-based tools to help create LSB’s. I think that’s a great idea and hopefully we can get the communities together to make that a reality.