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Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Linux, Desktops & DRM

The folks at ehomeupgrade write Linux has a long way to go before getting into mainstream.
- Linux can run on soon-to-be legacy and even cutting-edge hardware that provides users (both average and power users) with an optimal computing experience. But Linux still has a way to go before it can become mainstream.
- First, the Linux community needs to convince hardware vendors that Linux is a viable and profitable operating system, for the reason that vendors are currently not creating native drivers for Linux (although NVIDA, ATI, and VIA have been making efforts to improve the situation).
- Second, the Linux community needs to convince popular software vendors that porting their apps to Linux can be lucrative – sure there's plenty of FREE software, but there's also a big demand for running Windows apps on Linux.
- Third (and this point is critical), companies who use technologies to protect their content (Digital Rights Mangement – aka DRM) need to offer licensing to the Linux community as well.

Consumers are migrating to digital media, the promise of always-on, readily available, high-quality content that can be downloaded, streamed, transcoded, and on and on. The content producers have taken steps to secure their transmission and playback (justifiably). DRM: it's a necessary evil, but fairplay usage terms should be common to all platforms and playback solutions need be made available for all platforms – say Apple,Linux etc.

Michael Gartenberg writes,The lack of support on Linux for DRM solutions are a fact of life. Linux users,don't get to use iTunes and iTunes music. Mac OS users, don't get to use Yahoo music, Napster to Go or Rhapsody or any of the MSFT Janus stuff. Linux users don't get MSFT Office, Adobe CS and many other things. There's a center of gravity around operating systems and that's just a fact of life. If there were enough Linux users, things would get ported. Linux is too fragmented a platform at the desktop and convincing ISVs to develop for a market that keeps loudly talking about how they don't want to pay for intellectual property is going to be an uphill battle. That doesn't mean that MSFT is going to have an easy time of getting end users to adopt Longhorn but neither are we likely to see the MSFT or Apple DRM ported to Linux. I totally agree with Gartenberg's view - the commercial adoption model for Linux as a choice platform for Desktop is the missing link. Once we have Linux or any other platform as a desktop choice - it requires huge organisational commitment to support, upgrade and make lot more write applications on the platform. With so may versions and very limited takeoff - Linux future as a platform for desktop looks doubtful!!
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Sadagopan's Weblog on Emerging Technologies, Trends,Thoughts, Ideas & Cyberworld
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