Linux

10 Windows applications that should be ported to Linux

The ranks of Linux users would certainly grow if a few go-to Windows apps could run natively on the OS. Jack Wallen lists the ones he thinks would turn the tide.

I can't tell you how many emails, phone calls, IMs, and Facebook messages I've gotten that asked when or if an application would be ported from Windows to Linux. Or how many times I've heard someone say, "I would use Linux, if X were ported to it!" So I decided to put these wishes to good use and list the top applications that should be ported to Linux. Some could be possible. Some are not (for whatever reason), which is a shame because the "not possible" tends to keep people from adopting Linux.

Many hard-core Linux users will tell those who have yet to adopt it to use Wine or Crossover Office to get their favorite application running on Linux. This, of course, is simply not a solution for the new user just trying to get accustomed to an entirely new operating system. These applications need to be ported over so they can run natively. When/if that should happen, Linux adoption will be rampant.

Note: This article is also available as a PDF download.

1: Photoshop

Photoshop is, without a doubt, the de facto standard for image editing. It's also the application that users most often claim they'd like to see ported to Linux. Yes, there are plenty of other image editing applications for Linux (some of which are quite good), but none can compare to the power and versatility of Photoshop. Back in early 2000, it was thought that the head of Adobe simply wasn't a fan of the open source movement. But then, a few years later, a developer from Adobe came forward to say that the company was more concerned with standards in the area of fonts, color management, and printing. Well, those areas have certainly followed standards (Freetype, OpenIcc, and Cups), so the reasons for not porting are growing slimmer and slimmer.

2: Quicken

Quicken is another application that people still depend upon, even though there are many alternatives. Whether it's for home or small business use, Quicken takes care of financial needs that many of the open source alternatives can't match -- such as the ability to seamlessly integrate with tax applications, like Turbo Tax. And since Quicken is problematic when you try to run it with Wine, a port will be the only option (outside of running in a virtual machine -- which doesn't count in this instance).

3: AutoCAD

AutoCAD is yet another proprietary Windows application that has many alternatives for the Linux desktop, none of which completely fulfills the needs of the serious professional. There are good Linux CAD tools (such as NX, from Siemens), but for most users the very name AutoCAD is synonymous with CAD. So until AutoCAD is ported, professional designers who employ CAD applications will not be migrating to Linux. Ironic that AutoCAD was originally run on *NIX.

4: Dreamweaver

Dreamweaver is one of the more popular of web design applications. And, of course, there are plenty of web design tools for Linux. But very few tools can stand up to the tool that all others are judged by. Now Dreamweaver is one of the tools that can be run Via WINE, but as anyone who has used applications with WINE knows - it is not the same.  I would have to say that porting the standard web design tool to Linux makes perfect sense, seeing as how so many web sites are run on the Apache web server. A marriage made in IT heaven.

5: iTunes

iTunes is currently the only application that will allow you to sync your iPhone or iTouch. I hesitated to put this sofware on the list, but more and more business users are relying on their mobiles for connectivity. And seeing as how the iPhone is the current standard in the smartphone arena, it only makes sense that iTunes should be ported to the Linux operating system. There are currently tools (such as ifuse) that allow read-only access to the iPhone/iTouch, but there is no way to fully sync with the hardware.

6: QuarkXpress

QuarkXpress is a must-have for many users, and none of the equivalent applications is as powerful or standard as Quark. I use Scribus for PDF creation, but it can't import Quark proprietary files, nor can it edit PDF documents (it can only create them). Scribus is an outstanding application, but Quark is one of the mainstays for larger business use.

7: Microsoft Outook

Outook is here for only one reason -- Exchange. Yes, there are Linux clients that can connect to an Exchange server, but none of them enjoys full Exchange support. For the home user, this isn't such an issue. But for the business user it is. Many businesses depend upon Exchange and (in some cases) allow only that software for serving email and sharing calendars. If Evolution would finally get to the point where full Exchange integration is a reality, Outlook could be removed from this list.

8: Intuit QuickBooks

QuickBooks is Quicken's big brother. This version of the tool ups the ante, taking it to big business and enterprise computing. In the Linux, open source world, there really is no equivalent software that will get your business up and running as easily (and globally) as QuickBooks. You could cobble together a few open source tools to equal it, but is the time and effort worth it? Better would be a real port of QuickBooks to Linux.

9: Corel Home Office

Corel Home Office evokes a bittersweet memory of when the Corel Word Processor was ported to Linux. The tool worked well, and everyone saw signs that Linux was going to get all of the necessary tools for a powerhouse operating system. But the rug was pulled out from under the feet of the penguin, and Corel stopped producing the Linux version. Now Corel has a home office suite, but only for Windows. Is this a necessary tool when there are so many outstanding alternatives, such as Microsoft Office and OpenOffice? Maybe not so much. But Corel once supported Linux, and a move to restore that support could initiate support from other companies. And remember, at one point, the WordPerfect word processor was the king of the hill.

10: World of Warcraft

World of Warcraft is a game. I hesitate to include any game on this list, but World of Warcraft is a completely different caliber. It is THE game and will remain THE game for a long time. At one point, Blizzard was one of the companies that supported Linux. You could get Diablo and Diablo II working on Linux. Now the games require Cedega to run. If WoW were to be ported to Linux, there would be a large number of migrations -- simply to play a game. Many apps and ship-jumpers would quickly follow.

What's on your list?

This list represents a collection of applications that would, almost certainly, bring leagues of new users to the Linux operating system. Are they all essential applications for all users? No. But more than likely, at least one of them is a must-have for you. What other critical apps would you add to the list?

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

79 comments
jfreedle2
jfreedle2

Even if these applications were ported to Linux, I still will not downgrade to Linux. I use Windows because it works well and I do not have to tinker with it to get things working, with Linux tinkering is what you would need to do all the time. I cannot wait until Linux dies.

rockgenius
rockgenius

yeah..folks Now letz discuss the converse - Which 10 linux apps should be made available in Win .... any takers for this one ???

bg3075
bg3075

Several of those apps have similar ones already for Linux. What definitely needs to be available for Linux is MagicJack. Apparently, in the past, it was possible to use several Linux softphone apps to access Magicjack accounts, but no longer accessible. Magicjack posts, on their site, that they are working on a Linux version, but has been posted for a while now.

oldbaritone
oldbaritone

Most of those applications have become bloated. There are excellent alternatives already available in linux, compatible with the Windows counterparts. Why Bolster the Bloat? Why Port a Pig?

jck
jck

There are several interpreters (not just Cedega) that will let you run WoW. Also, I understood that certain versions of Dreamweaver and Photoshop will run under the Windows interpreters as well. I agree though. Linux adoption would be more readily instituted if people *and* business had all the tools they needed.

scowen
scowen

Have I missed the point somewhere, I started using Linux over 12 years ago and I've never once thought I wish they would port such 'n' such a program from Windows. Linux is something I think is crafted out of the love of people wanting something to be great (you don't get that very often these days), not because it will make money or an accountant made me do it. It was interesting topic but I would rather hear about why technology manufacturers don't automatically create drivers for Linux when they come out with a new device. The topic just came down to money in the end. Forget the other operating systems (see how I didn't just pick on one) and tell people why Linux is so good!

PromptJock
PromptJock

Looking at the list, I think most (if not all?) of these suggestions will run under the ** WINE ** Linux application! For Phoshoppers: There's always GIMP, which I believe is more versatile and powerful. For "editing" PDF documents: Foxit Reader will let you annotate PDF documents and it runs perfectly under Wine. OpenOffice can open, edit, and resave WordPerfect documents in their WordPerfect format, so why resuscitate Corel? Anyhoo, that's my few bytes to this thread..... :)

M_Teixeira
M_Teixeira

If Excel was ported to linux, most SOHOs woould use Linux!

paul
paul

Rather than Photoshop & Dreamweaver, why not just Creative Suite?

ScarF
ScarF

Thanks, Jack. Reading this post made me realize how many migrations I had to perform in the last 30 years - since I have used a computer in any form. But, the history coming to my mind is related to Wordperfect and Corel Home Office. First, I started by using Wordstar and Quattro 123. Than, I moved to Wordperfect 5.1 and Lotus 123. I would stay there quite happy, but Windows came. And, Windows came with its user interface and its hotkeys. It may look funny but it is my opinion that it's rather important for someone writing software to observe the user interface of the OS he is writing for. Back than, DOS was a chaos of hotkeys, drivers, installation procedure, user experiences a.s.o. (btw, Linux tends to repeat it). Windows came with some unification and standardization. Wordperfect 5.1 was also migrated to Windows but, it came with the same F3 for Help, instead of F1. This and other hotkeys not matching the rest of the applications, made me try something else. MS Word wasn't there yet. So, I tried AMI and Ami Pro. Not with much success. Was it me? Was the application? Maybe something related to using for some time Wordperfect... Anyway, MS Word came on the market. In the beginning, it was a joke. But, version 2 started to look as something. And, eventually, I started using it. I had to take this decision mainly because there were more and more companies using it, and more and more documents coming from the outside were created with MS Office. Now, I continue to use MS Office. I tried Open Office several time but, why should I bother fighting with the rest of my partners who use MS Office? Why should I start writing using a different platform, and keeping in mind that I have to save in a certain format for others to be able to read - so, maybe losing some of the formatting also. And, OpenOffice is available for Windows for free. Anyway. The main problem with Linux - as well as the main advantage - is the market share. I read in a previous post someone's complaint that the big box producers (Dell, Lenovo, HP) push Windows only on their PCs. Here, I come with the same idea: instead of crying after big application migrations to Linux, or against the big box producers, WHY doesn't any of these Linux advocates and fans start a brand new box factory? Start selling brand name PCs - your own brand - with Linux only. Whatever distro you like - even your own distro. I hope you will be able to push the market share to 80% for Linux desktops. Until than, everything is just coffee-talk. And, regarding the Linux safety against attacks, should it reaches 80% of the desktop market share I really hope that all the antiviruses, antispywares, antirootkits a.s.o. would have been migrated to Linux, because the entire IT black market will migrate also.

McClausky
McClausky

C'mon, just use Windows as your main OS, and forget about the rest.

clavius
clavius

AutoCAD: among the engineers I know, AutoCAD is about on the level of Lotus 1-2-3 in terms of "must-have". It was great in its heyday, but most engineers now use more advanced alternatives like PTC's Pro/E or SolidWorks. Quark Xpress: Same here, I don't know too many publishing departments using this. It's mostly FrameMaker or an XML-based publishing chain now. I think your last entry is the key though--until a wide variety of games are available on Linux (without spending an entire week tweaking your Wine config), Linux won't make much headway. I use Linux for my main personal computer, but I still have to have Windows installed so I can play modern games. If the games worked on Linux I could ditch the Windows partition.

akayani
akayani

It's not Corel Home Office that needs a port there are decent Office tools for Linux. It's Corel Graphics Suite. And that will never happen. The previous version that ran on Linux was written to work under WINE and was never a Linux app. MS 'saved' Corel and during that 'save as' period Corel sold all of it's Linux assets. As for Adobe they saked 6,000 staff in 2009 because piracy totally screwed the sales of CS4. Adobe IF it moved to Linux would do so with an Adobe Linux release. I don't think they have the guts to take on MS and Apple by doing that. There would be too many deals in place with tit for tat patent use. And why on Earth would you move Dreambeaver to Linux? What wrong with using Aptana? All up the chance on any of those high level commercial apps moving to Linux is zippo. It would create a war between the 4 largest desktop software providers. If piracy wasn't running at 80% software companies would be making profits, Linux would have a market share and the picture would be very different. It piracy that screws Linux because it is too damn easy to get free Windows.

jmhalloy
jmhalloy

I used to use different Linux distro since 1994, at that time, it tooks about three weeks for me to be able to print graphicaly from my Linux box. I installed the OS because I decided to return to high school on the evening in order to graduate on open systems at a time I was system engineer on an IBM mainframe running VM/VSE/CICS for Pfizer in Belgium. From that very moment, Linux has dramatically changed and I still run a SuSE 10.3 distro on a P4 desktop with 512 meg RAM. It is now possible to fully install and update a Linux distro in a few hours and, the free softwares like OpenOffice, evolution, mozilla, gimp, etc... are often more then suffisant for what a lambda user does with a PC. The problems begin at the time you want to buy about any external USB device like a TV dongel or similar stuff for which there are no available drivers. A few weeks ago, I decided to buy a Sony VAIO laptop preloaded with a 64bits version of windows 7 and some proprietary sony softwares. At that time, I was not sure to definitively use the M$ OS on that machine, now I'm sure to keep using it with the W7 OS, about more stable than my SuSE desktop and, accepting all the external devices I already connected to it even without manually installing the requiered drivers. I installed a W7 version of OpenOffice, mozilla and thunderbird on it, along with a lot of other proprietary software to use with my dvd videocamera and diapo flasher. And... a 9.10 ubuntu distro running in a "virtualbox" virtual machine for my home banking.

jeslurkin
jeslurkin

AutoCAD is the only legitimate member of that list. Probably also the only one that will engender a migration.

hariserfari
hariserfari

How about Adobe Premier or better yet Apple's Final Cut.

snixon
snixon

Games! Lots of Games! In my opinion that is one reason PCs ended up in as many places as they did. People used the PC for entertainment. Business wise, some main stream Accounting Programs, Tax programs and Audit programs would be useful.

jcooke
jcooke

Broad acceptance of Linux will only come after iTunes.

The 'G-Man.'
The 'G-Man.'

only to realise in order to do so they need a valid Windows licence 90% of the time. Sure there are others but to get as near as you want to a Windows system it has to actually be a Windows system.

j.uhl
j.uhl

Visio needs a decent port to linux (like that will happen...), or alternative. Kivio is nice, but seems to lack a lot of the stencils and the database backend. Gliffy is a decent cloud-based alternative, but I think a lot of people don't like subscribing to their software, they like to know that they own (or, more officially, HAVE A LICENSE TO USE) their software.

linuxcanuck
linuxcanuck

I have a problem with the word SHOULD. Perhaps you would like see these ported, but nothing should be ported. Sure some users miss some Windows applications, but many of us do not. People who want Windows and its applications SHOULD use Windows and stop whining to the rest of us.

yordan.georgiev
yordan.georgiev

Must have --- arsclip, Ctrl + Shift + Z lists all the latest ClipBoard entries

Resuna
Resuna

1. A decent window manager. Particularly now that Windows 7 gives you the choice of the Fisher Price Vista look or a deliberately crippled Classic mode.

Sepius
Sepius

2. Quicken. Waste to port this. If this is a reason some one uses to not switch, then leave it ... they never will, even when Quicken gets ported. 8. Quickbooks. This is such a poorly coded program I doubt they could port it. I would say that dropping Quickbooks would be a good reason to switch to Linux. 7. Outlook. In itself, it is old and dated, yeah calendar sharing is great, but if your using Exchange, why change? Your still forking out license fee's and paying someone to maintain Exchange.

kalpeshblue
kalpeshblue

People don't uses Linux Because It Dose not support every type of hardware easily or some time it even dose't detect hardware. Linux's first goal is should be to support every hardware then people will make software and games for Linux

Robert369
Robert369

Jack, I truly appreciate your insight... in all your articles. You've hit a nail on the head here. In the arena of the Operating System Wars these are the trenches, the daily apps that people use. Good choices on the list. Most others I'd consider for the list are already ported to the other major OS types.

RudHud
RudHud

In 2003 I completely redid my 5 workstation small business network, and gave very serious thought to Linux. The geekiness of it all was a bit of a put-off -- why go out of the way to make it obscure to people like me who put this stuff together between paying gigs? But I figured I'd learn fast enough. No, the deal breakers were Photoshop and Corel Office Pro. They still are. My point is: as long as people like me perceive Linux as having inferior business tools -- or just-as-good tools that I don't want -- we'll cough up the bucks for our overpriced copies of Windows. After all, the sole purpose of an OS is to run software.

Bit-Smacker
Bit-Smacker

No business will port their software just to satisfy a bunch of penny-pinchers who will probably end up pirating it anyway. Buy a copy of Windows XP (Craigslist/eBay) and run it as a virtual machine, or on another PC via Remote Desktop (XP Pro), and you will save yourself a lot of headaches. Finding "free" alternatives only makes sense if you have more time than money, in which case you should be more concerned with finding a (better) job, rather than looking for ways to use software that an employer will most-likely not allow you to run on anything but Windows in the first place.

JTB2468
JTB2468

WoW doesn't require Cedega, I run it perfectly fine on Wine. It's not even hard to setup. Just install wine, then install WoW like you would on any Wind0ze PC. But yeah I'd like to see AutoCAD and Outlook on linux. Well I don't really like Outlook but have to use it for work, and unfortunately Evolution's Exchange support is still pretty buggy.

william.byrd
william.byrd

Porting World of Warcraft would not cause any migrations. If you want to run WoW, you just have to do nothing except install the software if running windows. Unless Linux becomes the only way to play WoW. It won't make a bit of difference. The only purpose in porting WoW would be to make a transition easier, but the user wouls still have to want to make the change first. WoW would not drive it and its doubtful that WoW is the only thing keeping anyone on Windows to begin with.

hariks0
hariks0

Free Download Manager is the one I miss the most. There is NO alternative for this in linux. The irony is that FDM is already OPENSOURCE. What a pity?

Jeff7181
Jeff7181

In reference to Outlook, I'd go a step further and say the entire Office Suite. One of the main things that keeps Windows on at least one of my machines is Office. An employer doesn't care that the resume you send them looks like a 3 year old did the layout because you created it using Open Office on your PC running Ubuntu. Linux also has some work to do in the battery life area on laptops. With Win7 I get roughly 5 hours of use with my laptop, with Ubuntu 9.10 I got just over 3. I also agree that it would be nice if iTunes was ported. Say what you will about proprietary formats and Apple's business... they produce the single most popular portable music players. If you want Linux to go mainstream on the desktop, you need to make mainstream applications and devices work with it flawlessly.

jmgarvin
jmgarvin

2: Quicken MoneyDance is far superior to Quicken. I'd rather not see another crappy product that is used just because it was once useful, get ported. 5: iTunes Not to be an ass, but honestly who wants to buy their music in proprietary format? Buy from Amazon and use a real music player like xmms, not a suite of tools that bloated and slow. 7: Microsoft Outook CrossOver Office ftw. 10: World of Warcraft Cedega, Wine, and Xover all run this. With that being said, it would be nice to see a native port. Anyway long story short, what Linux needs are some big name main stream apps that people can latch on to. However, I'd rather see games ported first, simply because there are a LOT of crappy apps (Quicken) that just need to die. People use it because they are used to it, but honestly it's a crap product.

j-mart
j-mart

None. For business and industrial use we are better off without Microsoft attempting to dictate product life-cycles forced redundancy, and being too much in control of IT costs and directions.

akayani
akayani

Has anyone who suggested that you can 'just run the app under WINE' ever actually used WINE? Good luck with that idea, most commercial apps don't even install and WINE has very little chance (see NO) of running a modern Windows app that uses .Net or any other advanced MS technology.

rockgenius
rockgenius

yeah.. u r right.. probably v should look at better alternatives in linux

jfuller05
jfuller05

Whenever I started using Ubuntu, I noticed the Linux alternatives were great. Good point: "Why Port a Pig?"

Mr.Wally
Mr.Wally

It would be great if Finale or Sibelius music publishing software would port to Linux. Programs such as Lilypond, NoteEdit and Rosegarden do not support all of the features that Finale or Sibelius have.

hariserfari
hariserfari

Actually if Autocad was on Linux, I could leave Windows behind. :)

terry.floyd
terry.floyd

I agree with you about needing a Visio port or an equivalent open source application. I support Windows at work, but am much too paranoid to run Windows at home any longer. I can run Quicken in Wine without any problem on my Ubuntu system at home, OpenOffice works better for me than MSOffice, and I never need to worry about viruses or malware. I'd recommend anyone worried about this to try Linux and see how easy it really is to install and use. If you're afraid of trying Linux, you shouldn't be using a computer at all, because Windows is ten times as dangerous. I do support a number of CPA offices who would love to convert to Linux on their desktops and servers, but all the tax preparation software they need (LaCerte, owned by Intuit) only runs on Windows systems. I haven't tried this in Wine, but I participated in a discussion on Slashdot last year about open source tax software and why no such projects appear to exist. Tax law changes so frequently and is so complicated from the outset that maintaining a tax preparation package would be a full-time job for multiple developers, and would be very difficult to do on a FOSS business model. Not that it couldn't be attempted, but it would require such a huge initial investment that most savvy developers would not want to take such a risk.

gstrock
gstrock

I second that. Windows needs a decent window manager. What they have now, just adds to the clunkiness of all things Windows.

nelsonhoover
nelsonhoover

I use QuickBooks in my business. If it wasn't for that I'd be OK with Linux. You say just drop QB. Do you have a good replacement in mind? Admittedly, QB has been steadily going down hill with each release being bigger, slower and more troublesome, but I have yet to find anything better (for Linux anyway). It would need inventory, estimating, PO's, check printing, etc. Any suggestions on alternatives would be great.

j-mart
j-mart

Is interested in applications, they don't particularly concern themselves with the OS. The other thing that concerns them is cost. They want the tools they need at the best price. If Linux could reduce IT costs, they would go for it.

j-mart
j-mart

There are a lot of pirated copies of windows only software. Most of the pirated software ends up on home machines, mostly games, along with a few industrial/ business apps the average home user does not really need. If the makers of software ignored the home consumer "appliance" market, only worry about porting business applications. Businesses are less likely to be using pirated software and they will pay for good cost effective products that work, MS, these days seem to be more interested in extracting the most money for the least value, which is not what business wants.

colinnwn
colinnwn

There are a ton of Firefox extensions that work in Linux and do the same thing. I think there is even one similar native app. I just can't remember it right now. If this is your only barrier to switching, you should look around.

JTB2468
JTB2468

I get roughly 4 hours of battery life out of my laptop on Ubuntu 9.10 x64 and about 2.5 on Win7 x64. When watching movies with VLC player, I get about 2.5 hours on Ubuntu and can't even finish a DVD on Win7 before the battery dies.

j-mart
j-mart

Would be the least needed app to port to Linux. If one is any good, getting a professional job, using most of the main office/ word processing apps isn't a difficult task. An inability to get a decent job out of Open Office would make that particular candidate not much chop in a job that requires computer skills.

jay.sanders
jay.sanders

Who cares what format your music comes in if you can't get it on and off the device (iPhone) that you use to listen to it 99% of the time.... Not being able to sync my iphone was the deal breaker that made me switch back to windows 7. I don't do web development and don't use quicken so this was the only "URGENT" item on the list as far as I am concerned -- but until they get it ported or support is added in wine etc etc then I am stuck running windows in one form or another.... On a side note - WoW actually ran faster and smoother on my linux machine using wine than it did when I had windows on that machine. Specifically - running multiple instances of WoW on the same machine was easier in linux.

stone_free
stone_free

5: iTunes >Not to be an ass, but honestly who wants to buy their music in proprietary format? >Buy from Amazon and use a real music player like xmms, not a suite of tools that's >bloated and slow. The music isn't in a proprietary format what so ever its AAC an open standard. Also haven't Apple dropped the fairplay protection which was the only non-open standard part of iTunes. A suite of tools thats bloated and slow - Yep, agree there that's why I use Winamp.

Resuna
Resuna

There have been people who have written replacements and extensions for the Windows UI, like Windowblinds. The problem is that to do this they have to use APIs that trigger tilt switches in Microsoft's IRM/DRM support. For example, if you use Windowblinds you can't view IRM-protected documents in Office.

frank.domnick
frank.domnick

I wish they had ported iTunes properly to Windows! I have helped a couple of my friends with issues on their computers and believe me or not iTunes has a high rank on my "whodunnit"-list.