If there is one aspect of Linux that has frustrated me (and many others) over the years, it's that the vast majority of Linux users do not, and will not, purchase software. I get it ... one of the appeals of Linux is that it's open source and there are so many free titles to choose from. In fact, one could easily go his entire computing life (on Linux) and never purchase a single piece of software.
This mind-set causes one major issue. When software companies look at the Linux community, and see how prevalent this attitude is, there is zero incentive to bring their titles to the Linux platform. And even when some companies take the risk, and port their titles to Linux, there are so few purchases, the titles tend to either die off or never get updated.
One of the biggest complaints about Linux is the lack of games. The truth of the matter is, this same mindset killed a company, Loki Games, before it ever really got to start producing some serious titles for wanna-be Linux gamers.
So, why am I writing about this now? This past week I came across two software titles that look absolutely incredible for my ilk. Between these titles, one is testing a Linux beta and the other has a full-fledged Linux release. Now, the titles are a bit niche-y, but the illustrate my point perfectly.Both titles are tools for writers. The first is a piece of software that many writers cannot live without — Scrivener. For the longest time, this title was Mac-only and was the envy of every writer using either WIndows or Linux. Well, the developers are working on a port for both Windows and Linux. I've been using this title since I discovered it and I can tell you, I fully understand why all the Mac users have been gloating about this software for so long. Figure A illustrates the interface and how this title can be used to make the life of a novel writer far easier.
I'm thrilled that Literature and Latte have decided to bring this title to Linux. My fear, however, is that once the title enjoys its full release those authors that enjoy the Linux platform won't bother to purchase the title. With no one purchasing the title, chances are the developers will be informed to cease and desist development on the Linux port.
Scrivener for Mac costs roughly $45.00 USD. I would imagine the Linux port will run the same.
Same is true with another software tile. Storybook is a title of a different nature — although for the same niche. Instead of allowing writers to completely fashion their books within a single piece of software (from character development to writing the manuscript), Storybook works as a tool to keep an overview of characters and plotlines for novels. I have one particular series in development that will require such a tool, due to the complex and long-term plot lines that will need to be carefully plotted and numerous characters involved. Storybook is perfect for this.
Now Storybook has two versions — a free version and a paid version. The paid version adds a few features (in particular the Storybook Memoria which offers a graphical map of plots). The paid version of Storybook 3.0 for Linux will run you a paltry $27.89 USD.
Both of these titles are affordable solutions for writers. In the case of Scrivener, it is often considered the industry standard tool — and we are looking at an official port for Linux. But for this to achieve any sort of success, Linux users will have to actually break down and purchase the software. As much as it seems this would be a simple task, prying precious Pounds from the typical Linux user is not an easy task. And so I want this blog to serve as a call-out to Linux users across the globe to open up their minds and their wallets when they find titles like Scrivener and Storybook available for purchase. Without actually making purchases, these types of titles will never survive.
It's such a double-edge sword — the porting of titles to Linux. Companies do this knowing they are risking loss. They know the Linux community has been spoiled all these years. But those days are numbered and the window of entry is brief. I fully plan to purchase Scrivener when it becomes available. I will also purchase Storybook so I can keep track of my next series (The Book of Jacob) with a tool and not my aging memory.
I don't expect there to be a lot (or any) fellow writers reading this blog, so I wouldn't dare ask everyone here to purchase either Scrivener or Storybook for Linux. But there are titles out there you can, and should, purchase. Be on the look out for such software titles. When you find solid applications for Linux, worthy of purchase, report them here so we can all take advantage and help the developers understand there is in fact a market for Linux titles.
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.