I can't tell you how many e-mails, 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 and was originally published in the 10 Things Blog in March 2010.
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.
Quicken is another application that people still depend on, 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).
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.
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. It's a marriage made in IT heaven.
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.
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.
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 on Exchange and (in some cases) allow only that software for serving e-mail 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.
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.
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 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.
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?
Stay on top of the latest Microsoft Windows tips and tricks with TechRepublic's Windows Desktop newsletter, delivered every Monday and Thursday. Automatically sign up today!
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.