Adobe Systems has embraced open source software for some products, but its core Creative Suite line looks like it’ll remain proprietary.

In a blog posting Sunday, Adobe’s top creative products executive, John Loiacono, made unflattering remarks about open source alternatives whose free cost is offset by the time that creative pros have to spend fiddling. “Time is money,” he opines, not without merit, and links to a blog blog posting by Eric Vreeland, who observed, “Debugging recent installs of certain open source software has wasted immense amounts of my spare time; charged at my hourly rate these hours represent a pile of cash bigger than that which full list price versions of comparable commercial software would require for purchase.” Vreeland opted for the $2,500 Creative Suite Master Collection, which bundles 12 Adobe products, such as Photoshop, Premiere and Illustrator.

Loiacono legitimately points to his open source credentials as the top Sun Microsystems software executive who oversaw much of that company’s work releasing its Solaris operating system as open source software. But his logic is a little wonky in this case.

“Obviously, I have thought about whether open source has a place in Adobe’s creative products strategy. But what designers need is tightly-integrated workflows and high reliability right out of the box, so the really important question to ask is what’s the impact to the user,” he said, then concludes, “Open source software can be a perfect solution. It’s just not right for everything. Or for everyone — like many creative professionals who are on deadline and prefer to innovate vs. integrate.”

It’s well and good to look at things from the user’s perspective, but in this case it leads to a false dichotomy. Loiacono appears to be considering only outside open source alternatives such as Inkscape or the Gimp.

There’s nothing technological stopping Adobe from releasing software that’s both open source as well as integrated and easy to use. But it’s misleading to point to the shortcomings of others’ open source software as a reason why Adobe shouldn’t open source its own.

Of course, Adobe would face no shortage of business and legal obstacles–free Photoshop no doubt would appeal to a lot of people who today pay hundreds of dollars for it–and that would be an issue I’d like on which I’d like to hear Johnny L’s thoughts.

Posted By Stephen Shankland