Senin, 22 Februari 2010

The Problem with FOSS Software on an FOSS Operating System

Earlier this evening I was cruising through the latest additions on (Linux gaming website) when I stumbled across JVGS. Its a nifty little platform based game that is loosely based on XKCD webcomic.

Its a newer game so it wasn't in the Ubuntu repositories yet. Not a problem, I've compiled more than my share of programs from source before. I download the source code in your standard .tar.gz package format, extract the contents, and open the README file in gedit. Fairly straight forward compile, grab the listed dependencies using apt-get, run cmake, and then make to build the package.

JVGS is not a graphically heavy game, I wanted to install it on my netbook to kill some time in-between my classes at school. I figured it would take a short bit to compile on my little Atom chip, so I run the make command and head off to do some other work for a little while. Ten minutes later I return to my netbook screen to see the compile has failed with several error messages.


I really just wanted to try the game, see if it was worth even playing. I was at work (where the computer all run Windows Xp) so I decided to download the Windows package for the game on my work system. Download the zip file, extract the folder, double click the jvgs.exe and poof! Lo-and-behold the game just runs. No complaints, no compile errors -

It just works.

Now I am sure I can debug the error the compiler is throwing on my Ubuntu system and get it working eventually - but this is my point:

Why should I have too?

Why should installing/using a piece of open source software be more painful on a open source operating system then it is on a proprietary operating system? Am I asking for too much here to want an equally easy install experience on Linux for FOSS software as I enjoy on Windows? If Linux is ever to gain any sort of real market share in the desktop market I feel this is some thing that must happen.

But maybe I am wrong. What do you think?

~Jeff Hoogland

I'm going to add this on here since it appears many people have missed my main point here which is simply this: Why is it that FOSS developers tend to compile Windows binaries but they rarely (if ever) compile Linux binaries (.rpm, .deb, .bin, I'll take any of the above)? I understand that this is fully the developer's responsibility, but as I said before it seems to be a common trend. Also I'd like to mention I am in no way saying having to compile from source bad I am simply saying it should not be the only install option for Unix operating systems.

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