The 7 Best Closed-Source Apps for Linux

By Matt Hartley | Posted September 10, 2008

With all of the noise going back and forth about how open source software is "better" for the end user, I am of the mind that this is clearly in the eyes of the beholder. So while there have been tremendous successes on the browser and operating system fronts, I can think of a number of instances where the closed source alternative still outshines the FOSS (free and open source software) alternative.

In this article, I will be exploring specific closed source applications that happen to be compatible with the open source platform known commonly as "desktop Linux" -- that way I'll be distribution neutral.

Adobe Flash

Without question, the single "killer" app that allowed me to migrate successfully. The fact that it is of a close source code nature only adds to the twist of it being so critical to the adoption to the Linux platform for mainstream users.

Adobe Flash these days is a critical part of Web content as we know it. Not because it is mission critical for its users to surf the Web so much as it provides the ability to listen to audio, watch videos, and accomplish other feats that would be done with simplicity on other platforms.

Not having Adobe Flash at all would most definitely be a huge showstopper for most desktop Linux users. Not with the hardcore elite perhaps, but it is critical for most people looking to take desktop Linux seriously.

In the past, even with version 9.x, Flash for Linux has not been without its stability problems. CPU eating performance problems to flat out crashing the web browser -- there is no question that there is room for stability improvements. Luckily, version 10-beta release has shown promise with both CPU usage along with its overall stability in a number of Linux friendly browsers. I have been using it for some time now and have found it to be worth trying. For those who would rather wait for it to come out of beta, Flash 9.x does work well enough once you realize that it is not always perfect.

Picasa

The thing about Google applications is you either find yourself loving them or hating them. There simply is not a lot of in between room to be had. Picasa is often sought after, as its users found it to be just the perfect fit for their needs in the Windows world. Others out there might be inclined to utilize the powerful F-Spot or KphotoAlbum, Picasa users give on other platforms generally find sticking to the familiar UI and features provides the path of least resistance.

Even for those of you not inclined to give Google Apps a second look, it is worth considering that Picasa does offer extra functionality that might not be found elsewhere including but not limited to access to Google's Web albums, password protecting your online albums and so on.

Acronis Disk Director Suite

Not something that I run myself as my PCs are dedicated Linux, Windows, or OS X (my wife's Mac) only, but Disk Director provides their users with one fantastic boot manager. In the Linux world, some boot loaders are better than others. Most experts will tell you to use Lilo over GRUB. But for the new Linux user, this is still more than they might want to take on -- especially when things go wrong.

So for those individuals bent on dual-booting at all costs, I recommend using the Acronis Disk Director Suite, because it allows the user to add and remove new Linux distributions easily, without a lot of "Googling around" and fighting with the old boot managers. It also means that when you decide to tri-boot Linux, XP, and Vista, you are not rolling the dice in hopes that the tutorial you are reading was not written by someone who clearly has no idea what they are doing.



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