MicroImages Leaving LINUX - Debian

This is a discussion on MicroImages Leaving LINUX - Debian ; Mr Hocevar: This is my first time communicating with anyone in the Linux community, so please forgive me if I have breached some sort of protocol. I have been a Linux dabbler, user and supporter for some time. One of ...

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Thread: MicroImages Leaving LINUX

  1. MicroImages Leaving LINUX

    Mr Hocevar:

    This is my first time communicating with anyone in the Linux
    community, so please forgive me if I have breached some sort of
    protocol. I have been a Linux dabbler, user and supporter for some
    time. One of the developments I have noticed with pleasure over time
    is the increasing number of, for lack of a better word, enterprise
    quality Linux programs. Because of my profession, and my desire to
    set up my own company after retirement next year, I have been
    particularly aware of developments in the GIS realm. One of the few
    professional level, commercial GIS suites available for Linux has been
    MicroImages "MIPs". It is very capable, and less than half the price
    of the now Windows only ESRI products. It is also MUCH cheaper to
    update/upgrade and maintain. As I refuse to buy Microsoft's OS, I was
    eying it seriously for my own business use. Imagine my chagrin when
    upon going to the Microimages site today to have a look at their
    latest version, I discovered no references to LINUX on their pages! I
    immediately called MicroImages to find out what was going on. I
    regret I did not get the person's name, but he was quite
    knowledgeable.

    Basically, they decided in the last few days to no longer support
    Linux. I was told that they sat down and analyzed the traffic on
    their website over time and saw that Linux downloads were few. I
    didn't think to ask how many or if the number was increasing,
    decreasing or static. From further quite frank and informative
    conversation, I believe the central reasons for their decision are
    these.

    First, their impression of the "average" Linux user is multifaceted,
    but does not include the general business owner or professional. More
    critically, I presume, ones likely to use their product. Second, and
    the primary reason I am addressing these concerns to you, is the
    perceived/real burden to needing to write code to support their
    software running in different Linux distributions. I also got the
    impression that they saw few distributions seriously focused on the
    enterprise. In particular they mentioned SUSE, Fedora and Ubuntu.
    Frustration concerning the constantly changing (Linux supporters might
    say evolving) code and the necessity to track multiple changes in
    multiple distributions. They are a small company, and I could see
    their point. They seemed particularly convinced that Ubuntu was aimed
    at the home user.

    I countered that SUSE, RedHat and Ubuntu had all been recently
    evaluated for their support services. I observed that this was an
    issue of great concern to business owners, and that each had basically
    done well. Again, I forgot to mention that they had provided that
    support quickly, without charging by the minute, and with considerably
    better problem solving than Redmond. I said that RedHat and SUSE
    certainly focused on the business environment. He countered that, in
    their analysis, the purchase terms of RedHat made it more expensive to
    purchase than Windows, and that it made little sense to support them
    in that case. In the end they had decided to support Windows and MACs
    OS/X only.

    I then observed that in writing for OS/X they were essentially writing
    to UNIX/Linux and Solaris, although I allowed that Solaris software
    also historically tended to be expensive. I allowed I could see his
    reasoning. However, I observed that while there were many different
    distributions to consider, perhaps they weren't thinking
    strategically. I suggested that perhaps they should write code to
    support their program running under Debian, as it formed the
    underpinnings of about half the distributions out there, including
    Ubuntu. I suggested that they might want to collaborate with RedHat
    because of their business focus and relationship to other RPM based
    distros, including Fedora. As for UNIX, which I believe to be
    MicroImage's original OS focus, writing to support MIPs running under
    the BSD familiy, the underpinning of OS/X, and Solaris, with its Linux
    program binary compatibility, would give them a more manageable task,
    and good coverage in the Linux environment. Certainly better than
    none.

    I will be sending this along to whomever I can think of in these other
    OS contexts as well. But because of the reasons I stated, I am
    focusing my thoughts and hopes on the Debian community as having
    perhaps the most means to support this effort, and best chance to
    persuade MicroImages to reconsider its decision. Companies offering
    powerful business-oriented programming deciding to not support their
    programs running under Linux just serves to make Linux less attractive
    as an OS environment for business or general use, slowing down its
    adoption. I don't wish to see that happen.

    My hope in writing this is to stir up support for MicroImages at this
    moment in particular, but support for enterprise software developers
    in general, in developing for the Linux environment. For myself, I
    refuse to put one more penny that I have to into Windows and/or
    Windows-centric products. I am sure I am not alone. However, I am
    also a hard-nosed realist. I am willing to learn a new OS, and spend
    the time to search out reasonable Linux-based alternatives to
    Windows-based programs. I currently have that luxury, as I earn my
    living in an environment where I have no choices in this regard, so I
    can take time to evaluate. But when I start my own enterprise, I want
    choices. I will want support. I will need programs and an OS that
    "just work" and provide me the tools I will need to successfully
    compete in the marketplace of products and ideas..

    I was a beta and gamma tester for OS/2. I support the Linux ideal. I
    have contributed financial support to various Linux-based projects
    over the years. I want there to be meaningful choices in operating
    systems and programs for pleasure and work. I read about the efforts
    to entice developers to write for the Linux platform. In seeking that
    involvement we should not be so distracted as to allow a long-time
    participant in the commercialization of Linux slip away unnoticed.


    Gene Kersey

    PS I have sent this note to organizations where I could find a
    contact fairly easily. So, if this ever happens to get forwarded to
    Sun, RedHat, Ubuntu and SUSE, this is why you didn't receive the
    original.


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  2. Re: MicroImages Leaving LINUX

    On Tue, Nov 13, 2007 at 04:23:32PM -0500, Gene Kersey wrote:
    > Mr Hocevar:
    >
    > This is my first time communicating with anyone in the Linux
    > community, so please forgive me if I have breached some sort of
    > protocol. I have been a Linux dabbler, user and supporter for some
    > time. One of the developments I have noticed with pleasure over time
    > is the increasing number of, for lack of a better word, enterprise
    > quality Linux programs. Because of my profession, and my desire to
    > set up my own company after retirement next year, I have been
    > particularly aware of developments in the GIS realm. One of the few
    > professional level, commercial GIS suites available for Linux has been
    > MicroImages "MIPs".


    Just out of curiosity, what would you estimate is the userbase size:
    10's, 100's, 1000's of users? And its total revenue potential? What I am
    getting at is the ROI for them to spend the extra effort, They may be a
    10 person company. Just my observation. Which is why this[0] maybe an
    interesting idea.

    > Basically, they decided in the last few days to no longer support
    > Linux. I was told that they sat down and analyzed the traffic on
    > their website over time and saw that Linux downloads were few.


    Information about Free operating systems is not as mearsurable as for
    their proprietary counterparts. Someone may copy a download to 1000
    computers behind a firewall on a private network. And most software
    requires no access key and can not be counted based upon 'downloads'
    with the exception of maybe something like Firefox. Plus, most Free OS
    users do not use/need traditional 'support', we have irc, mailing lists,
    etc. And there are now commercial 'enterprise' support from IBM,
    Canonical, etc. if someone needs it. And as long as a company follows
    LSB and FHS (like Debian does), the software should have minimal issue
    between distros and I'm sure they could get assistance from beta tester
    to address any issue that come up.

    >
    > I then observed that in writing for OS/X they were essentially writing
    > to UNIX/Linux and Solaris, although I allowed that Solaris software
    > also historically tended to be expensive.


    But now there is OpenSolaris.

    And if they target OS/X which is related to BSD and BSDs can run Linux
    software, so that would 'kill 2 birds with one stone' unless they go for
    'native osx' widets.

    hope that explains,
    -k

    [0] http://www.linux.com/feature/120621

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  3. Re: MicroImages Leaving LINUX


    [Gene Kersey]
    > Because of my profession, and my desire to set up my own company
    > after retirement next year, I have been particularly aware of
    > developments in the GIS realm. One of the few professional level,
    > commercial GIS suites available for Linux has been MicroImages
    > "MIPs".


    I am very pleased to see a GIS user posting to debian-devel. Are you
    aware of the Debian GIS group? We are working to make Debian the best
    possible platform for processing and using georeferenced information.
    Please check out the group pages on
    and the news letter we sent
    out a few weeks ago,
    .

    It would be nice to know if any of the free software available is
    providing similar functionality to the MIPs package, and what should
    be improved in the free software tools to make it a viable
    alternative.

    Happy hacking,
    --
    Petter Reinholdtsen


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