This is a rant I posted to the Ableton forum.
Open letter to Ableton;
I was very annoyed about Ableton / Linux support, so I decided to come here and complain and I found a thread — of course!
If an application supports Windows and Mac, supporting Linux is not much work. Somehow, there are very many products that work on all 3 platforms. If you only supported Windows, you would be in much worse shape. I’ll bet a sandwich Ableton doesn’t have even have one person working on Linux. 3-5 could have a solid native port in a few months.
The Linux audio stack is getting mature now. What is required now is a realization by you that your customers want Linux support. Note, the WINE support for Ableton Live is getting solid today, but it does have problems. On the latest Ubuntu, it installs and runs, which is a big milestone, but it has some perf glitches (some things are very slow), and the audio doesn’t work. With Ableton supporting Linux directly, or via Wine, ideally both, these problems could easily and quickly get fixed.
A free / GPL Ableton would be very nice, but the proprietary version of Ableton on Linux enables users to run a free OS, which is even better. Not supporting Linux is damaging to the freedom of Ableton’s customers. Microsoft continues to win because of the lack of vision or laziness of others.
I don’t recommend rioting in the streets, but I do encourage customers to loudly remind every software vendor that the freedom to choose your own OS is very important, and companies should respect their customers’ hardware and software preferences.
You might think it isn’t worth it to build a Linux version today, but how can you know the demand of a product you don’t have? Linux marketshare is growing every year and studies show that worldwide usage is comparable to the Macintosh today. It is true that not much music-making is done on Linux now, but that is partially your fault! Are you waiting for Linux to be dominant in music-making before you enter the market? Any businessman will tell you that is exactly backwards.
People may not use a product if it doesn’t run on all platforms: PDF, Flash, Firefox, Wikipedia, etc., etc. are popular because they work on all platforms. Not having a Linux version puts the entire company at risk.
I know you are busy, but that you can afford it. It is not a matter of development being at capacity (as if people ever sit around), it is a matter of prioritizing. When you say you don’t have the resources, you just are saying it doesn’t seem important yet. You actually could make a major shift in priorities quickly if you wanted to. Requirements often show up up mid-way through every development cycle that need to be incorporated, and it gets done. Ableton says that they aren’t going to support Linux because they can’t be “all things to all people”. That is equating one feature with all features.
You either embrace the future or your competitors do it for you. I don’t care who builds it, but music-making software is one of the top challenges for the Linux desktop. Many people run 1 or 2 proprietary apps on Linux. Several of Ableton’s employees are long-time users of Debian Linux. It is sad that Linux has so many users who are not supporters. Supporting Linux can mean many things, I just ask you to start with creating a version of Ableton that runs on at least Debian. If you feel very busy, I can recommend moving away from C++ towards 99% Python. That will help help speed the Linux port and every other feature.
P.S. Here is a quote:
Sometimes the real hurdle to renewal is not a lack of options, but a lack of flexibility in resource allocation. All too often, legacy projects get richly funded year after year while new initiatives go begging. This, more than anything, is why companies regularly forfeit the future — they over invest in “what is” at the expense of “what could be.”
New projects are deemed “untested”, “risky”, or a “diversion of resources.” Thus while senior execs may happily fund a billion-dollar acquisition, someone a few levels down who attempts to “borrow” a half-dozen talented individuals for a new project, or carve a few thousand dollars out of a legacy budget, is likely to find the task on par with a dental extraction.
The resource allocation model is typically biased against new ideas, since it demands a level of certainty about volumes, costs, timelines, and profits that simply can’t be satisfied when an ideal is truly novel. While it’s easy to predict the returns on a project that is a linear extension of an existing business, the payback on an unconventional idea will be harder to calculate.
Managers running established businesses seldom have to defend the strategic risk they take when they pour good money into a slowly decaying business model, or overfund an activity that is already producing diminishing returns.
How do you accelerate the redeployment of resources from legacy programs to future-focused initiatives?
—Gary Hamel, The Future of Management