A new software category?

There are two specific software categories where competition is reduced: category-killer software (i.e. the one that discourages others from creating an alternative because it’s a lot of work and it works good enough) and the software with vendor lock-in (i.e. it works only with the vendor-approved components or interfaces). Now, do we have open-source software that fits both categories?

The answer is, sadly, yes. For instance, there’s Chromium, de facto the only Internet browser. You can point out that there are other browsers (which are based either on it or on WebKit, and Chromium is a fork of WebKit) and there is still Firefox (probably only because the management is not trying hard enough to drive the company into the ground). Again, it would be a perfect example of category-killer software if not for the fact that it changes the playfield by introducing new features that other browsers have to support in order to stay relevant. Not to mention that it’s a tool of a certain Internet company which can both spend lots of money and manpower on updating it while making life harder for other browsers on the popular websites (you can’t prove malice, but there were too many subtle bugs breaking or degrading experience with other browsers, always working in Chromium’s favour).

But you should not forget IBM and the ecosystem its employees have built on Linux, where you have lots of poorly documented (if at all) components tied together with constantly changing interfaces and desktop environment relying on kernel-specific features to work (so you can’t neither easily port it to another OS like BSD nor make other things interoperate with it properly—I’ve had troubles trying to use twm in recent Ubuntu). So I think this kind of software deserves to be named after its most prolific creator.


4 Responses to “A new software category?”

  1. Paul says:

    twm user? Seems legit.

  2. Kostya says:

    I used it in early 2000s on my laptop when I needed to work in graphic mode (but mostly I worked in console there, 192MB RAM were mostly eaten by FFmpeg compilation).

    And when I tried to use it recently (for the old times sake) I found out it’s not as easy as simply installing it and telling login manager to use it by default.

  3. Paul says:

    i do not use gui login managers, its bloatware, just use startx.

  4. Kostya says:

    Very true words, sadly nowadays you’ll have to fight with the typical distro to make it boot in text mode. And considering how there’s a push to switch to Wayland it’ll probably become even worse.

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