I’m just going to come right out and say it: Linux needs more commercial apps, and from my personal point of view, Linux needs commercial games. In the Open-Source community this is sometimes an unpopular point of view. And I get it. I really do.
The strong point of the GNU/Linux operating system is that it is open source, and the thousands of apps that are immediately available for it are also (mostly) open source.
The benefits of open-source software are many. If a project gets abandoned by the original creators, other users of the software can continue to work and improve on it. The project never has to die. This is just one example of many. So when a company thinks about selling closed-source software for Linux some users get upset:
"Well, that’s just fine and dandy. We don’t need anymore proprietary software infesting our Free Software operating systems. Until Steam is liberated I strongly oppose its port to GNU+Linux."
–one comment on the recent news that Steam was not planning on releasing a Linux client of it’s digital distribution system
To me this is short-sighted. For one, there will always be the choice to not install any particular piece of software. There is no reason to force others into your choice as well. This reminds me of the religious right trying to force TV shows to adhere to language and video standards to "protect the children," when obviously we are not all children or have/want children. The obvious answer to that complaint is to just not watch the show and not allow your kids to watch it either.
If I want to install a closed-source commercial app on my system that is my choice. You don’t have to if you do not wish to do so. And if it really bothers you that much, you can always switch to FreeBSD. I don’t think that there will be any commercial software for that OS any time soon.
The fact is that there is already a number of proprietary commercial apps for Linux. One example I would like to use here is the game Osmos from Hemisphere Games. On the day that the Linux version was released was also the day that Osmos had its highest sales figures.
The Osmos reports are telling. There are many in the Linux community that are willing to spend money on software. Enough even to produce a profit for those selling. So while there isn’t a huge selection of commercial software out there for our chosen OS, I believe more will come. And I think commercial growth in Linux applications will be exponential. And if more high-profile commercial game-vendors release a Linux client, the more people will actually give Linux a fair shake and try it, either from a live CD or in a virtual machine at least. Let’s face it, the Linux OS as a desktop environment is really for the home user. The price is right, even if the learning curve is slightly steeper than with other commercial operating systems. Although with the recent Ubuntu releases and new distros like Linux Mint, that is changing too.
All of these things are slowly but steadily garnering attention of more commercial vendors and as more becomes available, the more attention the average person is giving Linux. The two feed off of each other. Soon enough commercial software will become available for Linux that will make this entire debate moot anyway.