The problem with supporting Windows

I guess many Linux users know the problem that some Windows software, they would like to use on Linux, isn’t ported for some reason like a too small market etc. What’s funny is that the problem also exists in the other direction, although for totally different reasons.

The problem really showed in recent development of Krita. For a long time Krita was only available for Linux and other Unix-like systems, but in the last time we got more and more requests from users for a Windows version. So we want to support Krita on Windows. Since we are using Qt and KDE ported to Windows shouldn’t be a big issue, right? Well not exactly, while these libraries take most of the work away the port still needs continued maintenance. To make a good user experience you need some developer(s) working on Windows to iron out the platform specific problems.

Which leads us to the main problem: We simply don’t have any Windows developers. My impression is that by now almost all open source developers are working on Linux and are not particularly interested to work on Windows on volunteer basis. Working on Windows simply isn’t fun. Unlike for conventional software development the mere mass of users on a platform doesn’t provide any advantage to support it.

How to solve the problem? Easiest would of course be that we find a few volunteers that have fun working on Windows. Something that I think is not very likely. Only alternative is to pay someone to work full time on it, which of course means that Windows users would need to pay a few euros (at least on average).

By the way, the Mac OS version is also affected by a similar problem. No Krita developer has a Mac anymore, so development on that platform has ceased.

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14 Responses to “The problem with supporting Windows”

  1. Markus Says:

    I thought Calligra is supported by KO, including Windows versions.

  2. Markus Says:

    I thought KO supports Calligra, including Windows.

  3. e8hffff Says:

    Very important that Windows users aren’t catered for, else you will never see change from those people.

    The other side of seeing this, is if you give all your treasures to the enemy then the enemy will be most desired.

    Yes there is friends and foe. Even int he OS arena.

  4. Fred Says:

    I use a virtual machine (virtualbox) to compile and package my work on Windows. OSX was working out of the box until recently.

  5. Mathias Says:

    This goes a bit into a different direction, but I would also consider not porting at all. I do not want to start an OS war, but I think this is a good explanation for the motivation: http://www.fefe.de/nowindows/

  6. slangkamp Says:

    @Markus: KO can’t effort to let developers work on Krita for free. They have to make money from it, to feed the developers. So they either need a paying customer or sell the binary.

    @e8hffff: I don’t see Windows as the “enemy”. I don’t see us fighting against Windows, we want to build a good painting application.

    @Fred: Virtual machines don’t make much difference, as you are still developing on Windows. With the heavy compile load, I don’t see how anyone would do that in a virtual machine.

  7. domme Says:

    Being the Tomahawk Windows dude, I exactly know what you’re talking about :-)

    Noone of us developers is really using Windows and I’m cross-compiling on Linux, which is quite handy to keep it compiling but that really doesn’t make you notice runtime bugs. We do need developers on Windows too, but noone in a sane state of mind wants to develop there.. ;-)

    What I can tell tho is that supporting Windows (or a third – besides OSX – not-so-close-to-Linux platform in general greatly) helped to improve our code in C++ just as in cmake.. It’s a hard road to go down, but in our opinion it certainly pays off if you find a monkey to do the work :P

    @Mathias: I see the point Fefe has, but I disagree.. noone should be forced to switch away from the operating system/environment he feels comfortable with.. I only want to force everyone to use open standards that guarantee interoperability – everything else is no better than M$ or Apple :-)

  8. Markus Says:

    > KO can’t effort to let developers work on Krita for free.
    > They have to make money from it, to feed the developers.
    > So they either need a paying customer or sell the binary.

    So, then sell them. I don’t see any problem with putting the Calligra apps on Windows Store and AppUp. Sell each app’s Windows version for 3 bucks or whatever seems fit.
    Same with OSX and the Mac App Store and in the futue even Calligra Active for Android in Google Play.

    An alternative could be to add an option (!) “Display ads to support development”.

    There are endless ways to generate a revenue stream for Windows and OSX.

  9. Boudewijn Rempt Says:

    I was investigating intel app-up and their kickstarter program last week, in fact. Sven sort of pre-empted me, because I had an almost identical blog text ready where I investigated several ways of getting money for funding windows development of Krita :-)

  10. Silvio Grosso Says:

    Wow. What a conundrum :-)

    The classical problem with open source software (Gimp it a great example of this) is that most of its developers work on Linux whereas, usually, most of its users work on Windows (and Mac).

    In the very long past, Kexi chose to sell its Windows version (probably in order to pay its Polish developer).
    On the contrary, the Linux version of Kexi was for free.

    At present, other open source softwares have taken a similar route:

    http://www.it.pledgebank.com/postgis64windows

    In my view, in order to sell successfully a Windows version you need:
    – a *very* good software to propose(which Krita 2.4 in part already is!)
    – a great potential user-base (willing to buy it).
    Regarding this second point, I suppose Krita is not enough widespread on Windows at present.
    Needless to say, the Calligra version of Krita 2.4 delivered lately is very usueful to fill this gap in the long run :-)

    In my opinion, right now, the best would be to concentrate all developers’ efforts on Linux, until the release of Krita 2.5
    Krita 2.5 is going be more stable and naturally more powerful (maybe with even some of this year’s Gsoc included in it)

    In this frame-time the current Windows version of Krita 2.4(which is already very good) would serve for spreading the news on Windows about the “real” upcoming version on sale (the 2.5 one) :-)

  11. STiAT Says:

    I’ve been ironing out the usability bugs on a few programs ported to Linux (the developer was using MacOSX). It always depends on what the developers use. Linux seems to be the preferred choice of most OSS developers.

    I’m often cross compiling and porting between Windows and Linux, and I have to say that supporting Windows is a [pain], especially when it comes to libraries or pathing and/or 3rd party libraries which need to be compiled, often don’t (even claming to support windows).

    Maybe I’m just dumb as a nut and that’s why it costs me hours and days (as taglib on windows took me a whole weekend), but for me as a developer where I just want the library and tools (such as cmake) to be there and found … it’s annoying.

  12. cochesaurus Says:

    Hi!
    What a wonderful piece of sotware you have in Krita!

    I just tested on my Windows PC and I experienced many Wow moments that I haven’t experienced since I discovered canvas rotation with MyPaint :)

    I was really impressed when I discovered the paint with brushes using dynamic movements and the mirror features. I know that I’m only scratching the surface of what Krita is capable of, but I think I’m already hooked.

    I’m not a Windows developer, but I used to program in Visual Studio C++ when I was in the university, so maybe I can help in something, investigating, compiling, etc.

    Finally, thanks for porting and investing in Krita for Windows, I know that I’m not the only one that appreciates this, and hopefully when Krita gets more mature and popular on Windows, many users like me, will buy the training DVDs, test the betas, report bugs, and all things related Krita :)

  13. slangkamp Says:

    @cochesaurus: That would be great! If you need help with the setup of development environment you can come to the Krita IRC channel or the mailinglist.

  14. Dread Knight Says:

    Charge a few bucks for windows build then (like xchat does).
    That way people are more tempted to use Linux ;-) or support development.

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