Songbird abandoning Linux isn't such a horrible thing

The open-source iTunes is showing OSS can be popular on Windows and Apple systems, too.

The complaints about Songbird dumping support for Linux came fast and furious - but were from a true minority of Songbird users, it turns out.Songbird, which is more or less an open-source iTunes, is not completely stopping development, engineer Georges Auberger clarified on the company blog:

• We are maintaining our Linux build infrastructure and will ensure that it continues to compile and run the unit-test suite. http://buildbot.songbirdnest.com/http://developer.songbirdnest.com/builds/trunk/latest/

• Nightly Linux builds will remain available at

• We have in house developers that use Linux every day and they will keep developing Songbird on Linux. The builds, however, won't be officially tested, and some features may not be made available in the Linux version.

I think both stories, however disparate they may seem, are a strong indication of the ubiquity of open source and how mainstream it truly is. Auberger published some stats on the Songbird blog that showed more than 78 percent of active users were on Windows, with about another 10 percent each on Mac and Linux builds. And the bug reporters and add-ons contributors were primarily from Windows users (77 percent and 74 percent), with Mac users (14 percent and 17 percent) outnumbering those on Linux (9 percent apiece).

So the vast majority of users of this open source system are on proprietary systems.

That's not something that should upset the open source community. The more people who are not hardcore OSS users begin to use and enjoy open-source applications, the wider the community can become. Open source should be compatible with proprietary systems in order to gain true traction. While it's a shame that Songbird can no longer support the open source platform, they do - like any company - need to watch out for their bottom line.

But it's OSS. All the code will be available. If someone's really all that upset about it, well, they can just test and develop it themselves, no?

Join the Network World communities on Facebook and LinkedIn to comment on topics that are top of mind.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

IT Salary Survey: The results are in