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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Get drunk with Google

Photoshop is widely regarded as the industry standard for professional raster graphic editing, and the lack of Photoshop support on the Linux platform has been significant impediment to Linux adoption in the graphic artist community. Graphic artists have found cross-platform open-source alternatives like GIMP to be inadequate because they lack key features, such as native CMYK support. Lack of support for commercial-grade voice recognition software on the Linux platform is problematic for users with disabilities who depend on such software to accommodate their special needs. Enabling users to run these programs on Linux through Wine eradicates some of the barriers that are deterring migration to the open-source operating system

Google has sponsored development efforts conducted by CodeWeavers to improve Wine's support for these critical applications, resulting in relatively decent compatibility with Photoshop, including version CS2. Kegel also notes that several Google developers—including himself—use their personal project time at Google to work on Wine debugging.

Google itself uses Wine as the basis for its Linux port of Picasa, the company's free photo management software. We found lots of problems in the Wine-based Picasa port when we tested it in 2006. Indeed, it has seen limited adoption, largely because there are fully native alternatives that meet the needs of most users.

Google's efforts to improve Wine have been met with appreciation by many in the Wine development community. Wine developer Jeremy White publicly thanked Google in a response to Kegel's message. "I just want to take a moment to personally and publicly thank Dan and Google," White wrote. "We have appreciated Google's support, and the work of all Google employees, interns, and SOC students very much; it has been a great boon to Wine."

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