|Interview with Tom Wickline, of the Bordeaux Project|
|By David Adams on 2008-08-28 17:53:59|
|Bordeaux is a commercial User Interface to the Wine software that allows Linux systems to run Windows software. The Bordeaux Technology Group distributes this software and provides professional support to companies and individuals running Windows apps on Linux (and soon FreeBSD). I interviewed Tom Wickline to get some details and find out what they're up to now.
Is Bordeaux based on Wine?
Tom Wickline: Wine is a dependency, we don't ship our own version of Wine at this time. We can however build custom dlls and use them if necessary.
How is Bordeaux different from Wine?
Tom Wickline: Bordeaux is a front end for Wine with custom dlls and scripts. Bordeaux uses winetricks on its back end and we have sent all of our patches back to winetricks. We have also sent all dll and registry changes to WineHQ for inclusion.
Is it freely re-distributable or is there something proprietary that you're paying $20 for?
Tom Wickline: The Bordeaux GUI is proprietary. For the $20.00 the user gets a nice GUI for Wine and support for a limited number of applications and games.
In the 1.4 release we plan to add Office 2003, Visio, Quicken and I hope FreeBSD... I have the GUI running on FreeBSD 7 now and IE working. The other apps still need more work, testing but I think it will get there. By version 2.0 we want to support Intel Macs. I've had a couple people ask about OpenSolaris support but im not sure about that yet.
Is it open source?
Tom Wickline: Everything else is 100% open source this page for more details. (This page needs a update - it's based on 1.0 but everything for 1.2 will be open source of course).
So, what's your connection to the Bordeaux project?
Tom Wickline: Right now Wine Reviews is in charge of sales, support and PR while Bordeaux concentrates completely and only on code which helps the project stay focused on software. But in the future support and sales will be transferred back to Bordeaux and Wine Reviews will only do re-sells and news postings about current releases.
Are you involved in Wine at all?
Tom Wickline: Wine Reviews is a big contributor to the community providing howtos on how to get Windows software working with Wine. We post news updates on each individual project. We have in the past done some beta testing for CodeWeavers and of course we now do support for Bordeaux. However our primary goal is to be a Wine news portal.
How much do you think the prevalence of Windows-only business apps affects the uptake of alternative desktop platforms in the business world? What are the other reasons that Linux, for example, still has modest market share in corporate desktop installations?
Tom Wickline: I'd say it affects Linux about 75%. I'll answer your second question first. Linux/Unix servers are proven better than Windows based servers so that's a check in the box, but when it comes to software, most businesses want to keep with something everybody already knows instead of breaking the norm and trying something new that is equivalent to and sometimes better than its counterpart.
Many business have invested large amounts of time and money in training their current staff on mainstream Windows applications. So when a business tries to move away from Windows they not only have the OS learning curve to deal with but also equivalent applications. Wine is a way to solve the application learning curve and at the same time it lets business get their full return on a software investment.
Are your users primarily individuals or primarily businesses?
Tom Wickline: The majority of our users are individuals, however, there is a good number of businesses using Wine and it's been on the rise since the release of a so-called "stable" 1.0 release. With that said, we do have a number of business users; at this time they are primarily single licence accounts. So that leaves me to believe the licences that have been sold to business thus far are for review purposes.
Why are the businesses who are using your software picking Linux instead of just sticking with Windows?
Tom Wickline: I'll try to refrain from taking this too far down the rabbit trail, but there are a number of reasons; to name a few:
What are the most-commonly requested Windows apps that people want to get running on Linux?
Tom Wickline: Adobe Photoshop CS2, Microsoft Office, Microsoft Visio
What are the most commonly-requested apps that Wine doesn't support fully?
Tom Wickline: iTunes, Photoshop CS3, Adobe CS3 products.
Do you think that providing a way to run Windows apps in Free OSes harms their long-term viability by encouraging application developers to keep developing for Windows instead of doing a proper port?
Tom Wickline: Yes and No. Let me explain... On the one hand companies that are willing to code for Linux sometimes take the easy road out by making an application just work with Wine. A good example of this would be Googles Picasa which is a good program that works well in Wine.
On the other hand it doesn't affect developers so much since there are a lot of developers who will not and probably never will recognize Linux; Adobe, Apple, Microsoft, Game developers to name a few.
How much resistance do you get from Free Software partisans about your proprietary-ness?
Tom wickline: We aren't really proprietary yet, we completely support Wine. And in its current state, Bordeaux is just a GUI on top of regular Wine to simplify the process of getting applications installed correctly using the right DLL overrides and making it simple to access. All modifications that have been made to Wine or any of the other software tools that Bordeaux uses have been given back as Free Software.
Do you see an inherent contradiction in making a proprietary product that helps get other closed, proprietary products running on open source platforms?
Tom Wickline: No, Bordeaux GUI is closed source primarily for one reason, and that is so we can generate revenue to pay for expenses, buy hardware, bandwidth etc.. I believe the question would boil down to, do I see a contradiction in helping closed proprietary products run on FOSS Operating Systems. And I must say . . . No. I think Linux and BSD are blessed to have Wine. Wine provides individuals and business a possible solution to move from a closed platform to a open platform. A open platform allows fair and equal access to each party involved and Wine is one of the players providing end user solutions.
You're quite familiar with Wine. What's your impression of Wine's usability, quality, etc? What priority would you like to see made in the future development of the Wine project?
Tom Wickline: Wine is great for people who like to spend the time figuring out the correct DLL overrides and modifications needed to get software running. However Wine has done a horrible job at making the plunge into Windows applications running on Wine for beginners and normal Windows users. So in my opinion end user usability should be a priority in the future for the Wine project.
You developed a proprietary GUI to open source software. What's your take on the current state of user interfaces on popular open source applications and windowing environments? Does the open source community generally do UI right?
Tom Wickline: I would say for the most part open source does a very good job on UI, but that's for me. I would say that for the average novice user which is the majority, things are a little too complicated. You've got to realize that Microsoft has done a good job at making Windows a custom (by custom I mean something that has been done for so long that it has become tradition or habit). So the problem why we are facing a huge hill is because this stuff is new and advanced and sometimes it scares people when moved too far out of their comfort zone. But with a "little" time a new user will become comfortable with their surroundings and in all likelihood find Linux or BSD more productive than their current system.
How important is the support and services aspect of your business to your customers?
Tom Wickline: Support has got to be number 1.
Any chance of us seeing Bordeaux or something similar on the Mac?
Tom Wickline: Stay tuned there are a lot of new things in the pipeline and Mac is definitely one of them.
So what are cellars?
Tom Wickline: Cellars are in short just another name for bottle support, with the new cellar support each application or game can be installed into its own wineprefix "cellar" and on top of that you can install unsupported applications and games into their own unsupported cellar. This gives you a sandbox to test in while leaving your supported applications and games in a safe environment.
Anything else you'd like us to know?
Tom Wickline: While we don't have a demo at this time for Bordeaux we do provide a 30 day no hassle refund, so we invite your readers to give Bordeaux a try, the cost are negligible and the help will go toward a improved Linux client, and a FreeBSD and Mac port.
Thanks so much for taking the time to answer our questions.
Tom Wickline: Thanks for asking!
See bordeauxgroup.com for more information about Bordeaux.