The state of FOSS today

Somebody recently propped up Okular.

It's the best PDF viewer, they say. You can view a lot of other stuff, not only PDF, but also stuff like XPS, Djvu, CBR, and many others. And it has annotation ability. And form-filling. And a lot of other nice stuff. Supposedly.

Wow. Nice. I already have a working and nice PDF viewer (Evince and qpdfviewer), but this Okular sounds so much better! I've really got to see it!

So what's the next logical stop? Try it, of course.
So I head to the website, and then on to the download page.

And immediately I see that we have problem, Houston.

There is an option to download it from the KDE Software Centre, since, well, Okular is a sub-project of KDE. There is no surprise here. It requires KDE to run, at least, KDE libraries.

But I don't have KDE.
And I can't install KDE from my repository either!

Why? Oh, it's only because I'm running my own build-from-source Linux (=Fatdog64), so I won't have KDE in my repository until I build KDE myself. But KDE is a big project, building the whole thing just to __try__ to use a PDF viewer sounds ... silly.

But that's not a problem in 2021, right?
Everybody delivers their programs in AppImage.

Well, no.

At least not this Okular.
Well no problem, just use Flatpak! Okular supports Flatpak!

Sorry, no cigar either.

Flatpak isn't just a packaging mechanism, it's an entire ecosystem.
The host OS needs to support Flatpak in the first place, before it can be used.
Fatdog64 doesn't have Flatpak support, and I'm not about to add it either (because it requires another bajillion dependencies to be built) - certainly, not for the sole purpose of testing a PDF viewer.

So what else can I do?

I see that Okular provides Windows binaries.
But I don't run Windows!
Yeah, but that's what "wine" is for, right?

So, downloaded said Windows binary, launched it with wine, and only then I got to see the wonderful PDF viewer. No amount of words can explain my jubilation, finally.

It gives me such a warm feeling, that me, someone who runs a FOSS operating system, has a such difficulty to run another FOSS software on it. Instead, I have to resort to using a binary meant for closed-source OS in order to run said FOSS software on a FOSS OS.

Merry Christmas everyone.






PS1: if you're wondering what's the point of this post: if the Okular team can spend the effort to make a Windows binary (with all the dependencies compiled in), why can't they do the same thing for other Linux users, in AppImage format?

By all means, pander to Windows users if you have to - but remember where you came from, would you? Nobody cares for your stuff in the Windows world: Adobe makes the most comprehensive PDF tools (viewer, editor, whatever have you) in the entire Windows universe. Only folks in the FOSS world do, and you're not making it easy for them.

PS2: Of, and if you're an AppImage packager, I have a message for you too.

Please, please, __resist__ the temptation to build your stuff on systems with the latest glibc, especially the one released last month. It makes said AppImage not runnable with people who happen to have OS with glibc from, say, 3 years ago, which is not that long ago.

Remember that the whole point of AppImage is to make it distro-independent, and this includes older distro, not only those relased in 2021 ?

Even a project as complex as VirtualBox can run on truly ancient glibc, because, they realise that backward-compatibility is important.

Yeah. Thanks for listening.

Posted on 28 Dec 2021, 15:39 - Categories: Linux General
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