Scrivener for Ubuntu Linux

Scrivener is the only thing that prevents me moving totally from OS x to Ubuntu. How could we port Scrivener, the best writing program ever, to Linux?

By hiring a generous Linux programmer who wants to give me some of his profits. :smiley:

Why would anyone want to do this? What can Ubuntu do OS X can’t? :confused:

AndreasE wrote:

I prefer Ubuntu cause I like it. I don´t hate OS X. I just prefer Ubuntu (good vibes ) :wink:

KB wrote:

Ok. Thank you for you answer. So if I get an idea where to find this programmer it´s possible? If it is I will try to find one.
Here you can find some info about how to go open and still make money:

Just for the record, I’m not interested in open-sourcing Scrivener at all. There are lots of nice open-source projects, but I prefer programs with a definite single vision. What I meant was, if there was a programmer who wanted to program Scrivener for Linux, then pay me a chunk of his or her profits for copying Scrivener and using its name. I think that is very unlikely. :slight_smile:


But luckily open source projects don´t have to be all over and bloated. You could just hold your position there and decide about what to include in the official Scrivener release. That way you would be in charge and you would really harness the community that your project is all about. What do you think? There must be many things that I don´t consider throughly.

No, sorry - no open source Scrivener, no way. :slight_smile:

I understand your point of view. Could you just explain what prevents a open source program for having “a definite single vision”? I m not shure, but I think many companies have found a profitable way to go open source. And on the other hand it would not need your work. Just tell me cause I might be wrong here. It would be pitty if somebody will not have the access to your wonderful program.


Heed not the siren call. Lash yourself to the mast of intellectual property rights.

And maybe wrap heavy mufflers round the heads of the crew.


… who sort of does actually like Ubuntu.


Well… I’ve worked pretty damned hard on Scrivener for over two years now, and the aim all along has been to produce the program that I want to use, which works the way I want. That is what Scrivener is. User feedback has refined that vision, and it has often been the case that a user idea has made me slap my forehead and say, “Of course! That’s how that should have worked!”

There are many great open source projects. But… Well, take OpenOffice. A great free alternative to Office. Except that everyone really prefers Office; OO is just too clunky. Or take the Gimp. A great project, and a good alternative to Photoshop… Except it’s not quite as good as Photoshop. And I dunno… Too many cooks and all that. Suppose Scrivener went open-source (which it won’t). All that would happen is that there would be no real official version. Anyone could add to it. People could change the bits they didn’t like. And suddenly… It’s not Scrivener any more. Also, suddenly I can’t charge $40 a copy, I make no money, it’s impossible to support because of all the versions flying around and I have no incentive to do so anyway. Bye, bye, Scrivener.

Well, that’s a bit of a bleak outlook, I know. But to put it another way: do you expect Photoshop or Microsoft Word to go Open Source? I thought not. :slight_smile: Scrivener is mine, and I’m not ashamed to say it. And I program for OS X.

Now, it may be that one day I come across a brilliant programmer and writer who writes for another platform and wants to code Scrivener for Windows, Linux, whatever. Great. But what would be in it for him (or her)? He or she could equally easily clone Scrivener for another platform without having to pay me anything.


Linux gets major support from several companies, including IBM. Linux distribution companies make their money on support and integration services, not the software itself–not really an option for something like Scrivener. Firefox is supported by a nonprofit foundation, and also gets major support from several companies. Open Office gets major support from Sun. And so forth.

Once you move away from big “everyone uses them” applications like browsers and office suites, open source software seems to be a maze of indifferently supported niche applications. Often, they were open-sourced in the first place because the developer lost interest, and they simply haven’t found a large enough group of outside developers to pick up the slack.

I love the idea of open source software. But with the exception of Firefox, every single program that I actually use on a regular basis is closed-source, with a profit-seeking entity behind it.


Oy! That wasn’t me! :wink:

I actually don’t like open source stuff. It’s a lovely, egalitarian principle, which amongst my acquaintance seems to appeal to people who aren’t prepared to pay for software even if they use it regularly, and to developers. Why don’t I like it? Too much scope for errors/vandalism/etc, whatever anyone may say about peer review, release authority or whatever. My husband says I’m mad. But I think you can’t rely on everyone in a large community playing by the rules or sticking to the brief. Feature creep is almost unavoidable. The open-source software I have tried, has been an immediate disappointment. (OS X services in Firefox, anyone? Not to harp on the general clunkiness of other software, as mentioned earlier in this thread.) As an end-user (i.e. not a contributing developer), you actually have more control over a commercial enterprise than you do over a nebulous blob. (And in case you were wondering, I’m not a naive user; I have spent my working life in and around the software industry. Give me a commercial licence agreement any day.)

Conversely, I suppose we’re putting all our eggs in Keith’s basket, but at least we know who he is.

… apologising for random waffle.

And you’re pretty damned good at it too Keith, but your programming skills are nonetheless dwarfed by your vision of what Scrivener should be. I for one don’t want that vision obscured by the fog of Open Source. You’ve made it perfectly clear on a number of occasions that Scrivener is not ‘software by committee’, and that suits me just fine. Why risk turning the racehorse into a camel? I’m happy to pay for good software, and good software doesn’t come much better than Scrivener.


So, all you need to do now is code up ScrivCell, and ScrivPoint, and maybe ScrivXChange and a database. You didn’t really want to write that book anyway, right? :smiley:

As someone who’s written open-source Java software under Linux, and who is now making a tentative foray into Cocoa programming, I’ll tell you exactly why it’s not only difficult but economically unfeasible for KB to port Scrivener to any flavour of Linux.

Most of the people who develop for OSX fall under the category of ‘small application developer’ - that is, small teams (in Scrivener’s case, one dedicated guy) producing inexpensive end-user applications good for a specific task.

Why is that? Because developing for OSX involves getting a HELL of a lot of stuff ‘for free’ in the Cocoa framework and Application Kit. You don’t write a text editor from scratch, you take the Cocoa Text system and essentially customise it for your purposes.

While this does give developers a hell of a lot of power to build applications that they can use and sell relatively quickly, it also means that applications written using Cocoa are intrinsically tied to OSX. To write Scrivener for Linux, Keith would have to build, from scratch, a whole host of the classes he depends upon. He’d also very likely have to rebuild all of his custom code to work with the new basic application resources. This is ignoring that using Apple proprietary frameworks also means that his software falls under the Apple license, which restricts him from porting to other operating systems.

And most of all - there’s no incentive to do it. By developing for OSX, Keith has a market that is intrinsically friendly to small applications, with customers who are used to paying reasonable (sub-$100) license fees for small, useful applications. Under Linux, trying to sell Scrivener for $30 would be met with derision by the greater Linux community, who still tend to operate under the idea that ‘free’ does mean as in ‘beer’. You don’t pay for Amarok, which is an excellent, multi-faceted music system competitive to iTunes, so why should you pay for Scrivener?

Making money out of open source software is possible, but it’s much more difficult for the independent developer than it is for large companies such as Red Hat and IBM. These companies rely on huge enterprise customers, where support contracts are always more lucrative than the cost of the software. The article that you’ve linked to really doesn’t make a feasible case for the small independent developer.

Source sharing and its ‘for the greater good’ philosophy is alive and well on the Mac in spite of the lack of the GPL license. Keith has mentioned regularly that he received help and code from developers of other OSX writing apps, and I’m sure that there are a lot of guys building writing apps who’ve benefited from Keith’s advice and code as well. The reason they’re able to do this is that they’re operating with their peers - the guys from Avenir or WriteWell aren’t likely to turn around and sue for using code and ideas, because they’re all in the same boat - single person or small teams, making modest but reasonable livings writing software that they really like to use.

I have to admit that I really, really like it if somebody - a real, single human being - creates something as good as he or she is able to make it and stands for it with his or her name, declaring “I did this and it is the way it is because I concluded it the best possible way to be”. After all, isn’t it the same you do as a writer? You write a book, and it will bear your name. You wrote it, so you take the consequences (Dan Brown or Salman Rushdie could tell us more about that part… ;-D)

Even an open source project like Linux would not be if there had not been a Linus Torvalds. I think the difference is how big a project is. Once you realize it’s too big for one persons to get it done, you have basically two options: You can found a company, or you can gather volunteers to help you - which is, in the realm of software development, an open source project. That’s all. Open Source is surely not “the” future of software deveolpment, IMHO.

I’m a huge advocate of Open Source software, in fact I was the first Red Had Certified Engineer in the state of Oregon (hence rhacer). I’ve also contributed to some Open Source projects (if you’ve used Samba it’s possible you’ve used a little utility I wrote many years ago to aid NT Admins in using Samba). If you’ve used Python and TextMate you might have used my PyTestMate utility.

That said, I think Keith would be nuts to open source Scrivener. It’s fabulous software, does what it’s intended to do and no more, and hopefully allows him to feed and shelter himself a bit more easily.

I was quite happy to register my copy of Scrivener, and I don’t even consider myself a “writer” yet.

Well, this sparked some comments. I do wish that the creator of this software get the profit he wants. I would just like to use this program I love in Linux. Maybe someday someone will make something like this that runs in Linux. But scrivener is great! Thank you.

It’s misleading to imply that Scrivener was created to make a profit. Anyone that’s followed the development of the software knows that profit was never a motivating factor.

Now… Apple should really find a way to thank you – a way or another. Even if it is only to make sure you never switch to the ‘dark’ side of computers :wink:
I guess a few of us wouldn’t hesitate much to follow you (and Scrivener) wherever you go :slight_smile:

Scrivener is so unique.