The Times They Are A Changin'

business books

There are a few scattered updates in the world-o-wheels of late. The biggest of which, as a number KDE folks are already aware is that I'll be leaving Native Instruments, where I've been for the last couple of years and starting my own company with a friend or two rather soon. I'll post a link once we're to the point of launching a public beta. It's not desktop software, and it's not a consulting service, but this will mean that my primary (professional) development platform will be Linux once again.

I've been considering founding a company for a long while, and having recently been granted permanent residence in Germany it's now legally possible. I've been going crazy the last couple of months trying to sort out all of the technical, financial and administrative details that will go into getting that off of the ground. Above is the table next to my bed.

In other news, coinciding with a meet-up for startup founders on the same weekend in Prague, I'll be around the upcoming Ubuntu Developer Sprint on Thursday and Friday. I'll also be around some of the time at LinuxTag in Berlin the following week. There's a reasonable chance that I'll make it out to Akademy this year too. My specialty at conferences seems to be taking embarassing photos, so I'll try to do my worst.

My current employer is also in the process of switching over to using TagLib and so last week as one of the tasks that I wanted to finish up before I'm away from there I implemented, per request, tagging and audio properties for AIFF files. More or less for free along with that came a generic parser for RIFF formats. There's been a lot of traffic on the TagLib development list of late, and once life slows down a little bit it looks like it might be time to do a quick 1.5.1 or 1.6 release and then go for a 2.0 push.


Well, the subject almost says everything :D , but as an NI insider and a FLOSS contributor (and supposedly a musician?), you may have something to say about when we'll have Kontakt running natively on Linux, perhaps? :D
Being a Koder and a musician myself I'd like to see lots of virtual instruments ported to open platforms, and maybe it's not so difficult as MacOSX has lots of VSTs and Audio Units(tm), and as there are some ELF Linux native VST plugins (in .so format).
Are you aware of any official position about it from NI?


By Cláudio da Silveira Pinheiro at Mon, 05/19/2008 - 21:43

First, I'll comment that this isn't an official stance on it -- in fact there isn't one at all; just some comments partly based in fact and partly my opinion.

NI's stuff specifically isn't much of a platform by itself. It needs a profesional-grade host for its market to be realized. Right now that simply doesn't exist on Linux. One of the major players in the sequencer market would have to make the jump first.

The second major obstacle is packaging, QA and support. Just to test on two architectures (x86, PPC), with two OS variations on each (Tiger, Leopard, Vista, XP) is already a lot of work. Now, once you start looking at Linux, you've got so many moving targets that supporting binary distributions for a niche market is honestly not worth the investment. Even if you assume that porting is completely trivial (and there have been some experiments in that direction), if you imagine that NI would need an additional employee just for packaging all of the products, plus the QA load would at least double, for what might end up being at most 1% of the professional audio market, the numbers just don't add up.

So could it ever happen? Maybe. I think if there were a Linux vendor that saw a potential market in the professional audio space, and offered to partner with some of the major pro-audio software vendors and take over most of the QA / packaging / support of them, then it might work out. That's actually more or less what happens in the enterprise software market. (I worked for SAP before -- in the LinuxLab there were folks from SUSE and Redhat that handled all of the platform specific stuff for their distributions.) Basically I think the initiative would have to come from commercial Linux vendors. I don't think the market is big enough for the vendors to justify the costs on their own.

By Scott Wheeler at Mon, 05/19/2008 - 23:32


I just registered here to post a response to your blog.

Are you a citizen of a member of the European Union?
If that is the case -- let's say UK -- you could have created the company there (with a lot of less money to start with ;) ) and simply move to Germany to have the HQ there.

Right to establish a business is one of the rights the European Community grants you in every member state --> Article 43 in the Treaty of Rome (if I am correct about the english title etc., it's Artikel 43 EGV (Vertrag zur Gründung der Europäischen Gemeinschaft) in Germany).

If I missunderstood something --> nevermind. :)

Btw. I'm no lawyer so everything witout warranty.

Good luck!

Edit: Nevermind, just found out that you were born in the US. :D

By mat69 at Mon, 05/19/2008 - 21:53