I often see calls for Autodesk to support AutoCAD on Linux. Just like AutoCAD for the Mac, while I can sympathise with the users of that OS, I think a native port of AutoCAD for Linux would be a bad idea. Again, I think it would be bad for everybody: Autodesk, AutoCAD for Windows users, and most of all, AutoCAD for Linux users.
Why? First of all, for most of the same reasons I gave for the Mac port. Autodesk hasn’t just failed in the past with AutoCAD for the Mac, it has failed with AutoCAD for Unix, too. I remember Autodesk being very enthusiastic about the Sparc port in particular (AIX, too). I know personally of customers who were caught up in that enthusiasm and invested heavily in a Unix environment, only to bitterly regret it a few years later when Autodesk abandoned them. Would this happen again? Probably.
Second, the numbers just don’t add up. Current PC OS market share is running something like this:
Mac OS 10%
While the Windows share is currently falling (thanks, Vista) and the others are steadily rising, there’s a long way to go before Linux has the numbers to make the investment worthwhile. In any case, it is likely that most Mac or Linux users of AutoCAD wouldn’t be new customers, simply existing users using a different OS. Not much of a cash cow, is it?
I dislike the Windows monopoly and support the open source movement, so I would love it if Autodesk could just snap its fingers and provide all its software on whatever platforms the users want. Mac? Sure. Linux? Great, why not? The reality is that it’s not that easy. It’s expensive to do and expensive to go on supporting in the long term. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t make commercial sense, and wishing it did will not make it so.