Saturday, December 02, 2006

My Foray Into Open Source Apps

My Foray into Open Source Applications.

Open Source applications have always had an appeal tome. The story of the original Open Source pioneer, Linus Torvalds, writing Linux and opening it up to the world as an alternative to the closed minds of Microsoft and Apple Operating systems always appealed to me, and then I would try to use Linux.

It has happened many times over the years of my using computer.I go through phases, where I languish in the ease of sticking to my comfortable Windows Apps and Operating system. I may not have paid for every MS application I have, but very close,and I'm very good at installing them, and reinstalling them. Truth be told, I like them, I insisted my mother get XP so that I wouldn't spend a lot of time showing her how to use it.That mostly worked.

I have, at different times, had Linux running nicely on a computer that I owned, once as a project in a Computer Science class, and once after that just to see it work again. About two years ago I installed Red Hat Linux once more, played a game of solitaire with it, and promptly reinstalled Windows. It just feels more comfortable.

I mean,where is my MS word? My Power Point? Excel? These are handy and not tough programs to run. My first computer ran an OS called GeoWorks, and I like it and was comfortable with it too, and everything I wrote with that program, is lost. There are a few reasons that will never happen again (finger's crossed), but this explains my sticking with MSWord and it's siblings, right?

Luckily, there are more talented and determined people than I to keep holding forth the banner of Open Source code and applications. Bless their hearts. Now, there is a substitute for Word(AbiWord), Office(OpenOffice), and even Internet Explorer(Firefox). I started using Firefox because it seems to work better. I try new things every once in a while, and it was Firefox. Then, when I tried the new version of IE, I recognized a few things. Wow has Microsoft gotten even lazier.

I'm sure Firefox didn't invent tabbed browsing, but IE came in after they had made it work right. I'm also sure there are hundreds of other nicer features on Firefox than on IE that I'm not good enough to recognize. I've got Opera too,but at this point it is almost too pretty for me. Both are superior to IE.

I put Firefox on my girlfriend's computer as a browser and she will never realize how much trouble I have saved her. She supports my crusade against Proprietary software, right up to getting rid of her MS word.

All this aside, I read an article yesterday, 30 Essential Pieces of Free(and Open) Software for Windows. That blog explains everything about the apps I have mentioned that needs to be said and I highly recommend giving it a read,and saving it as I have have. The author, of a blog called The Simple Dollar, approaches it more from a frugality standpoint because, yes, one of the great things about Open Source is that it is usually associated with "free". I have to be honest, the chances of me opening up the source code, writing in an update or modification and redistributing it are less than slim, but it could happen.What isn't fare is the plodding way apps come out when left to big money.

The article amped me up enough that I downloaded and am now writing this article with AbiWord, I download Thunderbird, Firefox's email client that finally has me getting my AOL mail without locking something up, Open Office, which I have only opened my one personal spreadsheet and looked at it with, GIMPshop, which I edited a pic with and think it seems a lot like Photoshop, and ClamWin, which is currently sifting through my hard drive looking for viruses. That's a lot of faith in this one article I think, but it kept working nicely with each new app, so goes my foray into the jungle of Open Source Apps.

Allof these applications are free and install fairly easily.There is some dancing to do with GIMPshop to get it to run, but not any more than any video game out of a box for a PC.

Setting up Thunderbird as an email client was simpler than Outlook Express, which every time I have to do it seems to be a pain in the ass for something I never liked to use.

All across the board, people are writing new and wonderful applications are being designed and given to the masses. How these people make money I am not sure. I hope they make something.Together they are pushing the envelope that big business wants to move at a snail's pace.

Thanks to them and Mr.SimpleDollar for bringing me into the fold.

Man, I love you guys.

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