Tuesday, August 14, 2007

I'd like to talk to you today about opensource software. I am not an expert on this subject and don't claim to be. Hopefully this entry will serve as a starting point for others wishing to learn more about the opensource movement and possibly be a place where more knowledgeable folks can share what they know.

First off, what I do know about the opensource movement is that there is far too much information on both sides of the argument to get into it here. If you'd like to get into the specifics of the pros and cons, the history and the future, here is the wikipedia entry.

To those of you who are completely clueless on the subject, basically opensource (at least with regards to software) means that the source code is made publicly available. This means that users can alter the software to fit their needs or make general improvements to it - a.k.a, the shit is free.

Many of you already use Mozilla Firefox, an open source web browser that is every bit as good as (if not superior to) Microsoft's Internet Explorer. What you may not know is that many of your favorite programs have open source equivalents that are every bit as proficient as Firefox. For example:
Microsoft Office costs anywhere from $200 - $600 depending on what version you get.
Open Office is free and does everything Microsoft office can. It runs on Mac or Windows and includes
Writer - a word processor equivalent to Microsoft Word
Calc - a spread sheet = Microsoft Excell
Impress - a presentation program = Powerpoint
Base - a database program = Microsoft Access
Math - a program for editing mathematical formulae = Microsoft Equation Editor

When I say it is equivalent I mean it looks and operates just like the Microsoft program it is competing with. For example, OpenOffice Writer can read, modify and save Microsoft word documents. There are some discrepancies with regards to features but if your options are paying 200 bucks for Office or legally obtaining a program that is 95% identical, I recommend the latter.

Other opensource software includes:

Inkscape: a vector tool similar to Illustrator
GIMP: a raster graphics editor very similar to Photoshop.
Blender: a 3D animation program

There are also completely free operating systems available, such as Ubuntu. So your entire computer can be free from the grasp of Apple and Microsoft. I have never used Ubuntu or any other linux OS so I can't endorse or detract from them in any way.

There are many more opensource applications that are beyond my expertise. I welcome any of their users to comment on or explain their uses.



Peztastic said...

I'm using OpenOffice and it's compatible with WORD, can't find any faults yet...

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