Microwave Biscuit

Getting more open sourced

Posted in Linux, ubuntu by microwavebiscuit on June 10, 2007

I have a multitude of PCs at my house and not all of them are open source based machines but I’m trying. Today I did some housekeeping on a machine that was once my “primary” computer that runs Windows XP. I uninstalled everything that I don’t really use. It’s pretty much down to one or two games and that’s it. As I was going through all of the software that was once “crucial” to my computing existence, I realized that I have so many more choices now in the open source world and not only that, most of the software that I use on Ubuntu I like better then stuff I paid for in Windows. What’s even more ironic is that over the course of my computing life I have purchased quite a bit of shareware and so much of it is either gone or no longer supported or requires an upgrade fee to get to the most current version. This annoys me to no end. Conversely, in the open source world, you can donate to the developers who have put together the software you like and use to encourage more development and to say thank you. I’m not suggesting that there isn’t some software that’s worth paying for but in many cases there are better solutions in the open source world.

Take the Gimp as an example. I am not a graphics/photo professional but I like having the ability to use powerful editing tools. For me, I wouldn’t pay for the latest and greatest version of PhotoShop because the return on investment isn’t there for me. However, after using the Gimp for a while I’ve begun to really prefer it as my editing tool versus other available software.

Another example is Forte Agent (usenet reader). I purchased a license for it forever ago (7 years??). It wasn’t terribly expensive and I’ve definitely gotten my money’s worth over the years however like so much software it was basically abandoned for several years. Forte got acquired at some point and they put Agent on a shelf somewhere. Some folks ended up spinning back off from their parent company and began to redevelop the product. They made some nice changes to it but the product is so old that they’ve kind of missed the boat. After a couple of years of redevelopment they have made a product that some folks might find kind of useful now but in order to use it you need to pay $20 to upgrade your copy. Not to mention that I’ve already paid an upgrade “fee” once in it’s redevelopment. I so rarely use usenet anymore that I can’t imagine paying five cents to upgrade at this point. Plus if I want to use usenet, I’ve got many open source alternatives including Pan which is awesome. So, today during my clean up efforts, I uninstalled Agent and I don’t think I’ll end up using it again.

Then there’s the various pieces of software that I paid for and lost the license key for that I can’t use anymore. There have been several instances where I’ve contacted the developers and attempted to get a replacement key but they never respond. How fair is that? I feel very different about donating money to open source developers. I don’t feel like they owe me anything whereas if I pay for a license I expect a certain level of responsiveness.

In any case, the point of this post is that I’m looking at all of the computers I own and run and I’m looking to rid myself of proprietary stuff wherever possible. It just feels right.

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