Switching from proprietary to open source software

I have received email from a friend regarding switching from MS Windows and other propietary software to GNU/Linux and open source software. This is especially after reading news about raids in offices. For example, sometime ago there was news in inq7 which had this for a title: PNP, NBI joins anti-piracy campaign, warn of more raids. And of course, here’s something from BSA.

Switching to open source software might not be for everybody. At least not right away. It depends on each person, methinks. There are certain things that people have to deal with. For one thing, getting over the intimidation factor called the command line. Some people still think that the command line is intimidating. Currently, there are desktop environments that make using GNU/Linux easy.

Things to consider include:

  • your needs in terms of software,
  • your hardware specifications, and
  • your willingness and openness to learn.

There are various software out there that you could check out. Personally, I know people who haven’t shifted to using open source software because they haven’t found open source software that have met their needs. That or they still prefer Windows as their operating system and they use a mixture of open source software and proprietary software. This is especially for those who share their computers with other people at home. Anyhow, the way I see it, more often than not, it’s more of the openness to new software that might sometimes be difficult to cultivate. However, for people who are not afraid to try new things, there is not much of a problem at all.

These are lists of free and open source software:

Ever wondered about trying them out yourself? Go ahead and take that leap! And on Saturday, there is a celebration called Software Freedom Day. It will be a day of demonstrations of free and open source software and some talks as well. Details are here.

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  • Old habits die hard. Most of the computer-literate people has seen only Windows and Windows-based apps since the dawn of the modern computer age. It’ll be very hard for everyone except for the ultra-techies and adventurous ones to switch “cultures”.

    I don’t see common computer users switching their MS Offices with OpenOffice, their Y! Messengers with GAIM, or their beloved Photoshop with the GIMP. With software piracy so prevalent, it is the number one factor people will and can stick with the old habits, that is, using closed-sourced applications.

    Moreover, people wouldn’t just jump into using free (as in freedom) software if they don’t understand the true meaning of it.

    CLI is really intimidating especially for newbies. However, I feel that KDE or GNOME desktops envs are still far from common user acceptance.

  • “Computer literacy” is a misnomer. We mostly have Microsoft-products literate users.

    IMO, a “computer literate” individual is one who can use any computer program (say a word processor) and use it to do their task (ie writing a letter).

    Schools should teach concepts, not train people how to use particular products.

  • One small step for a user, one giant leap for F/OSS: theopencd.org

  • Richard: You really think that KDE and GNOME have a long way to go? Hmmm. Other F/OSS advocates I have spoken with have different experiences because some people were drawn to GNOME immediately. As for switching to other apps like GAIM, etc., maybe it’s because they don’t know about them. Which is why I try tell others about such apps through blogging or by word of mouth. If I could demo it to them, I do it 🙂 More often, the demo is something that helps people decide whether or not to use an app.

    GOwin: I agree with you that schools should teach concepts and not particular apps. That is my experience in school. I suppose that you could use some apps in teaching the students but maybe the focus shouldn’t be on the apps themselves but the concepts applied.

    Richard: Yup! The Open CD. I have seen the website while I was talking with jerome Gotangco one time =)

  • bit

    OSS will likely never have a chance against closed-source alternatives if they never invest some of the resources on usability and human computer interaction research or their products.

    GIMP recently got help from some interface experts. I don’t remember the particular organization they went to but I remember that it was an outfit that was out to fix the problem of usability in OSS. Hopefully, more OSS devels follow GIMP’s lead.

  • Bit: I have been reading “Being Digital” this morning and yes, it also talked about user interfaces. It’s good to hear that GIMP has recently gotten some help from some interface experts. I have started using OSS apps that have a pretty ok interface already but I agree that there are still improvements to be made. I mean, currently I find GNOME as a DE as having a pretty good UI. But yeah, there are apps whose UIs definitely need working on. In any case, some have pretty usable UIs already, methinks. But as some people have pointed out already old habits die hard indeed. So some still look for the kind of UI that they have been used to.

  • Clair, when I mentioned GNOME/KDE, I would have meant Linux. No doubt, Linux will have a good future. But, when, would be a different matter.

    GNOME is good enough for me. I am looking forward to using GNOME 2.12. You’re right, people won’t use GAIM probably because they don’t know how to use it. This is exactly the same reason why people would shun Linux or any free software.

    But in my opinion, Linux (with GNOME or KDE) will not be propelled to acceptance, at least in the desktop arena, if it tries to mimic Windows XP look and feel. (Hence, my hatred for Xandros or Linspire). Like OS X, Linux should have its own unique punch and identity that will entice people to cross over. For me, I already found it with GNOME.

  • Guess what? I’ve quoted PhP 75K to a client to add a custom invoicing module to an open source enterprise software. Competition quoted PhP 145 to start from scratch. My unique selling point is they get the source code and access to a community of developers just in case I can no longer provide support. Assuming competition gives away their source code to client, will they be able to pass on support to someone else?

  • ERRATUM: It’s PhP 145K and not PhP 145, and not merely to start from scratch but to start building the enterprise software from scratch.

  • ubuntu! na try ko yung free shipping ng cd & totoo nga 🙂 30cds yung dumating sa kin.. & 4 pa lang na share ko:) sino may gusto?:)

  • ahh yes, Ubuntu really rocks!

  • i just recently sent my order for the free Ubuntu CD’s..can’t wait to get my hands on them and try it out. 😀

  • I’ve been a Linux user and programmer for more than three years now.

    Although gumaganda na ang graphical interfaces ng Linux (e.g., KDE and GNOME), I’m afraid na hindi pa rin puwedeng tapatan ng Linux ang Windows when it comes to gaming software. So if your business is computer rentals + network games, then switching to Linux would be very hard. Karamihan kasi ng mga popular games ay nagra-run lang sa Windows. I’m not sure kung puwede sa Linux ang mga online games like Ragnarok and Freestyle. But on the other hand, may Linux version ang Starcraft…