I’m making the gradual move to more and more open source software. Recently I have been using Mozilla Firefox (brilliant) for web browsing, Thunderbird (works just fine, and pretty good on the junk mail) for email and a Mozilla plug-in for my calendar (still pretty raw, but I only use it for keeping appointments). And just this week, I’ve committed myself to making the full on move to Open Office for most of the other functions I use my PC for, mostly word processing and the odd spreadsheet and powerpoint.
I want to do this because I believe that Open Source is really something we should all be supporting. It is more than just a model for software development. It is a model, as my friend Rob Paterson pointed out to me, for an entire economy. A model based on sharing, decentralization, passion and responsibility. With Open Source, if you need a feature, you build it, or you offer to pay someone to build it for you. Everything is transparent, so you can pick your spots and make a difference. Anyone can contribute to making the software work better, it all depends what you have to offer.
because Open Source software is free, any cash contribution you make to it’s development is still a bargain for the end user, and because the software is developed by volunteers, resources are used efficiently, not tied up in excessive marketing or, legal protection or administrative structure. Open Source supports light organizations focused on producing quality products.
In many ways, this is the leading edge of a new way of doing business, one embodied in a social way by what we are doing at GiftHub for example and trying to kick start with the Opening Space for Giving to Flourish Conference in Chicago this July.
Open Source is nothing new of course, but it’s starting to make a big move into the world of the moderately techno-savvy folks like me. As powerful free programs like Open Office become more and more available, I think it will force the proprietary companies to make some changes although we’re probably a long way off from knocking off the big boys.
I’m still wedded to Microsoft in the operating system though, using XP, despite the crazy week I had last week with the Sasser worm. I use free tools for most of my other work though, including (the newly improved) Blogger for the weblogs, Winamp for audio and video, NoteTab Light for html markup and AntiVir for virus protection.
But it won’t be long until I make the move to Linux I think. It needs a bigger time investment from me, but perhaps with the next computer I buy, Linux will find it’s way onto one of the boxes in the house.
By the way, you can find tons of open source programs at SourceForge.
What’s your experience of Open Source?