The power of open source is that it is not proprietary and is available to all, modifiable by all which constantly increases the quality of the product and moreover is a symbol of independence from monopolistic proprietary standards. Moreover, in the commercial software you have to upgrade as and when new releases are available else you end up paying lot more for the futre versions, not so with an open source alternative. You can upgrade whenever you want and can make any number of jumps skipping in-between releases of the product. Moreover open source is more secure due to the open code which all governments prefer. Open source products are driven by the user needs vs the commercial products which are driven by commercial motives. With open source there is no dependency on a single vendor, there is no scenario here that a company goes out of business and then you have no more support for your product and you have to redesign your whole system. This is because the
source is always open and anybody in the world can support and release newer versions including yourself!
Now, Wanna setup your PC with all high quality open source free software? Here is what you should do. But before that let me tell you something. Just because these are free dont think that they are of any inferior quality compared to MS products or other paid products. These are open source products and hence are developed by enthusiastic best of the breed developers across the world where in the talent are not restricted to those working in a single company (Unlike say for ex in developing Microsoft products all developers are from MS only).
First we need an OS. Goto http://www.ubuntu.com/ and download the desktop edition
Ubuntu is a wonderful free operating system and moreover it’s open source! Ubuntu in african means “I am what I am because of who we all are”, how true!
The next important thing that we need in our PC is an office package with applications like MS Word, Excel etc. Okie, for this we have Open Office which is the best alternative for MS Office. Open office is an open source free office suite. You can download it at http://www.openoffice.org
Tip: While using open office save your office files in ODF format as this format is not vendor centric and is going to be supported by almost all office suites in the future including MS Office 2007 which already supports it. No need of searching for applications to unlock proprietary formats like PDF, DOC etc. Imagine a situation where 20 years down the lane you need to open a document that you created today, what if the application you used to create it is not available any more?? Government documents will be archived for decades and centuries and proprietary formats are not the best ones to store them.
Then we need a browser in our PC. Well no arguments here, Mozilla is the best. Goto http://www.mozilla.org and download this wonderful open source web browser. Note that Microsoft Internet Explorer started supporting the feature of tabbed browing just now from its IE 7 where as in Mozilla we had this wonderful feature long back.. Email Client
Next we need an email client alternative to MS Outlook. Well Thunderbird is what I suggest. Its another product from Mozilla which is open source and free and also a great product. By the way, if you have installed Ubuntu as your OS then dont worry, open office, mozilla and thunderbird come as a part of Ubuntu installation package. Encyclopedia
Then if you are a knowledge hungry person, dont worry about having to pay Britannica online to satisfy your hunger, there is a much better infact the best knowledge portal Wiki, Use Wiki as the knowledge source to this knowledge library is the entire world, In fact you can add your own knowledge here too!!!
If you are a developer then you can also contribute to these open source projects either in the form of ideas or code. Also for developers there is Bazaar at http://bazaar-vcs.org/ which is a free open source version control system. Say goodbye to VSS and other costly products.
As a developer you can use Eclipse as your development environment which is free and open source. To download this IDE goto http://www.eclipse.org/ By the way for those who dont know, eclipse is not an IDE limited only to develop using Java, there are eclipse based IDEs for other languages too like C+C++, COBOL, Perl, PHP, etc, Oh by the way use PHP which is an open source language!
For simple web sites use the free open source Apache web server, more than 50 million websites worldwide use this server to host their websites!!
If you also need server side code execution then use the free open source tomcat as your web server, if you need an application server then there is the free open source server JBoss. DOnt worry about using it as an app server in our commercial application, the Naval Air System Command (Navair) is using it too!!
Oh by the way if you were looking for a Server edition OS instead of normal home use Desktop edition, again we have Ubuntu which also has a server edition !!
One of the best databases out there is MySQL which in fact is faster than oracle for most common query types out there i.e SELECT statements.. worldwide 5 millions users use this open source database.
FTP Client: Filezilla is a nice open source FTP client which you can use to download files over FTP from http://filezilla.sourceforge.net/
For 3D Designers and Animation Experts:
If you are a 3D designer and want to do 3D design modelling and animation then we have Blender for you which is a free open source 3D modelliing application available at http://www.blender.org/ It is a wonderful alternative to 3DS Max and Maya and has a similar or even advanced robust feature set!! Its installation size is also very small compared to other similar applications. FOr those 3D professionals who are thinking how good this free software might be compared to other similar commercial products, well Blender was the animation suite used to create used to create animatics and previsualizations for the storyboard department in the movie Spider-Man 2 !! Blender is also used to create special effects for many programs aired on the History Channel !! Dont underestimate the power of open source and free software!
For Web Designers:
Looking for a open source alternative to MS Frontpage and Dreamweaver? Well there is Nvu (Spelled as N View) available at http://www.nvu.com/ It strictly complies with W3C web standards and is WYSIWYG !!
For Digital Media:
To edit your audio files there is Audacity at http://audacity.sourceforge.net/ which is a wonderful free opensource audio editor and is very popular in the podcasting world. Oh guys, audacity provides an unlimited number of undo options while editing an audio file!!
What’s more? There is open cola! Inspired by the idea of open source, Open cola started off as a open source alternative to coca cola and pepsi which hold their beverages formula as closely guarded secrets. Visit http://www.colawp.com/colas/400/cola467_recipe.html and you will find the recipe of this open source cola, you can prepare cola too, modify it, market it and what not!! Those who have tasted it say that it tastes better than coke or pepsi
Then we have Tropical Diseases Initiative at http://www.tropicaldisease.org/ which is an open source pharmaceutical development.
Hope more and more things become open and take humanity to new levels of innovation and ingenuity away from commercial interests. Imagine developing things and products where all best of the brains in that field from worldwide can contribute, that’s the reason open source apps have the potential to become THE BEST