An Open Source Experiment

In resuscitating my laptop, I’m trying out an experiment. The only applications that I have installed on this machine are open source. While this means keeping Microsoft Office, Photoshop, Illustrator and Sound Forge sequestered to my desktop, their open source counterparts OpenOffice, GIIMPShop, Inkscape, and Audacity (which I was already using to a large degree anyway, along with Firefox, VLC, and Thunderbird) will operate on the laptop.

The prospect of being rid of corporate software appeals greatly to me (which is not to suggest that the above programs, in their Windows incarnations, don’t come with their own EULA strings attached). The problem with the open source movement, however, is that it is populated by quacks who prescribe half-built programs as definitive alternatives to their robust counterparts. Nevertheless, if Firefox and Thunderbird are now bona-fide alternatives, what’s not to suggest that similar remedies might come with the open source responses to Adobe and Company? The big question I have is whether I can get by on the laptop with these programs and, if necessary, find workarounds to some of the things I can do with applications that sell for hundreds of dollars.

I figured if a guy like Mark Pilgrim can make the bold switch from Mac to Ubuntu, then at least I can try this half-assed approach on Windows. And who knows? Maybe I might end up going Ubuntu on the laptop.

For folks who are interested, this is a helpful beginning for open source Windows apps.


  1. Adobe. Now there’s a disappointment. Last year, within 24 hours, Bill Gates said, “We don’t really like how Acrobat interacts with Windows XP or Vista. We’re going to put our own pdf maker in the next Office” and Steve Jobs said, “Apple has declared war on Adobe. They’re a prime example of a bad software company.”

    I’d say it was hyperbole, but you should see all the headaches Adobe’s software causes me at Ye Olde Day Jobbe. Apparently, Adobe has forgotten Windows has used a registry since, oh, 1995.

  2. I’ve been using Ubuntu on my laptop for over a year now, I think. It works well, and with some geeky tweaking runs especially well on my older laptop. Getting wireless setup can be a chore, though, if you’re unlucky enough to not have a card that’s supported out of the box.

    I’ve been all OpenOffice for home writing for far longer than that. Works like a charm.

  3. I was working on a project requiring Excel for a freind about a year ago and decided to see if I could do it with Open Office. It crashed twice.

    You get what you pay for.

  4. Let me know if you move forward with Ubuntu. I’ve played with it a little bit on virtual machines, but haven’t built any new machines yet to give it the full commitment.

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