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CNet Promotes Essential Open-Source Software to Joe Public 227

Posted by Zonk
from the self-selecting-group dept.
Zool writes "A feature is currently running on CNet explicitly promoting open-source software alternatives for typical home users, with programs rated and compared to commercial offerings. Although there's no mention of the Linux advantages to home users, the list is extensive and certainly written with the intention of snagging wider open-source adoption and understanding in the mainstream. 'Why should you care about open source? You should care because the vast majority of common applications, even complex commercial stuff like Adobe Photoshop, Windows Media Player and Microsoft Office, have free, open-source alternatives. And this point is worth reiterating: open-source software is free. No cost. Zero. Zilch.'"
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CNet Promotes Essential Open-Source Software to Joe Public

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  • Hard drive photo? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by suso (153703) * on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @10:08AM (#21420433) Homepage Journal
    Somehow I think it odd to have a picture of an open case hard drive to represent open source software.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @10:09AM (#21420437)
    "And this point is worth reiterating: open-source software is free. No cost. Zero. Zilch."

    I find this may be the better approach in introducing people to free[dom]/open source software. People don't understand at first the implications of free[dom] software.

    After the hook of 'free', then people can learn about the freedom aspects. Of course if they clue in right away the importance of freedom, all the better.
    • by ByOhTek (1181381) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @10:35AM (#21420807) Journal
      Most users don't care about freedom, they want something that (a) works suitable for their purposes, and (b) doesn't require them to change their use habits, and last but not least (c) requires a minimum of extra work to get running.

      Most non-free software provides this functionality as easily as free software.
      • by vertinox (846076) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @12:20PM (#21422563)
        Most non-free software provides this functionality as easily as free software.

        There are always two factors to choosing software:

        1. Price of the software.
        2. The amount of time it takes to acquire and learn to use said software.

        Example:

        Given the choice of purchasing the expensive Photoshop or downloading user unfriendly GIMP for free, which will the average user do?

        The answer is they will pirate Photoshop for free and Win/Win!

        But seriously, most people tend to go with what they can their hands on for the least amount of trouble. Most people think that Windows and or MS Office is free because it comes with the computer
      • by LuSiDe (755770) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @01:29PM (#21423633)

        Most users don't care about freedom, they want something that (a) works suitable for their purposes, and (b) doesn't require them to change their use habits, and last but not least (c) requires a minimum of extra work to get running.
        How long did you work to pay your software licenses, and how long did you have to work extra to get it working, and change your habit of not paying for software? ;)

        Most non-free software provides this functionality as easily as free software.
        Especially if you also consider `piracy'.
    • by mdm42 (244204) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @10:39AM (#21420855) Homepage Journal
      Free (as in beer) doesn't really represent a value proposition if you've "pirated" your non-Free software anyway.

      The message that needs to be gotten across is "Free AND Legal". I've had people express complete disbelief in my claim that they can have Legal Copies of software for free (beer) -- to the point where they were pretty sure I was lying or making it up.
      • by Entropius (188861)
        Well, sometimes free (as in speech) software can be better than free (as in beer) pirated commercial software.

        I could very easily hop on over to thepiratebay.org and download MS Office, but I like OpenOffice better.
        • Well, sometimes free (as in speech) software can be better than free (as in beer) pirated commercial software.

          I could very easily hop on over to thepiratebay.org and download MS Office, but I like OpenOffice better.

          That all depends how you define "better". In most cases I find that end users define "better" as "more convenient" which essentially boils down to:

          • Takes little to no effort or expertiese to install/comes preinstalled
          • doesn't require them to learn anything new: meaning it's the same as what
      • by Tatsh (893946) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @11:04AM (#21421267)
        Completely agree. The Windows-world is full of users who would just pirate any commercial software they need (no matter what purpose). Many also end up trying to use at least one open source app at some point, but it in some way fails (eg GIMP has a weird window layout that is a little bit hard to get used to, and on Windows there's no built-in "force windows to stay on top" function). They get rid of it, go back to the commercial software (pirated), and decide to never use free and open source software again.

        It is unfortunate. I think this is one of the more overlooked problems in trying to gain widespread adoption of open source alternatives, even if it is on Winblows.

        I am in university, and the attitude from many first-year CS students I have spoken with is that "Linux sucks", even if they have only used PuTTY on their Winblows boxes to program their small C apps to the server with GCC. And they are all asking "Why not Visual Studio?", which they all have pirated of course. It is ridiculous. They do not believe me about the crappiness of proprietary software, and some even choose to use Vista just because it is the "latest".
        • by ByOhTek (1181381)
          Not all proprietary software sucks, and not all OSS software is good.

          I'll take GCC of MSVS any day (MSVS has a nice IDE, but the compiler is screwy)
          KDE is definetly better than Explorer in terms of features and looks (though I do like the actual explorer file browser better, the handling of auto-arrange, and snap-to-grid are better and more useful IMO than Konqueror's tabs)
          Linux? I spend more time trying to install/fix Linux than getting to do what I want. The exception is Ubuntu, which makes Windows look a
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by orasio (188021)

            I've seen a lot of OSS zelots not give commercial software a try, and just rant against it for no good/valid reason, just as I've seen people blindly flock to closed source software over free-as-in-beer open source because "people actually pay for it, it must be better". Neither is a good mentality. Both sets of software have their advantages.

            I am a free software zealot, probably you were talking about people like me, too.
            About trying "commercial" software, I spent last week trying commercial free software, I think you mean "proprietary" software, as in "non-free", or "non-open-source". There are valid reasons not to try proprietary software. There are technical reasons to reject some stuff just based on their licenses, for example integration issues. Strategical reasons too, licenses are more important than the quality of the actual product mo

        • by edwdig (47888) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @12:03PM (#21422249)
          Many also end up trying to use at least one open source app at some point, but it in some way fails (eg GIMP has a weird window layout that is a little bit hard to get used to, and on Windows there's no built-in "force windows to stay on top" function).

          That right there is the problem. GIMP isn't just a little weird. It's off in its own world. Most GIMP defenders write it off and say "use a better window manager", but the reality is it just doesn't play well with the normal usage patterns most window managers are coded for. And of course it's a much bigger issue on Windows, where you can't change the UI.

          Don't blame the user for not understanding when you throw something at them that works totally differently than every other program they've ever seen.

          And they are all asking "Why not Visual Studio?", which they all have pirated of course.

          Why pirate it? It's free unless you want the high end editions. If you're the type of person who doesn't know why they should or shouldn't be using Visual Studio, you don't need the versions that cost money.

          They do not believe me about the crappiness of proprietary software

          Because to most people, especially home users, it doesn't matter. Most of them would never be able to do anything with the source code, nor would they have the money to pay someone who could. And they like having a company to call for support.

          Proprietary data formats, however, are a completely different story. Those are bad for everyone but the maker of the software.
          • by quanticle (843097)

            And they like having a company to call for support.

            That too has its advantages and disadvantages. What's worse, calling Microsoft, only to have them tell you its HP's issue, while HP insists the problem lies with Windows, or going online to a forum, and being told to RTFM? Even in terms of support, proprietary software can be just as bad as open source.

        • by edmicman (830206)
          Why bother pirating Visual Studio? It should be available free or very cheap to any student, and the free Express Editions are good enough for most any basic project. That said, I think VS2005 is one of the best development environments out there, proprietary or not. It really makes development nice. I try and use the best tool for the job....not force myself to use a crappy solution just because it's not open. VS is something Microsoft got *right*. I still use PuTTY a lot all the same for some applic
        • "Completely agree. The Windows-world is full of users who would just pirate any commercial software they need (no matter what purpose)."

          You have to figure that Adobe, Microsoft and other know this and not only let it happen but in a way encourage it. Yes they try and gt you to pay but not to hard. They walk a thin line so as to get those who can pay to do so but let those other off.

          If they really wanted to enforce their copyright they could publish the software on CD-R media where every disc is unique and
        • by noldrin (635339)
          This is Because many CS students are not systems people and are often clueless about computers. In class I would be the one telling people how to do things with their computer. In the real world I deal with programmers who can't figure out simple OS tasks. This isn't necessarily bad, they have computer CS skills that boggle me, which is why I failed out of CS. It's just sad my white suburban snobbery prevented me from getting a tech degree is computer systems, which is were my talents lie. CS shouldn'
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Cjstone (1144829)
        This is why Microsoft/Adobe/everybody stepping up anti-piracy measures is a good thing for the Open-Source movement.
    • "And this point is worth reiterating: open-source software is free. No cost. Zero. Zilch."

      But that's not true at all. There is no bar at all for a company to charge for their software. They must provide the source, and it must be freely distributable (assuming we are talking GPL), but MANY companies charge for Open Source software.

      Also, such a statement ignores that there are many different "Open Source" licenses. People automatically think "GPL", but it's certainly not the only one. And with so many issues

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ajs318 (655362)
        Yes; but if some big company is selling a piece of GPL software for £5000 a copy, there's nothing stopping me and 999 other people each stumping up a Lady Godiva and buying one copy between us all. The licence, which comes from the author and not the vendor, allows all 1000 of us to make as many unaltered copies as we want of that software; so we can quite legally install it 1000 times. And then each of us can install it on five other people's computers, charge them a quid and recoup our initial out
        • by Knara (9377)

          Well, if its GPL they have to provide the source anyway. Why spend the moolah unless you really need the support for the product?

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by ajs318 (655362)
            Yes, but they don't have to provide the Source gratis to anyone who hasn't already got a binary from them -- they could legitimately demand to see your purchase receipt before they gave you the Source Code. Or the £5000 could be for a disc (or set of discs) containing the binary and the Source.

            What they can't do is charge £5000 for the binary and then another £5000 for the source -- additional charges for the Source Code are limited to covering cost of media and delivery.
          • Well, if its GPL they have to provide the source anyway. Why spend the moolah unless you really need the support for the product?
            Again, not true.

            They *only* need to provide the Source Code to people that *they* distributed the Binary or Source to. And they can CHARGE for that initial distrobution.

    • by mstahl (701501)

      New marketing idea: let's call it Freedom Software. Then everyone will use it or else they're with the terrorists!

  • Does this matter? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Henry V .009 (518000) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @10:09AM (#21420441) Journal
    Are there really any CNet readers who aren't tech savvy enough to have actually heard of open source? Sure, there are people out there who have never used any free software, but they sure don't read CNet.
  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @10:09AM (#21420445) Homepage Journal

    And this point is worth reiterating: open-source software is free. No cost. Zero. Zilch. - Nate Lanxon

    That point is worthless, or some negative value. Because open-source software is free speech , notfree beer. Plenty of open source is $free, but there's plenty of paid products that include the source code. It's harder to prevent people from redistributing open source, to collect the money from something they can copy to others without paying. But that's copyright violation, which CNet is now promoting, even though it makes its own income from that same protection.

    Lanxon is the MP3 and digital music reviewer for CNet. Next time he says anything defending music industry copyrights, or his own on his articles, readers should remind him. Maybe by republishing it under their own name.
    • by Nursie (632944)
      Err.... Name a (non-microsoft) product with open source that's not also redistributable.

      I'm having trouble thinking of any.
      • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

        The Red Hat name.

        Trademarked, and they protect it well. That's why there's Fedora.... and CentOS.

        Another undistributable: MPlayer. Breaks DCMA garbage.

        Another: the libcss and friends. DCMA shit again.

        • by Entropius (188861)


          That's not a product, that's a trademark.

          Another undistributable: MPlayer. Breaks DCMA garbage.
          Another: the libcss and friends. DCMA shit again.


          Only in the USA. The rest of the world can run emerge mplayer to their hearts' content.

      • by Doc Ruby (173196)
        All the apps I develop, with few (expensive) exceptions, come with source code, but not redistribution rights. I'm sure I'm not unique. And there are many dual-use licenses that prohibit any use of the open-source app, including redistribution, for any commercial purpose - or any purpose other than research or trial periods.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          But thats not the "Free" there talking about. I don't know what insanely useful app you've developed that I can't live with out, but the major ones (OO.org, firefox, gnu/linux, bsd, gimp, mysql, postgres ... the list goes on) All come with redistribution and usage rights.

          If the point is to introduce new people to software, it only make sense to talk about the applications that they will want to use and the licenses that cover them. Most of the people that would be learning about free software wouldn't be
          • by Doc Ruby (173196)
            They didn't say merely "these essential OSS products are all $free". They made a blanket statement about open source = $free. Which is an old debate whose distinctions are well understood within the F/OSS community. But not, evidently, by CNet.
            • Isn't context great? The title of the article includes "Ten alternatives you need", and the immediately preceding sentence includes "Adobe Photoshop, Windows Media Player and Microsoft Office, have free, open-source alternatives."
        • by esper (11644)
          "Dual-use" as in "available under either an open source license or another one"? Then you may want to clarify that the restrictions on use and redistribution apply only to copies obtained under the non-FOSS license. If you say "this software is GPLed, but only for trial, non-commercial use and you can't redistribute it" (which is what your comment reads like it's claiming), then the software is neither Free Software (in the FSF sense) nor open source.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Doc Ruby (173196)
            No one narrowed CNet's "open source is $free" statement to the GPL until you just did.

            And the other (non-GPL) license often offers exactly the same terms as the GPL, including the open source, but explicitly limits the redistribution.

            The point is that "free" software has lots of different meanings, some subsets, some complementary but respecting different kinds of transactions (eg. reading the source vs not paying for it). CNet's statement was the grossest oversimplification, which made it wrong.
    • by illumin8 (148082) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @10:59AM (#21421195) Journal

      That point is worthless, or some negative value. Because open-source software is free speech , notfree beer. Plenty of open source is $free, but there's plenty of paid products that include the source code. It's harder to prevent people from redistributing open source, to collect the money from something they can copy to others without paying. But that's copyright violation, which CNet is now promoting, even though it makes its own income from that same protection.
      I'm all for free speech and free beer. I'm a big OSS advocate, but seriously, you guys need to get off your high horse sometimes and realize that this is how you sell OSS to Joe Sixpack. Joe Sixpack doesn't care whether the software on his computer is free as in speech or not. He doesn't care about modifying the source code, or freedom to fork. He does care about cost though.

      The free speech education can come later, but please, quit arguing semantics because all you do is give the entire OSS movement a bad name. Joe Sixpack will see some idiot blathering on about how free speech does not equal free beer and think we're all just a bunch of whining hippies. Then he'll never use OSS because he thinks there is a religious ideology behind it.

      Show him good "free as in beer" software, then later on, if he's interested, educate him on why "free as in speech" is important too. Please do us all a favor and don't try to ram ideology down Joe Sixpack's throat.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by rgravina (520410)
        Hear hear! Most non-programmers I have got to use open source alternatives have done so because of the free is in beer aspect. Almost all of them have eventually understood the free as in speech advantages too. Especially those in small business, who begin to realise that not only do updates to the software come for free, they can also pay programmers to improve the program or fix a critical bug if they choose to.
        • by Doc Ruby (173196)
          While I do disagree with that rant, as I posted in reply, I do agree with your point independently. Another important realization most people have about OSS is that even when it's free, they often want to get the kind of support that they have to pay for. And which is often better than the support for closed-source products.

          That market education is a slow process, usually self-driven by consumers. Eventually people will want to by the SW equivalent of their cars with hoods never welded shut, but at first th
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Doc Ruby (173196)
        I'm not ramming ideology. It's CNet that explains the ideology wrong by saying "open source = $free". They could just tell people the SW they're pushing is free, without saying something false about the source code. Because, as you say, most people don't care.

        Don't rant at me for correcting their mistake. Rant at CNet for mentioning the source code as a benefit for everyone.

        FWIW, open source is not really an ideology, but a development technique. That has important benefits to consumers in quality and, yes,
        • by edmicman (830206)

          started shouting it down like a straw man.
          Watch out for that slippery slope!
          • started shouting it down like a straw man.
            Watch out for that slippery slope!
            Enough of these ad hominem attacks!
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by illumin8 (148082)

          I'm not ramming ideology. It's CNet that explains the ideology wrong by saying "open source = $free". They could just tell people the SW they're pushing is free, without saying something false about the source code. Because, as you say, most people don't care.

          I just think CNet is doing a pretty decent job of "marketing" open source products to the average computer user. Because really, that's what advocacy is: marketing.

          I don't think the average person reading that article would make the logical leap from

  • Fluff (Score:4, Informative)

    by rbochan (827946) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @10:10AM (#21420447) Homepage
    What a godawful format. This is 2007, our web browsers have scrollbars for a reason. It's like a damn PPT, but with ads. Though, I suppose that's no surprise with articles like "Top ten geek haircuts" and "Top ten off switches". And no, I'm not [cnet.co.uk] kidding [cnet.co.uk].
    Journalistic integrity, thy name is CNET.

  • Bigger list (Score:5, Informative)

    by theantipop (803016) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @10:12AM (#21420475)
    For Windows users, here is a fairly comprehensive list of useful software [shsc.info], the vast majority of which is free (as in beer). The list is a bit unwieldy and unevenly updated, but I've snagged a few useful programs by browsing through it recently so I think it's pretty useful for those looking to get off unnecessary commercial apps.
    • Here is a more comprehensive listing (than the cnet list) of open source software and their proprietary counterparts:
      Open Source Alternative http://www.osalt.com/ [osalt.com]

      Pricelessware is a fairly good resource for finding free software in general (lot's of propriatary freeware) http://www.pricelesswarehome.org/ [pricelesswarehome.org]

      freshmeat gets updated daily with lots of OSS. Though it has a Linux bias, there is a LOT of cross platform software available http://freshmeat.net/ [freshmeat.net]

      SourceForge seems to be updating its list daily now as well.
  • > And this point is worth reiterating: open-source software is free. No cost. Zero. Zilch.

    Does this mean that the debate on the difference (or the lack thereof) between free-as-in-beer and free-as-in-speech is finally and officially over? It's about time [slashdot.org].
    • by Jartan (219704)
      Don't link journals which are archived (and thus unable to accept comments) as the main meat of your post. If you have something like that to say have the guts to post it again and take a Karma hit.

      By the way that journal entry proposes that there are only two main ways to make money off of open source. Yet you left out the one way the majority of people get cash from open source development. Open source is a software feature that many companies are willing to fork out cash for. They do so by hiring cod
  • Not sure about that one. Don't get me wrong, I love using the Gimp for web work and stuff. But I've read comparisons online and typically Photoshop has more features available. The Gimp tends to come off a sort of a "kid brother".

    While this may be a familiarity issue, I'd like to hear from someone that really has dug deep into both and has a fair assessment of the two.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Goaway (82658)
      There's no need to dig even particularly deep, Gimp is far, far behind Photoshop in terms of functionality.

      If all you do is crop and polish the occasional JPEG from your digital camera, you might not notice. But if you're any kind of professional, Gimp is a joke.

      And even with Photoshop not exactly being a paragon of good interface design, Gimp manages to be much, much worse.
      • by Billosaur (927319) *

        If all you do is crop and polish the occasional JPEG from your digital camera, you might not notice. But if you're any kind of professional, Gimp is a joke.

        But isn't the point? Most average users will only want a photo manip program to clean up their digital photos and help them store them. Photoshop is bloat for anyone except the advanced user -- even Elements seems a bit overdone. The idea is to sell OSS to people and show them that it has the functionality they need without all the excess that they don't. Most average users aren't going to need one-one-hundredth of what is in Photoshop, whereas Gimp may allow them to easily clean up their personal photos

        • Most average users aren't going to need one-one-hundredth of what is in Photoshop, whereas Gimp may allow them to easily clean up their personal photos and send them out at Christmastime.

          That's kind of self-contradictory, isn't it? If Photoshop is too bloated for most users, and Gimp bills itself as the OSS Photoshop, shouldn't Gimp be too bloated for most users?

          Picasa or Paint.NET are better choices than Gimp for such users, IMO.

        • by Goaway (82658)

          But isn't the point? Most average users will only want a photo manip program to clean up their digital photos and help them store them. Photoshop is bloat for anyone except the advanced user -- even Elements seems a bit overdone. The idea is to sell OSS to people and show them that it has the functionality they need without all the excess that they don't.
          A nice theory, but GIMP is also stuffed full of things you truly don't need.
      • Yep. I've used Photoshop for many years (paid for it, too, in case you're wondering). Every time I try Gimp, I want to put my head through the monitor.

        But maybe it's just me.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by ShawnCplus (1083617)
          The same can be said conversely. I've used GIMP for 3-4 years and just looking at Photoshop makes my eyes bleed. We've used our preferred software so long the "opposition" looks ugly and unintuitive by comparison.
          • by Goaway (82658)
            Except completely new users have, in my experience, a much harder time getting to grips with the GIMP than with Photoshop.
  • Too bad they didnt mention tools in my favorites:

    Knoppix
    VirtualBox
    MPlayer (the Hungarian one, not MS)
    GParted
    GRUB
    NT Password Recovery Here [eunet.no]
    Cinelerra
    FilmGimp
    BitPim
    NMap
    RDesktop
    VNC

    And the best of all... Debian and Ubuntu
    • by WWWWolf (2428)

      Too bad they didnt mention tools in my favorites: ... GParted, GRUB ... NMap, RDesktop, VNC...

      Yeah, because people get extremely excited when they start... um... partitioning drives! And booting the operating system! And they can, like... find out that no ports are open on their system, whatever that means!... and it's good to know that you can use the computer from some other place - if only they had another computer.

      Let's face it, there's a TON of good open source software, but a lot of it isn't exactly "marketable". You can't sell open source to people by telling how much butt GRUB kicks. ("Y

  • by PinternetGroper (595689) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @10:18AM (#21420561)

    And this point is worth reiterating: open-source software is free. No cost. Zero. Zilch.'"
    Be careful with this statement. Some people consider software that costs nothing to be of lesser quality or to have something wrong with it. A coworker went to Staples and purchased a version of McAfee for home, even after I told her AVG would do everything she wanted it to, and for free. I got the impression that she didn't think something that didn't cost anything would be able to do what she wanted...
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Rude Turnip (49495)
      Whenever I talk about AVG, I make sure to mention that they only charge for commercial licenses and that while I use the free version at home, I've paid for a commercial license for work. That might make it sound more reassuring to some people.
    • In the words of the great Ron White,"You can't fix stupid."
    • by sootman (158191) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @11:56AM (#21422139) Homepage Journal
      Be careful with this statement.

      Good point. But...

      A coworker went to Staples and purchased a version of McAfee for home, even after I told her AVG would do everything she wanted it to, and for free. I got the impression that she didn't think something that didn't cost anything would be able to do what she wanted...

      Too bad. You missed a great opportunity--you should have sold her a copy! No, I'm not being a smartass and saying you should have taken advantage of her. Well, actually, I guess I am--not being a smartass, but it seems that some people insist on being taken advantage of, and she evidently is one of them.* If they insist on burning money, you might as well help them put that money to good use! From http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/selling.html [gnu.org]

      Many people believe that the spirit of the GNU project is that you should not charge money for distributing copies of software, or that you should charge as little as possible -- just enough to cover the cost. Actually we encourage people who redistribute free software to charge as much as they wish or can. If this seems surprising to you, please read on. ...

      Since free software is not a matter of price, a low price isn't more free, or closer to free. So if you are redistributing copies of free software, you might as well charge a substantial fee [emphasis mine] and make some money [emphasis theirs]. Redistributing free software is a good and legitimate activity; if you do it, you might as well make a profit from it.

      Free software is a community project, and everyone who depends on it ought to look for ways to contribute to building the community. For a distributor, the way to do this is to give a part of the profit to the Free Software Foundation or some other free software development project. By funding development, you can advance the world of free software.

      Distributing free software is an opportunity to raise funds for development. Don't waste it! [emphasis theirs, but I agree. :-) ]
      And, in case it wasn't clear up until now: "In order to contribute funds, you need to have some extra. If you charge too low a fee, you won't have anything to spare to support development."

      So charge as much as you can! Hell, charge more than the commercial offering and throw in some support. And if you've got a guilty conscience, a) get over it or b) send some money to the FSF. If you really don't need money, tell them you're an "authorized distributor" and they can make a check out to "FSF" with the name of the software in the memo line.

      Richard Stallman wants software to be capital-F-Free, as in hackable, usable, modifiable. I don't think he has ever once said that people should give away their time. If you're spending your time extolling the virtues of Free software, you should get paid!

      * See also the recent thread about the $199 WalMart PC that is in a bigger-than-needed case because people think bigger == better. The last thing I need is another fullsize tower, but I would have bought one in a second if it were the size of a Shuttle PC.
  • If OSS is to thrive, it needs to not offer worse alternatives, and by so doing, convince people that OSS is unreliable.

    No matter what people who wish it were otherwise say, OpenOffice is a piece of junk. It's huge. It's buggy. It has difficulties using other formats. It explodes frequently. It requires massive Java-ware installed on the machines of otherwise happily non-bloated users. It's worse than anything Microsoft has shipped.

    Point people toward Abiword, or point them toward Google apps, but don't push
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Anything that crosses paths with any MS based format will explode at some time, just as the very MS software that created it has done before.

      And.. Java is now bad. It works well in my opinion. Too bad it doesn't work for you.

      As a first-hand look at OO, it works for me. Ive used it since it was StarOffice. It always works on their own files and only has problems when you try to open hidden formatted files.
    • by expro (597113) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @10:39AM (#21420857)

      How about objectivity?

      I know a number of businesses and private people who use Open Office every day exchanging documents with others without a hitch, whereas I have never heard of anyone who gave it up because it was huge, buggy, or had difficulty using other formats.

      Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but Open Office is a very beautiful thing for everyone I know personally who has ever tried it.

      • by AlXtreme (223728)

        I know a number of businesses and private people who use Open Office every day exchanging documents with others without a hitch, whereas I have never heard of anyone who gave it up because it was huge, buggy, or had difficulty using other formats.

        Funny thing is, last week I paid a visit to a client. They have Firefox and OOo installed on every machine and have so for a number of years effectively, yet one of the directors still mentioned being glad to use MS Office back home.

        I couldn't blame with him. Being

      • by sootman (158191)
        Hi. I'm sootman. I have tried OOo several time over the years. I can't stand using it. It's just clunky, slow, and has lots of little annoyances.

        That said, I feel the same way about Office 2000 and newer. I've stuck with Office 97 (and Office X for Mac OS X) on any personal machine. As for the newest Office, the ribbon looks OK, and I think Live Previews of formatting is a great idea, but I can live without those and am happy to stick with Office 97.

        Also, I haven't tried OOo in maybe a year and a half or mo
      • by Nebu (566313)

        I know a number of businesses and private people who use Open Office every day exchanging documents with others without a hitch, whereas I have never heard of anyone who gave it up because it was huge, buggy, or had difficulty using other formats.

        Seriously? Well, you have now. I tried out OpenOffice, and the word processing application just suddenly quit while I was in the middle of typing a sentence (I think maybe the 3rd sentence of the document, so I hadn't saved yet). I restarted it, and started re-ty

    • by Synchis (191050) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @11:13AM (#21421415) Homepage Journal

      No matter what people who wish it were otherwise say, OpenOffice is a piece of junk. It's huge. It's buggy. It has difficulties using other formats. It explodes frequently. It requires massive Java-ware installed on the machines of otherwise happily non-bloated users. It's worse than anything Microsoft has shipped.
      I'm having trouble with this comment... for a number of reasons:

      1. You *almost* sound like you were paid to write that.

      2. Your statement is inaccurate on many levels.

      3. You provide no basis for your opinion. Care to back up your statement with some evidence?

      Every experience that I've had with OpenOffice has been a good one. Its fast, provides all the features that I'm looking for without being too bloated, and sometimes handles the Microsoft formats better than even MS Office does. I hazard to suggest that if OpenOffice was as bad as you suggest, that Cannonical would not have picked it as Productivity app of choice for Ubuntu. And I believe a fair number of other distro's provide it as well.

      Before posting a bash like that against an open source project on an open source oriented web site, you should probably have something to back up your statements. Otherwise, your just blowing hot air out your arse.
    • by edmicman (830206)
      Agreed! OO is good, but really only because it is free. Would you pay money for OO? No, you'd go with the polish of MS Office. Anyone who says different is only kidding themselves.

      Firefox bested IE because it was *better*. It offered an improved experience. For OSS to really shine, it needs to stop just trying to be "like" Office, "like" Photoshop, etc. etc. OSS apps need to innovate, offer something new and *better* than what it's trying to replace. Until that happens, the only thing OSS software r
      • by jedidiah (1196)
        Sorry to burst your bubble bub but some of us actually have
        bought copies of Star Office. Some of my older copies
        pre-date the sellout to Sun.

        Your bluster only impresses other Lemmings.

        Open Office is not "OSS". It's a commercial app with a well
        established history that was bought and "opened". ...as for your other points: The moment an alternative (commercial
        or otherwise) ceases to not try to emulate the market leader then
        there will be a flood of whining to the effect that being different
        equals being user host
    • by laffer1 (701823)
      Open Office has it's problems. Try porting it to a new platform. All the bloat you see at the top is much worse at the bottom. In some ways, it's easier to get Firefox or Gnome working than Open Office. Linux people never notice because they don't have to compile Open Office or Java from source. They get official support just like Microsoft does. As a developer, I can tell you that Abiword and even koffice is easier to work with in terms of getting it to run on a new platform.

      As a user, I find Open Of
  • by HansF (700676)
    http://www.osalt.com/ [osalt.com] has been doing this for quite a while now...
  • Free? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jake73 (306340) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @10:39AM (#21420853) Homepage
    Not all open-source software is completely free.

    I use Open Office extensively and have never installed MS Office despite having an MSDN subscription which provides it for "free" for the last 5 yrs. I do this out of principle, but this decision has cost me. There are incompatibilities present that have cost me time and effort.

    I own Adobe Photoshop because Gimp would cost me dearly in time and effort. I've tried many times, but Gimp is really not a PS replacement.

    And while Linux is "free" and my company's products support it, the userbase is comparatively small to our Windows base and the costs of using it, learning it, keeping up with it, and maintaining product support are astronomical (per user capita) compared to Windows.

    That said, there are a huge number of open-source packages that are not only free but save me an enormous amount of time and effort. Thunderbird is far more time-friendly than Outlook has been to me. Firefox. Python. Ruby. Ruby on Rails.

    Others save me money by proxy. My web host uses Open Solaris, for example.

    Open Source software has a very important niche within enterprise and home use. But a large number of the mainstream packages that most home users would use will frustrate those folks with quirks. Some things are only free if you value your time at nothing.
    • by evilviper (135110)

      Some things are only free if you value your time at nothing.

      My experience is quite the opposite. More like: A Stitch in Time Saves Nine. It certainly takes time to switch from what you already know (new computer users would be better off learning Unix in the first place) but once you know enough to get around, the savings in time, effort, and other frustrations are huge, even more than the cash eaten by the Windows tax.

      You count Microsoft Office as free, even though you've paid a lot of money to get 'free

  • VLC (Score:2, Informative)

    by Re-Pawn (764948)
    I wanted to post a comment on the article but comments appear to be locked - VLC does have streaming radio and video via Shoutcast - not sure if the writer has used VLC for anything other than DVDs or opening a media file. As far as using an iPod I have switched over to Floola to manage my library and podcasts on my mini - it works in Linux as well as OSX and Windows.
  • I've been working a steady contract supporting .NET development and MS products but I'm letting this contract run out in January so I can devote more time to supporting F/OSS development and applications. I may be a bit ahead of the curve but MS development is just so hideously boring. Plus I'm getting a lot more calls about alternatives to Vista and I'm curious if the market is really there or if it's just talk. I'll let you know how it goes. Worst case is I end up taking on more Windows support and co

  • time is money.
  • Bravo! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Synchis (191050) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @11:19AM (#21421491) Homepage Journal
    Since the author of TFA has apparently closed off comments for now, I'll state it here:

    Bravo. It's nice to see a main-stream media outlet offering this kind of coverage of FOSS.

    I've experimented with FOSS for a long time, and have wanted to switch for many years. Last spring, I did, once and for all. I now use Ubuntu 7.10 on my home system, even for gaming. (I was surprised to find that many companies are offering a Linux version as well as Windows.)

    In my opinion, meny FOSS projects are ready for the main-stream. They simply need some good publicity, and a following.
  • They forgot Avidemux. It's great for converting video files and it works on Windows and Linux.
  • by Anlace (925678) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @12:28PM (#21422665)

    First a bit of background, I am a general all-around tech support person for an island with a population of approximately 15,000 people (on the South end of the island). Most of my clients are either retired and/or are tech-shy.

    As a dedicated user of Open Source software I consistently advocate it to my clients as a solution for many of their needs. The attitude that I run into time and time again that if you are not paying out the wazoo for software then it can't be any good. Many won't even try a piece of software unless they pay for it.

    I have taken to creating a DVD or CDs of Open Source programs (particularly OpenOffice.org), charging for them and donating that money back to the respective project. It's a system that seems to be working for everyone - clients feel they are getting something valuable because they paid for it and the projects are getting much needed donation money.

    • As a dedicated user of Open Source software I consistently advocate it to my clients as a solution for many of their needs.

      Ummm... Why? What about the open source aspect of these applications makes them better than anything else?

      The attitude that I run into time and time again that if you are not paying out the wazoo for software then it can't be any good. Many won't even try a piece of software unless they pay for it.

      That's unfortunate for them. Free software can be and is effective. Hell, a lot of r
  • by DrXym (126579) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @01:00PM (#21423135)
    Linux is still not suitable for most users - it's usable but there are still too many rough edges. A simple example is a bug that bit me today was when I ran my new Asus Eee PC for the first time - the thing does not like wifi WPA PSK passphrases that contain space characters. Consequently it dumped out a corrupted config file and didn't connect. It took me a while to figure this out from a Linux dist which simpler than most others.

    Expecting people to switch en masse is not reasonable until the UI is completely idiot proof and requires no advanced diagnostic. Even Ubuntu is not there yet.

    A better strategy is to promote open source software running on Windows. Firefox, Thunderbird, Gimp, Open Office etc. all run on Windows. Introduce users to these great apps and allow them to use them at their own pace. They can even run the open source apps side by side with the MS equivalents if they like. Since most open source apps run on Windows and Linux, it means the underlying OS is of less relevance.

    Later when Linux for the desktop is more mature they can be tempted to move. It may even be that Dell / Compaq etc. off cheap machines with Linux on them. If the apps are the same then the pain in moving is so much less.

  • Anyone remember when you could go to CNET's Download.com and download Linux applications? Then one day the Linux section vanished.
  • ...when it comes to FOSS. They do care about free as in beer.

    (This is in response to the tag freespeechisnotfreebeer.)

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