Sunday, August 14, 2022

FOSS to the rescue

What began as a side project back in April -- I got the Linux bug again after setting up a Raspberry Pi device as a Plex server -- turned into a monster. And while I'm not sure how it will end up -- will Linux be my daily OS after this project concludes? -- there are some side effects of this that will likely stay with me.

One of the bad things about running Linux is that not all applications support Linux. However, that's also one of the good things, too. You see, Linux, being an open source operating system, depends on a lot of applications that are also open source. And that usually means the software is free.

Software can be open source but not free. That's usually not the case, but it can work that way. So, as a way of specifying things, the term "free open source software" is often used. And there's an abbreviation for that: FOSS. Free Open Source Software. Simple enough, right?

That brings up an aspect of FOSS that I hadn't previously considered. Remember I mentioned that many applications run on macOS or Windows, or both, but not as many run on Linux? Well, there's the other side of that coin. Not all free open source software runs on macOS or Windows. But some does.

On Windows, I used to use Macromedia Fireworks instead of Photoshop, because it worked well, and was a lot cheaper. However, Adobe bought Macromedia and Fireworks was eventually discontinued. Of course, I had switched to Mac and tried a few different things, eventually settling on Acorn. It's worked well for me.

Well, after running GNU/Linux for a bit, I've begun using GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) on Linux. And, I like it. Took a little getting used to, but I'm not used to it, and was happy to learn there are versions for macOS and Windows. So, I'm now using it on all three operating systems.

Microsoft Office has been a mainstay for years on my computers, both Windows and Mac. My personal computer days actually predate Microsoft Office, as I used WordPerfect and Lotus 123 rather than Word and Excel, mostly because WordPerfect and Lotus 123 worked great, but also because Word and Excel didn't exist.

Microsoft Office is not available for Linux. However, there are a few FOSS office suites available. Open Office has been around a while, as has LibreOffice, which I like better than Open Office. OnlyOffice is a newer entry, but it's a very good suite as well. Right now, I prefer OnlyOffice and LibreOffice, but am leaning toward OnlyOffice since there are official versions for Android and iOS, something LibreOffice doesn't have. These three office suites have versions for macOS and Windows, and they are my current office applications as well.

Web browsers are probably what I use most, though. And while I was using Google Chrome on both macOS and Windows, it's not available on Linux. There is the open source Chromium browser, on which Chrome is based, but I'm not a big fan of Chromium. I actually prefer Firefox. Yes, I know that Firefox had performance issues a while back, which prompted my switch to Chrome. However, after using GNU/Linux for a bit, I've come to realize how improved Firefox is. And it's available on macOS and Windows.

There are many more instances of free open source software that runs on Linux, macOS, and Windows, and when I run across one I like, I'll switch to it and stop using the proprietary (and often, paid) software. I like the price of free software, and when it's good software, I'll use it. And if it's on the three platforms (Windows, macOS, GNU/Linux) then I'll use it on all three.

This little side project has ended up saving me some money. I like saving money. I like that a lot.

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