Opensource Freedom: Where the opensource community is pushing bounderies

okubax, Flickr
okubax, Flickr

My initial image associated with Open source is Linux, not surprisingly.  It has an attractive front in that it is free.  But Linux has more than just that initial foot into the door for pc users.  The other main push for Linux is extremely and emphatically customization. One of my first experiments with Linux was installing Gentoo Linux. This is one of the more complicated Linux distro’s amongst the myriads available. But what I found was that Gentoo is actually meant to be very efficient, and specifically-catering to your system, if you are willing to tell the installer what you have in your rig. Of course, Windows will find your hardware too, but it will install a bunch of additional backup content in case you change hardware. At the core, Linux is based on a simplified kernel, which makes the latter bash prompt command line and GUI work.  It is built for speed.  This is probably why so many choose Linux for servers; it offers dependable functionality, while the GUI comes second.

Another thing users of Linux tend to dabble heavily in his coding. Python, C++, Java, MySQL, these actually power the software we use today, and not just on PC’s; tablets, smart devices, even the newer cars have software that had to be coded.  So the best place to go for a solid coding environment would be on Linux. Being itself built by programmers and developers, the toolkits for debugging, as well as GUI-enhanced coding options are extensive in Linux.  Ok, so nerds love it.  But Linux has been growing from its grass roots days as a “nerd system”.  Today, Ubuntu ranks among the top distro’s of Linux available.[1]  Based on the package manage system of Debian, Ubuntu is simple, colorful, and ready even before the install happens (called “Live boot”).  Once fully installed though, what is the mainstream user going to be able to do that is native in Linux?

Software categories such as word

Libre Office Suite, Julian Horsey, Geeky
Libre Office Suite, Julian Horsey, Geeky

processing, music and video players, web browsers, photo editors are all common place in Linux, and have been for a while.  What may be difficult is users having to let go of their “tried and true” programs. While Microsoft Office will not work natively on Linux (though good emulation software is available), I have taken a serious liking to Libre office.  Originally Star Office, and then migrating to Open Office, and finally arriving at its present designation, Libre Office has all the features in high-demand.  It may not be “the same” as Office, but I find little reason to pay when this is freely available.  It’ available for Linux, Windows, and Mac.  Web browsers are a big part of our computing today, and Linux boast’s a couple of the major browsers, notably Mozilla Firefox, and Google’s Chrome.

Sign Man (author's own work)
Sign Man (author’s own work)

Gamers will find their access to modern games a little disappointing, but the list is growing rapidly, and some games are actually available natively on Linux (coding can get tedious, after all). Valve recently announced their flagship UI Steam is available on Linux (and is even experimenting with a standalone Open source console OS!).[2] This means that while game options are not quite on par with Windows or XBOX, Linux is a viable gaming option.

My favorite Open source department though is graphics. Software like GIMP (Graphics Image Manipulation Software), Blender, and Light works is a professional app that is available natively in Linux.  But honestly, if you are willing to take on the learning curve of your life (take baby steps), Blender has it all. It has been around for a while, and It is like nothing else with what it has to offer.  I’ll restate that it isn’t for the faint of heart.  If you are familiar with 3d Max, Maya, or other CG software, you should transition well.  And it is available in Linux, Windows, and Mac.

The open source world is where things are made in the community for the community.  I suppose that could sound kind of free-spirited, but then there are some parallels with our American forefather in those words. So don’t be afraid of Open-source, you won’t have to learn code, but you may find yourself polishing something up that may lead to a professional result.


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