Monday, 26 February 2007

Heaps of reasons to use an Open Source OS and applications!

I just had to post the following comment I found on Dell's Idea Storm site in response to the request for Dell to pre-install Open Office as an alternative to Microsoft Works and Office along with a Linux OS of course!

It is by a respondent known as "thesun" and if you go to the following link you can see many of the other comments that were made in response! It is well worth a read!
Thanks to "thesun", I hope you don't mind me getting your comments out there a little further?

"I've been using most of the software the first respondent lists as being substandard when compared to Windows versions, and I just wonder what planet he or she is on.

Open Office is worlds better than MS Office in many ways, particularly if you need to write in non-English letters;
Audacity rocks -- I use it for professional radio and podcasts. A friend of mine came over with Cool Edit Pro intending to show me the error of my ways and pretty soon he was just as amazed as I was that Audacity offered so much -- for FREE.
The GIMP is an extremely versatile, powerful image editing program, and combined with Inkscape or Scribus you've got magazine publishing capabilities...

The idea that Windows programs are automatically superior is probably because a user just isn't taking the time to learn one versus the other.
I make my living selling words, photos, and sound to magazines, newspapers, and websites and open source has provided me with immediate fixes to bugs I've found, a community that can provide solutions asap, and I've come to trust it for any and all mission critical applications.

And that's not even discussing the cost -- to do what I do, the tools, the licensing, the upgrades -- I'd have to spend at least 5K a year in software alone.

Even if you take the time to run benchmark tests and compare features and such, to be honest, most of Open Office OR MS Windows is overkill. I usually need a typewriter, as do most people who write papers. You could plop most people down in front of Open Office and they'd know instantly how to write with it. The same with audio or video or photo editing.

At this point, the ONLY reason to stick with Windows is because it's what you're familiar with and most people don't want to relearn things...and that's fine, actually. Nobody's saying you _have_ to use the freebie if you want to slap down the cash instead. Those of you who've read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance will remember the shim discussion -- both motorcycles had the same problem, and one person utilized a piece of a beer can to make a shim, the other insisted on purchasing an "official" shim which turned out to be just the same. Some people just don't feel good about something unless they've spent money on it.

Linux wasn't really ready to be a desktop alternative 5 years ago; now it is. There's the designer brands and the look-alikes. There's the dealer parts and there's Napa. There's Micro$oft and there's open source. Are they exactly the same? No. But are they similar enough that it's no longer worth 300 or 400 bucks extra? Yes. (Insert shampoo commercial image, woman screaming in shower so happy with her new shampoo -- "Yes!!! Yeeees!!!!") Finally!! Yes!!!!

Linux is ready, really ready, for the average user who wants to spend hard earned money on food or heat or even handbags, instead of on software. There's a little bit of adjustment. But since you're going to have to deal with relearning when you get Vista, why not have Linux instead? You can do just about anything with it, more securely and just as professionally, and you can have the most up-to-date, bleeding edge versions installed at any time.

Having a Dell preinstalled or precertified would be awesome, as the biggest hassle is the inevitable tweaks and quirks I have to deal with at upgrade time -- which Dell is surely in a better position to address, since Dell knows the quirks of the individual systems' hardware.

And you don't have to be a brain to use Linux either -- it's just as intuitive, if not more so, as Windows, as evidenced by my loaning a Linux system to an utter computer-o-phobe friend of mine for a year and a half. I gave her 3 buttons: one for email, one for the web, and one for Skype, told her not to turn the computer off, and she ran it for a year and a half doing everything she always did on Windows. She did not need to reboot it even once. Not one virus, not one problem, not one time did I have to go over and fix her computer for her. My parents' computer, a year old Dell with essentially the same things installed, has problems almost monthly.

The fact of the matter is that I know a lot of people who DON'T use Linux who complain about it, but I know very few people who DO use Linux who complain.
Whereas I know that LOTS of people who regularly use Windows complain about it.

So if Dell can step up to the plate, and offer a lower-cost computer with Linux and the programs mentioned above (or even just certify that yes, this system will not have any issues with hardware!) it would be a fantastic help to the community.
If you still want to use Windows, nobody's stopping you. But for those of us who've realized there is an easy-to-use, user-friendly, safe, secure, and robust alternative that will drop the cost of a new computer a few Benjamins, a Dell with Linux would be a very popular product.

The biggest reason why I've stuck with Dell for my past few computer purchases has been that the Linux community has a good amount of support for it. And you know what? Windows, for some reason I haven't a clue about, stopped recognizing my ethernet card -- the same one that's been there since I got the computer -- and I like it better that way:

I use Linux for all my internet surfing (and don't have to worry about viruses) and if I need Windows for some particular thing, I don't have to worry about it phoning home. In case I sound like a rabid Linux groupie, I'm not.
If Windows can offer me the security, the freedom from data loss, the reliability, and be reasonably priced, I'll happily boot back. No, I take that back. I already have all those features...for Windows would have to really offer something on top of that. If Word allowed me to save the same file in three places -- hard disk, flash drive, and off-site server -- all with one simple click, or even better, automatically at timed intervals...that might get me back. But my guess is Open Office will beat them to that finish line as well."

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