Friday, December 19, 2008

Free and Open Source Software

Whenever you buy something don't you think that you own it? And shouldn't you be able to use it however you see fit so long as you're not a danger to anyone? If I buy a home, I should be able to decorate or even remodel it to suite my needs and my tastes.

Have you ever seen these guys who customize cars or motorcycles? I usually don't identify with their tastes, but I do amire their expression of personal liberty. It's their property, they can do what they want with it as long as they don't turn it into abroad hazard.

If you buy a computer though, and presumably the software that comes installed on it, you are not free to do anything you like. You are severly limited in your ability to modify how it functions. One aspect that I find particularly agregious if you use Windows (I do not, by the way), if you do major upgrades to you computer, or better yet, decide to build a new one, Micro$oft requires you to buy a new copy of their software. Have more than one computer? You'll need more copies of Windows, and it ain't cheap. Want to change your installation of Windows so that it won't catch viruses, spyware and such. Sorry but that isn't allowed? Apple isn't much different in that they don't give you easy access to their code, but a least they don't require you to buy a new copy of software after a hardware upgrade. Unfortunately, major hardware upgrades typically mean buying a new computer. Still, Apple does not require registration codes and such to install their OS. They just refuse to authorize or facilitate installation on non-Apple computers.

So, what's a guy or girl to do? There is a large and growing community of programmers and users behind Free and Open-source Software ( FOSS ). The idea is that our computers should do the work that we want them to do, that we should be able to alter them to suit our needs and that we shouldn't have to make someone the richest man in the world for the priviledge. Free as in liberty and free as in pizza means that I can use the software in anyway I see fit. I can find readily available free tools to do any job from OS to simple tasks. Having problems? Go online to one of many forums and participate in huge community ready to help.

I recently built a new computer and loaded Ubuntu Linux for the price of a blank cd, and I have all the functionality that I want without the expense of Micro$oft or Apple products. What I love and want to support the most is the ideal that we are free, free to use, copy change and otherwise alter our property anyway we like. So give a try instead of shelling out big money for MSOffice. Get better functionality than Windows Vista without taking out a loan. Get better performance than an iMac for half the price. And best of all live free. It's good for the pocketbook, and for the soul.

No comments: