The gift of Free Software

I’ve been reading many debates about open source v proprietery software recently, it seems to be quite an emotive subject as many of these debates quickly turn into an all out flame war (it never ceases to amaze me how otherwise intelligent adults can turn into childish retarded morons on this subject) and therefor not worth reading further but some manage to stick to the point and make interesting if not sometimes depressing reading.

If taken purely on technical merit or ease of use it would seem in most cases proprietery software has the edge, examples would be MS Office/Libre Office, Photoshop/Gimp, Sony Vegas/Openshot or KDNlive, in each of these examples the proprietery version seems to have the killer features most people want even if they’re features they’re never likely to use, but should we base our choice of software purely on technical merit and functionality or should we be prepared to sacrifice some or all of that functionality in order to maintain our freedom.

These are questions I would never have asked myself or anyone else say 5 years ago because I had no idea these questions existed, it wasn’t until I started experimenting with Linux that I began to learn a little about the concept of sofware licensing and why it’s important not only to me but to everyone, consequently I’ve become a true believer and an adherant to the cause to the point where I question every piece of software I install on my PC as to whether it is free or non free and will only use proprietery software (sorry Richard) if there is absolutely no open source alternative that will let me do what I need to do

So for me open source software is truely a gift and those who write it deserve our gratitude for sharing their skill and knowledge with us all

so here’s an example of what these talented people have done for me

I collect childrens DVDs for my Grand-Daughter I boot up my PC running Linux Peppermint 4 (open source) then rip them with Handbrake (open source) to Matroska (mostly open source) I then copy them over to my NAS running Openmediavault (open source) I then back them up to an external HDD for safety using rsync (open source), I then scrape the movie for fanart, poster art etc using Mediaelch (open source) then when she want to watch any of them I stream from the NAS to and old xbox softmodded to run XBMC (open source).

All of the above probably could have been done easier using closed source software but at what cost, none of the above cost me a penny. I learned a little bit and I didn’t have to compromise my principles into the bargain, so to conclude I believe we all owe these free software developers a huge debt of gratitude and we should reward them by using their software whenever possible even if it’s not as good or fully featured as some proprietery alternative


That is a very good post Graeme, I think the trouble is that most of us area bit lazy (I certainly am) and usually cant be bothered with the learning curves for the Open Source software. I use Libre Office all the time and dont miss Microsoft Office at all, but then again my needs are generally fairly simple and purely personal by and large. The Writer is fine and the Spreadsheet is also fine for my needs, both are similar enough in broad outline to the commercial products to be fairly easy to use, at least for simple use. I have tried Gramps, the Genealogy programme, but have to say couldnt really get on with that, but then again as I am used to Ancestry it is a big ask. Have just started using Openshot and it seems ok, again very simple use for me but it seems to do what I am looking for.
As you said it seems that by and large the software is out there if the user can be bothered to look for it and then learn how to use it.


Great post Emegra, and you’re right - it is an emotive subject that sadly normally degenerates into flame wars. I’m quite selfish, in that if I can get something for free, and it does the job, then I’ll use it (I haven’t bought office software for some 10 years). I like the idea of software freedom, as when I write code, that’s how I treat it. Plus I like the idea of being empowered to fix bugs yourself, rather than raising a support ticket, then waiting for someone to pick it up, and try to action it. Admittedly, I don’t have the skill for this kind of thing, but at least it’s theoretically possible. I also think that those developers involved in open source software have more passion for it, as it’s a hobby for them Actually, that’s crap, as Red Hat is open source, and their developers are paid just the same as M$ developers. Still, I’d like to think that open source developers have more “ownership” of their code, and treat it more like their baby, so to speak. I tend to think of Microsoft developers as clocking in at 9 and out at 5, if you know what I mean.

Of course, the best way to support open-source software isn’t simply using it - it’s donating money to the developers :stuck_out_tongue:

I’d have to challenge your “technical merit” argument, the minute Linux takes over a market the quality open source software follows … and usually much sooner than in the Proprietary world because of the openness.

Linux took over the server room on the technical merit of its tools and the freedom to edit the code … there are now more and better OSS server admin tools than anything the proprietary world can offer.

Linux took over the webserver market with the LAMP stack (world leading in it’s own right) … tons of quality CMS software appeared such as Wordpress, Joomla, Drupal, and other open source projects like Firefox, Chromium (which begot Chrome) … all world leaders and better than anything the proprietary world has to offer.

How about the mobile market … erm, Android

Then there’s the closed source software projects that later go open … such as Lightworks (they plan too)

There are world leading open source projects for the desktop too, and I’d include GIMP, Firefox, and LibreOffice amongst them … most people who say “they’re not as good” are really saying “they’re not exactly the same”

GIMP/Photoshop … GIMP is BY FAR the better on “technical merit”, did Photoshop spawn a whole GUI toolkit (Gtk) ?:


When the cosmos starts to emulate the Debian logo…
You have to believe it’s a sign that the “time of open source is nigh”

@ Degsy

I have tried Gramps, the Genealogy programme, but have to say couldnt really get on with that, but then again as I am used to Ancestry it is a big ask.

Yeah I know what you mean Gramps is a bit unintuitive to begin with, I used to use Heredis then later Roots Magic, I found both of them very easy to use and learn, when I moved to Linux I tried running Roots in Wine but it just didn’t work right, so I took the native option and switched to Gramps and like you found it difficult to navigate and understand but after a while the muddy waters began to clear and now I find it easy to use and enjoy using it

@ chemicalfan

Of course, the best way to support open-source software isn't simply using it - it's donating money to the developers

I can’t argue with that, I’m almost ashamed to say I personally have only donated to 2 projects which was probably a fraction of their worth
I’ve installed and use many programs that I’ve not donated to, which kinda highlights the gift free software really is

@ Mark

I'd have to challenge your "technical merit" argument,

You would :slight_smile:

I’m not saying all proprietary software is better I was only citing common examples where it’s generally considered better or more user friendly

But I definately agree with this statement

most people who say "they're not as good" are really saying "they're not exactly the same"


Of course :wink: