Yesterday, I ranted at length about the meaning of FOSS and OSS. I think just about everything has been said about OSS development that can be. We all know that it is a better development model because all of the code is open for world wide peer review. We also know that if you have the desire, you can review the code yourself and assure yourself that it is indeed secure. While this is not an option for most home users, large enterprises can use this option to assure their security and modify the code to do what they need.
All of that is well and good. However, for me this whole Free Software movement is more about compassion. While this seems to be a strange link - think of this. If I live in a third world country, and I start a small business, am I going to be able to afford paying the fees to stand up a Windows based Email Server, Web Server, Firewall Server, and put computers with Office and Windows (as well as the all-pervasive virus scanners, spy ware blockers, workstation firewalls, ad naseum) on all of my employees desks? How am I to secure and lock these machines down so that I am sure that my employees are not just playing solitaire and browsing the web? Can I compete with the large company that buys computers by the pallet from Dell?
I propose that Free Software would be a better option. There are industrial strength firewalls, servers, email systems and more. Just about every program that you use has been recreated. I personally use The Gimp for my photo editing, Open Office for my word processing and spreadsheet needs. I use Ubuntu Linux at home as my primary Operating System. I do have a dual boot on one of my machines into Windows XP, but weeks can go by with out my booting into it.
Now, just because you use Windows does not mean that you have to let the wonders of Free Software. Open Office, The Gimp and many other applications have been ported back to windows.
Heh. Ported ‘back’ to Windows.
Anyways, why would I want to use an office package that costs $600 and is upgraded every few years, when I can download and use Open Office for free? Open office reads and writes Microsoft Office 2000 files pretty much seamlessly , so sharing with my work computer is not a problem.
In fact, I often throw files from work on my thumb drive, take it home, plug in into my Linux Box and work on them. I take them back to work, and open them in Microsoft Office. No headaches, no muss.
My firewall at home is running on a Pentium 90 with 64 megs of RAM and a two gig Hard Drive. I swapped it out with a Netgear router/firewall and noticed no difference in speed or latency. So, now I have the Netgear on the ‘outside’ facing the Internet, and serving wireless to my laptop. Inside of that is my ‘ol firewall, running IP Tables and Linux. Inside of that are my desktops and my server. A VPN punches through the firewall to give my laptop access to my files and printers.
All of this cost me 1 Netgear wireless AP and Router. No software costs, and it’s all legal. I think that’s the best thing about this. I am honoring the licenses of all of the software that I run. I really dislike people that steal others property. When you pirate software, you are stealing. When you use Free Software, you are not stealing, since it is free to use, and give to others.
So, obey the license restrictions of the software that you use. If you want to try Open Source, check out this CD. It has a bunch of open source software for windows that you can use.