Free software for all

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Open Source software is the biggest open secret in the IT world.

Open Source software is free, secure, and supported by some of the world's largest software and hardware companies. The software they will be promoting includes OpenOffice, a complete office suite, Firefox, a secure web browser and Thunderbird, an email and calendar manager. Companies that are committed to open source include Dell, Hewlett Packard, Sun Microsystems and Novell.

Operating systems like Linux and BSD are safe and secure to use and some easier than others. The current one that I find, probably, to be the best is Ubuntu Linux in this regards.

At least half of the Internet runs using Open Source software, and many large government departments and companies use open source, including Lloyds TSB, Ebay, NASA, B.T., Bristol and Birmingham Councils to name only a few.

The French Gendarmerie, on local and national level, as well as other bodies have switched over to Open Source software, while, in some cases, retaining Windows as operating system, though in other cases ditching Windows and using Linux.

Elsewhere in Europe we are seeing the same trend of governments, local and national, going over to using open source software, such as OpenOffice, Firefox, Thunderbird, while still retaining Windows OS or migrating over entirely to Open Source, Operating System and all.

The city of Vienna migrated all of its computers, from desktops to server, over to Linux, as, so I understand, did the city of Munich.

They all do it for more than one reason, though the main is, obviously, cost. Open Source software can be installed on as many machines as wanted without the need of paying the likes of Microsoft a separate license fee for basically each and every machine that you wish to install a program on. The other reasons are security as the majority of Open Source software is very virus proof, as well as hacker proof.

At a Hacker Convention in the United States early in 2008 they cracked Apple Mac's latest operating system in a few minutes flat; they took a little longer to compromise Windows Vista and after seven days they still had not managed to get into Ubuntu Linux. That, I believe shows something.

Open Source software also is potentially green. Why is it green and environmentally friendly? No, this is not greenwashing in the making by this writer. Open Source software is potentially green because with Open Source older PCs can be rescued and kept running to nigh ad infinitum. While Vista requires fast processors and huge memory and loads of hard disk space to install upon Ubuntu, for instance, comes on a normal CD of 700MB and that is not even all used by the software. Some Linux operating system have and even small footprint, so to speak, as they can be installed with 50MB and can, literally, be run from a thumb drive, such as Puppy or Damn Small Linux (DSL). However, having said that, on Windows, for some reason, OpenOffice above version 2.0 seem to be needing a huge amount of RAM, thereby making problems, unless one upgrades the memory of the PC which is, if one can, anyway a good idea, considerably.

If the memory is low, so I have found, then OpenOffice 2.3 for instance, is very memory-hungry which froze my PC again and again and I switched back to OpenOffice 2.0. That version is the same that comes bundles with the Ubuntu Dapper Drake version that sits on the PC that runs Linux and it is, like the operating system itself, very stable and happy and keeps just chugging along nicely.

It would appear, from what I keep seeing, that the old Dapper Drake of Ubuntu, even though there have been a fair number of upgrades since as versions go, is still the most used Ubuntu distribution in use. I certainly must say that for the writing work of mine I love it simply because it does as it is “told”, so to speak, and gets on with it.

Join the Revolution! the eco-friendly computer software revolution, and get some freedom onto your PC.

© M Smith (Veshengro), June 2008