This blog records my personal adventures with Ubuntu Linux.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Understanding Open Source...

In the past I had spent time trying out and browsing different “live CD” distros but had been a little disappointed because they weren't able to do all the normal things I do daily while using Windows XP for surfing the net, listening to live streams, (ie..,) watching videos (ie., watching/listening Windows Media Player files, listening to mp3's or running quicktime movies. It seems that these are fairly easy things to do in Windows as a plug-in can easily be installed to handle it.

However, after researching Linux more (and in particular Ubuntu,) I found the biggest reason was that all the stuff I came to know and get used to in Windows, actually had propriety rights and thus needed acknowledgment of a licensing agreement. Before in Windows, I routinely agreed to the various licensing agreements without giving much thought to this concept. What I have found is that Linux in general (and in particular Ubuntu) strives to use software that is Open Source using Open Source formats, thus staying away from having someone agree to various non-open source agreements. Furthermore I found I could actually get the same functionality by downloading and installing optional packages that will serve up these media types. However, I now find myself giving this concept more serious thought and it's impact overall. Open Source vs. Proprietary... all the things I've come to know and enjoy in the Windows realm have proprietary roots, which means we are driven by key supplier vendors and what they want. On the other hand Open Source says here's something, try it, improve upon it and share it again. With this model we don't have to get caught up in a trap of following key vendors and overall the community gets a much better product.

I believe this to be a big hurdle Windows users have in trying or adopting Linux as a platform (I know it was for me.) Windows users are so used to getting the mainstream of Internet communications mediums that work with little or not trouble. Without understanding this key concept, one may get discouraged and wonder why they should convert (especially if the things we consider normal everyday Internet activities don't work.) Maybe there should be a warning sign or description of this fact that people can read before they dive in. They too, like myself, my obtain a stronger feeling/liking to the Open Source community.

I'm not completely converted over to Open Source software yet (I'm off to a good start using Firefox, Ubuntu and Open Office on my test laptop, however, I still use commercial software and proprietary formats on my primary work and home computers... well I did switch over to using Firefox as my main browser, guess this counts...) however, the seeds have been planted, and who knows what will grow. I am committed to working with and using Open Source more and more, and will probably embrace more use of “ogg” vs. “mp3” (I wonder if my MP3 player will recognize and play “ogg” formats... will have to research this and see what I can find) as well as convert even my Home Windows Office productivity software to Open Office.

Stay tuned... I'll write more about what I'm learning/finding...

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