100% Open Source?

June 17, 2009 (ZDNet) - Whether it’s down to the sagging economy or the slow but inevitable death of XP, I’m hearing from many people who are looking to jump off the Microsoft software bandwagon and pitch up with the FOSS (Free and Open Source Software) movement. But could you realistically move your home or business PCs over to open source software and make a 100% switch?

This question intrigues me, and I think that ultimately there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to it. I think that some people could, others can’t, and others could, but simply won’t.

At one end of the spectrum you have the home user who spends 90% of their PC time on the Internet. These folks could switch to FOSS in a heartbeat. Even if they do more, like write lists, maybe compile a few reports, and maybe even mess about with photos and a bit of video, switching to FOSS would be a doddle.

At the other end of the spectrum you have large corporations running highly-complex systems. For these entities, changing anything is a major issue.

Then you have everyone else.

What I’m seeing is a lot of people making small stabs at moving to FOSS. Folks are giving IE the shove in favor of Firefox. Others are binning Outlook for apps such as Thunderbird. Other people are saving money by replacing their Microsoft Office suites with Open Office. Small moves.

Others seem stuck on commercial software because it’s the industry standard. Try getting graphic designers to switch from Photoshop to GIMP, and you’ll get some pretty emotional responses.

So, my question to you is this - Could you switch over to being 100% open source? In other words, could you replace your OS and all your software with open source alternatives and still do everything that you do now using commercial software? If so, how much training would you and others need, what would you do for support, and how long would it take you? While you’re thinking about open source, how much cash do you think you could save yearly?

I’ll start by saying that I couldn’t make the switch 100%. Partly that’s down to my work, both what I do here and elsewhere, but I also have to interact with folks who are very picky about file formats, and any messing about could cost time and money. It’s also down to the fact that I like messing with technology, and as I get older I find myself becoming more platform agnostic, not less. That said, if I could stick it to the man by giving Windows, Office, Photoshop and Premiere Pro the shove, and still do what I do, I’d be a very happy chap.

by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes


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