Open Source Software

Here at AG you will often see me recommend open source and/or free software. There are four main reasons for this:

  • Most are cross platform. That means you can use the same programs and files on Windows, Linux, and OS X without running into problems. Additionally, you can transfer the programs preferences and stuff between platforms with a little prodding around. Often times configuration files are in easy to read XML files.
  • Data lock in isn’t an issue because the file formats are open and can easily be opened with another application or a converter can be built.
  • Price is a big factor for me at least. I operate on a shoe string budget and if I can save money on software I will. I don’t believe in pirating software so if I cannot find a free alternative I’ll gladly go without.
  • Do one thing and do it well. With few exceptions the common thread in open source software is that each application does ONE thing and does it well. Often times on the commercial side you see applications that do many things like a Swiss army knife but rarely do they do all the things they claim to do well.

There are a few other reasons why but that covers most of it. Reading around the internet the common arguments against open source software seems to be it’s insecure because you can view the source. Quite the opposite since it’s source visible anyone can audit the code and secure it. It’s free so it must be worthless, I cannot rebut that because I don’t understand the logic there.

My biggest issue with open source programs is many projects fall by the wayside some of the less popular programs I’ve used have not seen updates in a couple of years. I suppose developers

loose interest or move on to bigger and better things which quite frankly sucks however commercial software also goes by the wayside too. Developers either discontinue support for older versions or stop making the application all together. I don’t have an statistics but I’ve venture to say the number of abandoned applications on both sides of the fence are similar.

In conclusion unless I win the lottery, you will see a lot of free software  recommendations here. Even if I win the lottery I’ll probably still be using many free programs because that’s what I’m used to using. 🙂  What software do you use and why?

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