Open Source Software (OSS) and Linux

I really like open source software and the Linux-based operating system (enough said, right?). To cut to the chase, I would go all Linux and OSS except for two issues:

1. The Apple ecosystem. I love it (I have a Mac Pro, a Macbook Pro, an iPhone, an iPad, and I am the system admin of my program’s OSX server and workstations) and don’t like the idea of not using it. Although now that iOS is not intimately linked to iTunes for installations and syncing, it is a little less of an issue since my gadgets can live without a desktop computer.

2. My work. At the university and with my colleagues in the professional world we use Apple and Adobe products. More and more I find myself sharing project files instead of just rendered footage so using the same tools is very important. In my classes I teach with both commercial and OSS so it is key that I support them. This particular issue is essentially impossible to negate and will keep me a non-Linux user for my work for a long time to come.

Having said that, I plan for my next personal projects to be open and use OSS completely. The next two projects are a projection mapping project and a 3D project – hopefully they will start in January.

I like Linux-based OSs because they are free, easy to install, easy to maintain, secure, and there are lots of applications that are good enough to get work done at a high quality. I have played around with several distributions and have recently settled back to Ubuntu. Gnome 2.x was great and there was a great distro called Linux Mint that supported it, but Gnome 3 brought some major changes that are not quite mature enough for me yet. Ubuntu made some equally radical changes with its Unity system, but I have found that I prefer it so far. There are KDE-based distros out there that are really good too, but KDE is so much like Windows I find it overwhelming.

Back in the day I loved Windows (95, NT 4, 2K, XP) and hated Mac OS <=9. I liked the complexity and didn’t mind re-installing the computer every 6 months or so. Nowadays I prefer the elegance and simplicity of OS X and Unity and know that I have a terminal I can go to whenever I need some complexity. There is also no registry to deal with. The registry alone is a good reason to never use Windows again.

Open source software has been great to me for the last few years. I can do graphics, office, Internet, and programming work and be happy with the results and only pay for hardware. In the case of Blender I even keep up with the changes done on the code on a nearly daily basis. Going OSS is a lot less expensive and the tools are really catching up to their commercial counterparts. I would prefer to discuss using OSS professionally in a later post though.

Enough for now…