Open Source Software

Before we begin our installation, let's pause for one post, and talk about Open Source Software.  Open Source Software is software that is open and in the public domain.  Open Source refers to the source code which is also in the public domain, thus open.   In other words, it's free.

There are a couple of different license types for Open Source Software, but basically, if it's Open Source, you can go ahead and download it, and use it on your computer for free.  It's free for private use and it's free for commercial use.  There are no license fees, no one to notify when you download and use the software, and no license police out to see if you have paid for the current copy of the license.  Have at it and enjoy.

Now this begs several questions.  Why would anyone give software away that they've created?   Marketing software for sale takes quite a bit of revenue and effort.  As soon as you become successful, then big brother will come along with a competing product, and with big brothers marketing muscle, your out of business.

In fact, there is a business model for open source software and a way to make money for developers.  Usually a robust, free version is given away, and a pro version is sold with additional features.  Adobe pioneered this method.  Also commercial customers want support from developers, and are willing to pay for that support.

Isn't free software shoddy, not up to commercial standards?  Your in for a shock, but a lot of Open Source Software is just as good and in some instance better than commercial versions.  Why? Because, some developers just like developing an application to see if they can do better than any other product on the market.  Sometimes it's not just one developer, but several with a common mission.  The developers are in it for the love of building good software, and for the most part they do an excellent job.  They know if you don't like it, your going to delete it and not use it.

What can I expect when downloading open source software?  You can expect high quality software, with very few bugs, good install programs, and with all the bells and whistles of the commercial equivalent software.  A lot of times this will run on all operating systems.  Some of this software was developed by major corporations, like Sun, who developed Open Office and gave it to the public as a way to diminish Microsoft Office.

What are the drawbacks from using Open Source Software?  Well. just like any commercial software you would buy, don't expect Open Source Software to do things exactly like, and have the same exact look, as the leading commercial version.  The controls may be slightly different, or in a different place, or the menus are slightly different in wording or placement.  If your developing competing software you want to make it slightly different, and have more or better functionality.  Now having said all that you'll find Open Office is very close to Microsoft Office in the way you interact with the software.

Free software has been around since 1983, that's 26 years, a long time.  Some of the open source software has had a decade or more put into its development, so you can expect non-trivial, high quality software that will have the good functionality.

So with this intro.  What were going to be doing with this software installation is loading Open Source software.  Our goal is to have a computer system that will have the functionality of a Microsoft based system with out any of the cost.  Let's see how close we can come.

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