Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Free and Open Source Stigma ?

Thinking about free software and the ways that I use it everyday, I’m surprised (and grateful) that so much of it exists. From Mozilla to gmail and all the websites I have acess to and information from. I realize there is a distinction between this kind of free software, and the open source software we have been reading about, although I’m not exactly sure how to draw the line. In terms of open software projects, like the GIMP and Open/NeoOffice, which are open source versions of Photoshop and Microsoft Office Suite, I realized I have a strange aversion to the free versions. Although they have nearly all, or more, of the features of commercial programs, I still bought Microsoft Office a few weeks after getting a laptop because Open/NeoOffice just.. didn’t feel the same. Now I’m trying to figure out why I care? And wondering, how many people do use the free versions compared to the ones you have to pay for? According to this, NeoOffice is undeniably superior to Microsoft Office. After further investigation online, Gimp is generally regarded (by those who have taken a little time to get past the interface) as perfectly comparable to PS, and especially good because of the 1) freeness and 2) support from people who actually helped write the code and care about their product and the users.

I haven’t been able to find any reliable numbers about how many people are using the FOSS vs commercial versions of either program, does anyone have any idea? Now I’m just really curious, and resigned to give the freebies an equal chance.

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