[kwlug-disc] Open Source intro handout

Oksana Goertzen ogoertzen at gmail.com
Thu Apr 30 13:38:29 EDT 2009

I think the advantages of Open Source can and need to be emphasized.
Once outside of the Windows/Mac world you forget all those annoyances
and the crippling/petty nature of proprietary software.  I think people just
simply think Linux is "free" and don't understand the significance or
importance of open source.  For example, a government-funded social
service agency could design and build their own case management
system under the guide of a large corp like IBM and this system would be
closed and proprietary - or they could design and build an open source
system that millions of other like agencies and social groups around the
world could use.  All these other social agencies around the world could
contribute their ideas and some of their monies to improve this case
management system.  Imagine the benefit worldwide of all these agencies
effectively pooling their resources in creating a robust system they all
could take advantage of.

I believe a lot of people in the target audience are likely to confuse
open source with "free", as in free but proprietary  - as in Adobe Acrobat
Reader and similar software.

In thinking of the average user they might most enjoy:

-one routine to update/upgrade and security patch _all_ your software (!!)

-one version that includes _all_ features (not some features are free and
others you need to pay for use - though some open source projects/supporters
seem to be moving away from this model as of late, i.e. VirtualBox)

-no worries about licensing - the right license for the right use (i.e. Windows
with it's multiple versions -> features stripped out depending on what you're
using), - license renewals and maintenance contracts and support being tied
to one vendor

-software is not tied to hardware - i.e. you retire your computer and you
can't use the license you bought anymore, you can use Linux where ever
and whenever you like.  :D

-if you find something you like - you can share it without whomever you like

-you can customize and personalize your system as you wish - add as much
bling as you like, make as lean as you want, chose your window manager or
your own theme, your own colour scheme and icons etc.  you can mix and
match programs - install whatever works for you

-if the software doesn't meet your requirements you are free to modify it,
as opposed to say, Microsoft Office not tying into one of your main apps -
you are free to modify open source software to suit your particular needs

-it's relatively easy to move your files from one system to another - user
files and configuration are in one directory

-there are utilities to backup your files, burn cds/dvds and iso's
right in the OS,
antivirus options that free, Office suites that are freely available and for the
most part, compatible with Microsoft Office, there are games and graphic
and photo management utilities (I only mention this, as these are things
the average user will end up paying for on top of a Windows or Mac OS
for basic functionality.)

Maybe a list of open source software that can used on Windows/Mac would also
be helpful for people to get a glimpse into what's possible if they
don't install
or use Linux in the immediate future.

:)  Oksana

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