Book review: Free Software for Busy People <i>by Mohammad Al-Ubaydli</i>

Book review: Free Software for Busy People by Mohammad Al-Ubaydli


I've used Windows for most of my life. Almost all of my family, friends and colleagues use Windows. The Microsoft network effect has locked in a majority of the population.

The book's cover The book's cover

Up to now, I've found that it is very hard to get people to switch to free software. After all, most Windows users have an operating system with applications that work well enough. Why should they care about free software when most of the people they know aren't using it?

What I wanted to know was will this book convince people to start switching to free software?

“Free Software for Busy People” is definitely a book for beginners who have heard a little about free software and want to find out more

To try to answer that question I showed it to a few Windows users. Most of them didn't know that people, governments and corporations across the world are already using free software. They became more open to the idea of using free software when this was explained to them through the simple case studies in the book. The book made them realise that free software can be used in a variety of circumstances at a fraction of the cost. One person even asked me to show him Firefox.

Who's this book for?

“Free Software for Busy People” is definitely a book for beginners who have heard a little about free software and want to find out more. The book works through a series of examples—from using OpenOffice.org to creating a website—to demonstrate the usefulness and wide applicability of free software. These examples are based around the needs of 6 people (government administrator, managing director, corporate executive, entrepreneur, Arabic teacher, primary school teacher) who all adopt free software.

Cons

My major problem with this book is that it leaves the “How on earth can free software even exist” chapter till the end of the book. The justification for free software is lacking at the beginning (and the author could have made a stronger case at the end) and this made some readers suspicious of it all.

Although I had a gentle introduction to free software though Firefox, Thunderbird and OpenOffice.org, I only made the switch to 100% free software because I understood the ethics and ideas behind it (and how on earth it could exist!).

Pros

If you can't convince your friends and colleagues to start making the switch, this is the book to give them. It sure beats blowing yourself blue in the face from singing the praises of free software. You can buy a printed and bound copy of the book, download a PDF, or read it as a hyperlinked html file here.

Title Free Software for Busy People
Author Mohammad Al-Ubaydli
Publisher Idiopathic Publishing
ISBN 0954415736
Year 2005
Pages 190
CD included No
FS Oriented (out of 10) 10
Mark (out of 10) 8

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