There has always been a section of the free software community which has an anti-Microsoft agenda. It's almost like their mission statement is "It's not over until Microsoft is dead". Certainly there is a lot of feeling that if Microsoft went away, a lot of our problem would be over. But do Microsoft even need to "lose"; is there even a battle to be fought and if so what would constitute winning it?
Announcing a brand new cartoon strip, exclusive to FSM!
Recently, in this column, I spoke about how we can lose our free software choices if we don't use them. Sticking with that choice is not always easy so how do we get others to make it, particularly in a world where the choice is often made for them. How can we advocate free software in a world where others don't seem to care?
Look through a list available packages for any free OS and you'll find a sometimes bewildering choice of browsers, mail readers, editors, desktops and tetris-clones available. Despite this many will just blindly install the first one they've heard of. Is this a good policy? What good is all this choice if we don't use it and what are those choices?
Note: please see the bottom of this post for a list of free software alternatives available now!
I'm a Debian user and--like many--I use apt and its associated tools. If you haven't yet discovered apt here's a brief summary of some of it and some of its tools which can make your package management even more powerful.
How do you replace Microsoft Outlook? Do you go for Evolution or Kontact? Can a combination of Mozilla Thunderbird and Lighting do the trick? Do you split the features and are there any compromises to be made?
M6-IT, a Community Interest Community in the UK, are part way through a project to equip socially excluded families with computers running Xubuntu. I was recently able to interview Richard Rothwell of M6-IT about this project and its progress.
A few comments on my article The perfect network server in issue 17 requested some more in depth follow-up pieces. This is what I hope to be the first of those. It focuses on Exim, the mail transfer agent (MTA), specifically setting it up with spam scanning. It is based on setups I currently use, hosted on Debian GNU/Linux.
On 28 February 2008, Elonex launched the Elonex ONE--the first sub-£100 laptop in the UK. Clearly competing against the much in-demand Asus EeePC , Elonex say they are aiming at the school-student market. The thing is, I just can't stop asking: isn't £99 too cheap for a laptop?
Microsoft Exchange is the name most organisations go for when thinking of sharing calendars, e-mail etc. However, there are free software alternatives--and of course you don't have to go for the obvious or popular option.
It has long been the case that proprietary software companies regularly engage in FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) tactics against their opponents. This particularly seems to apply to Microsoft's statements about free software in general and GNU/Linux in particular. Recently I've noticed a surge in the amount of FUD going the other way--from the FOSS community towards Microsoft and other proprietary software companies. Why do we feel it is necessary to fight FUD with FUD
To continue my look at how non-profits and the free software community can engage, I've decided to look at some popular free software products and see how well they fit the need of an average charity--namely my employer. I'll start with OpenOffice.org.
I've mentioned before the recent move among UK charities to become more "professional", which is often translated as "do what the corporates do" (particularly when it comes to IT). One reason for this is the dreaded bespoke friend-of-a-friend database. These "databases" (and I use the term loosely) are often written by a student, with tenuous links to the charity, looking for a final year project and usually in Microsoft Access and they are usually awful to maintain.
You might have gathered from my article about hosting free software events, I work and am interested in the UK Voluntary/Community Sector (VCS). I also am a user and advocate of free software and I have a desire to see it used more often in VCS and non-governmental (NG) organisations. I believe that these two groups should be some of the primary non-personal users of free software and here’s why.
It’s not about cost
On 2 Nov 2007, the Free Software Foundation Europe held an event in London, UK called "Free Software as a Social Innovation" to which I was fortunate to be invited. Run jointly with M6-IT CIC and described as an event to “help people learn more about Free Software and provide opportunities for hands-on experience with the technology”, it was aimed at those in the European not-for-profit and non-governmental sectors (hereafter referred to as the third sector).
It’s been said that for a free software desktop to succeed it needs to address the needs of the average home user. Managing digital photographs is just one of those needs. Let’s see how one of the more popular free software photo management applications, digiKam, measures up.
So you need a server? Not a web server of course, you rent someone else’s for that. No, you need a file server, print server, intranet, mail server and more. Can free software provide the answer? Of course it can.
Well what kind of answer did you expect from Free Software Magazine?
Genealogy is a burgeoning hobby and to help the home genealogist, a whole range of software is available. Much of it is commercial but here I’ll look at one of the most popular free software options—GRAMPS. Charting your family history needn’t mean compromising on licensing.
Finding your roots
What is free software? Should you care and if so, why and what does it have to do with cakes and my mother?