I'm planning to write a series of articles on Open Source Tools and Applications that I feel are ready for prime time desktop useage. I'll write one article for each app and list their relative strengths and weaknesses. If any of you read my stuff for any period of time you'll know I tend to use a lot of Open Source Software. This is for several reasons = "

  1. I can't afford to buy commercial stuff
  2. Open Source is one way I am a good steward
  3. I trust Open Source Software
I can't afford to buy commercial I mean really. I have 5 kids, I'm technically below the poverty level, and I need a working decent computer with software to do my job. How am I supposed to shell out 300+ dollars for an operating system, 399 dollars for a low end office suite, 109 dollars for the lowest end development environment, and we haven't even touched the ancillary stuff I'd need. Furthermore I'm supposed to shell that out every couple years? I'm sorry that just won't cut it. If I had to do that I'd have to get out this business altogether. Open Source is one way I am a good steward This relates to the above. I'm a christian so I believe God holds me accountable to how I spend my money. Hardware leaves me little choice. I don't buy top of the line but I do have to buy it. That comes out to a couple hundred here, a couple hundred there. Software is the only place I have an opportunity to cut spending. And I only have that opportunity because of Open Source. Where else can I get an entire operating system, plus a development environment, plus an office suite, plus a whole host of ancillary apps to help me do my job for the low low price of 80 dollars in a boxed set, or 0 if I have an internet broadband connection? Certainly not in Closed Source Software. I trust Open Source Software We've all seen some of the fear being spread around about open source software. It's volunteer driven, it must be lower quality. It's a free for all, anyone might put a security hole in there. You don't have any protection if stuff goes wrong. Who do you turn to when you need help. Let me just say. I've dealt with my share of Commercial Software companies. I've had to wait on the line for tech support. I've used the commercial offerings. They all had bugs. They all people with no clue taking tech support calls. In short it's no better on the Commercial Side than it is on the Open Source. It's a level playing field. At least, if your using open source, someone like me doesn't shudder when you ask if we can help fix your computer. We might even enjoy doing it. More and more software companies are putting out software that phones home. Right now it's optional. Soon it won't be. I have no control over what information is collected about me. So what? you might say. I don't have anything to hide. Well just think about the amount of spam you get. Now multiply that by a large number and imagine your spam filters trying to cope. Outlook Express? It's toast baby. It's not just about having something to hide. Can you trust that company to keep the information safe? Maybe the company has no nefarious plans for it but what about the employees? Or that clever hacker who just found a way in. Can that company keep your information safe from prying eyes? In my line of work I read every day about some major company that had somehow leaked personal information about it's customers. Lives were destroyed, Credit Ratings went down the tubes. I'm sorry but the less people who have copies of my Info the better. I can be sure that mainstream Open Source software doesn't phone home. Because if it did, Someone out there would have blown the whistle. I would have blown the whistle. On the whole us OSS types are pretty sharp about that stuff. So in short, I Trust Open Source."