The beauty of open source software

Jean Claude Elias
(Photo: Jordan News)
Softwarelicenses for computers are painfully expensive, it is a known fact. We have to accept it and live by it. In countless cases, however, there is an interesting and perfectly viable alternative, and it is called open source.اضافة اعلان

For those who want to work legally and enjoy peace of mind, not to mention reliable computing, paying for software is the only way.

Besides, with increased network connectivity and the trend to do most everything online, technically speaking the possibility to use cracked (i.e. pirated) software copies has become very difficult, if not impossible — in addition to being unlawful, of course.

Because our computers now are constantly connected to the internet, the legal owner of the application you would be using will inevitably find a way to detect its validity over the network and will disable it if not found legitimate.

Moreover, and although the price per license has gone down over the last few years, in most cases, what hurts is the total price you end up paying monthly or yearly, for all software products you could be using. It really adds up.

Open source is software that is legally free. It is clean, and free to get, to download, to install and to use. At first sight it sounds like it is too good to be true. But it is true. Where is the catch? There is no catch of any kind, but there are limitations that one should be aware of.

First there are not many open source products out there that are well tested, well known and that have stood the test of time.

The most striking and the most representative example is Linux Ubuntu. This is an operating system that replaces Microsoft Windows.

It is available for consumer computers and for servers as well.

According to Ubuntu has a 2 percent share of the world computer market. Despite this very small part, Ubuntu has proven that it is good, reliable and practical. So, why then not systematically replace your Windows with Ubuntu?

Because of the limited market share it holds, precisely, technical support is not as widely and easily available for Ubuntu as it is for Windows. If you have a problem with the latter or want to ask a question about it, you have countless resources to turn to, from tech-savvy friends to YouTube tutorials and everything in between. With Ubuntu the scope is significantly more limited.

Also, you may not find in Ubuntu all the functionality you may otherwise find in Windows, though again, the open source product will definitely be enough the do the job, and to do it well.

Another example of good open source software that has become popular and that can make you save money on licensing or subscription price is GIMP, the photo editing application. It is seen as a valid replacement for Photoshop, the reigning but expensive photo-app.

The user graphic interface may not be as aesthetic as Photoshop and perhaps not all of the functionality of the champion is there, but GIMP works and delivers — more than 95 percent of the users will not be asking for more.

Another great player on the open source software market is pfSense, a product based on FreeBSD. What pfSense does is replace an expensive firewall. This one may not be for your home computer setup and is more oriented towards businesses, large corporations and installations where a physical firewall is required, the device that provides ultimate network protection, the kind that anti-virus just cannot provide.

Physical firewalls involve an initial purchase of expensive equipment and then annual subscriptions that also cost a lot.

Open source pfSense helps users save thousands of dollars per year and provide network protection that is on a par with what paid firewalls bring.

Open source software is a good thing. Unfortunately, there are not many such products around.

The three examples mentioned above are some of the most significant.

One thing, however, is certain: The trend is towards increased availability and usage of open source.

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