Open Source Musings

Explaining Linux and open source, with a decidedly non-techie slant

Kind of bored seeing all these proprietary operating systems and apps at All Things Open. If you're serious about Open Source, use it

I know Shaun, and I know how passionate he is about free and open source software. And I agree with his stance.

That said, when it comes to using open source software on closed platforms, I'm of two minds. As you might guess, those seemingly opposed and contradictory ideas are difficult for me to reconcile.

On one hand, I believe that if you intend to embrace open source you should do it wholeheartedly. That means running open source software on open source operating systems. That means taking the time to adapt to both. That means learning what you need and what you don't need. That means adapting to new user interfaces and to shortcuts and commands. All of that takes time, but the results are worth it.

On the other hand, I understand that open source can be intimidating for some people. They need to ease into it. That means gradually replacing their proprietary software with open source alternatives on Windows and MacOS. Later, they may want to move to Linux in the form of Ubuntu (or one of its variants), elementary OS, or Linux Mint. Or not.

While I'd love more people to fully embrace using open source software on open platforms, I also realize that it's not an option for everyone. At least, not in the short term. As wrote in another post in this space:

Getting more people using open source, and embracing the ideas and values behind it, is the right thing to do. It’s not easy, but it can be done with very little pain. Who knows: by showing people the open source way, we might get some of them to spread the word.

In the end, that benefits us all.

Scott Nesbitt

#opensource #opinion

(Note: This article was originally published at Opensource.com and appears here via a CC-BY-SA 4.0 license.)

When you think of the word wiki, examples like MediaWiki or DokuWiki probably come to mind. They're open source, useful, powerful, and flexible. They can be great tools for collaborating, working on your own, or just organizing the piles of information in your life.

On the other hand, those wikis are also big. They need quite a bit of additional digital plumbing to run. For many of us, this is overkill, especially if we only want to use wikis on our desktops.

If you want to get that wiki feeling on your desktop without dealing with all of that plumbing, you easily can. There are a number of solid lightweight wikis that can help you organize your information, keep track of your task, manage your notes, and more.

Let's take a look at three lightweight, desktop wikis.

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In my work on The Plain Text Project and for Opensource.com, I've looked at ... well, a lot of text editors over the years. And when readers didn't see their favourite editor in an article, they suggested I include it.

Besides the usual suspects, one editor that kept popping up was Geany. While I haven't written a lot about Geany, I'm not unfamiliar with it. Despite being aimed at developers, Geany was for years the editor I used when working on LaTeX documents.

Since it's been quite some time since I've used it, so I recently decided to give Geany another look. Let's jump in.

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A few months ago, I finally realized that too much of what I did was spread across a few too many services and applications. Jumping around to review things like my calendar and task list was a bit of a distraction. I figured there had to be a better way of doing that.

I didn't have to look far. Nextcloud came to my rescue. While I've been using Nextcloud for several years, it was only recently that started thinking about using it as a personal hub. Yeah, sometimes it takes me a while ...

The great thing about Nextcloud is that it's easy to set up as a hub, with many of the tools that you need to do what you need to do. So, let's take a quick peek at how to turn Nextcloud into a personal hub.

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If you've been around the web for a while, you might recall the First Browser War. It was a digital arms race between Netscape and Microsoft to cram as many features into their web browsers as they could. And they did. The result of that war was buggy, bloated, ungainly software. I don't miss those days ...

Things aren't quite that bad in the web browser world today. But as this article points out, modern browsers still try to do too much. They try to be too much. Even though I use Firefox, I'm always on the lookout for a good minimal, open source web browser. And like the writer of that article, I've used, written about, and liked one called Min. But I also try to keep my options open.

Recently, I was reacquainted with Web, the browser that comes with the GNOME desktop. I remember Web when it was called Epiphany. Back then, it was a lightweight browser with more than a little promise. In those days, it wasn't quite where I thought it should be, though. Several years on, I decided to take another look at Web. Here's what I found.

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(Note: This post was first published, in a slightly different form, at Opensource.com and appears here via a CC-BY-SA 4.0 licence.)

I've had a soft spot for Elementary OS since I first encountered it in 2013. A lot of that has to do with the distribution being very clean and simple.

Since 2013, I've recommended Elementary to people who I've helped transition to Linux from other operating systems. Some have stuck with it. Some who moved on to other Linux distributions told me that Elementary helped smooth the transition and gave them more confidence using Linux.

Like the distribution itself, many applications created specifically for Elementary OS are simple, clean, and useful. They can help boost your day-to-day productivity, too.

Let's take a look at five of those apps.

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Over the years, I've read a lot about how Linux on the desktop is dead or dying. About how Linux hasn't been gaining any traction on computers used ... well, used everywhere and by everyone. I've even heard more than a few people muse whether or not Linux is ready for the desktop.

To be honest, I don't care about all those gloom and doom prognostications.

Why?

As I've been saying for a long time, Linux is ready for my desktop. It has been since the turn of the century. Using Linux and various pieces of free and open source software, I can do everything that I want and need to do on a computer. Write and publish? Definitely. Work with graphics? No problem. Play music and video? As long as there's no DRM, all is better than good. Use the web? Obviously ...

And, no, I only have to use the command line if I want to. I do every so often, but that's another story.

For me, Linux just works. More to the point, it lets me work. It's that simple. The experiences of others, the utterances of journalists and pundits, and the disbelief of people around me using Windows and Apple products don't matter to me. What matters are my experiences and how Linux works for me.

Scott Nesbitt

#linux #desktop #opinion

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