Jim's Open Source Software Pages

Free yourself from commercial software

Really free and really good

Free, open source software (FOSS) isn't just free, it's also good. It can replace the commercial software you're using now. Try telling this to most people and you'll probably get a blank look or a polite nod. How can anything be free and good? Following is the short answer.

Back when computers were much simpler, so was software. It was freely shared and modified by the small number of people who used it, mostly scientists and technicians. As computers became more widely used and more sophisticated, so did software. At some point, it became sufficiently sophisticated – and marketable – to copyright and sell. Commercial software was born.

There are people who still believe software should be free and should be freely shared. In organizations large and small, as paid staff and volunteers, they produce and maintain all the FOSS the typical user needs to run a computer, including the operating system.

Obviously, there's a lot more to the story. If you want details, you can visit the Wikipedia page on the subject. For information about the current state of the FOSS community, you can visit the Web sites of the Open Source Initiative and the Free Software Foundation..

To learn about the origins of specific FOSS applications, visit their Web sites. One of the most popular FOSS application is the Firefox Web browser by Mozilla. If you explore the Firefox Web site beyond the download page, as well as the site of the non-profit Mozilla Foundation, you'll understand that FOSS people are serious about their products.

The Ubuntu Web site is another good source of FOSS information. In addition to promoting this outstanding version of the free Linux operating system, the site includes articles about the history and the guiding principles of FOSS and the people who create it..

Although FOSS is not for sale, donations are gladly accepted. If you use FOSS to make money, you should definitely donate. Some FOSS sites have logo merchandise for sale, so you can donate and proclaim your computer-nerdiness with a T-shirt, baseball cap, or other gear.

Please send questions or comments to jim@jimgreene.com

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