Guest post by Rami Taibah. Rami is a Linux advocate. He blogs at Royal HeHe2-ness.
During my years of Linux advocacy, I am usually asked a very basic question “what makes Linux better than [insert OS here].” The answer is a result of years of developing and honing the perfect answer to a non-technical person. I usually start with explaining that there are two fundamental schools of thought in the programming world. One that conceals and forbids any changes in functionality, while the other is open and encourages customization to fit ones needs. The conversation naturally goes from there to giving examples of Open Source programs this person might be using unwittingly. Here are 7 programs that the whole Open Source community is very proud of.
VLC media player is an open source player, encoder, and streamer that supports a wide variety of audio and video codecs in addition to DVD support. This little piece of heaven is almost fully platform independent, boasting a portfolio of supported OSes such as Windows, Mac, Linux, BeOS, BSD, and Solaris. It is almost the answer to any codec woes. “X file is not working”, a quick “install VLC” would probably be the answer. I discovered VLC back in my dial-up days (not very far away 2003), when I wanted to view incomplete e-mule files. Someone in the e-Mule IRC channel recommended it to me. I swear by it since then!
No Open Source app list would be complete without the mention of Firefox! I believe that this browser was instrumental in the development of the Internet. Without Firefox you would probably have 20 instances of Internet Explorer in your taskbar right now (although Firefox weren’t the first, they popularized the concept of tab browsing.)
With the rise of the new millennium, and after the Internet bubble burst, web development grew stagnant and Microsoft sat on their laurels with Internet Explorer. Firefox served as a catalyst in advancing the wheel of Internet development. The geekerati flocked to Firefox, in only 5 years Firefox captured 20% of the web browser market!
Honestly, ones “geek-cred” would take serious dent if they aren’t using Firefox. Oh and I also feel mentally distressed when I see someone using IE. Ya I know I am a fanatic!
Non-techies probably use WordPress on a daily basis, and to them they are not even using a “program” in it’s conventional sense. To them it’s just a “website”. WordPress has developed into the premiere and the “go-to” platform for blogging. In less than two years it has bypassed other known blogging platforms on Google trends, 34% of the Technocrati top 100 blogs are using it (making it the most used), and currently claims a huge percentage of the total blog market! Quite a feat!
“Code is Poetry” is WordPress’s mantra, it effectively reflects the Open Source community’s enthusiasm about programming. Keep up the good work guys, we are proud of you!
We heard this a million times, “this is the year of the desktop”, forgetting an even more important market. Apache has locked the server market in to the Open Source camp for years. Virtually anybody who uses the Internet will undoubtly use Apache on a Linux server unwittingly. And about that we brag! Hell even Google is proud of you, their search engine front end is based on a modified version of Apache, named Google Web Server (GWS). According to the latest Netcraft numbers, Apache dominates 50% of the server market. Even though Apache slipped in the recent years, it is still a testament to the viability of Open Source. Apache, you will always be the poster child in our eyes
Amarok is a music player I simply adore! I don’t think I ever felt so passionately about an application as much as Amarok (yes even Firefox). I am so entangled with it that I don’t even know whats out there anymore. All I know that it fetches my covers, lyrics, and bios from Wikipedia. Amarok is also extendable via user scripts, giving you flexibility to say, control it from your mobile phone through bluetooth, blacklist certain tracks, or search youtube for the music video. The possibilities are endless to pimp your Amarok ! I don’t really know if these capabilities are now available in other players, nor do I care, Amarok got me locked in!
All you Gtalk users, you are on Open Source turf (just like E-mail, POP, DHCP…etc, the way codes should be; OPEN!). Jabber is basically an instant messaging application that depends on the open standard Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol (XMPP).
I must admit, OpenOffice is still not up there with Microsoft Office. However, just the fact that OpenOffice gives you 95% of Microsoft Office capabilities without losing an arm and a leg gives us bragging rights. After all why should I pay over $300 for 10% of the features I actually need? It just sounds a bit unfair if you ask me.
There you have it. 7 apps that you can brag about or just to prove a point about Open Source. Of course this list is not exhuastive at all! Open Source has lots up it’s sleeve. Thunderbird, Gimp, OpenSSH, Laconica, MythTV…etc all are beaming examples of our great culture. Open Source FTW!
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