I remember like it was yesterday. Ten years ago, sitting in a networking lab and my instructor laid his laptop next to a projector and opened up his presentation. But instead of PowerPoint, he had opened the OpenOffice equivalent. Having just left a lecture lab that discussed Microsoft Office Suite, I appreciated the juxtaposition and the irony.
My classmates inquired as to why he wasn’t using MS Office. What should have been a discussion on LAN networks turned into a formal introduction to Open Source development.
One of the first hurdles that my classmates and I had to wrestle with is how could a free software package be capable of handling the tasks that we would normally buy software for? And even more puzzling, why would we give it away when you could profit from it? Lucky for us, our instructor was also somewhat a social activist and provided many stories where open source technologies have been used for both profit and non-profit business.
Since that fateful 3 hour lab, I have been a strong advocate of utilizing and contributing to open source development. I had started with OpenOffice but as of late I have migrated to LibreOffice, which is an OpenOffice variant that tends to get updated more often.
As stated on their website, ”LibreOffice is the power-packed free, libre and open source personal productivity suite for Windows, Macintosh and GNU/Linux, that gives you six feature-rich applications for all your document production and data processing needs: Writer, Calc, Impress, Draw, Math and Base.” OpenOffice and Libreoffice aren’t as ‘sexy’ looking as their commercial alternatives but they function in the same fashion. Both offers the user the tools needed to draft a word document, a spreadsheet, a database, a presentation, etc. After my first 3 months use, I appreciated the fact that the focus for this suite was on function rather than user interface asthetic. I could still make a document look as good as one generated in MSOffice. And best of all, it’s capable with MSOffice.
Now ten years later, I am still encouraging all my friends and colleagues to investigate LibreOffice and other open source solutions. I use open source solutions for almost all my computing needs. From photo editing to software development
Now if only someone would make an open source Pro Tools so I could save some green in my studio….