Could you switch over to being 100% open source?

Could you switch over to being 100% open source?

Summary: Whether it's down to the sagging economy or the slow but inevitable death of XP, I'm hearing from many people who are looking to jump off the Microsoft software bandwagon and pitch up with the FOSS (Free and Open Source Software) movement. But could you realistically move your home or business PCs over to open source software and make a 100% switch?


Whether it's down to the sagging economy or the slow but inevitable death of XP, I'm hearing from many people who are looking to jump off the Microsoft software bandwagon and pitch up with the FOSS (Free and Open Source Software) movement. But could you realistically move your home or business PCs over to open source software and make a 100% switch?

This question intrigues me, and I think that ultimately there's no one-size-fits-all answer to it. I think that some people could, others can't, and others could, but simply won't.

At one end of the spectrum you have the home user who spends 90% of their PC time on the Internet. These folks could switch to FOSS in a heartbeat. Even if they do more, like write lists, maybe compile a few reports, and maybe even mess about with photos and a bit of video, switching to FOSS would be a doddle.

[poll id="470"]

At the other end of the spectrum you have large corporations running highly-complex systems. For these entities, changing anything is a major issue.

Then you have everyone else.

What I'm seeing is a lot of people making small stabs at moving to FOSS. Folks are giving IE the shove in favor of Firefox. Others are binning Outlook for apps such as Thunderbird. Other people are saving money by replacing their Microsoft Office suites with Open Office. Small moves.

Others seem stuck on commercial software because it's the industry standard. Try getting graphic designers to switch from Photoshop to GIMP, and you'll get some pretty emotional responses.

So, my question to you is this - Could you switch over to being 100% open source? In other words, could you replace your OS and all your software with open source alternatives and still do everything that you do now using commercial software? If so, how much training would you and others need, what would you do for support, and how long would it take you? While you're thinking about open source, how much cash do you think you could save yearly?

I'll start by saying that I couldn't make the switch 100%. Partly that's down to my work, both what I do here and elsewhere, but I also have to interact with folks who are very picky about file formats, and any messing about could cost time and money. It's also down to the fact that I like messing with technology, and as I get older I find myself becoming more platform agnostic, not less. That said, if I could stick it to the man by giving Windows, Office, Photoshop and Premiere Pro the shove, and still do what I do, I'd be a very happy chap.

Your turn. Go!

Topics: Open Source, Software

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  • I'd like to...

    My wife is 100% Linux (Ubuntu 8.04) at home and its worked out wonderfully.

    At work there is little chance for either of us, but I do run about ten Linux boxes for dedicated tasks I've developed -- the ability to clone more without the hassles of installing and activating windows has made these very successful.

    At home I'm stuck on windows for video editing and photoshop. Gimp is good, but I don't have the "right" printer to get good output, video editing on Linux has a lot further to go, although Kdenlive has potential (compare to Sony Media Studio) if they could fix the crashes.
    • Funny

      "My wife is 100% Linux (Ubuntu 8.04)"

      So you AREN'T using 100% FOSS then.

      (Try using Gobuntu instead)
      • funny?

        he said he isn't but his wife is... whats funny?
        • Can I? I've done it. Full Functionality, Full File Compatibility.

          First, you'll excuse me but I'm using the more common meaning of FOSS: Anything Linux as long as there's no Microsoft in the mix. For now I gave up Debian to make things easy on myself during the transition/learning curve.

          With SuSE 11.1 I have full functional replacement. I can do EVERYTHING exactly as I used to with Windoze. Everything. I keep my XP partitions around because I have paid for them but I never boot them anymore.

          And I have full file compatibility. I can read and write any file format that is sent to me, work it, and send it back to whomever.

          Obviously, I wouldn't force anything on my boss (if I had one) or clients, but for all my home and business operations it's Linux and as much FOSS as I can.

          It did take a year of hard work to get here but that brought me up to par with 30 years of Windoze.<br>
          <a href="">Western News Co (Chicago)</a><br>

          Seamus O'Brog
          • Wow.. "30 years of Windoze"?

            Given the first version of Windows only came out in 1985, and it's still 2009 by my calendar, that just doesn't quite fit, now, does it unless you've somehow managed to slip back 6 years in time...

            {sigh} Yet another clueless Lintard trolling away...
    • I already have

      I voted yes, as I already have switched to Free Software. I don't even use WINE.

      In fact I do more with Free Software, than I was ever able to do with Proprietary Software, as I am no longer restricted by having to buy it, make sure I buy the right version, have the activation key. In fact I've also managed to introduce many Free Software applications into my current workplace. Open, the GIMP, Inkscape, GParted, and a Linux Live CD enabled us to salvage our Time keeping Database when Windows corrupted it's own root partition.

      As for myself I have a complete development environment on my Linux box, I have a full office environment, I have the ability to edit all the images I want to create any Vector graphics I need. I hev no need for Windows at home.
      tracy anne
      • I want to join the FOSS Movement as well

        I've been sitting on the sidelines far too long and its time for me to take part as well.

        but the big question which has kept me at bay has always been: where do i start?
        - where can i find FOSS support blogs/forums
        - where can i find FOSS step by step instructions/guides
        - where can i find FOSS tips & tricks
        - where can i find FOSS downloads

        please will you kindly assist and guide me to the above?

        thanks in advance

        • support forums

          I have tried Linux for over a year; but I have recent;y returned to Windows; leaving Ubuntu on my server running MythTV.

          What I like about Linux?
          - ?Free - but it's not that important
          - Free as in Beer - freedom for it to develop; I like philosophy that anyone can contribute
          - KDE4; when its polished it will be great - it's not there yet though

          What I didn't like:
          - spending more time tinkering with the laptop than actually using it.
          - inconsistent, even badly designed user interfaces for applications
          - non-existent user interfaces for critical applications; such as mounting a network share
          - lack of integration - applications rarely work as a proper suite of applications cause they are developed seperately.

          And the killer for me; I have a Thinkpad T60 and it overheated and shutdown using Ubuntu/Kubuntu. Windows 7 RC1 works fine.

          Support for FOSS? pick a distribution, hey pick a few and try them out they all have support forums regarding all the software available for Linux.

          Linux distributes software differently, there is usually a single user interface to find, install and update software; such as synaptic package manager.

          Popular distributions include

          most people think Ubuntu is one of the friendliest; I think Ubuntu (using the default GNOME interface looks like Windows2000; its not pretty. KDE4 is much prettier but needs much work).

          There are other desktops for Linux - Linux seperates the code that you cant see (drivers and kernel) from the desktop so you can have different desktop looks and feels all running the same applications. Dont worry about this though as all the distributions have a default desktop.

          Ubuntu (using GNOME) has Kubuntu and Xubuntu which are variants with different desktops (KDE and XCFE respectively).

          Give it a go, it could work for you.

          • I couldn't agree more.

            Good reply my sentiments entirely
            Richard Turpin
        • Where can you find FOSS support blogs/forums?

          As well as How To and Instruction Guides, Tips and Tricks and of course downloads and links to other useful and helpful sites:

          There are users who have created free and open source customization scripts as well for adding popular programs. I highly recommend AutoTen, which can be found by searching the Fedora Forum site.
        • Re: I want to join the FOSS Movement as well

          Intro to Linux at HowStuffWorks

          Ubuntu (Do NOT start with KUbuntu!)

          Ubuntu Support

 Your Source for All Things Linux

          [b]Best for Beginners:[/b] Any Windows user can find their way around Linux Mint within minutes without training or hand-holding.

          Linux Mint automatically determines users' system components and makes settings for video adapters, monitors, network and Internet connections, CD-ROMs, hard drives, USB devices, media devices, printers, mouse, keyboard, etc. The "Start Menu," superior to that of Windows, is much easier to use than Windows Vista or even Windows XP.

          Like Windows users, Linux Mint users must also select their own time zone and location. However, Linux Mint has real intelligence built in to eliminate unnecessary user input during installation of the default configuration.

          To try a free Windows replacement, download a LiveCD ISO from Try a different mint flavor at the Download Linux Mint 7 Gloria page at Or visit the minty Linux Mint homepage at

          • Excellent advice

            Couldn't have said it better myself.

            Linux Mint rocks, right out of the box.
            Ole Man
    • Idea with the video editing...

      It may not be so obvious, and might take a bit of getting used to, but I've found the sequence editor inside Blender (open source 3D animation program), along with it's compositing node editor, to be a FANTASTIC way to edit videos.

      Might not work for you, but it's just a suggestion :)
  • I would like to and even tried it on many occasions...

    but I still ran into instances where it was just too cumbersome to fiddle with it. I use Pidgin (for windows) and Firefox -but thats where my FOSS use ends. Loading linux is an epic fail because I have to compile drivers (creative x-fi) and I have to pray and fiddle around with things to get World of Warcraft to run. That is just too much if you ask me.

    To get everything working in windows? I just turn the PC on. Huge difference.

    So until FOSS (Linux) becomes more "user friendly" its doomed to fail or be a virtually irrelevant portion of the market.
    • You haven't tried lately

      With few exception, Ubuntu will run the wifi without even blinking. WOW will run just fine under Wine. You can set it up once and forget it. The time it takes to set things up will be more then made up by the speed of the OS. If you try it now, you will start to like it, though, you are right, that some of the programs are a little clumsy to get used to.

      The biggest problem most people have, is leaving that comfort zone. the last wime you tried it, did you go into it thinking, "If it is close to the same as in Windows, I will probably stay with it."?

      If you want a good reason to stay with Linux, take a stop watch, try some apps, notice the time difference. Once you see how they work, the time difference will make you swich.

      • Just set it up and forget it

        Uh-huh. Just set it up.

        Yeah. Oh, yeah. Piece of cake.
        • Funny...

          ... This is how I converted one of my friends to Linux. He said that if I could get WoW running, easily, without a hassle, he would switch.

          I installed WINE, ran the setup, and disabled Compiz. It worked like a charm, and that was on an older laptop also. No problems, no hassle.

          He switched, and was angry when his parents had him switch back to Windows. He preferred Linux.

          For him, it was EASIER.
      • Games

        I've tried multiple times to switch to FOSS and
        the last couple of times I was close. Ubuntu
        really gives people a nice head start but what
        always drags me back to Windows is the games. Just
        because WOW will run on Wine doesn't mean much
        else will unfortunately.
        • Linux Native games are Better

          Open Source Linux games are not only better but free. Try VegaStrike or one of its spinoffs for example. Real space physics instead of that bogus EVE manuevering.
          • Freespace 2

            I had not heard of VegaStrike, but I'm downloading it now.

            Is it like Freespace 2? I know that the engine behind FS2 went open source, and I have it running on my linux box.