In computer science, open source indicates a program whose authors (more precisely the rights holders) allow and encourage the free study and the changes contribution made by other independent programmers (Wikipedia).
In free continuation to my previous post collective intelligentsia we’ll talk about a cultural revolution at first and a technical one at the end. Open-Software vs. Closed systems.
6000,00 € OFF is the proof/provocation of how to have better software and very minimal similarities at a cost of 0, but with a significant impact on quality.
We will analyze the operating systems and some of the most famous software in graphics, publishing and video. But what are the open source software? Often, if you ask colleagues, friends or large multinational corporations to opt for free software, the answer is negative because there’s a wrong association with the words free and poor. The fact that something is free and spread doesn’t mean that it hasn’t great qualities, but to answer the question, we do first a short excursus to the open world.
What are they?
Open source software allow and promote a free study and the changes contribution, by means of appropriate licenses, by other independent programmers. The free and spontaneous cooperation of several parts allows the final product to achieve greater complexity.
Currently the most popular are Firefox, OpenOffice.org, VLC, Gimp, 7-Zip, the operating systems BSD, GNU, Android (mobile and tablet) and the Linux kernel, a basically rising number. Next to the open source movement philosophy, which aims to overcome any obscurantism through the knowledge sharing, there’s the open content movement and Wikipedia is a clear example (see previous post about Wikipedia problems).
How were they born?
At the beginning of the Fifties and Sixties the code was equally distributed through tapes and punch cards, while in the Seventies, when the main component of a computer was the hardware, producers decided to sell their product together with more software to facilitate spread. The presence of operating systems running on machines of different hardware manufacturers, such as Unix (1969), expanded hence the possibilities of using the same code in a relatively independent way from the used hardware.
Richard Stallman (today known for the not very nice joke cracked on Steve Jobs) founded in 1985 the Free Software Foundation (FSF), a non-profit organization for the development and distribution of free software, developing GNU, a complete operating system compatible with Unix, but distributed under a permissive license and with all the free tools. “GNU’s Not UNIX” “The principal goal of GNU was to be free software. Even if GNU had no technical advantage over Unix, it would have a social advantage, allowing users to cooperate and an ethical advantage, respecting their freedom”. Thus was born the GNU General Public License (GPL), whose manifesto begins: “The most software licenses are designed to take away the user’s freedom to share and change. In contrast, the GPL is intended to guarantee freedom to share and change free software, in order to ensure that programs are “free” for all its users”. The Eighties were characterized by the birth of the Personal Computer (PC), a computer with its own processor, designed to be used by one user at a time. IBM, Intel and Microsoft used strictly commercial licenses, had prohibited the copy and the modification of the code and they allocated their products to users with relatively poor computer knowledge. Were also introduced the workstation, systems based on terminals (client) and central computers (servers), favoring the development of software both for inexperienced people (clients) and for qualified personnel (server).
The revolution occurred in the Nineties, when Linus Torvalds, a student of computer science at the University of Helsinki, decided to develop its own operating system imitating the functionality of Unix on a PC with an Intel 386. Torvalds distributed his work through the web and immediately received a large response from other programmers, who contributed to the project by providing new features. Thus the Linux kernel was born and distributed under a liberal license and considered the first true open source project. To promote the idea of liberal licenses in business, Bruce Perens, Eric S. Raymond, Ockman and others created in 1997 a lobby in favor of an ideological redefinition of the free software, highlighting the practical benefits for companies and they coined the term “Open Source”. And after this brief introduction, let’s enter into our saving. First we choose the operating system. The choice of operating system doesn’t affect all the software, an open program doesn’t mean that runs only on Linux or similar, but it can be cross and run on all operating systems.
Currently the market offers these choices (let’s see the most famous):
Mac OS X Lion - € 23.99:
More than 250 new features, even more rich Multi-Touch gestures, full-screen app to keep open at the same time with Launchpad to make all more intuitive, immediate, and ready for the launch. And once you restart your Mac, you can resume work without having to start from scratch, with all open windows and documents saved automatically, as not to lose valuable time. A great novelty for OS X, but above all a great relief for who many times has lost hours of work for not saving. And also AirDrop, the new fast way to share files with other users without using a Wi-Fi, simply clicking on the icon Airdrop in the Finder sidebar and Mac will automatically detect other AirDrop users within a 10 meters radius. After all, we each love the genius of Apple and at a cost € 23.99 from Applestore, it can be done, although many users have complained about the weight and some common installation problems. I still have Snow Leopard.
Windows 7 Pro - € 299.00:
Windows 7 Professional includes Home Premium and business features, allowing you to maximize productivity and protect sensitive data with which to work. It takes just a few clicks of the mouse to perform most of the routine tasks and save valuable time. Automatic backups save your works, file encryption protects sensitive data on shared PC, Windows troubleshooting greatly reduces problems to work more comfortably and safely. New features like Jump Lists to quickly access to photos, music, docs and websites, Snap the new fun way to resize and compare windows on the desktop, Gruppo Home for sharing files and printers on your home network and many others.
GNU/Linux - 0.00 €:
Linux is not just an operating system, but also a way to conceive programming and software development. Linux is a family of Unix-like operating system, having like nucleus the Linux kernel. Linux is freely available to anyone without restriction, in source or compiled form. Also its distribution and modification aren’t bound even if, in case of changes to the original, it should always be marked the author. There are many distributions of Linux and the most popular at the moment are: Ubuntu, a distribution derived from Debian, which came into le limelight because of the use and installation ease and of the availability of frequent updates of the stable version and Linux Mint (also used by the French illustrator David Revoy, see post). Linux Mint is based on Ubuntu, but has some design differences, such as a different interface, with customizable main menu and the various applications designed to make system management easier.
Already in the operating systems choice we can see many possibilities.
By opting for a solution Mac OS Lion, we will have a good operating system even if the transition from Snow Leopard was a little troubled for some users, on Linux you can choose various versions and also Child solutions having pre-installed collections of educational games in suitable environments for children from preschool age. Window 7 is an interlude apart, now it’s going to try the way on mobile, but I don’t think it will have chance.
And after watching operating systems on which we can operate, let’s do a software comparison. We will look at some of the most well-known, mainly dedicated to graphics and web and video editing, but I will conclude with useful links for every use environment. And in the end I’ll disclose you what I’m using … but let’s start with the software:
Environment Image Editing and Layout.
Images, photographs, photo editing and layout of magazines, the essential for traditional graphic designers.
The most famous closed software with fee:
Adobe ® Photoshop ® € 1,208.79
Adobe ® Illustrator ® € 785.29
Adobe ® InDesign ® € 906.29
Open source solutions:
The only real viable alternative that can compete with Adobe ® Photoshop ® is only GIMP. Gimp Painter is the extension that expands the capabilities, making it even more complete, efficient and suitable for every need. There are also many solutions of plug-ins and I personally use it on MacOS and Linux with the pro interface. The early difficulty, coming from Photoshop, is the mental “restructuring” of many codes, but Gimp is very fast on some features that make it, in my opinion, superior to Photoshop, especially in some filters and some solutions on Blur. Cost € 0.00 voluntary donation.
Krita is a program created in 2005 for drawing and image editing, included in the KOffice suite of programs. This is a free software released under the GPL license, similar to Gimp or Adobe Photoshop. On its account surely the interface, many color models, the support of realistic coloration tools that mimic pencil draws and ink or paint brushes that simulate also the pigment drying. It’s really great trying it under Linux Mint. The KOffice suite is free and it’s the open version of Office. Krita is also included in the Calligra suite, a powerful open programs suite in its first release. Cost € 0.00 voluntary donation.
MyPaint is a free software app, created in 2005, to illustrate and draw with a graphic tablet. Easy interface, almost all the basic drawing functions are assigned to keyboard shortcuts, making a very fast access to the tools, thanks to the flexible arrangement of the toolbar. It offers a simple free alternative to Gimp. Cost € 0.00 voluntary donation.
Inkscape is a vector drawing free program, based on Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) format. It’s an alternative program to Adobe Illustrator, Macromedia Freehand, Corel Draw and Xara Xtreme and allows the interaction with Gimp as Adobe Photoshop does with Illustrator, or rather with Gimp you can open an SVG file, importing it as a raster image, or extract individual tracks, which are also editable and they can be re-exported from Gimp. Cost € 0.00 voluntary donation.
Scribus is the open source alter ego of Adobe ® InDesign ®, a very useful software for the layout. Fast and easy to use with the full potential of Adobe and many more features that the lettering and typography lovers will surely appreciate. It also has a system file viewing for people who have visual disabilities and the opportunity to format the document preformatting margins. (This article was written on Scribus. N.d.A.) I also report as closed source software, but low-cost, Pixelmator. I discovered it time ago, thanks to my friend and colleague Fabio Sirna. I snubbed it at first, but I must say that the latest version I have installed is very interesting and fast, it runs on Mac and costs around thirty euros. You can find it on the AppStore, try it.
Environment Video Editing
We love cinema.
The most famous closed software with fee:
Apple Final Cut Pro X: € 239.99
Adobe ® Premiere ® Pro: € 1027.29
Adobe ® After Effects ®: € 1329.49
Open source solutions:
KDEnlive (KDE Non Linear Video Editor) is an open source software, launched in 2002 by Jason Wood, for the non-linear video editing for the KDE desktop environment. Kdenlive is currently the most versatile video editing program out there and supports QuickTime, AVI, WMV, MPEG and Flash Video, for both 4:3 and 16:9 PAL, NTSC and various standard HD and HDV. Videos can also be exported to DV devices, or written to a DVD with simple menu or chapters. Kdenlive is a graphical interface to the MLT framework, “mutton, lettuce and tomato” , an open source framework for multimedia, turned towards television broadcast. It can replace Adobe ® Premiere ® Pro and Apple Final Cut Pro X. Kdenlive is free and released under the GPL license (GNU Public License), you can hence copy, distribute and modify it. I recommend you this as an editor, unfortunately there isn’t a substitute software at the moment that can compete with After Effects.
Soon I will show you the interesting version for Linux and Mac of Lightworks (currently available for Windows), an open and free software, which was used to assemble and edit many international films, including: The King’s Speech, Martin Scorsese’s, The Departed, Mission Impossible, Pulp Fiction, Braveheart and Batman.
Free and open don’t mean low-quality.
Web Editing Environment
I think, therefore I can.
The most famous closed software with fee:
Adobe ® Dreamweaver ® CS5: € 543.29
For the web there are thousands of solutions, I wrote the first code on text-edit and today you can still find plenty of software.
Another solution can be the open version of Komodo, born in August 2007. OPEN KOMODO is the repository of the source code for Komodo Edit, a free editor for dynamic languages based on the award-winning Komodo IDE suite. Cost € 0.00 voluntary donation.
BlueGriffon is a new content editor for the World Wide Web based on Gecko, the rendering engine of Firefox 4. It’s a modern and robust solution to edit Web pages in accordance with the latest Web standards. Cost € 0.00 voluntary donation. If you want an additional CSS editor the cost is $ 9. You can do it…
This post could be infinite because the open-source community is very wide, which shows the extraordinary vitality of the progress lifeblood.
Many times it happens to hear doubtful or negative comments about it, like the classic “It suits me better before, I can’t get to use this software”, essentially the problem is to activate a deconstruction mental attitude of our notions and certainties and that’s the beauty of it.
People can do wonderful things, such as open source projects and creative commons, a technical project, and first of all, a philosophical one, such as the project by Fabrizio Rinaldi, Social Media Strategist and Country Manager Overblog Italy, which reveals us its communication strategy, at the base of the revolutionary blogging platform awaited for the first months of 2012. Starting from the question “What does a modern blogger need?” Rinaldi has created a collective brainstorming (#futureofblogging), where everyone is free to share ideas and needs. More than 200 bloggers debated about blogging, the social media future and about the communication tools evolution, in a sort of crowdsourcing. All the ideas surfaced on these five specific Facebook groups have been analyzed by researchers and developers finalizing the collective brain-storming, arrived also on Twitter.
How can we doubt that we are all free by nature, since we are all equal?
No one would think that nature, which made us all equal, has forced somebody in slavery …It follows that freedom is a natural law and, in my opinion, we must add that we are born not only owners of our freedom, but also inclined to defend it (Etienne de La Boétie).
Here there is a list o free software from Wikipedia: List of free and open source software packages
© All images by Wikimedia Commons