Open Source Thanks

23:54 Thu 26 Nov 2009. Updated: 03:56 27 Nov 2009
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It’s traditional on Thanksgiving to list things you’re thankful for. It struck me today that I should be extremely thankful for the existence of free software, and the contributions of thousands and thousands of programmers who have made their work freely available for others to use.

When I startd on a path towards software engineering, there wasn’t as much softwre libre around. The server-side operating systems and services did exist, and Apache is one of the first of those I used at any serious level. The first “consumer-oriented” piece of open source code I used regularly was, I think, MAME. I loved the concept of open source as soon as I encountered it, however, and gradually I’ve adopted more and more of it.

Apart from a few experiments, I haven’t gone fully to an open source platform, but there’s not a lot other than my OS that’s proprietary at this point. (That’s on the desktop side—on the server side everything is Free Software.) So I’m extremely thankful that as I’ve tried to adopt it fully, more and more people have contributed, so that almost everything I use regularly on the desktop side now is open source software:

  • Firefox for browsing.
  • jEdit for writing and coding.
  • Thunderbird for email.
  • VLC for video.
  • Songbird for music.
  • OpenOffice.org for when I have to interactively deal with RTF or .doc files.
  • Adium for IM.
  • Inkscape for vector graphics.
  • The GIMP for bitmap graphics (admittedly I still have some issues here, but don’t do enough bitmap work at this point to justify giving up on The GIMP).
  • Subversion for version control.

That covers almost everything. I’ll move to a Free desktop OS at some point. The only other tool I really want that I haven’t found in the open source world yet is photo management software. That’s a small gap, and for all the excellent software that I can use now that’s non-proprietary, I’m thankful.

To all you open source and free software contributors out there: thank you. You rock.

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