Open Source? Is It Free Software to You?

Presenter: Brian Carlson, from Chetopa USD 505.

Going over what open source is. Nothing new here (although didn’t hear “free kittens/free beer” analogy, for once). Only at the presentation to hear what OS tools schools are using.

Good point: typically a lack of high-quality support in commercial products: when you’re talking to someone overseas who reads a script and only stays on script.

with Open Source: can typically get quick help thanks to forums, user communities.

Cross-platform: usually means available for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux operating systems. A lot of Open Source programs are cross-platform. 

Software mentioned:

  • Firefox: web browser, cross-platform
    • IETab extension; runs IE only sites in FF (I think). Will have to check that out for sure, for libraries!
  • Thunderbird: email client, cross-platform

  • Sunbird: Calendar client, cross-platform

  • Lightning: extension to Thunderbird that integrates Sunbird into it

  • SeaMonkey: all-in-one browser app; much like original Netscape. Includes Web-browser, advanced e-mail and newsgroup client, IRC chat client, and HTML editing. 

  • Camino: Mac-only web browser

  • OpenOffice: Office suite, cross-platform.
    • St. Paul has one-to-one laptop initiative and uses open office there, to save on licensing fees. Opens all kinds of different file extensions, including both Microsoft Office 2003 & 2007 formats; Word Perfect
    • Has extension available that allows you to import PDFs and make changes to them (not as powerful as Adobe, but still…)
    • Impress: can export to Flash in version 3
  • GIMP: powerful photo editing software, cross-platform.
  • GimpShop: GIMP modified, so the menus emulate Photoshop, cross-platform. 
  • Scribus– page layout program (desktop publishing): interactive PDF forms. Cross-platform.

  • Inkscape: similar to Illustrator and CorelDraw; cross-platform. 

  • GNU Cash: Personal and small-business financial accounting software; cross-platform.

  • Audacity: audio editor and recorder (could compose music): not as big as GarageBand, but still works great; cross-platform. 
  • Sourceforge: Includes a huge selection of open source projects that are at different levels of development.
  • Synfig: 2d animation software; cross-platform. Project hasn’t been updated in a year, it looks like. 
  • PDF edit: Free editor for PDF documents; cross-platform (but not Mac.) 
  • Wink: tutorial and presentation creation software; cross-platform (but not Mac). 
    • primary focus is on creating tutorials on how to use software. Definitely checking this one out.
  • Kompozer: Web authoring system. Uses WYSIWYG web page editing; great alternative to Dreamweaver for basic editing needs; cross-platform.
  • VLC media player: reads various formats of media files; is also a media converter; cross-platform
  • Orange HRM (Open Source Human Resource Management): commercial strength program: no charge for program, but can pay support costs
  • Moodle: course management system: similar to blackboard
  • VirtualBox: virtualisation product for enterprise or home use (LOVE THIS ONE!!!!). You must still pay for the OS license (if it’s Windows you’re installing); cross-platform
  • Linux: Computer OS; over 100 versions (see some of the popular ones below); very stable, robust and is not as susceptible to viruses as Windows. 
    • Mandriva
    • Fedora
    • RedHat
    • SUSE
    • Ubuntu: this one has become one of the most popular distros for desktop use. It has been customized for specific uses; most popular are listed below. 
      • Edubuntu: lots of education programs come pre-installed
      • Xubuntu: stripped down version: works better with older hardware
      • Easy-Peasy: customized for netbooks (my addition)
    • ClarkConnect: can be set up as server: to be Internet filter, content manager, samba server (file sharing), email server
  • I also brought up WordPress (plugged the KLOW project!), Koha/NExpress & Evergreen

Someone made a good point during the presentation: people/students have to understand basic principles before learning automated procedure/software. Therefore, does the version of software that is taught in the classroom really matter?