Open Source, Choice & Change

Recently I have been fiddling with quite a few open source applications, and I’d love to share some of my thoughts. Maybe some of you would like to try a few of these trinkets of freedom.

Ubuntu 8.1.0

Ubuntu, which is a version of Debian Linux, is essentially a free and open-source operating system. No copy protection, in fact it is encouraged that you share the discs with your friends. The bottom line is that this is a free, popular (relatively), and powerful operating system that works pretty well on most hardware. There are versions for Power-PC and intel Macs, Intel and AMD based x86 and x64 systems, and I believe there is even a version that will install onto a Playstation 3.

I recently installed Ubuntu version 8.1.0 on my ACER notebook, and to my delight, everything worked right away. Here’s a list of some of the cool things that were up and running immidiately after the install:

  • Wireless Networking (802.11 B, G WiFi)
  • Wired Networking (RJ-45 Ethernet Connection)
  • Graphics Accellerator (Built-in intel X3100)
  • Memory Card Reader (Texas Instruments)
  • Sound Devices (Although the microphone is a bit weak and tricky to configure)

The desktop environment is awesome! It has multiple workspaces and really intuitive ways to switch between them. There are also a bunch of fun animations for things like minimizing and closing windows, and switching between workspaces. Overall, the environment is quick and snappy. The only issue I have with Linux on the whole is that software developers such as Adobe, Logitech, and many others have not put much effort towards making Linux versions of their applications. Popular multi-platform applications like Skype and Firefox are available though. Now I am just waiting for Google Chrome to arrive on Linux.

Something else that is noteworthy is the fact that you can install Ubuntu right on top of Windows. If you install Ubuntu on the second partition of your hard drive, it will install a boot-loader called GRUB that will allow you to choose weather you want to start-up in Windows or Ubuntu. When booted up in Ubuntu, you can even access your Windows files!


I’ve got to thank my long time Tech-Mentor, Leo Laporte for turning me onto this little gem.

Quite simply, it’s a small, portable easy to use multi-track audio editing program. One of its superb features is its ability to record whatever Windows is playing. I have not installed the Linux version yet, but I’m sure it’s the same sort of feature set.

Cam Studio

Cam studio is a nifty little screen recording program for Windows. It’s free, comes with its own lossless video codec, has features for tracking your cursor as you move about the screen doing things, and is very fast and light weight. You can even run it as a portable application from a USB Flash Drive.

Firefox Portable + Dropbox

Talking about portable applications and USB flash drives is a perfect segway into my next combo. Firefox Portable + Dropbox. if you don’t know yet, Dropbox is a superb file management and backup program, and if you have not read my post about Dropbox, go do it!

Firefox Portable comes into the picture when you decide to place your installation of Firefox, along with any Add-ons, or Themes, Saved Passwords into your dropbox. Imagine closing your browser at home, then heading to work opening firefox there and resuming right where you left off. All your bookmarks, tabs from last time, and Add-ons can follow you everywhere when using this combination. However I will say that it might be simpler to just use Firefox Portable from a USB Flash Drive, but if you’ve got 3 or 4 windows computers using dropbox in your home, then why not?


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  1. Richard Hamel-Smith

    March 19, 2011 — 11:43 am

    I am so glad that you are using open source. Here at home, we all use open source software, with Bianca and I using Slackware and Claire and Eve using Linux Mint.

    Claire also uses Dropbox to share files with her friends.

    • I love open source software and use it whenever possible. I use Filezilla for FTP, Firefox, Chrome, Thunderbird for web and email, Aptana Studio for coding HTML/CSS/JavaScript. Every now and then I see some cool and useful software from Bitcoin looks especially interesting too!

      I use Windows on my main computer, but I run Jolicloud (Ubuntu) on my netbook.

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