A sudden realization of freedom…

I realised last week, that I am using more and more open source tools over their more expensive proprietary alternatives.

The reason for this is that at my new job, we are encouraged to seek out and use open source alternatives to expensive tools and although I put my foot down about Zend Studio I haven’t wanted to ask for anything more seeing as I’m not even 6 weeks into my employment here.

So, to that end, I’ve been trying out a tonne of new open source tools lately. Here is a list of tools I am now using at work and that may migrate to my home desktop. I use WinXP at both home and work, its just more productive for me – that at the end of the day is goal of any software, to make me as productive as possibly, regardless of cost.

  • OpenOffice.org 2 Beta – OOo2 has much improved over OOo1 and is a refreshing change over the MS Office suite. It provides all the functionality that I could wish for and no longer looks like roadkill.
  • GAIM – I’ve been using this for over a year now both at home and at work. Can’t beat it.
  • GIMP2 – Whilst I find GIMP adequate for my work (I just crop screen shots occasionally) it still doesn’t cut it as a Photoshop replacement. However, now that I am more used to the layout, I quite like the ease of use. Right click and everything is there. As well as the File/Edit etc being at the top of each image. I only ever see the main palette when I need to use Aquire > Paste as New, everything else is selected through the right click menus.
  • jEdit – I only just started using this. Its a little slow but not such that it aggrevates. The plugins available are wide and varied and I love the HTML auto-complete, whereby you type and then when you type is finished the rest for you.
  • Firefox/Thunderbird - No comment.
  • PuTTY - can't beat it. Though I don't understand the port forwarding part, easier in SecureCRT
  • ArgoUML - Great free tool for drawing UML. Tonnes better than Dia.
  • TightVNC - Great for when I need to do something on my home computer.
  • PHP, 1 Apache, MySQL - well. duh.

The only non-open source tools I use now are those included with windows, iTunes and Zend Studio. I just can't find a replacement for ZDE (and I don't want one!) and iTunes is free :)

I think the Open Source community with the good influence of companies like Mozilla and the more widespread recognition are finally getting their act together and realising that User Interface and User Experience matter more than the stability and to some extent the features of an application. Open Source for the desktop is finally maturing.

- Davey