Switching Computing Lifestyles - Part 1


Introduction: Switching Computing Lifestyles - Part 1

Do you want to free yourself of the corperate pressure to use what companies push to become 'standards'? You can easily switch several well-known applications for a potentially more secure, and open computing lifestyle.

I would like to note, this is my first Instructables. Yes I realize this isn't "Linkables" as someone had said in a comment in another Instructables. I hope I have kept your wallet plump, and your computer more useful than before.

If you need help, the members at the newly created forum, RetroBytes.net/forum will be more than happy to help you.

Step 1: Productivity

Being productive couldn't have gotten easier with Open Source Software. There are groups worldwide who are willing to aid you in converting.

Microsoft Office
You pay around $300USD for this, if you aren't a student or teacher. You get it, you use it, then you feel you should upgrade it in a few years, when you get only a few more clipart images, and small features. It sounds like a waste to do so. The cost of ownership over 10 years could exceed $1000, if you aren't a student, and if you are, and you get the Teacher's and Student's Edition, it could cost you $350 or more in 10 years. Now with that $350, you could purchase stuff more meaningful. Example, if you are a student, you can purchase several text books, school supplies perhaps? Maybe even help you save up for another class. There is this one group of people who have created a nice office suite that should do everything you need in an office suite. OpenOffice.org (Its webaddress, and name) provides a feature-filled, and light-weight office suite (You could fit this on a 256MB flash drive). The only thing it lacks is clipart, but some guys have added some things to make the OpenOffice feel, more pleasing. OpenOffice Premium (http://sourceforge.net/projects/ooop) which is completely free, contains clipart, templates, and more to help get you started.

Step 2: Web

The Internet is a fantastic place. Why use software that you have to pay for, when you can do the same job for free?

Internet Explorer
Microsoft Internet Explorer causes many problems. Most of them not for you, but for the people who create the very websites you visit. Webmasters have to design a website that will work with Internet Explorer, and following standards. Internet Explorer does not follow the standards set on the web. These standards ensure that no matter what standards compliant browser you use, the website you visit will always look the same, and not be broken. Lets start the switch. One very feature filled browser is Mozilla Firefox . Go to getfirefox.com and snatch this popular browser. It is easy to theme, and customize. Also, fits on a thumb drive :)

Adobe/Macromedia Dreamweaver
Do you want to design a website, a small website. Maybe one just telling about yourself. Why should you pay in excess of $200 for a program that helps you, when you can find one for $0 that does the same job? NVU is a small application that will help you design a website. It isn't like Microsoft Frontpage, where the code created is horrible and hard to navigate, but NVU creates code that is standards compliant, and is based off of Mozilla's Composer. To get NVU, go to http://www.nvu.com/. Again, another app that can go on a thumb drive.

<Insert FTP App here>
FTP is great for uploading files to a server, but again, why pay to get a high quality FTP CLient, or FTP Server? Filezilla is another opensource FTP Client, and a FTP Server that lets you download files from a ftp server, upload files to a ftp server. With their server package, why not utilize your connection to let friends and family download files? (Not endorsing Pirating here :P) Filezilla is available at http://filezilla.sourceforge.net/.

One thing to note, haven't you seen how flexible these applications are? Many can fit on USB Thumbdrives. The same kind you find in a store for $25, so you can carry your office documents, and your office suite with you. Your browser, and all its settings, and everything.



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    Actually, Mozilla's Kompozer is a replacement for NVU, due to the fact that NVU is no longer supported.

    you missed out loads of replacements.... Ubuntu as a superior replacement for windows for one and the GIMP as a better replacement for photoshop

    I use OO... but the argument for MSO costing $100/year is weak. The office '97 person above is a perfect example... While you say people may "feel" they need to buy the newest version, that does not mean they are going to. And since MS offers free tools to read newer version document files etc., its a non issue for back/forewords compatibility. As for FF... I used to use lookmarks to keep things nice and portable... but then google released their FF plugin that saves your bookmarks and can be retrived... While FF can at times be a memory guzzler - the occasional browser restart (I usually go every two days or so) is well worth it on grounds of security alone. I don't know why upgrades would be tricky - its all automated (well semi, it lets you know and asks if you want to go ahead). And extensions are no more complicated than an activeX feature in IE... I got some buddies of mine to switch to FF because of one extension I installed... FireBug. If you ever want to debug a site, and see the innerworking of what is displayed - this is a phenomenal tool... I have the CSS, JS and code for any site at my fingertips - and it displays errors AND you can send data to firebug for your own debugging... --- If you want complicated upgrade... try upgrading your OS only to find that your raid5 drivers are no longer supported... Both MS and RHEL only have an 8 year support cycle (with an exception for win 98 which was extended). Yeah, that was several hours of fun.

    On my linux work stations, I used OO and had no complaints. I tried it on my Mac, though, and it was awkward. It clashed. What about the move to web apps altogether? For my personal stuff, writely, google spreadsheets, backpack, wordpress have all suited me well. NVU is a good tool.

    I switched to Firefox a while back. It lasted a while, until I ran into site after site that REQUIRED IE to run. I couldn't live without these sites (some of them were/are required by my company), so that means I couldn't live without Firefox. I found the MSN search bar, which allows for tabbed browsing in IE6, and switched back to IE. I'm all for the open source movement, and all for standards based computing. But, I live in a world where it's not possible to do it 100% of the time, and I'm to lazy to switch products for the same purpose just for those times I can't use it....

    i was using ms office 97 till a few months ago, it worked fine and i got it with an old dell i bought. now im using ms office 2003 (got it for $20)

    No really very "instructable", as you mentioned. First, $100/year for an office suite that's faster, more compatible and more feature-filled? That's a bargain. I've tried ooo, and I gotta tell you, I haven't been impressed yet. Speed alone is enough reason to pay the small difference. Aside from that, most people don't pay for their office suite at home. It's a nice thought that everyone who has office at home has gone to the store and forked over cash, but the reality is pretty much every home user I've ever met who had office had a pirated copy. Those that had "paid" for it, bought it with their new computer as an upgrade and haven't upgraded it since. Even if they had, your numbers are off quite a bit. Upgrades are typically less than $150, so 10 years of upgrades is only $750 (including the initial $300). IE, true, but FF is not portable unless you use the portable version. Even then you lose out on a lot. Extensions are tricky and upgrades are a PITA (since the auto-update feature doesn't work right in PFF).

    2 replies

    It all boils down to personal opinion. Also, thanks for the corrections, i haven't realized MS offers upgrade editions.

    It all boils down to personal opinion. Also, thanks for the corrections, i haven't realized MS offers upgrade editions.