In today’s world of internet savvy teens and adults it is interesting the number of people that don’t know what OSS or Open-Source Software is all about. And more importantly, if it is a viable solution for whatever software needs they may have. There seems to be an idea that unless the software is marketed from a known company, that it is second rate. This is a fundamentally flawed idea that is slowly changing as more people become informed. In this article, I’ll show 3 examples which I believe demonstrate the usefulness of OSS.
The first example is in the 3D modeling and texturing market. For professional software in this family you could purchase Autodesk’s Maya 3d for approximately $350 or 3ds Max, also from Autodesk for around the same price. Or, you can look at the OSS package called Blender from the Blender Open-Source foundation for free. Don’t let the price tag fool you. While the professional packages do contain some features not listed in Blender, it is quite powerful and becomes more so with every new release. The real strength of Blender is in the support community that surrounds it. From those who add new features to the program to those who contribute to the documentation and tutorials, it is very easy to get the help you need when learning any complex program. The program is perfect for the novice and professional graphic designer.
The second program I want to talk about is also in the family of graphic based software. The GIMP or GNU Image Manipulation Program is OSS comparable to Adobe Photoshop, $340, or Jasc Paint Shop Pro, $55. Similar to Blender, the GIMP does not offer all of the features of the high end programs but does come with a powerful scripting system. This system allows the users to create an unlimited number of tools to use in image manipulation. The community support for the GIMP is also outstanding along with a very active programming team, and user group. This software is well an excellent option for beginning to intermediate graphic artists.
The last program I would like to talk about is a C++ compiler named DEV C++. It is comparable to Microsoft Visual Studio C++. This package is a little different in the terms of cost since the Microsoft package is also a free download. The true savings comes in the download size of the software. The Microsoft download comes in at over 250 megabytes and another 100+ megabytes for the Platform Software Development Kit that is required to write software for Windows. Taking that into consideration there are many contributing factors that a person would see the DEV C++ package as a better option. For starters, the tiny 9 megabyte download size of the Bloodshed package speaks for itself. Having worked with both of these programs the support for Microsoft is better but that is in part from having a multi-billion dollar company backing it. This does not take away from the active community which supports DEV C++. In all regards the DEV C++ program is fully functional and capable for small to industrial sized programs.
In closing, the average computer user can find an Open Source Software title for just about every area in computing. Some of them are not as polished as the comparable market solution but when it comes to software, it is the results that matter most.