Open Source Software: Just because it is free it doesn’t make it cheap.

With my new computer I am coping with a constant stream of new learning and that is not a bad thing as I like to refere to myself as a learner, especially around my students.  When I first experienced a Mac 8 years ago there was not YouTube or Twitter to solve my problems and I did not even have computer access most of the time; now I have all of these things and every issue that arises is solved in mear Open-Source5-460x290minutes.

Now one thing that has been a constant for my entire ICT life (almost 20 years) is Microsoft Office its related products. Outlook, Front Page, Publisher, Excel, PowerPoint and Word have all been my friends and go to programmes, but this new computer came without and I felt abandoned.  Google Docs is now the main man – it’s my place for documents, spreadsheets, presentations and surveys (My favorite feature of Google Docs), but what was I to do if not online?  My schools report format is not a Google doc.

What to do? What to do? Tweet the question!

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The responses were varied, but the response that has been a game changer sent me the way of Libre Office.  It is an open source set of programmes that replaces the Microsoft package. Open source, but I can not be as good if it is free and it must be full of adds and hidden snags!  But then realized that I have been shouting the praises of Mozilla for years and Gmail and Chrome have never caused me a problem and in fact I could not live without them. Open source software in my mind is programmers creating not for the money, but for the love of it ; thumbing their noses at the Man like a Cyber Hippie (If i offend with that analogy I’m sorry as that was no the intent and yes Google has money in mind , but it still provides a pretty fantastic service for no cost to me).

Screen Shot 2013-05-10 at 3.47.11 PMSo, Libre is free to download, a donation is appreciated, but not required and then you are ready to go.  Is it as pretty or streamlined as Microsoft? Not really, but is that the purpose of the tool? I downloaded Libre Office and it is fantastic. All that I want to do is there, I have not needed to read a manual to figure it out and when saving a document there is all the expected options including save as a .docx.  I am free to create and write, cut and paste and all that I could do previously, so if you are in line for a new computer, or simply feel like stepping outside the norm, give it a download.

Now, with my most of my data cloud based in Google, Dropbox, Evernote and Libre Office on my computer I think that I am free of Microsoft for the first time in 20 years.  OK, I am still in debt to Apple, but until my iPhone dies and this Macbook Air does too I will keep on the MAC path.  Who knows, maybe in 20 more years I will jump to Linux?