Thursday, May 14, 2009

Migrate to Free Open Source Software (FOSS): Part 2 - The Operating System

It's time for part 2 of my Migrate to Open Source series. In this series, I'll be listing what I would consider everyday-use, closed-source software for the home user, and what the open-source packages are that fulfill the same purpose. I will only list software here that I have first-hand experience with, because I don't plan on this being some pointless software review post. I hope that this information is actually useful to those of you who have heard of, or would like to consider open-source software. Read on after the jump to discover the truth about the availability of quality open-source software.

First and foremost, every computer needs to have an operating system. The operating system is responsible for managing the person's interaction with the hardware of the machine. It's the tool that interprets and translates the user's commands. Without it, a computer is just a paper weight that can plug in to the wall.

Everyone knows the name Windows. Most people know that it is developed by Microsoft. A few of those people realize that Windows it their operating system. Many less of those people understand that it is just a piece of software which can be replaced by any other piece of software that is capable of doing the same functions. The current version of Windows is now Windows Vista and Windows 7 is just around the corner. Most computers include Windows in the purchase price, which is great, because to purchase a copy of Windows Vista Home Premium you'll need to shell out about $100.00 at

Now, let me introduce my preferred operating system which I use, legally, without even $0.01 of expense. An operating system which I consider to be more user-friendly, more stable, more resource efficient, and more stable than good 'ole Windows Vista.

Fedora - Fedora is the product of the Fedora Project, a project backed by Red Hat, Inc. The Fedora operating system is comprised of 100% Free Open-Source Software. The Red Hat engineering team continues to participate in building Fedora and invites outside from the entire open-source software community.

Fedora is quick and easy to install with a graphical installer. There's no need to interact with the command line interface (CLI) for the average user. Downloading and installing most popular free and open-source software packages is quick and easy with the provided graphical software updater. And, on every machine that I've used Fedora on, it's performed better than Windows.

Fedora comes complete with an extensive list of free software that will fulfill most daily computing needs of any home computer user, and most of the typical office workstation needs. The majority of the software that I'll be covering in this series is included with Fedora and many other open-source operating systems.

Best of all, you can choose to download the Live CD version that will boot directly from your CD-ROM drive, without modifying the files stored on your computer, to test compatibility with your computer's hardware. If you find that you like it, you can even use the Live CD to install Fedora directly to your hard drive.

Feel free to use the comments section to ask any questions you might have about Fedora and I'll be happy to respond. Also, if at any time during this series, you'd like to request an open-source replacement for a particular software package, I'm more than willing to help find an adequate alternative to closed-source software.

You can find other popular open-source operating systems on the popular Distro Watch website.

Other Posts in this Series:
Migrating to Free Open Source Software: Part 1
Migrating to Free Open Source Software: Part 3 - The Web Browser
Migrating to Free Open Source Software: Part 4 - The Email Client
Migrating to Free Open Source Software: Part 5 - Cross-Platform Applications

All screenshots borrowed from and linked back to the official Fedora 10 screenshot gallery.