Sunday, June 11, 2006

Premature FOSSils

So as part of my lawyer-in-training mentality, I am looking at a lot of ways to make my future office more technologically efficient.  One thing I'm serious about is the "paperless office."  I haven't fully decided how that will work or even if it will work, but I'm definitely looking into it.  Another technology thing I've been paying a lot of attention to is the free/open source software (FOSS) movement.  I recently downloaded Firefox, and have been quite satisfied with it.  If you've never tried it, go out and download it, you won't be disappointed.  It definitely makes the experience of the Internet easier and more satisfying.  Unfortunately, I haven't had as much luck with some of the other FOSS applications.

Thunderbird, for example, is little more than a free version of Outlook.  I'm not well-versed enough in either program to tell you whether it's an excellent copy or not.  And I'm not technological enough to tell you whether Thunderbird is "more secure" or not.  All I can say is that they look and appear to work almost exactly the same.

In another arena of technology, my wife's computer has been having problems lately.  Her copy of XP has decided that it is not genuine.  So I've been looking around at alternatives as a way to fix it temporarily.  (I have to get a new computer for law school, anyway, so she'll get mine then.)  One of our options is Linux.  At first, I was pretty excited: a whole brand-new operating system--how exciting!  I remember the days when my public school was stuck on Macs, and I thought it would be like looking at something totally different.  (Like switching from Mac to PC back then.)  All the websites and articles bragged about the security and ease-of-use of Linux and its distributions (as they call them).  They talked about how they were so innovative and ahead of the curve.  Perhaps I am in no position to comment, but I wasn't very impressed.

I downloaded the NX client, an application that allows you to remotely access other computers, and I logged onto, a website that offers remote access to a server that uses Linux programs.  There, I looked at Linux's fabled KDE (K Desktop Environment) and their office suite,  Neither was very impressive in terms of prima facie innovativeness or creativity.  In fact, is exactly like a free version of Microsoft Office or Corel WordPerfect without the Book Antiqua font (my favorite).

My conclusion: if you are worried enough about security and hate Microsoft, then go ahead and get a Linux computer or download a free distribution (surprisingly, they're not all free).  If not, stick with what you're used to.  It really makes no difference.

But then again, I don't know enough about computers to be making this kind of judgment.

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