dc: Me, in a pub.  (Dematerialisation circuit)
The other day I was saying how much I was not impressed by Unity, the desktop Canonical are planning to replace Gnome with. I have switched the small shiny box back to Gnome because Unity was just making getting anything done too fiddly. It also makes keeping track of what is going on more difficult than it should be, and is some ways is just less usable. You can't even set the clock on the panel — I say panel, but it isn't really a panel any more — to display in 24 hour format. If Ubuntu goes off on the Unity road, I think I won't be going with it.
dc: (Doctor)
The other night [livejournal.com profile] wibbble and I were passing some time by discussing the relative merits of the OSes we use, he advocating the wonderfulness of MacOS and I proclaiming the superlative goodness of Linux. (It’s something which helps pass the time when you are installing software.)

It was interesting to come across this article in Akregator (the RSS feed software which comes with KDE) about the art professor who wiped MacOS X from his digital media lab’s Macs and replaced it with Ubuntu, a Linux distro.
I began seriously planning this change last school year, when I realized how fully the current feature sets of free software programs could satisfy the technical needs of the students in my classes. I decided that the time had come to teach our undergraduate art students about free software programs such as the GIMP, Scribus, and Quanta Plus, instead of proprietary programs such as Photoshop, QuarkXpress, and Dreamweaver.
How did it work out?
The students’ reactions to all this was inspiring. They felt empowered by the quality of the software and their ability to upgrade, share, and customize it freely. They also appreciated the immense array of additional GNU/Linux multimedia software available to them. And I found it inspiring how many of the students took enthusiastic advantage of other applications, not only by installing software via Synaptic from the Ubuntu repositories of more than 16,000 packages, but in some case by compiling source code from elsewhere....

I found that Photoshop and the other proprietary software packages we had been using for years generally had more polished interfaces and more advanced features than the free software we chose. But the free software had more than enough of the core capabilities we needed in my classes, and also often featured desirable capabilities missing in the proprietary software.

The switch saved thousands of dollars in software upgrades. As a result I was able to dramatically lower the lab fee for each class, and require instead that the students purchase additional textbooks.
I’m not, BTW, knocking MacOS (whether X or earlier), which is a nicely designed OS (and X has a lot in common with Linux), but this does illustrate how useful open source software can be, without the enormous cost of some proprietary software, and that the transition need not be painful.

January 2016

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