Discussion: Free and Open Source Tools


Right. A big bulk of the comments, especially those at the beginning of the thread, here are about technology in general, and seem to miss the point about Free Open Source Software altogether.



I think that for those talking about technology in general can’t differentiate between technology and FOSTs. There is a difference, and that is why this article specifically studied FOSTs but if a teacher can’t comprehend or use any technology they won’t separate the two. I guess I view it like the square and the rectangle. A square is always a rectangle but not all rectangles are squares. FOST is always technology but not all technology is FOST. I am very thankful for the free technology out there. However I am scared it will disappear without financial support. If I spend my time and energy into learning a free program, if it vanishes, I will be back to square one. I think that is why I may shy away from some of those programs. I see mom and pop stores close all the time. it is similar to my email I sent you asking about pearltrees for social bookmarking, I liked the features… but do I want to put my faith in the program?

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It’s no more a “knock-off” of Photoshop than a Porsche is a “knock-off” of a Ferrari.

That’s not quite true. There are over 3,000 things on Amazon about GIMP. Though there are 10X as many resources for Photoshop, it’s no harder to find a good book or online course for GIMP than Photoshop. I don’t think that it takes any more or less time to learn GIMP than Photoshop.

If you read a few of the office alternatives posts, you’ll see that the bigger reason is that people do not know about Open Source options. More closely related to your point is that people are more likely to use programs that people that they know use. If all of your friends use Photoshop, you’ll want to use Photoshop so that you’ll be able to get help. This software hegemony is why I believe that it’s really important for teachers to think carefully about the implications for the software choices that they make.

If you require people to turn in documents created with a certain version of a certain program then you are not only requiring your students to spend money to pay for that program, but also for them to spend their time learning to use it. Once they are “addicted,” it is pretty hard for them to make any other choice in the future.



An important distinction that Open Source zealots make is “Free, as in Speech, vs Free, as in Beer.” Open Source Software, doesn’t vanish. (It can, however, languish and fade away.) If you have the source code, even if you don’t really know what source code is, the program can’t be taken away.

Here’s an example that should make sense to people now.

You can make a “free” blog on Wordpress.com. But they could, at any time, just change their mind and decide that you have to pay for it. Or, they could, just close it down, like Google did with Google Reader.

Or, you can get the Free software, Wordpress.org. You have to pay for a server to run it on (like you did with Reclaim Hosting), but the software cannot be taken away, and even if Reclaim Hosting decides to close down, you can move your web site to another hosting service.

But these are intricacies that I’m afraid are too hard to glean from the article that I assigned.



point well taken! But there are differences between the two cars I assume. One did not come first, with a free version behind it. I view it kinda like a chicken and the egg. My understanding was the whole reason gimp exists was because they are thumbing their nose to the exorbitant amount of the original program. I kinda felt bad using the free programs, as if I was stealing from others. Similar to if I downloaded a movie from the internet. I am very thankful FOST exist though, it keeps big corporations in check (at least a little bit) and gives us the ability to participate.

I so am going to go and find those books. It has been awhile since I’ve used my gimp program… and I miss playing around with it. If I don’t use it everyday like I use to, I forget how to do it. The books are going to be so helpful. Thank You.



No. Neither of them were the first car. And there were many photo editing programs before Photoshop. It’s not at all the case that GIMP was a copy of Photoshop; if it were, it would be more similar, and not have an entirely different menu structure. Processing images is a fairly interesting programming problem, which makes GIMP a pretty good project for people who enjoy programming to work on. It’s much more interesting than, say, a word processor, which is why LibreOffice’s history involves support from large organizations.



Free and open source tools are definitely something we need to take advantage of. I love how you wrote that if a teacher enjoys using a product, they are more likely to use it in their classroom. This is so true! I have noticed that the students get so much more out of whatever we are doing if they can tell that I am having fun too! That is why it is alright to try these tools out and see if they are a good fit for your classroom. You never know unless you try.

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closed #131