Tag Archives: free software

My favorite apps

So, what is my favorite programs in the computer world?

Web browsing: Google Chromium (not to be confused with Google Chrome)

This is a simple browser which gets me where I want fast. I have the possibility to “take my bookmarks” with me to another computer that also have Chromium, if I am logged in to my Google account in the browser. However, since I do not want Google to know everything about me, I have disabled this in my Chromium browsers.

Text editor: Gedit

A simple to use text editor which has many advanced features available to it. Definitively one of my favorite apps in the computer world, since I have web development as one of my hobbies and I diligently use it. It has syntax highlighting for many different languages, such as html, php, C++ and Java to name a few of those.

Gaming: Minetest

A Minecraft-like game where you can dig yourself underground, build streets, buildings, caves and hide from or fight mobs. In the newest nightly builds there are no mobs, so you can build things in a big sandbox-like world but on the other hand, you could stumble on some irritating bugs. You have also the possibility, like in minecraft, to start a server and play in one map with your friends. There are also some mods, maps and other stuff that you can find in their website to add into your minetest game.

Score editing: MuseScore

This is a free, multi-platform software which lets you start writing scores right away. I use this in my education when my teacher would want to have some scores arranged. I have the possibility to save the score in .pdf-format or music xml, which lets score writing programs share scores between them. There is also a website that lets MuseScore users share their sheet music with each-other.

Office software: LibreOffice

A spinn-of from OpenOffice. LibreOffice started to be developed when Oracle acquired Sun Microsystems and in the fear of that it would discontinue the OpenOffice project or place some restrictions onto it. It fulfills my needs in the case of office software.

All of the presented software products are open source or free software. Both as in freedom and as in free beer.

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Android – a smartphone amongs others?

There are a lot of smartphones out there and each one of them fulfills a different need. Android is, in my opinion, an unique operating system when it comes to them used in mobile devices. What makes this so unique then? Is it the diversity of apps that you can download? No, not in my opinion. It is that it is free/open source software. Unfortunately, there are vendors that distribute proprietary programs among the Android os itself.

But there are some hope for those of us who want a completly free Android system. FSFE has launched a project called “Free your Android” and the aim is just to take away the proprietary software from your Android device. There are two different Android based projects, CyanogenMod that is not fully “Free as in freedom” and Replicant OS that is fully free as in freedom. Accordingly to fsfe, CyanogenMod is also the most popular aftermarket distro of Android.

So, in my opinion, you should choose Replicant OS if you can. The major drawback with it, is that the supported devices are slim.

Another thing that is worrying when it comes to free software in Android is the source of all apps. In Android market you are bound to have an account at Google if you want to download apps, and the source does not tell you if the software is free or not. Neither does it tell you which license the software is bound to. But there is good news here, too.

F-Droid is a repository containing only FOSS software for your Android device. You can browse through the apps and choose between different versions of the programs.

So, if you would like a completely free Android, there is hope!

Free alternative to MS-office

Lets say you need a free office suit, that can write documents and spreadsheets (and other things also) as an alternative to MS office. Then you could install LibreOffice, which is a multi-platform office suit. You can install it on Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X Tiger or newer, and Gnu/Linux operating systems based on the 2.6.18 or newer kernel. You can save your documents in .doc, .docx, .pdf and in .odf format. The latter is also the standard format in which the word files are saved. The programs included are:

Writer is the word processor, similar to Microsoft Word. You could use it to make a memo, or write a book with it. It is simple to use but has many nice features in my opinion.

Calc is the spreadsheet program, tha is similar to Excel. Calculate your budget or manage data. Rich in features.

Impress is the presentation program, like MS Powerpoint. Make a nice presentation with 2D or 3D clipart, and convince people with it.

Draw is an”All-Purpose Diagramming and Charting Tool” as described in their website.

Base is a database tool, similar to MS Access.

Math is the formula editor in Libre Office.

I myself use Writer and Calc and am very happy with those applications. The best part is that the software is Free/Open source software (it is licensed under the LGPLv3 license). It means that the users has the freedom to do whatever the users like with the software including sharing it with friend. Or sell it. As long as you give every end-user the rights you were given.

Give it a go, and you maybe will like it. If you do not like it, then just to uninstall it. Piece a cake.

Free software – why it is better

First of all, I will define what I mean with free software, before I start to say why free software is better. By free software, I mean software that is “free as in freedom of speach, not as in free beer”. There is four essential freedoms (as published from FSF):

  • Freedom 0: The freedom to run the program for any purpose.
  • Freedom 1: The freedom to study how the program works, and change it to make it do what you wish.
  • Freedom 2: The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor.
  • Freedom 3: The freedom to improve the program, and release your improvements (and modified versions in general) to the public, so that the whole community benefits.

I think that software that respects the users freedoms is better than software that only is gratis. Of course you can get many programs, that is free in the matter of liberty for free and in the matter of price. I am assuming that you have a computer with internet access, so that this could be gratis; some examples would be Trisquel, a GNU/Linux operating system, LibreOffice, an office suite and Bash, a command-line shell, to name a few.

I have been mailing with a friend quite much lately about this issue. We have had quite much discussions about what is of the most weight; if it would be the price (gratis software) or if it would be the freedom. Free software, as I define it, would always guarantee that you can help your neighbors, and probably their granny. But this you cannot do with a program that is gratis; you must have the permission from the copyright holder(s) to give a copy to your neighbor and their granny.

Of course, there are people who would think that gratis is good, because no one would be left outside without the programme. But the real problem would be the permission from the copyright holder(s). You must hold a permission from them to use the program. This is granted and guaranteed by a free license, such as GPL (for an example).

And I think that programmers would be thankful if you gave them some money for the time that they have spent making the program. I know that I would, and by GPL amongs other licenses that is approved free software licenses this would be ok. It would also be ok for you to make a copy to all of your computers and your friends if you would have bought the license to use the programme.

Please, feel free to comment about this!

Now comes the next thing…

Now comes the next thing after SOPA and PIPA, that needs to be highlighted: ACTA. It stands for “Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement”. There are many things that is bad with this agreement: Firstly, it is negotiated in the secret (very little is announced to us officially). Secondly, it is being negotiated by a few countries but the consequences could have an enormous impact throughout the whole web.

There was an blog post about this problem, written by John Sullivan in the FSF website that made me react to this problem. ACTA has been negotiated for some years now (the earliest posts that I’ve found was from 2008 in ars technica).

Additional problems with the agreement could be that you must use software with drm, and probably free software could say goodbye.

Other useful links: Free software foundation, Electronic frontier foundation.