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Integrating Open Source Software Into a Work Environment

Posted on October 29, 2009 by Archives

I am a fan of open source software.  The main characteristic of open source software is that the source code is freely published.  This contributes to the success of the programs in many ways: the code is available for modification making it flexible, users are able to collaborate to correct defects, authors are more likely to stand behind their claims (because the code can be read), oh and it’s typically free.  Linux (Ubuntu) is my main desktop operating system at home and on my personal laptop.

However, as do many open source enthusiasts, I use Windows at work.  But, of course, I would prefer to use an open source solution.The question is, how does one “infiltrate” open source into their primarily Windows based work environment?
First I thought about letting everyone know that we should be running Linux (*BSD, OpenSolaris) on everything regardless, no matter what it is or who is running it. What stopped me is that I am still unable to grow a proper Unix/Linux Beard:


unix beard and linux beard

Little bit of nerd humor, but joking aside, for the everyday office circumstance this is probably not the best approach for integrating open source software into a work environment that has been based on a Windows operating system. What does make sense is starting small and simple.  Instead of replacing the current platform, build on top of it.  That is, find open source software that runs on Windows.

If you don't know where to start there is the OpenDisc which is a CD you can download that has open source software to try out.

Also, here is a list of programs that I use at work:

    • Open Office: Office productivity suite that is able to open the new docx and xlsx out of the box unlike office 2003.


    • FireFox: Even you don't know about open source you've most likely heard of this web browser that offers many custom features, add ons and plug-ins.


    • FreeMind: A java based mind mapping program.


    • GIMP: For image retouching, editing and authoring.


    • SharpDevelop: A free IDE for C#, VB.NET and Boo projects on Microsoft's .NET platform.


Of course check with your IT Manager to make sure that the use of these programs is allowed.  Also, check out this presentation by Chad Wollenberg titled “The Free and Open Advantage”.



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