Libreoffice, GIMP and open source stuff vs the competition.

Discussion in 'Computer Software and Operating Systems' started by FAST6191, Aug 27, 2013.

  1. FAST6191
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    FAST6191 Techromancer

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    An oft pondered topic/discussion and one I thought worth having again. If you are unfamiliar with it you are probably aware that there is generally considered to be two broad classes of software in the way of less pricey or even free software distributed to all that want it and the more expensive commercial stuff that some hold to be far superior to the alternatives, in many cases this is or was correct but with all software not needing to be all things to all people the question of "is it good enough?" arises. I install a lot of different machines for a lot of different companies and generally get called in to do stuff and frankly I having a hard time trying to justify the continued purchase of a lot of the commercial stuff, likewise despite no moral objection or technical difficulty in pirating the software I do not and that is more because I have no need to and the tiny bit of aggro it would cause me is not worth the effort.

    I am purposely leaving browsers out of this as that is largely a solved issue; newer internet explorer is not as bad as the things that saw people leave it in droves and it is still required for some legacy stuff and badly coded sites but who does not love a nice bit of adblock and chrome/firefox have it where ad blocking for internet explorer is rather less developed.

    I will entertain discussions about email clients though mainly as thunderbird has entered more of a maintenance type development schedule and I have yet to put http://davmail.sourceforge.net/ into practice. On the flip side is outlook/exchange all that and more any more?

    We can do the OS thing if you want and frankly I do actually have clients with a main computer as linux (linux mint in this case) and windows as VM or as a laptop but that might be served better by another thread on another day. I have long had them security laptops for banking, travelling and such like on linux too. On banking probably comes accounts and I find that is more dictated by your accountant than what you might use, gnucash does me well though.

    Starting the topic properly though

    Libreoffice.
    Forked from an earlier project called openoffice and positioned against Microsoft Office. Other than the outlook/exchange stuff and some people having issues with the mail merge (most of such things I end up doing usually go out as email in which case I have http://www.phplist.com/ set up) I am not really seeing any issues. Indeed I have several clients on it and they are quite happy. Most days I find its microsoft stuff import and export tools better than the real deal not to mention I mostly get to export PDF documents these days anyway.

    GIMP.
    An image editor with full support for layers, layer masking and other fun things. This puts it up against photoshop with the main deficiency I have seen being support for RAW images (at least on linux there are many nice RAW handling programs) and CMYK type editing (it can supposedly be done but not by default, this more troubles very high end printers though). However for most computery/document/web type stuff I had not failed me yet. However I can in no way claim an great level of expertise in image editing so I am going to need some more input.

    Together I find them running up against many of the other adobe products like illustrator and indesign. Naturally for long/formal/proper documents there is nothing other than tex (and its progeny like latex and lyx) that will do, though I do keep meaning to learn Scribus properly. Slightly off that and more into the for printing and for menus it ends up a combo of inkscape and lyx.

    Audio editing. After slicing things out, amplifying, a few token effects and normalising I do not do much and I am not even close to calling myself an audio engineer. Naturally this means things like audacity and openmpt for the wave and tracker worlds respectively. Pro tools and Adobe audition are probably the. Likewise much of this is still in the hardware world and between mics, mixers and such like the software backend might not be all that important as long as it works.

    Video editing. Many options here though not so many on the open source front if you actually want to do more than convert, slice it up, add a few transitions and stitch it back together as well as run token filters, as that is the limit of what most people want to do that is fine. The big exception to this for me is avisynth which is an awesome program(ming language) with the only things I have yet to be able to do being things usually taken care of by the likes of after effects... though even then I could probably get a lot done if I really had to.
    On video playback.. if you feel compelled to pay for some playback software beyond maybe a codec or three for lower powered systems or a blu ray player then you are doing it wrong.

    Right now I am of the opinion that if you are doing web design in dreamweaver and such like rather than fighting with databases, php/similar and trying to mash software together (or otherwise dealing in bespoke stuff at that level) you are not doing web design.

    2d CAD (quite acceptable if you are doing engineering properly but you have to think hard about it) and some electrical CAD stuff aside I have not really found any open source CAD programs that can punch quite at the level of the professional stuff. I do try to use open source stuff and SweetHome3D has served me quite well of late but comparing anything to the likes of CATIA/Solidworks, anything by PTC and Autodesk's software it falls short.

    Carrying on from the above I always encourage learning the underlying science/logic/methods for a field rather than a vendor specific one as a combination of that and http://xkcd.com/627/ is devastating -- for any of those fields already mentioned I am unlikely to take your job but the middle of the road and easy stuff that you otherwise rely on for base income is likely to evaporate if I come on the scene, indeed for everything just mentioned I have cases of me earning a tidy sum for sorting things in that world. However again not knowing the true intricacies I can not make a definitive call hence this thread. I do want to say though I am not sure the "everybody uses 10%, just everybody uses a different 10%" thing that some applied to the likes of MS office applies any more.

    Oh and if you want to try out many of the programs mentioned thus far then https://ninite.com/ will make you a nice combined installer for them.
     
  2. PityOnU

    PityOnU GBAtemp Advanced Fan

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    LibreOffice is probably okay for someone who does more MS document reading than creating, but even then it's lackluster and renders a handful of things incorrectly. The PowerPoint alternative included in OpenOffice/LibreOffice/whatever they call it now is particularly horrendous, with the Word alternative being just a little bit better. The Excel alternative seems to work well, though.

    In all cases, though, for anything beyond the most basic features, OpenOffice/LibreOffice/whatever they call it now winds up lacking. However, not everyone uses or wants to learn the advanced features, so as you say it's what you want out of it. Microsoft Office continues to be a must-have for me - they just do it best.

    GIMP is a pretty damn good Photoshop alternative. However, the keyboard shortcuts are all drastically different, so switching from one to the other is particularly difficult. The UI being broken up into a bunch of individual windows is also an interesting (putting it nicely) design choice by the software engineers.

    Thuderbird isn't a bad email client, but I've had stability issues with it before, along with some very strange behavior with a couple of email service providers. I use Outlook, but again it's such a powerful tool I'm not even close to using it to its full potential. Something like the Metro Mail app would probably serve me (an average user) just as well, but I'm not certain that something similar exists as a desktop version, and Outlook comes with Office anyway, so that's what I end up using.

    I'm just getting into Latex, but I'm under that opinion that if Word had a way to reference figures when using it, the utility of Latex would be greatly diminished. Although it's nice to be able to shoot templates around like that, it simply isn't user friendly and is prone to weird errors.

    Don't use any of the other types of programs you have mentioned so I can't really say I'm qualified to comment.