Mozilla, OpenOffice.org and other Free software applications are a very sensible choice in terms of simplicity, features, usability and freedom.
The GNU/linux operating system, although very easy to use and increasingly easy to install and upgrade, requires more curiosity. A short introduction, pros and cons, and resources.
Last significant update : 2 July 2004
Copyright © 2004 Cédric Musso, http://labor-liber.org.
Some rights reserved, according to the terms of theCreative Commons - Attribution-ShareAlike 1.0 license. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/1.0/
Prior reading of Free Software: an Overview is recommended.
Software infrastructure (operating systems, networking and middleware software) is increasingly Free / Open Source, but most software users still believe they are stuck with proprietary software. They are not. Many pieces of Free software are available for Microsoft Windows and Apple MacOS as well as GNU/Linux and UNIXes, and they are a very sensible choice in terms of simplicity, features and usability as well as freedom:
Using Free software is the first step towards migration to a Free operating system. Installing Mozilla and OpenOffice.org will only take a few minutes of your time. You won't regret it. You deserve Free software.
Internet Application Suite. Two applications are also distributed separately:
The best choice:
Sun Microsystems bought StarDivision in 1999. On 13 October 2000, Sun open sources StarOffice 6.0. On 14 October 2000, the OpenOffice.org project begins (OpenOffice was already a registered trademark). It is a full-featured office productivity suite:
Good read/write compatibily with Microsoft Office file formats (better than Office itself for older versions), and a similar interface. Macros are not lost (they are commented out), but must be rewritten to be used in OpenOffice.org.
Compressed (zip) XML files, with at least:
Therefore, the whole range of XML tools can be used. For instance, OpenOffice.org 1.1 offers imports/exports from/to the DocBook format.
GNUWin II is a free software compilation for Windows. Lots of software, in many categories:
An operating system is a complex system, made up of a large number of components, or software layers. Ideally, these components are independant from each other, so that the large complex system becomes a set of smaller and more simple components.
The kernel of an operating system is its core component ; or its bottom layer, the interface with hardware.
The Linux kernel:
Text mode / command line (instructions are given line by line) user interface:
The shell is much more flexible and powerful than a graphical user interface.
The X Window system, or X, or X11:
X enables text copy&paste with the mouse: select text using the left button, and copy it elsewhere with the middle button.
Client Server system: a X server on a machine can display a client application running on another machine.
An application server can run a client application for many machines with an X server (e.g. OpenOffice.org).
There is no clear distinction between desktop environments and window managers.
The freedesktop.org project works on interoperability and shared technology for desktop environments for the X Window System.
Desktop environments like Gnome and KDE provide a platform for software applications development, and a large and increasing number of applications with a common look and feel.
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While Windows and MacOS have a single distributor, GNU/Linux can be built from scratch, and is available from various vendors.
= a set of packages (software components) including an installation and update system.
There are many distributions, suited fo various uses.
THE free distribution.
Debian has an exemplary social contract, and the Debian Free Software Guidelines have been used as a model for the Open Source Definition
Debian has been growing and improving since 1993.
Try GNU/Linux without installing it!
Some vendors sell computers with GNU/Linux installed.
Lists of applications: