Open Source Software

I’m really trying to make a go at using more open source software in my daily practices as a professional academic and as a savvy computer hobbyist.  You may call this a late New Year’s resolution, but it was originally intended as a carefully thought-out reboot of the software that I use on my PC and Mac.  

Unfortunately, I don’t have the time or energy at this moment to transition to only open source for my operating system and applications.  So, for simplicity’s sake, I am keeping my closed source operating systems (Windows Vista 64-bit and Mac OS X 10.5.6) and incorporating as much open source software as I can in my daily practices.  

My efforts thus far are focused on my MacBook, because I haven’t used my PC much at all lately (though, Yufang has enjoyed watching The Office through and Netflix on it when she breaks from comps reading).  About a week ago, I reinstalled Mac OS X with Xcode Tools.  I followed that up with installing 3 for word processing and spreadsheet work.  Next, I installed MacPorts and Porticus (a GUI frontend for MacPorts).  MacPorts is a wonderful distribution system for open source software that has been ported to work on Macs.  So far, I’ve installed GIMP 2 for image editing.  Unfortunately, I haven’t installed anything else, because it took me all week to get the GIMP installed successfully.  It seems that there was a problem with one updated dependency that would cause the install to fail.  Having gotten that sorted out, I now have a fully armed and operational, er, image manipulation program.  

So far, I’ve used OpenOffice during a collaborative session at Angel Falls Coffee Co. with Professor Masood Raja and my colleague, Swaralipi Nandi while we were writing the abstract for our book proposal (more on this in the near future).  This was interesting, because it was the first time that I had used OpenOffice, and I discovered that OpenOffice was designed to increase the volume on every annoying feature of Microsoft Office and then some.  The auto word complete was distracting, and the autocorrect light bulb icon in the lower right corner was equally irritating.  Tonight, I’ve been working on some assignments for my African American Literature course, and I’ve disabled some of these amazing features.  However, I’m still looking for the tick box to turn off the light bulb from the abyss.

I will post more updates in the future on my use of this software in my professional work.

Published by Jason W. Ellis

I am an Associate Professor of English at the New York City College of Technology, CUNY whose teaching includes composition and technical communication, and research focuses on science fiction, neuroscience, and digital technology. Also, I direct the B.S. in Professional and Technical Writing Program and coordinate the City Tech Science Fiction Collection, which holds more than 600 linear feet of magazines, anthologies, novels, and research publications.