Open Source vs Proprietary Software

Thoughts By 5 years ago

It wasn’t so long ago that nearly every software product we used was the result of a company paying for programmers to build a product they could sell, however recently times have changed, and with movements like open source and the FSF (Free Software Foundation) we have a choice between proprietary and open source software. I recently reviewed the kind of software I use frequently to see how well I was adopting open source software, and it turns out that recently I have begun to switch back to proprietary. Here are the results:

Proprietary Open Source

App Store

No Open Source Alternative currently exists, and this is not a surprise as Apple aggressively protect against reverse engineering, and doubly so when it comes to interacting with their financial processes
Mail Thunderbird: This is a viable alternative, and I loved using it on Windows however it was clear that OSX version just couldn’t match the native Mail application offered by apple
Safari: It should be noted that Safari is based on the WebKit rendering engine which is open source Firefox: Like thunderbird, I used to use this on Windows, but I found the OSX version chewed up massive amounts of memory (I caught it using more than 1GB of RAM at times), I don’t think it can measure up to Safari on OSX
Address Book While open source address books probably do exist, none would integrate into the Apple ID to allow for synchronisation between iOS and OSX
iCal Again, while open source calendars do probably exist, none would integrate into the Apple ID to allow for synchronisation between iOS and OSX
iTunes Songbird: A good music player but I don’t trust open source software to sync music to my iPod adequately
Terminal: It should be noted that terminal can be used to run many open source commands made for Unix No open source alternative available for OSX as far as I am aware
System Preferences I wouldn’t trust open source software to provide a viable alternative to Apple’s own System Preferences
Why Bother? TextEdit: This may seem like a proprietary app but it is in fact open source, despite being supplied by Apple
MSN Messenger: Microsoft provides this app for free, and it is up to date but it lacks support for multiple chat protocols Adium: My favourite chat client, supports MSN and Facebook (as well as others) and is based off the open source messaging library pidgin. Unfortunately it can sometimes lack the bells and whistles of later MSN clients but it is forgiven due to its support for other chat protocols.
Transmit: Lots of great features and can integrate into the Finder FileZilla: A stable and often updated FTP client, while it doesn’t have the bells and whistles of Transmit it provides reliable and solid service, I have never felt let down by it so I continue to use it
No proprietary software available Arduino: An IDE that allows you to write code and interact with Arduino devices. It could definitely be improved, but because Arduino devices themselves are open source (even the hardware) it is unlikely a proprietary IDE will enter the marketplace
Airport Utility No open source alternative exists
Disk Utility No open source alternative exists
Quicktime: The standard media player that comes with OSX, but has problems playing nearly every format available VLC: What can I say? This just plays anything and everything, in addition it transcodes and can do network streaming
Google Earth Marble: I have never tried marble as a replacement, but until Google Earth stuffs up I will have no need to
Skype While open source alternatives to Skype somewhat exist to enable chatting, there is nothing that comes even close to Skype’s video calling functionality. There may be other networks that do the same thing, but I am focusing on the Skype network in this case.
uTorrent: While it seems to run faster than Vuze, it has similar features, and I would only trust a BitTorrent client that is open source Vuze: A BitTorrent client written in Java that is constantly updated and always provides quick and stable torrent downloading
Activity Monitor: Apples standard activity monitor, it can tell you about RAM, CPU and network activity MenuMeters: I have never tried it, but the standard one from Apple seems to do me fine so I won’t change until I am compelled to
XCode: Lets you code and build for iOS devices and OSX. It should be noted that GCC and LLVM are both open source compilers, which Xcode uses extensively There are alternatives that can highlight syntax and pass code off to compilers, however nothing that can satisfy all of an iOS developers needs
Charles: A network protocol analyser which lets you view network traffic in real time. Contains a simplified interface and many bells and whistles. Wireshark: An open source alternative to network analysis, however its interface leaves a lot to be desired on OSX
TextWrangler: A syntax highlighter for writing code in a variety of languages Smultron: I used to use Smultron before TextWrangler, however it had a number of problems, development work has since ceased
VMWare Fusion: Virtualisation software that allows you to run other operating systems on OSX VirtualBox: Written in Java so runs a lot slower than VMWare, a bit too slow for my liking
Photoshop: Premiere image editing software GIMP: An open source alternative that unfortunately falls far behind photoshop in terms of features, it may be quite a few years before GIMP can catch up to features like Content Aware filters
Illustrator: Premiere vector graphics software Skencil: Like GIMP it falls far short of its proprietary cousin
Word Writer: Open offices reply to Microsoft Word, written in Java, unfortunately it insists on using its own formats by default, and sometimes doesn’t read Word documents correctly
Powerpoint Impress: Open Offices reply to Microsoft Powerpoint, written in Java, it has the same problems as Writer
Excel Calc: Open Offices reply to Microsoft Excel, written in Java, it has the same problems as Writer
Calculator Why bother?
Steam: A client for interacting with the Steam game servers and store You can’t really make an open sourced version of Steam due to its anti-piracy measures
As far as I know there are no viable proprietary solutions to this server software XAMPP: OSX Apache MySQL PHP and phpMyAdmin software, all open sourced server platforms
I am not aware of a proprietary software competition Hex Fiend: An open source hex editor for directly interfacing to the binary and hexadecimal breakup of files
Autodesk AutoCAD: Computer Assisted Design Software Google Sketchup: Software for creating 3D models in and sharing to the google sketch up searchable database, unfortunately does not support most CAD formats so it becomes impractical unless you are modifying other Google Sketchup drawings