Open source software is not too shabby, the journey thus far

elementary os LOKI
elementary os LOKI

The breakpoint and frustration with Windows

Almost 2 years ago I was so frustrated with Windows on my computer that I  decided to replace it completely. I had recently upgraded to  Windows  10 from Windows 8 with great excitement and enthusiasm but sadly this was short-lived after a while it seemed that my  computer had slowed down considerably.  It seemed that a number of users were also having similar issues when I checked online forums and there were varying reasons for this, a number of which could be fixed. However, I guess I had reached my breakpoint as a Windows user.   I had checked for viruses and other bugs using the latest tools but could find none.  One of my big worries was that  my laptop which was quite decent in terms of speed and specs,  was just not performing at its true potential. It was just so sluggish it took forever to get anything done. It never seemed to amazed me how many background processes where running on my computer when I would press CONTROL + ALT + DELETE to restart my machine. Why where there so many processes running in the background. I already knew this was a thing on Windows since I have go through most versions of Windows since in started. My involvement with Windows goes back to the DOS days. I still remember when Bill Gates took out the entire page of the times to advertise Windows 95. So I had been using Windows for a while now and moving to another operating system was a very big deal.

The long search for an alternative

I then spent several hours looking for a viable alternative to Windows. I did not want to do a dual boot where I would have access to 2 operating systems.  I decided on a complete format. After reading many online reviews I  settled on an operating system called elementary os (elementary operating system) which is based on  Linux and feels very much like an Apple operating system. I had tinkered with Linux before so I knew what I was getting myself into with the decision to go for elementary os. However, what I found compelling about elementary os was that it was quite light and seemed to be a hybrid between Linux Ubuntu and Apple Operating system (iOS). It was quite an inspired decision,  replacing  Windows but it’s one of the best things I’ve done on my  computer. I installed elementary without personally knowing anyone who was running the system. The entire process of downloading and installing elementary was a little bit technical but once installed I was sorted.

Changes after installing elementary
I had to change many  things after installing elementary. Almost every  program I used on Windows was proprietary just like the operating system. This had to change after I switched to elementary.  I thought Microsoft Office was very decent in terms of quality but also decided to replace that.  I chose Open Office to replace the Microsoft version. I made sure that when I saved documents they were in the doc format that other people could open.

What about the Windows-based chess software
The biggest challenge with going Open Source was Chess software.  Chessbase has set the bar for Windows based software. I found my replacement in open source by using Chessbase online. There is  Chess online lacks some of the features of the Windows software but the online version does an incredible job. Some open source alternatives to Chessbase are ChessX and SCID and SCID versus PC. The best Chess Engine at the moment,  Stocking 8, is open  source.

Here are a few things Ive learnt about Open source over the years:

You don’t have to be a techie for Open source

It certainly helps you don’t have to be a techie to run Open source. I am not a techie myself but I am very curious about how things work. Initially I thought you had to be very good with code to go with open source  and it’s one of the  reasons I delayed for adopting Open source for a very long time and I was wrong.  However you should be prepared to run a few lines of code every now and then. I was very nervous about the command line interface but it’s not a big deal.  Whenever I need to run any commands I just look them up on Google.
Working online a great deal? Give Open source some consideration
If you do most of your work online,  in the  cloud,  you should seriously consider going Open source. If your work is online based, you might be a good candidate for the Open source experiment.

Old computers work fine with Linux and elementary os

You can use Open source over operating systems with fairly  old computer  specs. A 10  year old computer can run Linux or Elementary OS quite nicely.  I believe that to run Windows 10 and get good performance in terms of speed it definitely helps to have a recent  computer model.

The massive influence on Open source

Working with Open source has piqued my interest in  computers and technology and I have realised just how much Open software and technology is used on a day to day basis and has impacted our working lives.I recently discovered that WordPress, which is also open source, powers at least 27 percent of the internet. (My website, AfricaChessnet, runs on wordpress and the platform is so easy to use.)  That’s good open source is. I run and maintain my own website.I believe that working with Open source Operating systems has inspired me to delve deeper into how technology works. I am learning to code as well. Linux is the most secure operating system and most servers in the world run on Linux OS. My favourite messaging App Telegram is also open source. The base Android system, before any modification by phone manufacturers, is open source.

Look for the open source alternative

When you realise how good open source technology you start looking for alternatives often. I have managed to replace almost all the proprietary software I use. The one tool I am still using at the moment is Evernote. So far its been great but I have already been checking out what the open source options look like.

Take baby steps if you decide to go open source

If you decide to experiment within open source software on your computer try the dual booting route first. This will give you the option to continue using Windows while you try out Open source. Please do not do in a production environment. Do you have an old computer lying around that you hardly use. That would be perfect to try installing Linux or elementary.

Once you are good with open source, going back to proprietary is hard

Once you get used to working with Open source software it’s very difficult to go back to proprietary software. Open source software is not for everyone. Some software  especially graphic and design software is only available for  in  Windows or Apple Operating systems.
Computing the way it was designed to be
Booting my computer takes less than a minute and for the most part my computer is much faster than before.  Moving from one task to another on the computer is basically instantaneous. This is how things should be.

Focus moves from operating system to the work at hand

When your computer is very fast you forget about the operating system you are using. There are very few programs working in the  background that I am not aware of on elementary OS.  Your focus is much more on the work and tasks you are attending to.

The software and technology are so good, but..
The most intriguing thing about Open source software and technology is that a lot of it is not just incredibly good, stable and reliable but it’s also free and that’s something worth thinking about.

Author: Bruce Mubayiwa

My key interests and passions are Chess, Technology and Writing. I am the founder and editor of Africa Chess Net. My goal is to get more people playing chess in Africa.