“Software Freedom” shouldn’t mean “use free software or else.” It should mean you are free to use the software you choose.
I have the Chrome web browser running full-screen on my Ubuntu desktop. Not Chromium, but proprietary Chrome — because it suits my needs better than open source Chromium. I also like Chrome better than Firefox, and I say this after using only Firefox for a week and trying hard to like it.
Some of this may be habit. We humans tend to prefer the familiar to the unfamiliar, and I’ll admit that I have gotten used to Chrome and its features.
This does not mean that I consider all or even most proprietary software better than open source or free software. Not even close! I am, for example, a long-time (and highly satisfied) Gimp user, and the few times I have tried to use Photoshop on friends’ computers I was totally confused.
For day-to-day text and HTML editing, Bluefish is my all-time favorite. And what I purely love when I’m doing work that has a lot of cut and paste in it, such as extensive quotes or (typical for me) a lot of links, is the combination of Bluefish and Linux-style (or Unix-style) “highlight/paste” without the bothersome intermediate Windows step of highlight/SELECT/paste.
I know there are a million “writers’ programs” out there. But most of the time, all I want is simple and fast, and a good selection of premade HTML tags I can click into my document.
Which, of course, leads me to LibreOffice, which I use when I need to read or edit something made in Microsoft Office. I’ve followed (and used) this ever-improving program since it was StarOffice. It was frustrating to use back then, but it’s smooth as Teflon now. And free software? TEN-FOUR, BAY-BEE!
Sound: I love Audacity, and use it regularly. Improvement in Audacity since I started using it has been amazing. It is now, in my opinion, far superior to most proprietary alternatives.
And now we come to the first question I ask before selecting a program: Will it do what I need to do without a lot of fuss and muss?
For video editing, my favorite program is proprietary, Windows-only Vegas. Every year or two I try the most popular FOSS video editors, and so far — in my opinion — they have only been good for very simple edits, roughly equivalent to Windows Movie Maker. I’ve been sick (and hospitalized twice) in the last couple of years, so I’m behind on a lot of things I should have already done, and checking the latest Linux and/or FOSS video editors is one of those things. Now I’m starting to gear up for a new round of video software reviews. Coming soon, possibly even starting next week…
…but back to the main topic. Only after I identify software that fills my needs do I start to shop for licenses. I went through a phase, years ago, where I would only do things with my computer that I could do with free software. That meant, if all interesting videos were Flash, I couldn’t watch videos. Games? I’ve never been an on-screen gamer, but I’ve watched with amusement as many ardent free software types would admit, forlornly, that they loved their (ultra-proprietary) game consoles or that they had a Windows partition — only for gaming, of course.
I’m not this kind of hypocrite. I’m a pragmatic computer user. I use free software wherever I can, and open source as my #2 preference. But the main thing is that the software I use must be able to do the job.
About video editing software: I use and like Vegas. I now use the “consumer” version because it’s better than the Pro version was half a dozen years ago. A Mac (Book Pro) recently fell into my hands so I’m messing with Final Cut because it’s “the” industry standard until you hit the big-time and use Avid. But same as always, I would like to use non-proprietary video editing software on a non-proprietary operating system, so I’m getting ready for another round of reviews. And so, my question for you: What FOSS video editing software should I try?
Robin “Roblimo” Miller is a freelance writer and former editor-in-chief at Open Source Technology Group, the company that owned SourceForge, freshmeat, Linux.com, NewsForge, ThinkGeek and Slashdot, and until recently served as a video editor at Slashdot. Now he’s mostly retired, but still works part-time as an editorial consultant for Grid Dynamics, and (obviously) writes for FOSS Force.