The goodness of free and non-free software at work

Since I started using linux at work about 6-7 years ago I’ve missed the functionality of AutoCAD, Adobe Acrobat (signing, editing), simple authentication on windows AD network and such, to the extent that most of that was circumvented by using windows in a VM.

In the last couple of years most have been taken care of with native proprietary apps like BricsCAD - a good-enough drop-in replacement for AutoCAD for most CAD work I do - and PDF Studio - also a good-enough replacement for Adobe Acrobat, if you don’t care for the 3D and embedded video stuff.

My last hurdle was when the company’s e-mail server migrated to a ms based stuff that uses OWA, not pop or imap. I was told categorically by the IT person that there was no way I could use thunderbird with it, that I’d have to use the browser (and even firefox wasn’t logging in at the beginning, I should use IE in a windows VM) or change to windows 7… It was fun to see his face a couple of days later when he saw me using thunderbird in openSUSE to access the server through davmail.

When I started at this company a year ago they wanted to give me a beefed-up i7 laptop with w7 and all the software I’d need, (AutoCAD, Acrobat, MSOffice, etc.). I said thanks but no thanks, I didn’t want the burden of managing windows stuff - not because it’s necessarily bad, just because I’m not used to it anymore and didn’t want to deal with the security and OS overhead issues windows has, and also to lug a large-screen laptop to-and-fro, as light as they are nowadays.

In these times of BYOD I just brought in a spare work desktop I had - a three year old oS 11.4 64-bit 4GB RAM dual-core Athlon II that run circles around the i5 and i7 8-16GB laptops the other managers use, that most of the time take ages to open apps while their anti-virus/updates/virus/whatever eat their CPU circles. And there’s also a touch of envy in their eyes when they see KDE4 effects like display all windows, wobbly windows snapping to edges, spinning cubes, etc.

Sync is done through spideroak, not as ubiquitous as dropbox but way better for enterprise due to their client-sided encryption method (only you can decrypt your files, no one else, except perhaps NSA…). Goodby pendrives and such.

I don’t evangelize on linux, and if someone ask me about it I limit myself to a 1 minute discourse. More than that and windows-only user’s eyes start getting that glazed look and you know you lost them. I say it’s way better, takes some time to get used to it, does all windows does but generally faster and cheaper, although some highly optimized platform-specific apps are faster in windows.

For now the positive results are some interest of senior management - plus some resistance from the MS-only TI guys - and the company turning to BricsCAD instead of AutoCAD and other clones. If they also start using libreoffice - not possible until version 4 due to missing =SUMIFS function - then a shift to linux in a few years is not farfetched.

It has been an interesting experience.

On 04/13/2013 07:36 PM, brunomcl wrote:
> then a shift to linux in a few years is not farfetched.

my personal opinion is that the once iron clad grip that MS had on
the IT worlds is slipping…more and more are tired of the same old . . .


All power to your elbow.

I think a lot depends on the area of one’s work. In some areas, there are more FOSS alternatives and some are easier to learn but some can be very hard to learn and therefore off-putting to people who may already have invested a lot of time in a particular proprietary program.

Thanks for that, it is a good read.

This is a good way to introduce Linux to the office, so long as you can handle everything on your own.

I work in a highly regulated industry, and any migration to GNU/Linux is not happening in my working lifetime.