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My conversion to Opera is still going well. I'm not sure that browsing is altogether more enjoyable or anything, but it's at least as good as Firefox. I'm getting into using the sidebar nowadays. I tend to have an aversion to sidebars in general, but Opera's are hideable and displayable via a toolbar button, which is nice. It's very flexible. The sidebar is a perhaps ideal location for bookmarks; menu-based bookmark browsing annoys me to no end. Same with history. It's also a nice place for file download progress to be shown. The download dialog box in Firefox is my mortal enemy.

I think sometimes about how fickle I am when it comes to software. Linux users can afford to be fickle. It's one of the perks of being a Linux user. For web browsers we have at least two wonderful choices, Firefox and Opera. Think about how many choices we have for text editors, xterm-clones, IM and chat clients, graphics editors, music players, video players, desktop environments and window managers, scripting languages, pretty much everything. Even OS choice; we have so many Linux distros to use. And if you don't want Linux, there's BSD and other alternatives.

We're really spoiled in the open source software world. Most of us never contribute a speck of anything to the majority of these projects. We happily use them and we can stop using them on a whim and use others.

Sometimes I tell myself that simply using the software and telling others about it is a form of giving back to the community. Basically "spreading the word". I have personally influenced a few people to use Linux, to a lesser or greater degree. I have helped people when they've asked for help, to the best of my ability. But such things are a minor contribution, if one at all.

But I think most of us are leeches in a sense; we use the products of others for our own purposes and give little or nothing back. But in another sense, we aren't taking anything away from anyone by using their software. It doesn't cost the author anything when I use Vim or the GIMP or the Linux kernel, other than the cost of a file download. If I didn't use the software, they'd be in exactly the same situation as if I did. If you light a fire, and I light my own fire using yours to start it, did I take anything from you? Maybe not. Maybe it doesn't matter.

October 03, 2007 @ 10:34 AM PDT
Cateogory: Linux