advice moving to free software

26 replies [Last post]
Joined: 02/07/2015

my son is very interested in libre software
and keeps asking me why i dont get rid of my
mac and iphone much as i like the idea of libre
software in reailty its extreamly hard to make the change
as i run a bussines use imesssage, video, email, text, phone
constantly and many of are staff have iphones
so i fear compatiblility issues?

also i worry that certain programs will not run probbley
without non-free software

advice please?

Joined: 02/07/2015

sorry for my typing i meant properly not probbley
at the end!

also i meant our not are!

Joined: 01/23/2015

Do want advice on replacing the function of the software you are currently using? In that case it would probably help if you listed the software you use or be descriptive about what you use the software for and what you want it to do in the future.

Joined: 05/13/2010

You have a smart son and you would do good listening to him! :)

You can pretty easily try Trisquel to see what works, what might need some tinkering and what might not work at all. Probably most things will work just fine. You can make a live CD/DVD/USB to get an idea how things work.

And should you not be entirely satisfied, there's a full money back guarantee!

Joined: 05/30/2012

email is based on standard protocols, and phone and text messaging are also completely standard things. You don't need to worry about problems with those unless Google starts using "embrace, extend, extinguish" with Gmail, like it did with Google Talk and XMPP (but that's probably not going to happen anytime soon).

Video calls are a little harder, because the popular proprietary VoIP program Skype deliberately doesn't support any open protocols in most circumstances. Similarly, as far as I'm aware, no libre IM client is able to work with iMessage. So you would have to deal with not being able to communicate with people using these methods. On the other hand, you might possibly be able to convince some of them to use libre replacements. There are several XMPP servers and client programs, which you can use for instant messaging. Video calling is a little tougher, but I think Jitsi is the one people usually recommend (I'm not quite sure, since I don't use this kind of thing myself).

By the way, you might want to ease your transition by installing the libre replacements for proprietary programs on your Apple systems first, and then make a switch to a libre OS like Trisquel when you're comfortable with them.

davidnotcoulthard (not verified)

Regarding video calls: A not-too-prefect way of going about this without having anybody else install anything would be to get a new enough version of Firefox or the ports (copies, if you will) faithful enough to it (Debian's Iceweasel, Trisquel's Abrowser, FSF's Icecat, etc.....though I doubt you'll see such things on a Mac), the minimum version being 34 if memory serves me.

iMessege is a tad more difficult, I think. More so on the iPhone than Android.

Anyway, as Trisquellian said, it'd be great if we can see a list of what you use, at least on the Mac's OS, and we can perhaps find alternatives that you can start trying, perhaps on the Mac to begin with to see if it serves you well.

Anyway, since there's a pretty decent chance that you use an Office suite (i.e. MS Office):
LibreOffice as Office suite: (both "Fresh" and "Still" versions work. Fresh is fresher, and "Still" ain't old at all, but both versions are useable and stable).

(But I think it's best if you just Download the OS (which comes in an ISO file) and burn it to a CD, or follow . You can then try it without removing anything from, or otherwise harming, your Mac. Having said that I don't think the OS should be called Linux - long story short it's like naming a Crown Victoria based on the tyres it's on)

P.S. If my knowledge is correct, unlike a lot of other operating systems, all but the biggest GNU/Linux distributions tend not to develop applications. Even the biggest distributions' biggest role is actually compiling software into a distribution and making their management easy (it's the "making management easy" part that may require developing a distribution's own apps).The same goes for Trisquel.

That's because those who actually release the software as complete operating systems aren't actually its original developer. That would be the Free Software Foundation and I won't consider their work so far into the "original, plain" version of the OS sellable, if existant (pieces of it are used in all distributions, but the GNU operating system itself has never officially been released as an OS).


I am a translator!

Joined: 10/31/2014

get rid of the mac and buy a pc with integrated intel graphics and an atheros wifi card. h-node website can give you a pretty good idea of what is compatible with a 100% free OS. Or simply scroll down on the page and buy one of the pc Chris sells (thinkpenguin).
Keep your iphone and use it only for business. Get another more "libre" phone for all that is not business related.
This is what I'm thinking of:

davidnotcoulthard (not verified)

--"get rid of the mac and buy a pc"

I don't see any need for replacing the Mac, especially if it's a new enough Mac (I think a 6-year-old one will be enough by a year or two), though if you're on a Macbook and want to connect to Wi-Fi you'd probably need a USB adapter. A sure-fire one with libre software would be , but anything with an Atheros chip (as SuperTramp98 said) will probably work.

Joined: 05/26/2014

You can use firefox hello from Abrowser for video chat.


I am a translator!

Joined: 10/31/2014

Does it really work for you? I tried it with a couple of friends like a month ago and the video was horrible (static picture that would change to another static one every 10 secs) and the audio even worse. Barely audible and stuttering - didn't understand a word of what the dude on the other side was saying!

Joined: 05/26/2014

I have not tried it because I don't video chat. I mentioned it because I saw a few people recommended it. Isn't the video quality adjustable?

Joined: 08/11/2014

It worked well enough for me- but me and my friend were both using ethernet. Perhaps Hello doesn't play nice with wifi.

Joined: 07/11/2014

For video call on PC, I really recommend this one. Every time I use it, it always has been the best video call experience:
The project's aim is to be free of cost forever too, AFAIK. You don't need to set up an account, every Tox user gets a Tox ID and that ID is what you give to the person you want to talk to do video call with (using Tox). Your choice how you'll give your ID to your chat mate, but of course avoid as much as possible nonfree programs, such as the one you already use. Tox itself by the way isn't the program, it is the core of the program. Clients are what you use to actually do the chatting. The first ones in the downloads section of Tox are the stable ones and they probably should work out of the box. Though, my experience with the uTox client (I use Trisquel 7) and my chate mate (Windows 7 Professional?) hasn't been so smooth. We have to use ear phones to cancel the echo, it's really annoying. I'm sure the folks her can tell you more about Tox.

Seriously, use it! ;)

Joined: 07/11/2014

I read in a TL;DR way, hopefully what I said made sense haha!


I am a translator!

Joined: 10/31/2014

this one I tried 2 months ago - didn't work. voice stuttering (less then using hello but not good at all) and no video.
will give it a try again - maybe they solved some bugs

Joined: 02/07/2015

thank you for your replys

this is a list of the non-free programs i use:
mircrosoft office:
adobe flash:

i need acsess to takeing and saving photos and videos on my phone(iphone):
numbers a spreadsheet app(iphone):
weather app:
tesco app:
plus loads of other apps

Binh-Khoi Nguyen
Joined: 01/22/2015


You will be able to connect on the internet with a free operating system
and send emails. If you want to check, Mac and Windows also have
Thunderbird, a free version of an email client that is used on Trisquel.

LibreOffice should cover the needs of most people (again, there's a
Win/Mac version you can try before making the switch). Are you British?
The British government switched to LibreOffice formats.

Let's be honest, Flash is a bit tricky. You have some software like
youtube-dl which can download videos from a lot of websites,
livestreamer that deals very well with streams, etc. It's less
convenient sometimes, but works really well nonetheless.

As a former iPhone user (I feel like I have to say it was offered to me
;)), maybe I can advise you on this. I know use a samsung galaxy s22
using replicant (not totally free but I think it's the freest phone for
my needs and my budget).

iMessage is crap, personnally, I've always thought it was a
Man-in-the-Middle attack. A private company shouldn't divert text
messages to its servers without your explicit consent. You have free
equivalents, but then your co-workers or the people you're texting must
have Android/Replicant. Apple deliberately close their applications to
their platform, and censor lots of apps, so it's always a bit
complicated to communicate with Apple devices... Of course, texting
works fine.

Let me know if this helps

On Sat, Feb 07, 2015 at 04:39:54PM +0100, name at domain wrote:
>thank you for your replys
>this is a list of the non-free programs i use:
>mircrosoft office:
>adobe flash:
>i need acsess to takeing and saving photos and videos on my phone(iphone):
>numbers a spreadsheet app(iphone):
>weather app:
>tesco app:
>plus loads of other apps

Binh-Khoi NGUYEN
name at domain
name at domain
GPG Key:

J.B. Nicholson-Owens
Joined: 06/09/2014

name at domain wrote:
> this is a list of the non-free programs i use:
> mircrosoft office:

You can use LibreOffice as recommended by others. If you need more
powerful publishing options, try Scribus or learn TeX.

> email:
> internet:

You can use Thunderbird or any Thunderbird derivative such as IceDove.
You'll probably also want to learn about encryption and perhaps your son
can help you with hosting your own email so your email provider isn't
indexing your email server-side and distributing information about you
based on your email.

> adobe flash:

This is too vague -- what do you use Flash to do? If you browse YouTube,
try using the "youtube-dl" program instead. youtube-dl will let you
download videos from a variety of video sites (not just YouTube) and
then you can use a Free Software video player (like VideoLAN Client) to
play them. There are also Free Software browser plugins that work with
Firefox or Free Software derivatives (such as Abrowser and IceCat) which
do this same job -- "unplug", for instance.

If you need gratis file hosting (including audio/video hosting) where
everyone on the Internet can download what you upload, use
instead of Google. Playing media inline on a website (where the user
gets a simple play button to begin playing the media) is easily
accomplished by using WebM and HTML5.

> imessage(iphone):
> i need acsess to takeing and saving photos and videos on my phone(iphone):

I'm sure there are digital cameras you can get that will take photos and
videos and let you save them without tracking your movements or
reporting your presence to cell towers, Apple, Google, Microsoft, or
their world government friends. Regardless of what digital camera you
use, it would be worth your while to look into the metadata stored with
photos and videos to see if they reveal the time and location the
photo/video was taken. There are important privacy implications to
consider in carrying a tracker (a more accurate name for the device also
known as a cell phone or mobile phone) everywhere you go and the
convenience of being able to make a call is not worth losing your privacy.

> numbers a spreadsheet app(iphone):

Try Calc (part of LibreOffice) or Gnumeric.

> weather app:

There are plenty of websites from which one can get weather forecasts.
No need to let some weather forecaster know what's on your tracker just
so you can find out the weather.

> tesco app:

I don't really know what Tesco is or what this app does but from what I
gather Tesco is a grocery store. Thus this suggests to me that this
Tesco program lets you know what's on sale at Tesco or lets you get a
discount by allowing Tesco to more easily track your purchases and
movements, and possibly snoop on other data stored on your tracker.
Maybe you should do without this app.

> plus loads of other apps

This is also too vague -- if we don't know what you need a computer to
do we can't recommend specific approaches to doing that task in freedom.

Perhaps you'd be better off describing the task to be completed rather
than the specific program you currently use to do that task. That way we
can recommend other approaches implementable with Free Software.

Joined: 05/30/2012

"Email" and "Internet" aren't non-free programs. Do you mean your email client and Web browser?

Flash doesn't have a good libre replacement. Even if it did, most Flash content requires embedded, typically proprietary ActionScript code, anyway. But depending on what you use Flash for, chances are you don't really need it.

davidnotcoulthard (not verified)

I assume the top 4 are Desktop/Laptop programmes.....

mircrosoft office: LibreOffice
email: Thunderbird (note: It's got a few issues freedom-wise but almost none of it is in the default programme itself. A freer version exists in the form of Icedove but it's almost identical to Thunderbird)
internet: Firefox (similar note to Thunderbird, except that it supports a non-free mechanism removed in Libre copies like Trisquel's Abrowser or Debian's Iceweasel)
adobe flash: The only feasible option, sadly, for me, is to avoid it. One can actually live without it, though (and still browse YouTube, Vimeo, etc). It does work on GNU/Linux, but it's not free.

I assume the bottom 4 are iPhone programmes.......

I think the iPhone needs to be replaced (I didn't say it's illegal not to do so, mind:), so you should probably keep that in mind when you're looking for a new phone. A problem is that freeing the software used on smartpones is as of now more difficult that doing so with PCs. You can get a phone that's got Android (and only use iPhone for iMessege, and start phasing that out?) and only use free apps, and still have a phone that functions as a smart phone (you can browser the web, watch videos, take pictures, etc), but you'd still be left with non-free software on it needed for the camera, 3G, Wi-Fi, etc. One thing's for sure, though, an Android phone is freer than an iPhone, but I won't call it fully free.

There's a fully free smartphone product, but it's out of stock (And ugly based on the pictures I've seen).

P.S. I've said on a post above:
(But I think it's best if you just Download the OS (which comes in an ISO file) and burn it to a CD, or follow . You can then try it without removing anything from, or otherwise harming, your Mac. Having said that I don't think the OS should be called Linux - long story short it's like naming a Crown Victoria based on the tyres it's on)

Joined: 07/05/2014

Unfortunately Free mobile operating systems are in the same stat that free Pc operating systems where in the early-mid 90's. They function but there is a lot to catch up on.

davidnotcoulthard (not verified)

Anyway, could that son of yours be on this forum somewhere? :)

Joined: 12/05/2014



I am a translator!

Joined: 10/31/2014


davidnotcoulthard (not verified)


Joined: 02/07/2015

Many Thanks to everyone who posted suggestions - you are a very helpful bunch of people :) Maybe a Samsung Android phone (my son says with Replicant) is a step forward... I will try Libre Office too. Thanks Katie

Joined: 05/30/2012