Exist more advantage in doing design using open source or operating system of closed source?

Bigby James bigby.james at dimthoughts.com
Sat Mar 21 16:52:08 UTC 2015

On 03/13, clark designer wrote:
> Exist more advantage in doing design using open source or operating system
> of closed source?
> For example, using Linux?
> BSD?
> If yes, what are the advantages?
The real answer to this question is another question: Are Windows or OS X "good
for design?" The answer to that question is "No," because you're not using the
operating system to do the design work. You're using software installed on top
of the operating system to do the work.

There are a number of free and open-source tools (which the other two
respondents here have mentioned) that can be used for design, and those tools
serve a lot of people very well. Inkscape, GIMP and Blender are notably
widespread and well-maintianed, though not as popular as their Adobe/AutoDesk
equivalents. All of them are available on multiple platforms (operating systems)
as well. It's really a matter of choice: You can save money by using the FOSS
tools, but you'll still need to spend time and energy learning how to use them
to accomplish your goals, and if you're taking courses to train you as a
designer you'll almost certainly be using Adobe or Corel tools in those courses.
Trying to learn the fundamentals of design themselves, the software used in your
course, and the FOSS alternatives available all at once would almost certainly
be a fool's errand. Better to learn what to do and how to do it with one piece
of software---say, Photoshop---then learn how to do the same thing in its FOSS
equivalent (in the case of Photoshop, that would be GIMP). These tools are all
capable of the same things, but do those things in different ways. Before you
can learn what those different ways are you'll need to learn what it is you're
actually doing, and using the tools provided in your courses would probably be
the sane way to start.

What I would definitely encourage, regardless of the software used, is to adhere
as much as possible to open standards and file formats. Prefer PDF to .docx, SVG
to .ai, OGG to MP4 and the like. If you're doing any design for the web, adhere
to the web's open standards and write any and all code from scratch using a good
text editor like Vim, EMACS or Sublime rather than using some "smart" garbage
like Dreamweaver. This all ensures that your design work can be opened (and
edited) from any computer that any potential client, collaborator or critic
might use. There are several tools that you as a designer can use to maximize
your potential, and some of them do happen to be free and open-source, and being
free and open-source can give those tools some advantages (like being available
everywhere and being frequently updated), but I would not say that those tools'
being free and open-source will give you any objective advantage as a designer.
It's a matter of you finding the tools that you're comfortable with and making
them work for you. There are several insanely popular open-source projects out
there that lots of people use because they're arguably better than the
alternatives, but not many people would claim that they are better *because*
they follow the FOSS model.

As for me, I ran Linux as my main operating system for the better part of seven
years and have been running FreeBSD for several months, but I confess that since
I was trained to use Adobe tools *and* was made to pay about $320 USD for them
myself, I've just kept using them out of habit and to make good on that cash
investment. I have a Windows 7 Pro license that I used to install Windows 7 in a
VirtualBox instance, and start that up inside FreeBSD when I need to do some
graphics work. I can do all of the writing, coding and file manipulation I need
to in an operating system I love, and use the one I don't really like just for
the graphics work without the need to reboot or maintain another operating
system. Not ideal, but it works very well.

"A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely
foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools." - Douglas Adams

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