Come In – We’re OPEN! 6

open - by CC-BY


Among professional content creators, proprietary software like Photoshop, Pro-Tools, and Final Cut, seem to be the de-facto standard. People often don’t feel they have any incentive to use open source software and open formats, citing the advantages they perceive in proprietary apps. The first advantage proprietary software often seems to have is its usefulness. If software allows me to do something i need it for (like airbrushing a photo), I’m likely to pay for it. However, if there are two apps that do the same thing, and one costs money, I’m more than likely going to take the free option, unless I need support.

As soon as something breaks, I’ll want someone to call to fix it, so I can get back to work.This has traditionally been the second advantage of any commercial software. Even if you don’t pay for a support contract, there’s an implicit warranty that comes with the knowledge that whoever took your cash when you paid for the software is probably still around to fix it for you (or at least you can track them down as long as they still have a company). What most people don’t realize is that open source software is actually easier to support, because the market for support is competitive. Imagine a world where your car dealer is the only one who can work on your car. Ever. You get a flat on the side of the road. Call your dealer. You need a new fan belt on a long drive when it breaks down in the middle of nowhere. Call your dealer. And I don’t even mean call the nearest dealer of your particular make of car. I mean the dealer you bought it from. That’s what proprietary software support is like in a nutshell. Your software supplier may be easy to reach, they may be knowledgable, but if they ever fall behind in either category, you’re essentially at their mercy, as nobody else can poke around in the source code and fix problems that aren’t a priority for them. With open source software, yeah, it’s usually free of charge, but it’s also free to be supported, maintained, and improved upon by anyone who has the skill to do so. Most of the people supporting proprietary software are regular company employees who are certainly smart enough to  just as easily be able to support open source software.

But what if you could use software that didn’t cost anything upfront, had free updates, and not only offered support, but by virtue of it’s openness, was easier for third parties to support? I can only think of one thing that would keep me from using it – interoperability. If I’m a graphic designer at an ad-firm, I need to make sure the print shop can use the same formats as I do, and the easiest way to ensure that we can both use the same formats is to use the same software. Fortunately, we realize that, which is why Dream Studio supports more formats out of the box than Windows, MacOSX, Adobe’s Creative Suite, Pro-Tools, and Final Cut combined. And unlike these proprietary solutions, we use Open Formats, so that even competing software vendors can read and write to the same formats your files are saved in. With Open Formats, you’ll never have to worry about reading old files that were created with software you’ve lost the disk for. Speaking of which, you can convert most of your old proprietary files to new open formats, so you won’t have to worry about them in the future, and for formats we can’t convert (because they weren’t open source or open formats), you can run most old DOS and Windows programs on Dream Studio if you do happen to have the install discs. Even new version of Windows won’t let you do that, let alone Macs. And unlike proprietary software – if you want to share a file or project with someone who doesn’t use open source software, you can give them a copy of the software itself.

Here are some of the formats we support:
Microsoft Word
Microsoft Excel
Microsoft PowerPoint
Adobe Flash
Adobe Photoshop
Adobe Illustrator
Adobe Reader
CD Audio
DVD Video
Standard Audio Formats (wav, mp3, aac, m4a, aiff)
Standard Video Formats (avi, mpeg, mp4, mkv, mov, h.264)


Now maybe none of what I’ve just said has swayed you. Maybe you use software that cost you nothing, that you don’t need support for, and that you know is interoperable where you need it to be, because it’s the leading software in its field, and everyone in “the business” uses it. Maybe, you’re a pirate. No judgement, but I would like to point out some of the reasons even a software pirate would want to use open source software like Dream Studio.

First of all, if you’re using pirated software, you know you won’t be supported. You may think you’ll never need support, but believe me, if and when you do, you won’t be happy having to spend money on a license for software, only to find out afterward whether or not there’s a fix for your particular issue. You see, no one will even tell you if they can support you unless they’re sure you have a proper software license. With open source software, you have available all the traditional free methods of support, like user forums and tutorials, with the distinct advantage that if you need full support, you’re getting the same treatment as every other user.

The second thing to consider is the cost of upgrades. When you pay for software, you definitely pay for upgrades, but when you use pirated software, you’re essentially at the mercy of the software pirates. If they can’t crack the latest version, or simply don’t bother to, you don’t get access to all the new features the paying customers do. And if that fact makes you consider buying a copy, you now have to pay full price, because you won’t get the upgrade discount on a package you downloaded from the internet. If you use open source software from the start, you never have to worry about situations like this, and it’s still no cost!

Consider also how many people get a computer virus from something they downloaded illegally. Sure, you can run antivirus scans on everything you use, but with Dream Studio even that’s unnecessary. There are no known viruses affecting Dream Studio. Zero. Even Mac users can’t brag about that kind of security. The very nature of open source software allows anyone to find, fix, and share security breaches. No more waiting for the second tuesday of each month to get a security patch.

Learning New Software

Now, I’ll be the first to admit, nobody likes having to learn how to use new software. This is the one final reason we sometimes hear from people afraid to make the switch to open source. We don’t want to have to learn a different way of doing things we’ve been doing for years, like making spreadsheets, moving files around, and editing videos. We’ve spent many hours learning how to do these things with the current tools, and it seems like a waste of time to have to relearn just to remain productive. The thing is, when our software changes, we’re forced to relearn things either way. Look at Windows 8, the last couple versions of Microsoft Office, Final Cut X. The proprietary programs we’re used to dealing with can, and often do, change the way they work radically. If you want up to date support, you’re eventually going to have to learn new software. You might as well start by learning to use open source software now, and make it the last switch you ever have to make.

When a proprietary program reaches its end of life, you lose access to it,  an even greater concern with software for which you’ve never had the installation files. And that’s exactly the direction proprietary software is heading. Both Microsoft and Adobe have confirmed that future versions of their software will be subscription only. It’s plain to see the problems that arise when you never have a personal copy of the software you use to do real work. When you switch to open source software like Dream Studio, you get a copy of the software and the source code, which allows you, or anyone you choose for support, to provide that support for all time. No more relying on your software vendor. No more production hours lost to an internet glitch. No more licensing audits. No more viruses. No more forced upgrades.

You see, all the advantages of open source software and open formats apply not only to the applications that you use to get work done, but even the very core of your computer – the operating system. Many people don’t like the changes in newer systems like Windows 8 and the latest OSX. With Dream Studio, you (or anyone else) can replace anything, from the login screen to the window theme. You can make it look like Mac, edit Windows files, and access it from your Android phone. And all because… it’s open.

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6 thoughts on “Come In – We’re OPEN!

  • Samael Bate

    The reasons you’ve listed for people to choose open source software over pirating products failed to mention something which I believe to be the number one reason for not using pirated software. That is that at some point in time the user may want to make money from the content they have created. As soon as someone sets up in the business of selling assets they’re likely to get into serious problems if they are using pirated tools.

    In the long run it’s better to choose to either learn to use the freely available tools or to get used to paying the huge price tags that come with buying software licences.

    This same argument also applies to the free student licenses that some companies offer. I know of some students that developed a game for IOS using student-licensed 3d modelling tools that were not able to release it without paying for the full license fees. They could’ve sold their game if they had been using Blender.

  • Yves

    With proprietary software, you pay 1,000$ for the hardware and add up another 1,000$ for the OS and some basic application(M$Office) so the computer can be used for something.

    With open source software, you pay 1900$ for a top of the line hardware and shove into it any open source distro that fit your needs… As a bonus, you still have a 100$ to give to the distro you choose as a support effort.

    It is easy to see which of the two scenarios gives the highest return on investment, both socially and personally.

    • openethan

      $1900 for state of the art hardware? Are you joking or what! I’m running an Intel i7 machine and didn’t pay over $650 for the whole setup. That’s just preference. Most Linuxians know you can run the same setup on a pc 10 years old. It’s the proprietary software that continually demands the newest and demands more memory, more and more. Costing the end user the feeling of never having a complete experience. Never having control of their own setup. No control: The proprietary experience. Enjoy your (what was it… $2000 you say?) $2000 setup so you can turn your machine on and function. Holy hell!

  • Gord Williams

    Many in the open ‘source community’ just aren’t happy when things change. The debate over desktops holds back the adopting of the OS whatever it may be because of the FUD – fear uncertainty doubt – when you reach a forum or a website on the topic – before you decide to push your paid for tools off to the side and invest – time, brainpower, energy to fully adopting a standard for yourself.

    I am ashamed of the Linux users you see posting trash all over the place about how their desktop works, or whether or not Linus actually ripped off code from commercial Unix and so on.

    The biggest attribute a new user must have is a thick skin. There are many impolite users daunting the task of switching over.

    Unseen are people like Glen MacArthur at AVLinux who actually answer your silly new user questions and enjoy the process of emailing you about it.

    This is the nature of the exchange that anyone would make to put down the hacked versions of commercial software. You will want to have your own tools for sure, but more than that, hacked versions can mean you send a virus or Trojan to a client.

    I am one who uses Linux professionally, with Harrison Mixbus to do audio. Best decision I made business wise. Sure a few sleepless nights here and there, and more head scratching involved. But I am also not on hold or listening to someone triage me from a script either.