My Non-Open Source (Proprietary) Guilty Pleasures

Being an “Open Source” guy there is a certain stigma that goes along with that title, one being that everything you use has to be Open Source. Where I take great pride in the knowledge there isn’t really any aspect of my digital life I couldn’t do without an Open Source solution, I personally don’t necessarily make Open Source a “requirement”. I always look for the best solution and tool for a particular task, for me freedom and access to the code weighs heavily in that decision but is not the only parameters in picking a solution.

In the interest of full discloser, and because there are people who enjoy pointing out when they “catch me” not using Open Source (as if I don’t know), I present to you a list of my Non-Open Source guilty pleasures that I use frequently (with some justification for using them)

Note: with the exceptions of OSX and the Microsoft products all solutions below do offer free versions of their products though I typically pay for the upgraded products.

Desktop

  • Evernote (http://www.evernote.com) – There are several alternatives to Evernote, including Open Sources ones such as Tomboy but they all seem to lack either features or cross platform compatibility. Evernote does have a OSX and Windows client but no client for Linux which has always been a huge draw back. Evernote does have a pretty good web interface, which continues to improve and this helps a lot when I am on my Linux desktops. Evernote also have a lot of open APIs and there has been some activity to writing alternative Evernote clients that will run on Linux desktops including one I’ve checked out called Nevernote (http://nevernote.sourceforge.net/)
  • Navicat (http://www.navicat.com/) – I simple like this tool. The user interface and feature set is wonderful. There are tons of Open Source GUI clients to connect to MySQL database and even though 99% on my database activity is connecting to a MySQL backend every now and then I need to connect to MSSQL, Oracle, or PostgreSQL and my Navicat Premium allows me to do this in one client. It also has a wonderful feature of establishing my MySQL connections over SSH which I love when I need to work on my Windows boxes. It’s baked in so I don’t have to establish my own separate SSH tunnel. They also have clients for Windows, OSX, and Linux
  • Dropbox (http://db.tt/AyOLUYV) – I have to be honest, I’ve used Dropbox for several years but it is always on my hit list to move to an alternative Open Source solution. There seems to be a new one that drops every month. When I get comfortable with the staying power and feature set that Dropbox offer, I will probably drop Dropbox.
  • OSX (http://www.apple.com/macosx/) – This is really a decision of convince than anything else. There are typically a greater number “vendor support” desktop application that are not support on Linux desktops such as the previously mentioned Evernote. However OSX is BSD at heart and lets me retain a lot of the Open Source tools I am accustomed to on my Linux desktop including a very power command line and scripting ability. My OSX desktop also affords me the unique benefit of running virtualization software such as Virtualbox (http://www.virtualbox.org/) and allow me to run Windows, several Linux distributions, and OSX all on one physical machine. This is really nice especially when needing to do testing.

Servers

  • Splunk (http://www.splunk.com/) – Of all the proprietary products I use Splunk is probably the one I am most wishful would go full Open Source or someone would start a Open Source project to match the abilities on Splunk. Splunk is kind of hard to explain but think if Google went to a Unix party where the command lines tail and grep were hanging out and they all hooked up together. Splunk would we the result of that. This is a crazy cool and powerful tool that your typical end user probably not appreciate or understand, you really need to be some sort of systems administrator or hard core, log loving, developer to really embrace and appreciate it. Splunk has very open APIs that access the core of their system which is nice because as a developer you are able to extend and build onto the product, but the core itself is proprietary. This means the core can change breaking whatever you built to extend it and you don’t have the option of forking the old core and continuing down whatever path you feel is better.

Software as a Services or SaaS – SaaS is an interesting arena. Where many of the services are built on Open Source solutions, the service themselves are proprietary, but at the same time their “Cloud” nature is about accessibility hence they typically have a lot of open API that allow you to tie into and develop for the service in many ways. My justification for these services is typically unilaterally related to accessibility.

  • Remember The Milk (http://www.rememberthemilk.com/) – Great task management system
  • Grooveshark/Pandora/mSpot – I’m not a big iTunes guy and enjoy always being able to get to my music as well as enjoy the ability to discover new music.
  • Google Docs / GMail – Not a huge fan of Google Docs functionality but having the ability to collaborate and share supersedes that.
  • Twitter/Posterous/Facebook/Other Misc Microblogging services – Just general online social life stuff.

Exceptions (Disclosure to my Disclosure)

  • Microsoft Stack (Windows7/Office/Outlook/Visio/Project/blah/blah/blah) – From a work perspective the company I work for makes heavy use of a Microsoft including Exchange, Sharepoint, and Windows Desktops. Because of that, and the fact that there are company policies around “acceptable and supported desktops”, you may see me using one of these products. I’m not to say I initially avoid these products, I just don’t naturally gravitate to them.

 

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