In my last post "A Rant About Digital Consumer Conciouseness", promoting the use of Open Source software to forwards freedom in the most important media and means for communication we have today, I got a comment speaking about how "it lacks many crucial commercial applications that makes it unviable for producing many kinds of deliverables to clients", for graphics, music, accounting etc.
I would have to disagree. Obviously there are some very specialized software for almost any platform, that lacks equivalent in any other, (solidworks comes to mind) but all in all, I have to call bullshit. Quite frankly. Pardon my French.
I've run Linux for almost two decades, while running a small business in the graphics business for 8+ years, doing kliches, screen-printing, tampon printing, foil transfer printing, etc, including designing logos, converting graphics to vectorials, cleaning up poor quality originals, and other digital work.
So far the ONLY ting I miss, is a feasible replacement for Skype (Which I refuse to install on my own systems exclusively running Open Source software) and Irfanview, a very competent little image-viewer/editor, made by this one guy, that has yet to Open Source. But this is FAR from enough to infest my life and work with all the issues of running proprietary closed shit.
Now, for the longest time I had to rely on Photoshop and a nationally specific accounting software, but those I could run in either Wine or a virtual machine under TinyXP or alike. In fact, I had an BIG issue with Photoshop in WindozzZZzze, as clients kept handing me jobs with the latest PSD version formats, without backwards compatibility (almost unheard of in free software), where I was initially forced to upgrade my hardware just because some idiot thought the version upgrades were urgently essential, and failed to save stuff with available options for making it compatible with older version (older than a week at times, mind you) when in fact they were doing nothing but creating obstacles and delays along the production chain.
That was until a Winblows-machine got fried, and I discovered that I could run the latest Photoshop virtualized under Linux, on less than half the performance "required", and it still ran FASTER and SMOOTHER, than it had under crapware OS, and with no memory-issues. (In fact, PSD CS8 "required" 1GB RAM, but ran nicely on 256MB RAM in Ubuntu, and it did not care about anyone and everyone claiming it couldn't. -And I can't remember when Linux ever fried any hardware)
For my accounting, I then simply moved onto having a suitable spreadsheet in OpenOffice Calc, realizing that the complexity of most accounting softwares are just completely unnecessary, and just made things difficult and raised the learning-curve bar. Plus I hired a guy to do the filing and saved me lots of money using that time for productive revenue-generating stuff. (Today I reckon GNUcash is sufficient for most business as well, and I used it at my last project site, handling finances in a British trust.)
From that day, the ONLY use I had for M$ O$ was because my bank dropped support for Mac and Linux, for their electronic ID, that I "needed" once a year for filing privately without leaving the house. In the end walking the two blocks to the bank was less of a hassle than maintaining a dual-boot with Gates garbage.
I've even worked designing circuit-boards with specialized open software.
(Today I have rid myself of the religious shackles of governmnet dogma, and just ignore them, not registering squat, not bothering with unproductive filing and bureaucracy, saving oodlez of cash from compulsory extortion ("tax") having plenty of work in the Agorist market, which is embracing FOSS with open arms wherever I go)
Gimp, Incscape, and Scribus works perfectly well as alternatives to get out of the Adobe-shackles, for any business that don't do very advanced stuff, and their abilities are rapidly approaching a point where that are so much better than the corpware. TinyPDF, Sumatra and Foxit are all great for PDF's, at a fraction of the install-size, running orders of magnitude faster.
Now, obviously it takes SOME degree of telling your clients that using non-free standards and file-formats is very problematic for those that don't run the most expensive, worst performing and bloated OS out there, but I have had surprisingly little trouble making both clients and authorities work with LibreOffice (this was before LibreOffice) or at least sending files saved in formats according to the OpenDocument Standards, or ODF.
The amount of time saved by just going on IRC and ask bout any given problem, 24/7/356 saved me lots of additional money, frustration and delays, not to mention never having to bother with antivirus, product codes, trojans, firewalls, forced updates when you need it the least, and other stuff you really don't need when an operating system is built properly.
I now consider Winblows and anti-virus programs viruses in themselves, as they clog up your hardware, constantly breaks, and gives the user a false sense of security, making them act carelessly and end up having more viruses etc. then if they simply acted smart on the web and when swapping files in the office.
Today I live with an artist and graphics designer, and she is successfully replacing software after software, migrating to freedom-wares and Linux Mint, so far with no obstacles what so ever, apart from just familiarizing with the differences.
And I have plenty of friends that do the same, making a living with Blender, OpenS CAD, Gimp, Scribus, and ofc, pretty much every programming language still in popular demand. In fact, I probably know MORE individuals exclusively working in Linux, than in Winsbsod or Craptosh.
It's a total cop-out to say it can't work when you never tried to, and it is counter-productive to the goals of freedom. When the market is bending off in the wrong way, you do what you can to bend it back. The market preference is NOT a government decree, it actually responds to requests in order to stay in business. (But even authorities, in particular actually, understand the discriminatory aspect of assuming everyone either "break the law" of cough up hundreds of dollars for software licenses when perfectly viable alternatives exists for all of them, at no cost, and with superior free support.
All in all, moving to free software is a good business-practice, a GREAT move for freedom in general, and it saves lots of antagonizing and hair-pulling .
AlternativeTo is good place to start for anyone seeking to replace their malware with real software.