Breaking old habits

Learning FOSS is hard

Created on
Updated on
Reading Time
2 mins
Word Count
640 approx.

I’ve been trying out using FOSS on macOS. I discovered a few apps that are surprisingly good. The only concern that I have is the learning curve. It might not be easy for people, like myself, to change habits that have lasted for more than a decade. But there’s always two sides of a story. Below is my humble and honest opinion. I’ll try to keep it brief.

Let me share a bit of my background. I’m a “layout” guy (not an artist) who worked for a living by creating static mockups for websites/interfaces in the past (R.I.P.). I also did some print design as well. While I can use PhotoShop, Illustrator, and InDesign as a non-award-winning designer, I think I can utilize them to get jobs done. They’re great tools for web and print design.

Coming from those popular tools as a fresh FOSS user, however, the transition is quite difficult. I struggled when picking up new tools.

When it comes to image editing, PhotoShop might be one of the greatest tools invented in the 21st century. Period. Some tasks that are easy for me become difficult when I use GIMP. I only need 3 minutes, tops, using PhotoShop to complete a task. But using GIMP, it took me more than 30 minutes, and still don’t know what I’m doing. I have to read Help, and I searched online. Not trying to flex, but, you know, I rarely search online tutorials to learn “how to use.” It’s very hard to “back in the game” using GIMP.

And about vector graphics, I tried Figma and Sketch last year. They’re not FOSS, but they’re both great. In my opinion, Figma surpasses Illustrator when it comes to pushing pixels. They nailed it. But there’re two major “flaws” that I don’t like. First, it’s a pain in the arse to do print design. Simply put, how are you going to convert px to millimeters? How about bleeding areas, crop marks, and CMYK colour mode? (I’m aware that there’re plugins, but they’re just some workaround.) I get that they aim for web interfaces, but it would be great if they had better support. Second, they do not allow offline editing since it’s a web app. I long for the day when they finally have a native app on macOS. Also, since Figma was acquired by Adobe, I signed up for Penpot. I’m still experimenting, but it looks promising.

I discovered some new tools: darktable a Lightroom alternative for photography, and Krita for drawing art. I’m so impressed by Krita that I didn’t know it was a thing until recently. I’m not trying to compare them since they have different purposes, but I’d prefer Krita over GIMP for doing simple image editing. For darktable, I’m overwhelmed because I’ve never really used Lightroom.

There are some takeaways for me, and maybe for you too. I use PhotoShop or Illustrator for literally everything. I was relying on them way too much for me to notice. It’s just like using MS Word and Excel. Asking just one person to change that, is already very hard. But I’m now taking the first step.

It’s irrational to try using FOSS for the first time and expect everything to work the same way as before. It’s also irresponsible to assume they should be somewhat similar to Adobe products. Everything comes with a price. Even it’s Free, and Libre, one have to invest enough amount of time to read and to learn.

I know that there’re hundreds, or maybe thousands of people working on them really hard. But I just want to express my views on FOSS. I’m a very slow learner. Honestly, I don’t think I can contribute to them. What I can do is spread the word.

This is #Day93 of #100DaysToOffload.