Google Picasa replacement: For me this option was fairly obvious. I wanted to offer something to replace Picasa that isn't bound to Linux only, so I chose digiKam, which runs on the KDE desktop. And because KDE apps can run on Windows, Linux and OS X, using this software seemed like a solid choice for most advanced computer users. For the less advanced machine, however, this could be a barrier to entry.
The search engine conundrum
As mentioned above, I felt that in order to realistically get away from Google search in this little experiment, I needed to opt for something like DuckDuckGo. Considering their ideals on privacy and the fantastic search results being provided, I figured why not?
But one cannot ignore that I broke a cardinal rule here. I said that I needed to have open source alternatives to Google offerings. Clearly my above search engine choice doesn't meet this criterion. However at the same time, I needed to find an open source search engine that was truly offering "Google like" benefits - not merely some random search engine program I found on SourceForge.
It took some digging, but I found perhaps the most amazing thing since Wolfram|Alpha. Allow me to proudly introduce YaCy, an open source P2P/decentralized search engine.
Not only is it a fully functional search engine that doesn't rely on a company to run it or servers to host it. But YaCy is also cross platform ready. This means you can have access to a search engine that crawls the Internet for Websites of interest, without actually having to support any one entity.
Eye of the tiger mindset
Like anything in life without a big corporate backer, in replacing Google you have to be determined to make a go of it without something "warm and familiar. With the possible exception of those working for Google competitors, finding the gumption to look at viable alternatives outside of the Googleplex isn't as easy as we might like to think. Even more intense is trying to make this shift while using as much open source software as possible in its place.
The question of our capacity to keep Google from our lives is a tough one. Can someone truly drop Google for open source replacements? As shocking as this might sound, yes, it's possible. You simply have to be willing to make the needed changes in your day-to-day habits. That and be willing to take a walk on the wild side of computing.
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