Since the March 2006 release of Google Docs (Now called Workspaces), the quality of online services was improving remarkably. To such an extent that the question in the title, which years ago would have been considered absurd, today justifies this article.
While it is true that devices like the Chromebook now support the use of applications for Linux (And for Windows using Wine), the truth is that software developers such as Adobe have been planning to move all or part of their products for a long time. to the cloud.
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Online programs or services. Is there a better option?
There is no safer way to make a fool of yourself than to risk a technological prediction, however, with a delay caused by the pandemic, the transition to online services seems unstoppable. Of course, each option has its advantages and disadvantages.
There is at a point where the differences become fuzzy so I am going to establish an absolutely arbitrary border. For the purposes of this article, we consider software that is installed locally and that can only share information through the use of an external tool.
With regard to self-hosted online services (Nextcloud, OnlyOffice, Collabora Office), since we must also take care of their installation and maintenance, we also classify them as programs.
Advantages and disadvantages of the programs
The most obvious advantage of using a locally installed program is privacy. Except for a cyber attack targeting the computer you work with, no one has access to what you do with it. You also don't need an internet connection and, there is still usually a significant difference with the benefits. And, of course, you are not exposed to other people's decisions affecting you.
The main disadvantage of locally installed programs is that you are tied to the computer you use so you are vulnerable to hardware or software problems (incompatibility with other programs, failed updates, etc.)
Advantages and disadvantages of online services
Personal productivity specialists say that one should focus on the twenty percent of the activities that generate eighty percent of the results. In that sense, online services save us from having to deal with downloading, updating, maintaining and making backup copies of our work.
The second advantage is that online services are not tied to a device. In fact, they are designed to adapt to the one you are using. One can start a text on the phone, correct it on the tablet and add images to it and print it on the desktop computer.
In many cases, these services are designed for specific purposes such as creating content for social networks, so they have predefined templates and formats. This saves us the need to figure out the requirements for our work to be compatible.
We would not be linuxers worthy of the name if we did not put as The first disadvantage of online services is that we are using proprietary software. Or not, we don't know. It is the service operator that determines it. In many cases, although if we are allowed to save the final result locally, We will not be able to save the component parts or add content to it from other sources.
Another important point is privacy. Half jokingly, half seriously, a critic of online services recommended not to write plans to assassinate the president of the United States in Microsoft 365 (Microsoft Office version of Google Docs). The service provider has access to our work, and depending on the conditions of use, may redistribute it.
Nor should we forget that although many of these services include free plans, the full benefits are included in the paid version. And, of course, we must have a reliable Internet provider
With what do we stay?
As always, the answer depends on whatever you prefer or need, If you privilege comfort and time saving over privacy and versatility, online services are undoubtedly the best option. The same if you work in collaboration with other people.
In case you want more control over what you can do and who can access what you do, without a doubt locally installed software is the best.
In later articles I will compare different options for locally installed programs and online services.