Free? Can’t be any good then! Not so!
The quality, availability and range of free open source software for windows is superb and rivals, if not betters some mainstream software.
So what kind of applications are available?
Just about anything you can think of. I don’t intend to list all that’s available because it would take pages and you can easily do a Google search in your browser but be prepared for long list to go through.
A good place to start for Windows is www.opensourcewindows.org. This site doesn’t list everything rather it lists the most popular.
So let’s have a look at some of those.
One of the most popular is Open Office. Which is a large, full featured suite of tools for word processing and spreadsheets. compatible with and a free replacement for Microsoft Word documents. It also supports the OpenDocument Format and has something that other office suites don’t have, the ability to turn your documents into PDF format.
Best of all, OpenOffice can be downloaded and used entirely free of any licence fees. OpenOffice is released under the LGPL licence. This means you may use it for any purpose – private, commercial, educational, public administration. You may install it on as many PC’s as you like. You may make copies and give them away to family, friends, students, employees – anyone you like.
OK, we’ve saved $500 approximately.
Let’s see what else is on offer.There are browsers, email clients, FTP clients, media players, personal finance and so on and on and on.
One of my favourites and one that I use a lot is Gimp. Full name, GNU Image Manipulation Program. It’s a lot more than a mere manipulation program however. Gimp, in fact is a rival to Photoshop and it’s uses extend to graphics creation, photo enhancement, special effects, drawing, the list goes on covering just about any graphics operation you can think of.
One big plus with Gimp is the ability to open Photoshop PSD files along with the layer information enabling you to edit the PSD’s quite freely
I first came across Gimp on the rare occasions that I happened on a Linux system and assumed it was just the Linux version of Windows Paint accessory. Boy, was I wrong!
Whilst it will be fairly easy to begin using the Open Office suite Gimp is a whole new learning curve. It is, after all a fairly specialist program. Fortunately the internet is full of tutorials of varying degrees and quality covering the different aspects of working with Gimp.
Unfortunately because there are so many it can take hours if not days sorting out the wheat from the chaff and really getting what you want to know to get going. A lot of them are text and screenshots only which aren’t always as easy to follow as video where you can actually see what’s happening.
Being a frequent user of Gimp I have put together a series of 12 video tutorials on getting going with Gimp.Whilst some of these are aimed at creating a salespage the majority cover the essentials of working with Gimp to get you off to a flying start. As well as basic techniques there are advanced techniques covered, such as creating reflections and shadows.
We’ve now just saved ourselves a minimum $700.
Whilst there are many more open source free applications out there to be reviewed I will have to finish here and cover more of them in other articles, so keep an eye out for those.
It really is worth reviewing the open source software available. Apart from really specialised software you can almost certainly find all the programs you will ever need for free.
God bless those programmers who give of their time and talent to create these superb free applications.