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January 07, 2004

Open Source and Free Software

I've dabbled in Linux for several years now, but I've never committed an essential computer to the Open-Source Operating System. Instead, I've tolerated Windows and pirated most of the software I use, like Office or Winzip.

But now I've decided to take the proverbial leap and go completely open source/freeware for all software possible on my laptop, which is my main computer, while still using Windows for gaming purposes. Running the latest games on Linux is possible, but still too much of a hassle.

In case you're unfamiliar, open-source software is freely-available for all to use and modify (if you're a programmer). It's written by a community of programmers who are dedicated to providing quality software that's not controlled by evil corporations like Microsoft. The community "owns" the software, so it evolves with the user in mind, not profit. For more info, go here or here.

I thought it was going to be difficult to replace things like Microsoft Office and Publisher, as well as Photoshop and ACDSee, but tis not so. I found the following free and/or open-source replacements that have been working great:

1. Open Office: MSOffice compatible and built-in Acrobat export. Nice.
2. Mozilla: Browser and email with nice filtering for ads, popups, junk mail. I've been using this for a few years now.
3. Ragtime Solo: A weird name for a high-quality desktop publishing program from Germany. It's a perfect replacement for Publisher.
4. Gimp for Windows: Photoshop replacement. The Gimp Project is Open-Source at its finest.
5. Avast! Antivirus: Realtime scanning and frequent online updates convinced me to use this product.
6. Pan Newsreader: not quite Forte Agent, but it's a mature product.
7. XNView: Practically a drop-in replacement for ACDSee.
8. CDBurner XP Pro: It's not Alcohol 120%, but it's more functional than XP's built-in burner.
9. The Open CD: A cool collection of open-source utilities and programs for Windows.

In addition, I'm using the free version of ZoneAlarm, FreePDF to create PDF documents, ClickTray Calendar for alarms and reminders, and Ad-Aware from Lavasoft to protect myself from internet nasties.

The only program I haven't been able to replace is Adobe Acrobat. I work with a lot of PDFs, and nothing that I've been able to find provides the functionality of Acrobat for manipulating PDFs, particularly inserting and re-ordering pages easily.

If you're interested, there's lots more free and open-source programs available to peruse.

Posted by tat at January 7, 2004 10:51 AM

It's not cool to brag about pirating software. It's theft.

How ironic. But for people like Bill Gates and Microsoft most self admitted computer nerds and wannabe politcal analysts wouldn't be able to afford a computer to work on or have a forum to yap in.

Your cyber world has been built by the people you seek to condemn.

Otherwise, cool post and cool website.

Posted by: Trickhorn at January 11, 2004 02:29 AM