I’m a software junky and love to find out about useful applications that make everyday life easier or more efficient. Did you know there are piles of programs you can download for free? Many people have heard of open source software but don’t really know what it is or how it applies to them. The fact is, there are literally hundreds of FREE programs out there that can replace or supplement high-priced software.
The best source for free software is SourceForge.net. SourceForge is a repository of open source programs. They have everything from photo-editing software, to games, to word processors, to mind-mapping software. Whenever I need additional software I always start my search here. Sometimes you have to be a little patient and try several programs to find the one that fits best, but the process can be fun.
If SourceForge doesn’t produce adequate results, I will also check the social bookmarking site del.icio.us. It searches the online bookmarks of thousands of people. I find it more effective than Google or Yahoo! when looking for specific software tools. If one exists, someone has usually found it already and bookmarked it.
By finding free software to substitute for high-priced software, you may be able to save literally hundreds of dollars. I find I rarely need to buy software anymore. You can find very effective replacements for almost any major program. Some are even compatible with the paid equivalent. Here’s a list of examples:
- Microsoft Office Suite: Open Office Suite
- Microsoft Word: Open Office Writer
- Microsoft Excel: Open Office Calc
- Microsoft PowerPoint: Open Office Impress
- Microsoft Visio: Open Office Draw (also does image manipulation and creates flash files)
- Microsoft Access: Open Office Base
- Adobe Photoshop: Gimp
- Adobe Illustrator: Inkscape.org
- Adobe Acrobat: CutePDF
- Mind Mapper: Freemind
- HTML/Webpage Editor (e.g. Dreamweaver or MS FrontPage): Nvu
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