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Is Open Source Software Right For You?

Updated on November 27, 2011

Open source software

Many years ago a man named Bill started a software company. He had the bright idea to sell a license to use his software instead of selling the software itself. This was an very smart business idea because the computer manufacturing companies did not have to buy multiple copies of the software, instead they only had to pay a small fee per computer sold. They saw this as a great deal because if sales were low they would not lose out. Little did they know how popular the software would become. Now Bill was in a position of being needed by the companies which gave him power. With great power comes great responsibility, and more often then not corruption.

Meanwhile a very nice group of computer gurus were creating software that was far superior to the licensed stuff, and was to be shared freely, The software's code was also shared freely so that others may improve or recreate a better version, an so was the birth of Open Source software.

How it works

Here is how open source works. Software developer creates a bit software, that performs a task they need done. They then share it and the code with the world under the agreement that the code remain open for others to edit. Then another developer finds the software and tweaks it to perform more and better tasks, and he shares it and the code with others, and so on , and so on, and so on. Now we have a community developed and supported piece of software that is equal to and sometimes outperforms Bill's licensed stuff. With open source software we as users get to reap the benefits of an entire world of programing geniuses instead of just a handful of code junkies employed by a corporate giant.

Below you will find a list of my favorite open source freebies.

Ubuntu (operating system)

Ubuntu is distribution of an open source operating system known as Linux. If you don't know what an operating system is. Microsoft Windows is an operating system and is probably the one you are using now. Ubuntu provides everything the average computer user needs to complete their tasks. The software center gives you quick a search option to find and download other open source software that you may need. It is more user friendly and offer automatic updates and upgrades. The team involved in Ubuntu usually puts out a new build version every 6 months. Everything a computer user needs with out the hefty price tag. Ubuntu comes preloaded with or supports all the applications I am about to discuss in this article.

Test drive Ubuntu without fear with WUBI an Windows Ubuntu Installer. WUBI allows you to install Ubuntu just like any other program. Once installed every time you boot your computer you will be presented with a choice of Windows or Ubuntu. It is the best way for new user to test and learn Ubuntu with out losing the comfort of windows. Quiting Windows is much easier then quitting smoking but still should be done by step out gradually.

Open Office (office suite)

Save hundreds of dollar a year by replacing Microsoft Office with Open Office. Always free and available for windows as well Linux Open Office provides application for word processing, spread sheet, and presentation. Compatibility is not an issue, because Open Office can open and save Microsoft Office files. In my office I have struggled for years with old outdated software that is not compatible with my clients new update version. Now with Open Office I can open any new file my clients send me, saving me money and time.

Firefox ( web browser)

Many of you may already know about more stable less vulnerable web browser. Mozilla has created a wonderful browser with regular updates and fully customizable appearance. Fire fox not only works faster then most but it offer hundreds of plug-in that do just about everything you would want a web browser today. If you are still using Internet Explorer I urge you to give Mozilla Fire Fox a try in Windows or Linux.

Thunderbird (email client)

In addition to Fire Fox , Mozilla offer a feature rich e-mail client. Thunderbird handle multiple accounts and has a trainable junk filter. Like Fire Fox you have access to hundreds of add-ons and plug-ins. Switching to Thunderbird is easy with importing and migration tools. I have not experimented with the themes yet but it does have that personalization option. Windows and Linux versions are available for download.

Gimp (photo editing)

Have you ever used Photoshop? It is a wonderful piece of professional software with a large price tag in the hundreds. GIMP is an alternative to Photoshop, it has many of the same features. Gimp provides a customizable interface, and support for many file formats and most popular hardware. To save disk space, any format can be saved with an archive extension such as ZIP or GZ and Gimp will compress the file in the background without any extra steps. Distribution across Windows, Linux, and Mac makes this one of the best open source photo editing program.

Inkscape (vector illustration )

I work as a graphic design at shirt printing business I use Corel Draw which is a high end professional vector graphic illustration software comparable to Adobe Illustrator. I was very excited when I first learned about Inkscape it performs as well as Corel and even opens Corel formated files. Vector graphics are ideal for the printing industry because they can be resized without losing clearity. Inkscape I hope to start sharing it with my printing client who like to create their own artwork. With support for almost every file formats and the most popular operating platforms including Windows, Inkscape is the best choice for advance and beginning user levels. If you are ever planning to create artwork that will be submitted for professional printing I highly recommend using Inkscape to create it.

PiTiVi (video editing)

PiTiVi is a complete video editing application available only on the Linux platform. I have not had the chance to fully explore the abilities of this software. The screen shots look promising. The author claims a friendly user interface for very newest of video newbie.

Open source software provides professional quality software with a community of supportive users to those those of us with less then professional income. Remember to contribute often in helping in the development of open source software.


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    • HelpMeHarry profile image

      HelpMeHarry 6 years ago from Sonoma CA

      Dear Blackmarx:

      I love the simplicity of your hub. I had no Idea that so much Open Source Software was available. Though I am very much a Mac person you have encouraged me to find a windows machine and explore the world of Ubuntu.

      Thank you for the vision


    • Lady Enchantee profile image

      Lady Enchantee 7 years ago from My Enchanted Garden

      Dear blackmarx:

      This is such a fine hub, that I've voted it up & left feedback! How timely of you to share this.

      Open Source Software is just wonderful, in my opinion, & I've had great success with it running smoothly & doing everything that I require from my OS & programs.

      Thank you again for this informative & helpful hub!

      Warm regards to you & yours...Lady Enchantee