Poor person’s software treasure chest

For those that don’t know, there is a category of software known as open source where programmers donate their time and talent to various software projects.  I say donate because they will never be compensated for their contributions.  I question their sanity, but I appreciate their work.

The Internet, and technology in general, would look very different today if not for their contributions.  Without open source software it becomes cost prohibitive for most people and even smaller companies to take part in the new information age.  Behind most sites (including this one) is a very powerful, free, and feature-rich set of software called LAMP – Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP.  There are alternatives to these of course, but LAMP is the de facto standard for web hosting/development and with it you can accomplish anything Microsoft and Oracle products can.  Did I mention it’s free.

Hopefully I haven’t lost you at this point because here is why you should care.  Not only are open source projects the backbone of serving Internet content, but they are increasing becoming feature-rich and stable replacements for much of the software average users pay for.  The most common example is Firefox and other Gecko engine derivatives.  Open source on the desktop goes further than just web browsers.

With very few exceptions, for any paid software product, there is an open source equivalent.  While a few google searches can help you find these options, (Open Source as Alternative) simplifies the process.  Just type in the paid application’s name and the site returns results of the open source equivalents.  For example, want to edit images but don’t want to shell out $699 for Adobe Photoshop CS4.  OSAlt recommends 5 alternatives broken down by operating system with ratings and reviews for each.

Remember that while some software is free, that doesn’t mean it’s open source.  Programs like AIM, Quicktime, and Acrobat Reader might be free, but they often include ads or adware, and are bloated pieces of software hogging memory and resources.  Open source software exists to replace all of these.

Here of some of my favorites that I recommend:

  • Firefox (Replaces Internet Explorer/Safari)
  • VLC Media Player (Replaces Windows Media Player, Quicktime, RealOne, DVD player)
  • Gimp GimpShop (Replaces Adobe Photoshop)
  • Pidgin[win] or Adium[os x] (Replaces AIM, ICQ, MSN, Yahoo, MySpaceIM, etc)
  • InfraRecorder[win] or Burn[os x] (Replaces Nero, Toast, CD/DVD Burning)
  • LibreOffice OpenOffice (Replaces Microsoft Office, iWork)
  • TrueCrypt (Replaces PGP, better than win/mac built-in encryption)
  • Handbrake (Replaces video transcoders.  DVD->MP4, MOV->AVI, etc)
  • Audacity (Replaces SoundForge, Audition)
  • Ubuntu (Replaces Windows, OS X)
  • DOSBox (Run old-school DOS on new computers, play old games, etc)

There are many many more, but these are the ones I find myself using on a daily basis.  Enjoy and please feel free to comment/send me your favorites.

Written by John in: Ramble | Tags: , ,

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