Open source alternatives
Knowing that I am involved with computers, people are often asking me if I can “give them a copy of” some piece of software. I tell them no, and then often suggest an open source alternative that they could use instead. Usually they end up saying that they’ll just get so-and-so from the office to pirate it for them. Sometimes I resist muttering something about thieving fatherless donkeys, sometimes not. Now and then someone does take an interest in using some open source or freeware, and it’s always nice to see them get away from pirated commercial products.
Here are the packages I use on a daily basis:
OpenOffice – full featured office suite. I use the word processor (Writer) and the spreadsheet (Calc) regularly. It also includes the other standard office components for presentations, database and drawing. For me this suite completely replaces Microsoft office, and the file converters are generally good enough that I can open and save office files with no issues.
GIMP – photo and image manipulation. I have to confess, even though I have been using GIMP for the last 2-3 years, I am still not completely comfortable with it. I still sometimes miss Photoshop, and get tempted to install the Photoshop elements version that came with my camera. However, GIMP has the advantage that it works whether I am running windows or Linux, so I stick with it. I haven’t run into something I can’t do with GIMP yet, and for my photo retouching needs it works fine.
Terra Term – terminal emulation for windows. I spend an awful lot of time with shell windows open, and this is my choice when I am running windows. It works, it’s open source, and it’s still being updated.
Audacity – sound editor. I use this for creating and editing IVR prompts for asterisk (VOIP) phone systems and working with sounds for apps. Runs on Mac, Windows and Linux so it’s perfect for what I do. I don’t use it often, but every time I do I am glad to have it! Note that for actually creating sounds and music I use a commercial product: FL Studio with some additional soft synths – I love this product, and think it’s a great value.