Thursday, March 09, 2006

Free Software, Part 2

Note: This entry appeared in my original blog, "Home|Work"

OK, so I'm finally getting back to this topic. In part 1 of the story, I briefly talked about the wonders of -- a great office productivity suite which, while not perfect, is more than sufficient for 90% of us. So, what other treasures are out there?

Tell me to what use you put your computer and I'll likely be able to find a free software package that would cover your need. Web browsing? Firefox is arguably the best browser available. It has more features and is more secure than Internet Explorer. Sending and receiving email? Firefox's little brother, Thunderbird, compares quite favorably with Outlook Express. Also, both of these applications are available for Windows, MacOS and Linux. The same cannot be said for the MS apps.

I know, I know, you're just getting warmed up. What about image manipulation? You want to go through the pictures of your family reunion and touch up some of the details. Google's Picasa is a great, easy-to-use photo editing package. If you need something a little more advanced, the GIMP image editor should meet most of your needs. What about sound recording and manipulation? Audacity does quite a nice job. Anti-virus software? AVG Free has been rated quite highly.

If you think of something that I haven't covered, click over to or SourceForge and do a search. You will be amazed at the number of enthusiastic, even passionate people who are building or have built exactly what you need. And they are offering it to anyone who wants to use it often without even asking for acknowledgement. Check it out. If you do download something, though, and it works better than you had hoped, be sure to send the creator a quick thank you. That's the fuel that spurs them to greater and greater heights.

Do you use any free software? If so, which package(s)?

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