Free Software

Alright this is going to be a little out of character for me. I’m going to write about computers. Those who know me know that I work in the computer industry and have for quite a while. For that reason, when I leave work, I rarely want to talk about computers. Mainly because as soon as people know that you have some computer knowledge, they want you fix thier computer, and I’m tired of being people’s personal I.T. department. Been there done that.

At any rate, I’m going to break my rule because lately I’ve been getting more and more into free and open source software. Honestly, Microsoft software is abysmal and expensive anymore, and in fact, most commercial software is way too expensive for what you get. And these days, there are so many options out there, that there’s no reason to pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars for software that sucks. So here’s a short list of programs I’m digging. They are free and all of them are comparable or better than anything Microsoft or any other large company sell. Check it out and comment back if you know of something cool I should be using!

1.) Ubuntu Linux – Linux is an operating system just like Windows and Mac OS, but it’s completely 100% free. You just download it and install it. And it’s darn good, world class software. At the cost of $0, it can’t be beat.

2.) Firefox – The best web browser on every platform, period. And it’s free. Don’t forget Thunderbird which is a free mail program also from Mozilla.

3.) Open Office – Open office is a competitor to Microsoft Office. It’s got everything MS Office has and then some; A word processor, a spreadsheet, a presentation program, a graphics package, a database and more. But… you guessed it; It’s FREE! Considering MS charges almost $500 for Office these days, I don’t know why everyone isn’t on Open Office.

4.) Google Apps – let’s see; A killer mail program, a fully functional Office suite, an RSS news reader…. all which require no installation and are completely free to use. Why pay for software when there’s stuff this good for nothing?

5.) Pidgin – This is a cool little free app that will connect you to just about every instant messenger on the planet, all at once. Very cool.

6.) Portable Apps – Have one of those USB flash devices? Well, now you can load all your favorite software on to it and use it at ANY computer, WITHOUT having to install the software on each computer. This is some cool stuff.

7.) Gimp – This is a graphics program along the lines of Adobe Photoshop. The interface is not quite as elegant as Photoshop but it certainly has all the capabilities if you’re willing to dig around. The best thing though is that it’s about $800 cheaper than Photoshop, which would make it…. Free!

8.) AVG Free Edition Virus Scanner – This is a freebie for Windows given away by AVG in hopes that you’ll upgrade to thier paid “pro” version. Honestly, i don’t even run a background virus scanner. I keep it on my computer and scan once a week. I haven’t had a virus in over 10 years. If you have a good firewall are smart and are careful about what you do, you really don’t need it in my opinion. But for those who need the extra feeling of security, why pay when there’s free stuff out there?

9.) XXAMP – Now this is for the more technical folks out there. It’s a web server and database program rolled into a nice, easy to setup package. If you want to write and serve up your own websites, it doesn’t get easier than this, oh and did I mention, it’s free??? That means it’s about $2000 cheaper than the comparable Microsoft products.

10.) WordPress – This is the blog software I’m writing this very entry on. Nice interface, easy to use, capable, and FREE!!!!

Alright so that’s it. That’s the stuff I use day in and day out. There’s a ton of other great programs, especially for web developers, but I don’t want to get too technical in this post. Start downloading!