Technology-Headlines

by George Heymann

Open-source Software is key to big savings!

With the economy still recovering and family budgets being stretched to their limits would you like to save almost $1,400 on some of the most frequently used software programs? This is not demo or trial-ware software but complete full featured applications. Now take those savings and multiply them by the number of machines you have at your business and you can quickly see that whether at work or at home the savings can be substantial. Open-source software (OSS) is your key to big savings!

OSS is computer software that is very often developed in a public, collaborative manner. OSS provides a software license that permits users to study, change, improve, and freely use and in many cases distribute the software. All the applications featured in this story have versions available for PC and Mac.

You may be familiar with the very powerful Microsoft Office Suite. Office includes a full featured word processor, spreadsheet, email client, desktop publishing and in the “Ultimate”version a very nice note taking application One Note. Prices for Microsoft Office suite  range from $149.95 for the student version to a whopping $679.95 for the ultimate retail version.

My open source replacement for the Microsoft offering is from Oracle, the software productivity suite is called Open Office.  It is compatible with Office, so it not only offers  a free functional replacement but also full file compatibility. Start your savings by downloading a copy from Open Office.Org

For a Outlook email client replacement take a look at Thunderbird 3 from Mozilla, makers of the popular Firefox web browser. Download here.

Thunderbird is a full featured email client if it’s missing any features I either haven’t found them,  or don’t need them. It’s my favorite email application that I use both at work and home.

Need a full featured photo or graphics editing program? Photoshop from Adobe ($699) is one of the premier applications for this purpose. As part as my job as advertising photographer I can attest to the power and flexibility of this program. But like a good marriage, Photoshop requires a certain level of commitment.  A commitment of time, a steep learning curve and a cost that may be prohibitive.

I have several recommendations for a graphics replacement depending on your needs. If you need a professional full featured photo and graphics editing program similar to Photoshop take a look at GIMP. If your photo editing needs consist of adjusting the exposure, colors, sharpening, crop and rotating images then a more basic application in is order. In this case, I’m suggesting Picnik. Picnik is a web application (an application that runs inside your web browser), so there is no software to download and install. For most basic photo editing tasks it works great and best of all its very easy to use. Just go to the site load the image you want to work on and click on the appropriate tab for the action you want to perform and follow the on screen prompts.

As you can see, there are many Open Source Software alternatives available that offer practical,  functional replacements for many expensive retail programs.


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