If you have been reading this website for any length of time, you know that I truly enjoy open source software. You also know that I encourage its use where ever possible. For this week’s list article, I would like to tell you about five open source applications that you can use to get your work and play done. All of them are free to download and excellent to use. This list is really in no particular order, and the numbers are there for nothing more than to keep count.
- 5) Gimp (Gnu Image Manipulation Program): Gimp, is probably one of the more popular graphics manipulation programs available from the open source world. Originally only for use on the Linux operating system it has been available for Windows for quite sometime. While there are better image manipulation software available strictly for Windows, they cost good money to get them (think Photoshop or Paint Shop Pro). Gimp, while it can do most of what the big boys do, there are some limitations but they are few and far between and the average user will probably not need to do these certain things.
- 4) Gaim: Gaim is one of the better IM applications available from the open source community. This program is an excellent, replacement for Trillan because it does just about everything that Trillian does. The only thing that Gaim can not do is webcam viewing so if you need this functionality you are out of luck here. While work was done to help Gaim get this capability, the work was abandoned at last check. However, for normal instant messaging, Gaim is the perfect program to use. It handles all the major protocols (AIM, Yahoo!, MSN, Jabber, and others), it’s plugin architecture is top notch, and can handle file exchanges just fine.
- 3) KeePass Password Safe: If you use passwords for anything on the net then for security reasons you are suppose to be using a different password for every site you visit. Well, that sounds all well and good but how is a normal person suppose to remember that many passwords all the time? That’s where KeePass comes in. With KeePass, you can store every password for every login and organize it all into a nice folder like structure that makes things easy to find. Not only that, but you can have KeePass create your passwords for you using entropy from mouse movements and random text entry. This ensure totally secure passwords since the passwords created have nothing to do with you personally. Everything in the KeePass database is highly encrypted and is locked behind an encrypted passphrase that only you know. I personally use this piece of software everyday and highly recommend it to keep your logins secure.
- 2) Open Office: Open Office has become fairly popular over the last couple of years. Toted as a replacement for the Microsoft Office Suite, Open Office does one of the best jobs of actually following through. Using Open Office you can save to a variety of file types including Office, Star Office, and even Open Office’s own format. And if that wasn’t enough, with Open Office you can output your files to PDF, which makes cross platform reading a breeze. When I set up new computers for people this is usually one of the first things I download and installed. Then to top it off I set the default file saving formats to the Microsoft equivalent so that the users save their documents into the Office formats by default.
- 1) Mozilla Firefox: When it comes to the internet, the two things that most people do the most is surf the web and send/receive email. Surfing the web has become a dangerous activity with all the phishing, web bots, and spyware out there. Fortunately most of the bad stuff out there targets Internet Explorer due to it’s large market share. Which means that using any other browser than Internet Explorer greatly increases your level of protection while surfing the web. There are several alternatives out there but one of the most popular ones is Mozilla’s Firefox. Going through several name changes and many revisions, the Firefox browser available today is one of the best browser today. And with version 2.0 right around the corner its about to only get better. If you are surfing the web using Internet Explorer, stop now, download Mozilla Firefox and begin surfing with it. You’ll notice a dramatic decrease in the pop ups you see and you will be better protected from any threats out on the internet.
Hopefully, you’ve discovered some new applications to help you through your daily life and at much lower cost too. If you liked any of the applications here, I highly recommend downloading a copy of TheOpenCD which is a CD ISO that contains several more pieces of free open source software for you to install including a couple of the items I have mentioned here today. If you have a favorite piece of open source software that you use and enjoy please leave a comment so that myself as well as others might find out about it.