Open Source Alternatives

A friend sent me a good post that's all about "sweat of the brow" and collects 50 open source alternatives to proprietary programs in categories such as web design, office tools, and graphics.

Not all those alternatives are as fully-featured as the proprietary commercial products, but some programs (Photoshop and Flash, for example) may be more fully-featured than you actually need!

Some of the attraction to open source has always been the free no-pricetag, but those who are really committed to open source are committed to the open and collaborative nature of the software development and growth.

Here are 10 that I have some experience with:

  1. You probably use Adobe Acrobat to create .pdf files and the free download of PDFCreator also creates them from any Windows program.
  2. I don't know if you would be as bold as to abandon Windows XP or Vista OS to move to an open source OS like Ubuntu since installing an operating system is normally pretty difficult for the average user to install, learn, and operate - though advocates say that Ubuntu is easy to use. You can buy a Dell computer with Ubuntu already installed.
  3. The chances are much better that you might try an alternative to Internet Explorer like the Firefox browser. Some readers might say, "But IE is already free." True, but free is not the same as open source software where users have more control over how that software works. Don't even try to rip into the IE code to use add-ons like Firefox encourages.
  4. Microsoft Office to OpenOffice MS Office gets bigger, more expensive and sold in more versions than ever. Google offers Gmail, Google Docs, Google Presentations and more, but it's not true open source. OpenOffice is an OSS project that includes everything you’d find in Microsoft Office except the email client.
  5. MathWorks MATLAB to Scilab MATLAB is a highly used application for numerical computing. It provides a programming language that allows users to work with numbers in any possible way imaginable through visualization. Scilab is the open source alternative to MATLAB, and it provides visualization of numerical data just as MATLAB does. Scilab is partly compatible with MATLAB, and both tools are suited for Windows, Linux, and UNIX.
  6. Adobe Illustrator to Inkscape Illustrator is a great program, but, like Flash & Photoshop, a lot to take on for educators and students. Inkscape is a vector graphics editor similar to Illustrator, CorelDraw, or Xara X and it uses the W3C standard Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) file format.
  7. Adobe PhotoShop to GIMP Next to Flash, PhotoShop was the top program that I used with faculty that just was too much - too much to learn & (when the grant ran out) too much to buy for them. GIMP may provide you with all the power you need for your photography and graphic design needs. GIMP stands for Gnu Image Manipulation Program, and it’s the solution that comes closest to emulating the Photoshop environment.
  8. Adobe Dreamweaver to NVU Dreamweaver is a powerful WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get)HTML editor that I have used for a long time. NVU (pronounced N-view, for “new view”) is a web page program for Linux and Microsoft Windows users that stacks up pretty well against Dreamweaver and very well against FronPage. No great technical expertise or knowledge of HTML required - though it certainly helps.
  9. For Macromedia Flash Professional, they recommend OpenLaszlo Developers use Flash creates multimedia ojects and entire sites on the Web. OpenLaszlo applications developed on one machine will run on all leading Web browsers on all leading desktop OS.These applications, like Flash, provide animation, layout, data binding, server communication and more.
  10. Microsoft Frontpage to Bluefish Inferior to Dreamweaver, Front Page is widely available on campuses through their Microsoft licensing. Bluefish is recommended but there are a number of HTML editors available.


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