Free and Open Source Software

This day and age software is expensive. Everything from operating systems like Windows and Mac to text editor. Above that is the newer stance by companies to rent you software as Software As A Service (SaaS) where you pay monthly or annually to keep using the program or app. As an example if you wanted to setup a new computer you would have to get Windows that starts at $139.00 and a copy of Office for $149 or $99 a month. Then you should never run a computer that has Internet access without an antivirus so if you pick McAfee that is another $30.00 for the first year. So just to get started it will cost you $318.00 before any apps you may also want.

For most software you have options. One category of options are Freeware, Shareware of Community packages that are free and open source (FoSS). Many are just as good if not better then the commercial versions. Some you can pay a small fee to get more features.

Open source basically means that the full code that makes the program run is available for anyone to look at and adjust. Why is that a benefit? The popular software and apps have thousands of programmer reviewing the program to make it better and find bugs and security issues. Because anyone can change the program I need to make an important note here. Always get the programs you want to try from the organization that puts them out, not from a link someone else shares. They may have added bad or malicious code, the publishers make sure those are not included in their official releases.

Some options will take a big learning curve while others are made to be as easy to switch from the commercial versions as possible. Lets take a look at just a small fraction of the FoSS option out there. The first would be the operating system. This is one of those that will come with a big learning curve. The option is Linux. In 1991 Linux started. Since then it has diverted into many “Distributions” from Ubuntu, CentOS, Arch, Debian, and openSUSE just to name a few. You can look around on their sites and see what one feels right for you. Then before you pull the trigger most of the installers have the option to run from a CD/DVD or thumb drive in Live Mode that does not install the OS but just runs it so you can test it out. If you do test first just remember it will run MUCH slower then if it is installed But it does let you see if you want to try it out. Even if you are not ready to make that big switch, I link having a copy laying around. Say your windows computer crashes you can boot up the Live Linux version and many time be able to recover you files, pictures and movies.

Most people are not ready to make the big switch to Linux OS. It is something to look at if you are interested. However there are many many more apps that you can try out to replace expensive ones. These are most of the time free for personal use as well as commercial use. Lets start with the system we priced out above. We had the OS, Office, and antivirus. So the next thing would be a replacement to Office. There are two major parts to Office, documents and emails.

Thunderbird for Emails

Emails have a few great options. Windows 10 comes with a Mail program that maybe just what you want. I like Thunderbird for email. It gives you a lot more features then Mail and is closer to Outlook. It will let you bring multiple email account into a single program. Your gmail, yahoo, office, AOL, even Outlook 365 accounts can all be added to this one program



When it comes to the document side of Office the only one I use is LibreOffice. It is a great program that comes with a text editor like Work, a spreadsheet program like Excel, a presentation editor like PowerPoint, Diagram editor like Visio (not in the basic Office package) and a database program like Access. It will also open and save files in Office format as well as Apple and many others. All of that for free.


OK so not you can login to your computer, get your email, and write the next great novel while calculating your profits. What else is there. Well more then I will ever be able to cover here, but lets take a look at just a few. This list will be added to always and can grow and grow.

Commercial app Open source alternative
Camtasia $249.99 CamStudio
Photoshop $239.88 GIMP
Adobe Illustrator $329.88 Inkscape