Linux « Inside My Mind

Inside My Mind My mostly skewed but sometimes logical views on the world.

February 26, 2009

Software for Tough Economic Times

During these tough economic times I thought it would be a good idea to create a list of commercial software and their Open Source (FREE!!) equivalents.


Microsoft Windows = Linux

While I don’t really expect everyone, or anyone, to go out and change their OS, there are a couple of Linux distributions out there that are up to snuff for the novice user. There are many different flavors (distributions) of Linux, but my personal choice would be Ubuntu. If you know someone who is new to computers and only wants to do email and internet, I would really recommend Ubuntu Linux. It’s virtually unbreakable. In addition, there are literally thousands of free programs available for Linux that are easily installed using the Synaptic Package Manager.


Microsoft Office = Open Office

Open office offers equivalent programs that save in the MS Office formats (Office 2003 format):

MS Program = OO Program
Word = Writer
Excel = Calc
Powerpoint = Impress
Access = Base
Visio = Draw
Equation Editor = Math

Photoshop = GIMP (Gnu Image Manipulation Program)


GIMP is an acronym for GNU Image Manipulation Program. It is a freely distributed program for such tasks as photo retouching, image composition and image authoring.
It has many capabilities. It can be used as a simple paint program, an expert quality photo retouching program, an online batch processing system, a mass production image renderer, an image format converter, etc.
GIMP is expandable and extensible. It is designed to be augmented with plug-ins and extensions to do just about anything. The advanced scripting interface allows everything from the simplest task to the most complex image manipulation procedures to be easily scripted.
GIMP is written and developed under X11 on UNIX platforms. But basically the same code also runs on MS Windows andMac OS X.

In addition to it’s own impressive set of Plug-ins and Scripts, GIMP also supports many of the Plugins, filters and brushes made for Photoshop.


AIM, Yahoo, MSN/Windows Live, Google Talk, ICQ, Facebook Chat, Myspace IM = Pidgin

Pidgin is an all-in-one replacement for every instant messaging program out there.  You can replace the menagerie of IM icons in the notification area with just one.  Pidgin allows you to set your status in every IM program and on Facebook and MySpace simultaneously.  In addition, it supports plugins including such features as ‘Psychic Mode’, where you are notified a person is about to IM you as soon as they start typing.  In order to use Facebook Chat in Pidgin you’ll need to install the Pidgin Facebook Chat plugin.


Nero/Roxio Easy CD Creator = InfraRecorder


InfraRecorder is a free CD/DVD burning solution for Microsoft Windows. It offers a wide range of powerful features; all through an easy to use application interface and Windows Explorer integration.

InfraRecorder is released under GPL version 3.


  • Create custom data, audio and mixed-mode projects and record them to physical discs as well as disc images.
  • Supports recording to dual-layer DVDs.
  • Blank (erase) rewritable discs using four different methods.
  • Record disc images (ISO and BIN/CUE).
  • Fixate discs (write lead-out information to prevent further data from being added to the disc).
  • Scan the SCSI/IDE bus for devices and collect information about their capabilities.
  • Create disc copies, on the fly and using a temporary disc image.
  • Import session data from multi-session discs and add more sessions to them.
  • Display disc information.
  • Save audio and data tracks to files (.wav, .wma, .ogg, .mp3 and .iso).


Adobe Acrobat (Distiller) = PDFCreator

PDFCreator allows you to make a PDF File from any program by printing to a PDF printer.


WinZip/Windows Zip Utility = 7-Zip

Are you tired of waiting hours for the built-in Windows Zip extractor to uncompress a zip file?  Get 7-Zip!
7-Zip features most of the same features included in WinZip, but it’s free and has no nag screens.


Adobe Premiere = VirtualDub


While not as user friendly and as full featured as Premiere, VirtualDub is an incredible package of video processing and compression software, once again, for FREE!


VirtualDub is a video capture/processing utility for 32-bit Windows platforms (95/98/ME/NT4/2000/XP), licensed under the GNU General Public License (GPL).  It lacks the editing power of a general-purpose editor such as Adobe Premiere, but is streamlined for fast linear operations over video.  It has batch-processing capabilities for processing large numbers of files and can be extended with third-party video filters.  VirtualDub is mainly geared toward processing AVI files, although it can read (not write) MPEG-1 and also handle sets of BMP images.


Sound Forge = Audacity:


Audacity is a free, easy-to-use audio editor and recorder for Windows, Mac OS X, GNU/Linux and other operating systems. You can use Audacity to:

  • Record live audio.
  • Convert tapes and records into digital recordings or CDs.
  • Edit Ogg Vorbis, MP3, WAV or AIFF sound files.
  • Cut, copy, splice or mix sounds together.
  • Change the speed or pitch of a recording.
  • And more! See the complete list of features.


Microsoft Internet Explorer = Mozilla Firefox

Many of you already know about Firefox.  Judging by my website stats most of you use it.  Firefox is one of the pieces of open source software that absolutely blows it’s commercial counterpart out of the water.  Beginning with Firefox 2, it set the standard for web browsers left Microsoft scrambling to catch up.  Beyond being naturally faster and more intuitive than IE, it’s also extendable through plugins, extensions and themes.  Firefox extensions allow you to completely customize your browsing experience from removing every advertisement with adblock plus to adding functionality to control iTunes to the status bar.

The most likely way that your computer is going to be infected with adware or a virus is through security holes in Internet Explorer.  More security flaws in IE are found all the time, and Microsoft is ususally the last to know.  For a more customizable and secure browsing experience get Firefox today.

Check out my series of blog posts about my favorite Firefox Extensions.


Microsoft Outlook (Express) = Mozilla Thunderbird

While Thunderbird hasn’t matured quite as much as Firefox, it is still a highly customizable email client that gets more and more so every day.  Much like Firefox, Thunderbird supports extension and themes, including adblock, that allow you to create your own email experience.  You can install extensions that turn Thunderbird from a client like Outlook Express into a more flexible version of Microsoft Office Outlook.


More to come soon!

This is only the beginning of the list.  I’ll post more free Open Source alternatives to high priced commercial software soon!  In the meantime you can check out the home of Open Souce on the internet

January 9, 2009

Ubuntu Linux 8.10: Intrepid Ibex

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Matt @ 3:53 pm

If you’ve ever wanted to dip your toes into the Linux waters, I highly recommend Ubuntu 8.10.  It’s very easy to install, and is similar enough to Windows for anyone to pick up quickly.

One of the coolest things about Linux is the Synaptic Package Manager.  This tool allows you to browse online software repositories and choose from tens of thousands of free software packages.  It covers everything from 3-D video games to digital audio workstations to advanced image editing.

If I were setting up a PC for someone who didn’t care/didn’t know about having Windows I would set them up on Ubuntu and probably never hear from them again. As opposed to the many Windows machines I’ve built, for both friends and clients, which turn into long term support projects.

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