14 August 2012

Free or open source software

I'm having a few problems getting myself back to posting. I'll be back properly tomorrow, in the mean time, let's work on this software list. I think it will help many of us.

I've been designing a few things here lately and although I have used Photoshop in the past, now I rely on open source software or freeware. I was thinking about this today and wondered what other great open source software is out there. Most of us know of Linux and Firefox but have you heard of Gimp? Gimp is a package similar to Photoshop and I use it to resize and adjust photos. It also has a wide range of other functions. I also use Inkscape, which is like CorelDraw, to make my blog banners. Both Gimp and Inkscape are available for Mac and Windows and they both Open Source.  Here are some more. 

What free software do you use? Let's form a list here of programs that will help us with our work and organising. Please state whether the programs are used on Windows or Mac.


  1. I use Calibre to manage my e-books from sources other than Amazon. Calibre functions as a catalog, and can translate from one format to another. I use a Kindle e-reader, but it works for all e-readers.


  2. Hello Rhonda,
    Good topic. There are so many excellent open source products these days.
    I use Open Office for Windows for all my writing and bookeeping instead of Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, etc.). www.openoffice.org
    For productivity:
    I use Evernote for business and blog planning notes. You can sync your account over all platforms. www.evernote.com
    I also like Wunderlist for project planning and list keeping. www.wunderlist.com although lately I've been favouring tasks in Google calendar instead.
    I guess you can tell I have a bit of OCD and enjoy list making (and getting things done).

    1. evernote is not open source software, though http://evernote.com/opensource/ shows that it is built on top of several excellent open source software projects.

      wunderlist is open source software, which I'd never heard of, and I love finding open source software that I've not come across before!


  3. I've been using Gimp for over 6 years now. It's a great graphic design resource, and it's quite robust - especially with all of the plug-ins that are available. I believe it was originally designed for Linux, and given some of it's idiosyncrasies, I'd be willing to bed that the primary designers are Linux folks. So there can be a few "issues" when using it on Windows, but the more recent versions seem to have cleared up the major problems.

    I explored Inkscape ages ago, but since I do very little vector stuff it hasn't been terribly useful for me.

    There's a ton of opensource stuff out there, especially for Linux - which makes sense since the whole operating system is opensource. I use MySQL (database software) quite a bit on my Linux servers. I believe there are Windows versions, but I've never used them.

    Has anyone used Open Office? I haven't had occasion to need it but the idea has always seemed intriguing!

  4. GIMP is AMAZING!!! It's what I use all the time!

  5. I have been using picmonkey http://www.picmonkey.com/ for photo editing lately and love it!

  6. I must check out Gimp by the sound of it. I use Pic Monkey to resize and edit my photos for the blog. It is really quick and is a program that has'presets' from photoshop already built in so it is easy to use. The only thing I've found is that so far it doesn't like Google Chrome but I have no trouble using it through Safari. I use a Mac laptop.

  7. I used to use Open Office and now I use Libre Office. Libre Office is open source as well and is descended from Open Office. There are Windows, Mac and Linux versions.

    I also use Foxit Reader rather than the adobe PDF reader. I have a few minor quibbles with its manner of updating ( which is far less issues than adobe), but it works pretty well for my purposes.

  8. Hi Rhonda - I love open source software, I use a lot.

    GIMP and Inkscape are great - I'm not much of a designer so I don't get a lot of functionality out of them, but I've tried photoshop (they have a free trial) and GIMP does most of the same stuff and in some cases more. Also a lot of the free brushes and overlays for photoshop work in GIMP.

    I love LiveWriter for blogging - it's actually a Microsoft product but it's free to download and use.

    Filezilla for uploading files. Notepad++ for editing website code.

    Google docs for sharing docs and google reader for rss. Diigo for bookmarking sites (love their highligher and stickynote feature), Evernote for notes and Foxit for reading PDFs (also allows you to highlight and add notes to PDF - very useful).

    Open office is good but I don't use it, it looks like Microsft 2003 stuff, it does have some features the Word doesn't.

    Then there's Firefox for net browsing...

    I'm sure there are others but that's what I use on a daily basis.

  9. rhonda, are you OK? I have been reading your blog for years now, I am a similar age toyou and acountry woman with grandchhildren. Sometimes life can seem just a bit much all at once and please if you are feeling like that take a break. As you say you are reorganising to get back to your lovely life. Take your time, readers will still be here when you return and you have educated and supported many over the years.
    without peace of mind life can become such a battle, take a breath.
    blessings to you and Hanno.

    1. Lovely thoughts Anne, I've been worrying also about the amount you have taken on and just didn't know how to express it appropriately. Take care Rhonda xxx

    2. Dear Anne and Alison, thank you both for your concern. I am okay. I am always busy in my own way, I prefer my life to be like that. I'm working towards getting back to home life but in these next few weeks, I'll only post when I can, and that will probably be on the weekends instead of the beginning of the week. I'm actually doing now about half what I was doing nine months ago. Soon things will settle down and I'll be back to normal, but that will always be busy in its own way. : - )

  10. Rhonda although it´sn´t the topic of the day I want to thank you for your amazing book, I live in Argentina but a good friend of mine travelled to Sidney and she bought it there.
    I´m happy reading it. It´s inspiring!!

  11. I love open source software, I ditched MacOSX completely on my Mac Book pro and installed Linux (Ubuntu) on it for home and work. As some one else noted don't use Open Office use Libre Office it is much improved.

  12. I prefer using the Adobe suite for graphics and animations since they're what I've been using for over a decade now. But for word processing and file sharing I can recommend these:

    Google Docs - Create text documents, presentations and spreadsheets and be able to save and access them online. This comes in really handy if you're travelling and want to be able to access your work from various computers without having to bring your own laptop and files.

    Google Drive - a free place to store up to 5GB of files, images and other digital information. It's relatively new and is part of the Google Documents suite from what I understand.

    YouSendIt - A free way to send extra large files online...we're talking anything from 5MB to 100MB. There are options to purchase additional items and services but I've just ever used the free service.

    Hope this helps :)

  13. I've been lurking here for around two years so I suppose it's about time that I introduced myself. We have a lot in common, which is to be expected. We also have solar PV and solar hot water and no electricity bills. In fact out octagonal home, which is a long term owner built project, produces an income.

    Back to the topic. I use open source software exclusivity under Linux which, is of course, an open source operating system.


  14. One free program I can't do without is Picasa. I use GIMP for more complex graphics and manipulations but Picasa is great for doing a quick photo fix. I usually find that just clicking the "I'm Feeling Lucky" button and playing a little with the shadows and highlights, I can turn my average dull looking photo into a bright gorgeous looking photo. Every photo I print out or post online goes through Picasa first.

    I also use VLC media player as an alternative to Window's standard media player - I find that VLC plays more types of files more easily. And I use Audacity to edit sound files. I don't use it often but it comes in handy when I want to cut out a bit of music to use as a ringtone.

  15. Great topic! I can't add any design software, but AdBlock makes my browsing life a lot more pleasant. Also Trusteer/Rapport for protection on sites where I am doing any kind of financial transaction (however tiny). And the free version of AVG (antivirus).

  16. It isn't opensource, but from Microsoft and it is the old MS Money programme. As it is no longer commercial you can download and use it for free.

    It can be found if you google MS Money sunset.

    A good way of budgetting as well as seeing where your money is going. It takes a couple of hours to set it up properly but is well worth the effort.

    Many thanks for the time and effort you put into the site.


  17. Oh my, this is a bizarre meeting of worlds - I never expected this post here! I'm a Free Software tech guy interested in home making and permaculture, and have read this blog for about a year. As to software packages, well I reckon the big ones have been covered. I use Firefox, Thunderbird and Pidgin daily, and Inkscape, OpenOffice (well LibreOffice right now) regularly.
    I used GRAMPS for doing family tree work on a GNU/Linux computer, which since I last checked has become available for both Windows and Mac.

    Oh my, Geoff Cromp is here, another FOSS fella. G'day Geoff.



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