A sample text widget

Etiam pulvinar consectetur dolor sed malesuada. Ut convallis euismod dolor nec pretium. Nunc ut tristique massa.

Nam sodales mi vitae dolor ullamcorper et vulputate enim accumsan. Morbi orci magna, tincidunt vitae molestie nec, molestie at mi. Nulla nulla lorem, suscipit in posuere in, interdum non magna.

Highly Recommended Free or Open Source Software

Any computer user that isn’t aware of and doesn’t take advantage of the available free and/or open source software is really missing the boat.  There are some real software gems, they are free and in the case of open source, if they don’t do exactly what you want them to do you are free to modify it within your ability to do what you need it to do.  I’m going to give a quick little run down of 7 programs or categories of free or open source software that you should be aware of.

1. Firefox – Web Browser

I’ve been using Firefox for several years and would not consider running a machine without it. It beat IE to the punch with tabbed browsing and from what the experts say it is safer/more secure. I like the way it stores passwords and you can find themes and add-on to achieve a look and features to satisfy about anyone. Recently I realized that I was missing out on a good deal of Friends for Sale Bucks on Facebook by not logging on frequently enough. You earn $10,000 every four hours you log in. With an add-on auto-reload application I’ve set Friends for Sale to reload it’s tab every 15 mins on a seldom used computer. The result is $60,000 earned everyday. I’m not confident I could have accomplished this quite as easy using IE.

2. Avast and AVG – AntiVirus

I seem to bounce back and forth between these two, currently Avast is my favorite for a Windows machine but I would be quite happy using AVG also.  Good Anti-Virus software that keeps its self up to date is essential in a Windows environment and I can’t imagine paying for it with these two available free options.  They both need to be registered again every year but that’s a small price to pay for the outstanding free protection that they provide.

3. OpenOffice – Office Suite

I just can’t understand why this quite popular software isn’t more popular than it is. For the total price of FREE (it’s totally Open Source) you have a feature packed, highly compatible alternative to Microsoft Office. I use it, my kids use it, my wife who is a very long term Office user is now using it (at home). Compatibility is not 100% with MS Office but it is awful close. It doesn’t have all the feature Offices has but it has most that most users use. Before spending the cash for MS Office for your next PC, give OpenOffice a try. My guess is close to half the users who give Open Office a try will select it for free over the expensive Office suite from MS.

4. Hotspot Shield – VPN

This is one for the laptops or netbooks that are traveling away from home and connecting to the net by means of an insecure wifi hotspot. What good does it do to connect to the net if you can’t do anything or log in anywhere because you are afraid some guy at the next table is stealing your information. I know with Gmail you can log in with https but that only protects a small part of what I want to do online. The solution is of course VPN. When I’m on my work laptop the first thing I do is set up a VPN connection to the work network and then I can access the shared drives, mainframe, e-mail and other applications securely. I was looking over solutions for setting up a VPN server at home so I could securely connect back to a secure location for all my web traffic and then I stumbled upon Hotspot Shield. Hotspot Shield offers a free service where you can establish a secure VPN connection to their servers, protecting all your wifi data from your PC to their end, protecting it from any snoopers nearby. Hotspot Shield remains free for up to 3GB of use per rolling 30 day period. I expect this will be sufficient. If not they offer subscription options if you need more bandwidth. How can they afford to do this? Advertising! Across the top of your web session appears banner ads, not too tall, probably 50 pixels high. I wouldn’t want to see this all the time but it’s a worthwhile compromise to have a secure web session when I’m away from home.

5. Pidgin – Chat

According to the Pidgin web site,

Pidgin is a chat program which lets you log in to accounts on multiple chat networks simultaneously. This means that you can be chatting with friends on MSN, talking to a friend on Google Talk, and sitting in a Yahoo chat room all at the same time.  Pidgin is compatible with the following chat networks out of the box: AIM, ICQ, Google Talk, Jabber/XMPP, MSN Messenger, Yahoo!, Bonjour, Gadu-Gadu, IRC, Novell GroupWise Messenger, QQ, Lotus Sametime, SILC, SIMPLE, MySpaceIM, and Zephyr. It can support many more with plugins.

So if you are tired of having multiple chat programs open at the same time then Pidgin may be for you.  My Pidgin has my Yahoo, AIM, Gmail and Facebook (through a plug-in) all together at the same time.  I also saw just yesterday that you can also do Twitter through Pidgin but I haven’t tried it yet.  Highly recommended.

6. VLC – Media Player

VLC is a “highly portable multimedia player and multimedia framework capable of reading most audio and video formats”.  Basically, most any media formats that you want to play, this program can handle it and it works very well and is quite lightweight and trouble free.  This is one of those must have programs on all of my PCs.

7. Linux – Operating System

I’ll be posting more more about various Linux operating systems but if there is any part of the Windows experience that is unsatisfying to you and you can’t see yourself spending the money for a Mac well then Linux may be for you.  Once the exclusive domain of geeks, Linux now sports a degree of user friendliness and graphical configuration tools such that in many way it is far easier to use than Windows.  One area where Linux thrives is bringing life back to older hardware that have gotten sluggish with the latest versions of Windows.  Installation is usually trouble free with any of the major distros (short for distributions), most hardware being supported right “out of the box”.   The good distros to start with is best reserved for a future post but if you are in need of some immediate recommendations on how to get started just reply to this post in the forum and I’ll do my best to address your needs.

This list just scratches the surface so I’m sure there will be several follow up lists in the future.  If you are searching out software to do something specific and are not having any luck, drop me a post in the forum and I’ll see what I can do to help out.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 10.0/10 (1 vote cast)
Highly Recommended Free or Open Source Software, 10.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating
Be Sociable, Share!

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>