Free Software

Well, Kind Of…

open source

Lost in the (Free) Matrix

Many people don't realize it, but the most important software in the world is free.

Various open source programs (called such because their code is available for anyone to download, examine, or use) form the backbone of the Internet. Nearly all the programs that allow the internet to run are completely free, with volunteers maintaining many of them.

Open source software also has a wide array of other functions. You can find free open-source versions of most types of programs. Here are a few of the more useful ones I've stumbled across over the years:

Apache Open Office | A full open source office productivity suite, Open Office is fully capable of replacing the entire Microsoft Office Suite with ease.  You can still open, edit, and save files in Microsoft Office formats, as well as in a variety of others. Includes the obligatory word processor, spreadsheet program, and slideshow program. I've been using this one for years.

GIMP | GIMP is an excellent open source alternative to Photoshop. Though it used to have a reputation as clunky, cluttered, and hard to use, GIMP has since developed into a much more streamlined and user-friendly experience. It's widely considered an acceptable alternative, even by industry professionals.

QGIS | Also known as Quantum GIS, QGIS is the fastest and most powerful open source GIS (Geographic Information System) on the market. While ArcGIS, the dominant program on the market, is a bit more versatile, it also costs thousands of dollars and often runs a tad slower than QGIS. If you need to create, examine, or alter maps for free, QGIS is your best bet.

FreeCAD | FreeCAD isn't quite as polished as some of these other options yet remains a good choice for someone looking for an open source alternative to AutoCAD, or the like, for design work.

Oh, a big caveat here: yes, these are all free…though you’ll have to pay hundreds of dollars, along with monthly fees to your Internet service provider, in order to run the stuff.



Yes, Yard Ramp Guy. Quotations truly do R-esonate with me:

“Rage is the only quality which has kept me, or anybody I have ever studied, writing columns for newspapers.”

— Jimmy Breslin

Posted in Great Inventions.