You may have read in The Oklahoman today my “Get App-y” column on open source software. If you haven’t, I’ve included it in a separate post, but here is more information about “open source”:
1) Open source software can be better than the original, especially if you’re willng to dig to find out how to use it. Often those who are contributing are enthusiasts who are working on the product because they love it and believe in it. OpenOffice.org was developed specifically to rival Microsoft’s hold on office documents.
2) Open source software is not always free; sometimes developers request donations to help pay for it.
3) A handy link for other open source programs, along with descriptions: <a href=”http://links.episd.org/open-source”>http://links.episd.org/open-source</a>. Also, here’s another: http://sourceforge.net.
4) Look for tips and forums online to help you figure out how to use the software you choose to download.
5) If you have an open source app that you like, please comment below so we can all test it out.
Here is my Get App-y column that ran in The Oklahoman Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2010:
I’ve loved using Adobe Photoshop and InDesign at work but was frustrated at the high cost of getting these top design and photo editing applications on my home computer. In today’s economy, paying several hundred dollars for software that I use for fun does not make sense. So in my search for cheaper alternatives, I stumbled across some for free, in the form of “open source” software.
At first to me the term sounded scary technical, but then I realized it isn’t scary if you just want to use the applications. Open source means that the code used to write the software is open to any developer who wants to use it. That developer can use the code to tweak the program and add to it.
These programs generally are not as easy to use as their costlier counterparts, but they get the job done if you’re willing to work a little harder to learn how.
Here are a few that I am happy to have on my computer:
OpenOffice.org: Mike Ledbetter with Technology Unlimited in Oklahoma City tipped me off to open source with this desktop application, which includes software for word documents, spreadsheets and more as an alternative to Microsoft Office, which costs around $200. While I prefer the paid version, OpenOffice is easy to use and opens documents created in other programs.
Ledbetter said he recommends OpenOffice and other open source applications only when cost becomes an issue because they require more technical skill.
Gimp, for photo editing, found at www.gimp.org: The Oklahoman’s director of photography, Doug Hoke, told me about Gimp as a substitute for Photoshop, which costs about $700. Photoshop is still the industry standard, and Gimp isn’t organized as clearly as Photoshop is, but the software application has the advanced photo editing features that professionals use. I can usually find the tools I need when I work with Gimp.
Scribus, for layout and desktop publishing, found at www.scribus.net: I found this one through The Oklahoman’s Glen Seeber, and while I haven’t played around with it as much, I’ll use it as an alternative to Adobe InDesign, which is packaged with software that can cost more than $1,000.
Before you download anything, make sure you get it from a trusted source and scan it with antivirus software, said Ledbetter, who often refers to http://sourceforge.net to find open source software.
What open source software do you like? E-mail me at email@example.com or go online to blog.newsok.com/get-appy. Twitter@lillie_beth.