Open Source Alternatives

Versatile Solutions for Daily Use

Whether you're a student on a budget, looking for options to make your hardware last a little longer, or just curious about Linux/Unix, you've got many options available to you.

The one downside is that hardcore gaming isn't really an option, as the drivers available for video cards in particular aren't well optimized, as support from game developers is nearly non-existent. If you're a hardcore gamer, you're using Windows for your OS, but you can dual boot and/or use the multitude of open source applications that have been ported to Windows.

Whatever you'd like to try, we'd be happy to set you up and get you started.

For those who are more technically inclined, or if you just want to check the sites of these suggestions for yourself, links to each OS and application will be embedded in their respective images on the right side of this page.

 

Operating Systems

For a daily use Operating System, Linux is the easiest option. There are several "flavors" to choose from, Ubuntu (Debian based) and Mint being two of the most popular. Both have several versions of Graphical User Interfaces that are easy to use, with minor learning curves, wonderful online communities of current users, and vast knowledge bases chock full of walk-throughs, some of which we'll be trimming down and uploading to our knowledge base on this site.

P.S. Ubuntu is my personal favorite - Kevin

 

Applications

Office Software

LibreOffice - LibreOffice is a wonderful open source alternative to Microsoft Office, and includes several applications that make it the most powerful Open Source office suite on the market: Writer (word processing), Calc (spreadsheets), Impress (presentations), Draw (vector graphics and flowcharts), Base (databases), and Math (formula editing). It can access online documents, and has a community dedicated to adding additional features and functions through various downloadable extensions and templates. The one application it's missing is an email client, such as Outlook, but we'll cover that shortly.

OS compatibility: Linux, Windows, Mac OS X

Thunderbird - Thunderbird is full-featured, with a number of well supported plugins adding in everything from calendar support to advanced address book integration, and many specialized features including theming. Out of the box, it supports POP and IMAP email syncing, spam filtering, and many other features you would expect, and works flawlessly across Windows, OS X, and Linux. It's been around for a long time, and though it's not the newest app out there, its dedicated base of users have created many extensions and themes that can enhance its functionality and aesthetic appeal.

OS compatibility: Linux, Windows, Mac OS X

GIMP - Silly Name, Serious Software. GIMP is THE open source alternative to Photoshop, and extremely powerful. It is a freely distributed program for such tasks as photo retouching, image composition and image authoring, and has a wide array of user created add-ons and extensions, available here.  The maintainers of this project are currently looking into updating their servers and site, so there may be a few glitches accessing the extension packs. We've included a direct link to the  GIMP Extensions Pack for Windows,  which includes a number of the most popular addons, to make things a bit easier. If you'd like to try GIMP out, they have tutorials available as well.

OS compatibility: Linux, Windows, Mac OS X

Audacity - One of the most popular open-source audio production suite. Multi-track editing, recording, versions for most operating systems, and plug-in support make it an excellent option. Click here for more information about its features and capabilities. For plugins to extend and enhance its features, click here.

OS compatibility: Linux, Windows, Mac OS X