Consider free Open Source options


The government isn’t the only one with budget troubles. Given the general downturn in the economy, extra expense is something most businesses, new and established, can’t afford.

Fortunately, there’s a new wave of top-notch software programs that not only do the job of the big, expensive titles, but do it for free. No, it’s not stealing — it’s open source.

Some open source programs may charge subscriptions for support, updates, documentation or premium versions, but most are completely usable without paying a dime. And the best part is that there are lots of titles to choose from.

Virtually all of the major commercial software programs have some sort of open source counterpart.

Here are a few of my top picks…

OpenOffice.org®
OpenOffice.org is a full-featured suite of office tools, including word processing, spreadsheets, presentations and databases. Best of all, it’s compatible with Microsoft Office®, so you won’t miss a beat when sharing documents with others. It also supports the OpenDocument Format, a new and emerging standard that has the ability to turn your documents into PDF format right from the program – something most office suites cannot do.

It’s completely free, available for all main-stream operating systems and can be used for any purpose: personal, private or commercial. You can install the same copy on as many computers as you want and give away unlimited copies to your friends. It is the pinnacle of Open Source software – and absolutely worth a try for any business looking to cut costs. Download available at http://www.openoffice.org.

The GIMP
The GNU Image Manipulation Program, or the GIMP for short, is a full-fledged graphics creation and photo editing/retouching program that rivals the industry standard, Adobe Photoshop®. It can be used for everything from simple “paint” type tasks to expert-level photo retouching and image conversion.

Like OpenOffice.org, it’s completely free and available on most operating systems. Download available at http://www.gimp.org.

Other Options
There are dozens, if not hundreds, of free open source programs that are equal to – if not sometimes better – than their commercial counterparts. A few other examples are:

Mozilla Thunderbird®: A world-class email client similar to Outlook® or Lotus Notes®. Download available at http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/thunderbird.

Scribus: Desktop publishing program similar to QuarkXpress or Adobe InDesign. Download available at http://www.scribus.net.

Inkscape®: Vector graphics editor similar to Adobe Illustrator®or Corel Draw®. Download available at http://www.inkscape.org.

Your business needs every advantage it can get in this current economic environment. Historic City News takes advantage of several open source programs in our office. Be sure to check these solutions out and see if they work for you and your business.

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