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Do you know about (free) open source software?

Home Forums SIMPLE SUSTAINABLE LIVING Living within your means Do you know about (free) open source software?

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    Sometimes, on threads, we talk about the irony of trying to “live simply” in this modern information age (with all of the electronic gadgets, systems and distractions that come along with it)… This post probably won’t help you “live more simply”. However, it will help you learn how to become more “self sufficient” and “live within your means” in this area, if you are interested…

    About a year ago, I became aware of (free) open source software for the first time. At first, I was a bit skeptical (for a whole variety of reasons). However, after a bit more research, I became comfortable enough to try a content management system package called “joomla” to build my first website. I never would have been able to afford to pay a web designer/developer to create my hobby site. However, with an investment of time and lots (and lots) of elbow grease, I was able to get there in the end… My DH uses a raster graphics editing package called “GIMP” and has been very happy with the result. (Commercial versions of similar packages can cost thousands…) A few ALS’ers have mentioned having teenagers at home who love to play games. Why not see if they are interested in delving deeper into this world instead? Who knows what they are capable of learning and creating as a result… Anyway, I have attached a link to wiki that will get you started on thinking about possibilities:

    I would like to make one final point before leaving this thread… After my positive experience, I am an advocate of (free) open source software. However, I also understand and respect the true value that (commercial) computer professionals and software offer. If you can afford to pay for this service, great! But, if not, at least now you can have a go…


    We use lots of open source software.

    We use Open Office, which has all the functionality of Microsoft Office, Firefox (browser) and Thunderbird (email client). All are excellent, and have lots of support.

    I love the concept of open source, which allows people to contribute to the development and support of software, focused on the functionality and users needs, rather than the corporate objectives.




    Many of us on ALS are Linux users. Linux is an open-source operating system for PCs, removing the need for Windows. I have not used Windows, or been charged for any software, for many years. Google ‘Linux’ for more info.


    Not forgetting WordPress, blog system to the world.


    There are plenty of free programs available for all sorts of things. I use Photoscape for photo editing and find it to be excellent. You can find all sorts of things like youtube downloading tools and so forth (to save that interesting stuff and video how-tos for future reference etc). I use free AVG virus protection which is one of the best. Here is some websites I like for finding free stuff:

    Forgot to mention I also use firefox and thunderbird. Mozilla also offers a lot of other free stuff too

    just trying

    How do you load/use Linux?

    Is it a replacement to windows and if so how do you get rid of windows; reformat the system? What about virus protection?

    I use Microsoft Defender, firefox and Windows Live Mail.

    Will software I have now work on Linux?


    I use a linux based system, ubuntu. It can be downloaded for free or you can get a disk sent.

    You can run it along side windows / ie both on the same system and choose which boots or run it alone a I do.

    I don’t bother with virus protection with ubuntu, most malicious thing are designed to attack windows ( not saying I can’t get a virus, jut never have and I am confident where I browse)

    As for software, it can be tricky, but most software will work after a lot of fiddling, if you know what you are doing.


    Yes, I use Linux as well and have done now for a long time. I do have windows installed but never use it, so mine also runs alongside. I also do not use virus protection. I am careful where I go but, like barefoot_misty says, most virus are made for windows.

    just trying, our fried Graham installed all of mine years ago and updates when necessary so I will leave the technical stuff to others, but if no replies I can ask him to explain it to you. I also use GIMP and Shotwell Photo Manager which I love.


    Thank you everyone for the feedback and great ideas so far! I now have so many new options to consider. I hope that others have found this information useful as well…

    Of course, the next step will be to research and learn more (or to find a friend who is already an expert) 🙂


    ‘Just Trying’ asked about running Linux and using their existing software.

    As has already been said, you can choose to have both systems installed and select which one you use when you boot the PC. I actually don’t do that. I have an old copy of WinXP available which I can run ‘inside’ Linux, using ‘virtual machine’ software. Although I have all my old MS Office Pro and MS Developer Pro software (I was a programmer before I retired) installed in this virtual machine, I can’t remember the last time I started it.

    Linux has acceptable to excellent replacements for every major package you are used to under Windows. Although it is possible to run much Windows software directly under Linux, using a package called ‘Wine’, I quickly found that it was better to migrate to all Open Source packages and do away with the Microsoft ‘pay for the next upgrade’ treadmill altogether.

    There are some things I cannot get under Linux, to be honest. For Windows, it is possible to buy a package called ‘Dragon Dictate’, that takes your continuous speech (via a microphone) and converts it into a best-guess version typed into a document. There is no competing package yet for Linux. I can control my PC via microphone, using the Simon package, but it does not take dictation.

    I am sure there are other examples of Windows packages with no Linux equivalent, however they do not interfere with the use and enjoyment of the PC for 99.99% of users. Most people use the free equivalents of Office programs, programming tools, web browsers and so forth. I run Firefox, Skype, Google Earth and yards of other stuff perfectly well and there is nothing I wish to do that I can’t do under Linux.

    just trying

    owlbruder and others;

    I have two computers running side by side, one is my “good” computer and the other is more of a backup and for general use. I reformatted the second unit yesterday and installed the operating system ubuntu and it’s working just fine. It seems to have access to a heap of free software, certainly all I need and is quite easy to navigate around after a you get used to it. It really isn’t that much different to windows when it comes to finding things. The big difference is cost; windows 7 cost me about $200 from memory, ubuntu was free!

    Thanks ALS’s


    ALL software is free anyway if you know where to look. Never paid for a single thing and never will. Got the latest, best, most expensive software there is. All you pay for is your computer hardware. Shhh.


    I haven’t touched Windows or any other commercial software for something like 6 or 7 years now. I’m a web programmer and PhD student, so I spend most of my time online and I have to say I haven’t felt in any way limited by the software – anything I want to do, I can do with it… (with the notable exception of filing my tax return, for which I had to run Windows in a virtual machine)

    Apart from Ubuntu, you can also look up Fedora.

    Re viruses: there are no viruses for Linux, and that’s due to an inherent characteristic of the OS: whatever you install cannot have more “rights” (access) than you do. So, if you run a virus as an end-user, the virus has the rights of an end-user which is practically zero. However, I’ve had a system hit (back when I was assistant sys-admin of an ISP) by a “worm” and that’s a different beast. Where a virus “infects” the system by being run by an inside user, a worm actually hacks the system from the outside, installs itself and then propagates by hacking other systems from yours. Worms DO exist for Linux, although a fully-patched system should have no worries normally (and I have to highly commend the update system of Linux, Windows users can’t even dream of something that automatically updates ALL their software with the click of a button).


    I tried Linux briefly Pavka but found it too difficult at first. i probably didn’t try hard enough. You seem to have to know how to write basic programming and have more of a nuts and bolts knowledge of how software works. It looked kinda amateurish but my friend said it’s fully customisable and can be made to look slick. The philosophy of it i love and embrace i just found it mind boggling and after spending 15 yrs learning windows i pulled out of learning a whole new way of doing things from scratch. Fortunately i also embrace the share don’t care philosophy and believe there should only ever be one disc of every programme produced and the rest of us should copy it. But i wish i could be a Linux user. Fortunately they also make a lot of open source legal software for windows too.


    Actually, I find Linux a lot easier to use than Windows. What you say *used to* be true some time ago – it did require a learning curve, you did need to know how to go “under the hood” etc. This hasn’t been the case in the last couple of years though. Fedora, Ubuntu and most other distro’s have a desktop interface you are familiar with (icons on a desktop, menu with programs in folders etc.) so you only need to learn just where the link to your program is, or what the equivalent of program X for windows is called here (e.g. – instead of using Outlook, you use Thunderbird). Centralised software managers make installing stuff a breeze. Yes, it still needs some learning (and un-learning some habits), but for normal everyday stuff you can be up and running tomorrow.

    What I did (back when it was more difficult to switch :-)) was – I installed Linux on my laptop and kept Windows on the desktop PC. I started switching by tasks – now I do my web browsing on the laptop, then Office etc., until no tasks remained that required me to go fire up the Windows machine to do them. Then I installed Linux there too.

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