Open Source and Free Software

This page is a quick overview. When I have some time on my hands, I will update the format and clean up the layout.

What is "Open Source" Software?

Put simply, software that is legally free to download, install, and use on your computer. Open Source software is written and developed in a collaborative manner by a few or many programers. There are major cities that use open source.

The cities listed above are by no means an exhaustive list. I am merely trying to demonstrate that open source and free software is attractive to large cities, so it should be able to solve most indiviual's needs!

Best Affordable Program For . . .

I have been asked the same question by many people in the last few years. "I need to be able to _____, what is the best affordable program for that?"

Many times, there are programs that are FREE than can do most of the common things that people need to do with their computers. This page is going to try to mention some of the best.

Office programs for things like wordprocessing, spreadsheets, presentations, etc.


Download at:

This is an office suite that you can download and install on your computer. It replaces Microsoft Office.

This spectacular program can do 90% of what Microsoft Office does. It contains six programs; Writer, Calc, Impress, Draw, Math and Base.

LibreOffice ProgramProduct it Replaces
WriterMicrosoft Word
DrawAn organizational chart tool
MathAn equation editor

It costs NOTHING! There are versions for Windows, Mac, and Linux. I use the Microsoft Office import option to load damaged MS Office files. This program will load the file, usually completely recovering the file. I can then save the file to a Microsoft format. This program supports export to Word and Excel formats, which is very helpful if you need to give the document to someone who has Microsoft Office.

This is the best solution for most people, if they can install software on their computer. If you can not install software, in other words don't have administrative access, there are the web-based solutions and they are impressive!

Kingsoft Office Suite Free 2013

Download at:

This is a wonderful Microsoft Office substitute. The free version has a wordprocessor program, a spreadsheet program, and a presentation program. In short, you have substitutes for Microsoft Word, Excel, and Powerpoint. This program has a small footprint, 42.7MB as of 7/25/2013, Office Suite Free 2013.

This program has a version for Microsoft Windows, Linux, and one for Android.

You can load and save Microsft documents without problems. It is small and fast. Worth a try. Unless you need the extra programs that LibreOffice offers, like a database program, this may be the best bet. I have compared the Professional, Standard, and Free versions. I think the free version has the best feature mix for the typical home user! Since it does not support VBA nor Macros, it is the most secure and least dangerous.

One warning, this is a program created in China. That will give some people pause.

Web-based Solutions

These options require internet access. As long as you have an internet browser like Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, or Opera, you have all of the software you need! You don't need to worry about upgrades, license fees, or any of the other stuff that goes with owning software. The software is on the web. You can save your documents on the web or on your computer or both.

You don't have to be a computer wizard! You can work remotely, which really means that you have access to your files whereever you can find a computer with internet access. You can collaborate with others by sharing a document and encouraging others to add and or edit whatever they feel appropriate!

Google Drive

Google has "Drive". If you have a Google ID, obtained by having a FREE Google e-mail account, you automatically have access to "Drive". There is even a mobile app!

You have the ability to create and edit wordprcoessed documents, spreadsheets, presentations, organizational charts, and other items. You can export to Microsoft Office formats, when you need to.

You can store up to 5 GB of files on Google for free. Google has made things interesting by allowing you to convert to their file format. If you do that, the file does not count against the 5 GB limit! Put simply, Google is allowing one heck of a lot of free storage!

I use this option a great deal. With the exception of extremely sophisticated and complicated spreadsheets, I have not found anything that Google Drive can not handle. The program is very easy to use and gets the job done.

Microsoft Hotmail SkyDrive

MS Hotmail has "SkyDrive". There are mobile apps for Windows Phone, iPhone and iPad, and Android. I haven't used the portable apps, so I don't know how good or bad they are. Since the SkyDrive is a Microsoft product, everything is in Microsoft Office format. You can create and edit Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote documents.......

As of 11/1/2012, you can store up to 7GB of documents for free. No individual document can be larger than 300MB. These are generous sizes, so I don't anticipate issues for anyone.

If you are wondering which is the better web solution, SkyDrive or Google Drive, I would suggest you try them both! Each has its strengths and weaknesses.

Zoho Work Online

Zoho Work Online
View the Product Videos!

Zoho is aimed at business users. If you need an office suite, they have you covered! You need to do online invoicing? No problem! If you have a business, Zoho is worth looking into.

Artweaver Two versions the free version and the plus version.

Chasys Draw IES This program has an extensive toolset. Taking the time to learn this program might just be well rewarded.


Great for photo retouching, image composition and image creation. It is the standard in OpenSource graphics programs. Get it at:

ImageJ "ImageJ is an open source image processing program designed for scientific multidimensional images. ImageJ is highly extensible, with thousands of plugins and macros for performing a wide variety of tasks, and a strong, established user base."

Krita Sketching and painting from scratch. This is a very interesting looking program. Note, this is no longer available for Windows XP. It is targeted at newer versions of Windows.


"MyPaint is a fast and easy open-source graphics application for digital painters."

A free app for digital painters. If you have never painted on the computer with a natural media graphics program, you are in for a treat! Imagine being able to use hundreds of paint brush types with an infinite selection of color. You get all of the advantages of digital with none of the pains of real world media. The page is at:


Not open source but it is free. This is the graphics program that EVERYONE with a Windows computer should immediately install. It covers all of the basics nicely. Get it from the official site at:

Pixia & Phierha

Japanese full-color painting programs. They were both created by Isao Maruoka. Pixia is older and has a simpler interface. Phierha has more advanced functions, is newer, and has more complexity. Go to the site at: and look at the galleries! You will see just what this program is capable of. It is SWEET!

Synfig Studio

2D animation powerhouse! This program is designed for the creation of serious animations. Look at the site and see for yourself! You can also checkout the demo reel on Youtube:

Inkscape seems to be the one everyone uses. It isn't bad.


AVG should now be avoided at almost all costs. See my blub at AVG will sell your history for more details. AVG is apparently also moving operations to China... I will not deal with AVG.
Microsoft Essentials at is good. Remember, you do NOT want to run more than ONE anti-virus on a single computer!

3D Modeling and Rendering

Blender is one fantastic program! If you need or want to create 3D objects, you are not going to find a better open source option. You can find out more at:


Look into three programs; TrueCrypt, AxCrypt, and Crypditor. TrueCrypt is spectacular, the other two programs are very simple to use and great for working with people who don't follow directions very well.


Anki is a brilliant flashcard program. If you need to memorize, this is the program to use. It uses "intelligent scheduling", which means the better you know a fact, the longer it takes to review that fact again. It allows you to concentrate on the things that you don't know or have the most trouble remembering. There are also quite a few premade learning "decks". You can look into it at:

Hierarchical Documents

The program I use and have used for at least fifteen years is TreePad. There are two free replacements available that have similar functionality.

Cherry Tree is a beautiful program that can be found at: I was very impressed with this program. It has both a standard installer AND a portable version.

KeepNote looks functional and will probably do the job. It can be found at: http://keepnot

Online Storage

Dropbox is my favorite at:

I also use Google Drive and Microsoft SkyDrive. The Microsoft SkyDrive works fine with non-Microsoft documents, it asks you what program to open the file in. A lot of people also like the file storage option.

Podcast - Cross-platform Podcast Receiver

Juice is a nice podcast receiver that is faster and far less blotted that iTunes.

Podcast - iTunes URL Translator

There are many of us who do not use iTunes. In some cases, we use Linux which does not have iTunes. In some cases, we use far better blogging software, like Juice, see above.

Nice iTunes decoder: Docs to us the picklemonkey option, if you want to add features to your website links:

Another decoder. I like this one because the source code in the HTML tells you where to find the PHP code!

PDF Reading

SumatraPDF can be found at: . This program also reads the major comicbook formats, CBR and CBR as well as ePub, MOBI, CHM, XPS, DjVu, and oh yes, PDF. I try to avoid Adobe's Acrobat reader because of the numerous security threats over the years.

There are two versions of this program. The regular "install" version and the Portable version. You can use the portable version without installing it on your computer. You can run it from a USB/thumb drive or even an online drive. Most people just need the install version.

PDF Creation

CutePDF is one of the best of the best. You install the program and your computer sees it as a new printer. When ever you want to create a PDF, you just print to your CutePDF "printer". Select the CutePDF Writer (FREEWARE) program on:

There are those who swear by PDFCreator, I have it on most of my computers. It can be found at:

Which of the two is better? I have no idea! The both get the job done and I have used both extensively. If you don't like one, try the other.

Word processing only

Abiword is a wonderful and simple program that can do most things that people need in a word processor. You can find out about it at:

This page sourcecode was last updated: August 27, 2013

Quick Links

Copyright © 2010 - 2018 Bernard J. Tucker - All rights reserved