Open Source

This is a summary of the Open Source software I like to use. Free isn’t always best, but these pieces of software I feel are perfectly good for my use, and for millions of other people around the world. Communities of authors contribute to open source projects as opposed to big corporations (though some like Ubuntu do have a large organisation supporting them). I have one proviso that the products I use are secure and of high quality, not all open source software is!

Most if not all software below is available for Windows, Linux and Apple OSX providing excellent compatibility across multi-platform users and environments. If using a package manager based system (i.e Linux) then most of these can be downloaded through the Software Centre or equivalent and will be kept up-to-date through them as well.

 

Superb free operating system I now use on my server and on my main PC – Windows is still there just in case I need it. It’s great on all PCs, but if you have an old PC that needs resurrecting or don’t see the cost of Windows as justifiable, then Ubuntu Linux is efficient and I can do anything I want to do on it. Download from www.ubuntu.com

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Firefox is an open-source web browser. Firefox is a web browser that’s been around for years by the open group Mozilla. It was really a toss-up between this and Chromium which Google’s Chrome browser is based on but Firefox nips it for a few reasons. 1. it seems quicker and reliable on Linux, 2. rendering is slightly better, 3. extensions are slightly better, 4. syncing between browsers doesn’t use Google’s sync, because we all know how garbage Google are for privacy!! Firefox is available usually as standard on Linux. Firefox for all other platforms can be downloaded here: https://www.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/fx/#desktop

thunderbird

This is unfortunately not part of International Rescue, but a superb email client by Mozilla who are behind Firefox (my open source browser choice). Although development of this has slowed over recent months, the add-ons and extensions which are regularly updated by the community make this a superb client. For security and privacy reasons I run my email through my ISP and not through Yahoo, Google, Microsoft in the cloud and their web clients often leave a lot to be desired. They still aren’t up to a dedicated client you can leave running in the background and as easy to use. Download from here: http://mozilla.org/thunderbird

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Libreoffice is a free office package which is compatible with Microsoft Office files. The advantage of Libreoffice is that it is much less bloaty than MS Office. Perhaps some of the more advanced features of MS Office aren’t supported, but for vitually all common office tasks, Libreoffice is excellent, fast and easy to use. Get it at www.libreoffice.org. Also, there is an interesting comparison between Libreoffice and Microsoft Office here (though it is old now, 2013): http://lifehacker.com/battle-of-the-office-suites-microsoft-office-and-libre-1147940828 An always up-to-date comparison between the latest Microsoft Office and Libreoffice versions is here: https://wiki.documentfoundation.org/Feature_Comparison:_LibreOffice_-_Microsoft_Office

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ClamAV is an anti-virus piece of software for most platforms. Never had an issue with viruses since using it and I think it holds it’s own pretty well against paid software. It is also very low on system resources so won’t make your machine slow!! Available from www.clamav.net

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Scribus is a desktop publishing product which unlike Publisher, is a professional piece of software which has superb features to create superb publications. Download at www.scribus.net

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WordPress is the system you are viewing this site on. Millions of web sites in the world are powered by WordPress. Starting as a blogging platform it is now a full web site creation system and is outstanding. You can sign up for your own blog at www.wordpress.com or download the full version to install on your own hosting at www.wordpress.org

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GIMP is an image manipulation program. It’s an open source alternative to Photoshop, and actually from my experience can perform some tasks much easier! Available from www.gimp.org

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VLC is an audio and video player which plays virtually everything!!  As well as the only thing which will play blu-ray on Linux, it can convert between different filetypes superbly. If something doesn’t play, try VLC! Available from www.videolan.org

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Handbrake is a superb video converter. It can also convert videos off disc into suitable formats to view on the web or mobile devices. It can be downloaded at www.handbrake.fr

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FileZilla is a brilliant FTP client – by far the best one I’ve ever used. One of the brilliant features is the way you can scan and alter files remotely using the filtering system, incredibly powerful!. Download at www.filezilla-project.org

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Virtualbox is very simple, it virtualizes operating system for testing or virtualization use, works superbly well and has great features. Download at www.virtualbox.org

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Banshee is a music player. It has some great features including downloading lyrics while playing a track, ideal for when home-alone!! It would replace iTunes for me to sync my iPod Classic with if I didn’t use that on the Mac. Playlists work great and the mini-player is pretty neat. Download at www.banshee.fm

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Xiphos is a Bible study software which you can use to not only navigate easily within multiple versions of the Bible, but also simultaneously study using various commentaries. Obviously all the versions available are open source and freely available rather than some of the more common versions found, but it is extremely good. Download at www.xiphos.org

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OpenDNS isn’t software but provides DNS servers which are more than likely faster than the ones currently used for you ISP, and are updated more regularly. OpenDNS also provide excellent security features for parental controls and general web safety. The DNS servers are best put onto your router, but like me using BT’s homehub, I have to put them on inidividual machines! http://opendns.org

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ProjectLibre is the open source equivalent on Microsoft Project. It is very well endowed with features and is more than enough for advanced project planning. http://projectlibre.org

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Freemind is a seriously good mindmapping piece of software. It is used by students and big corporations and Governments. It is a high productivity tool. Perhaps it doesn’t look as good as some software, but the underlying features outweight fancy design. http://freemind.sourceforge.net

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Dia is an equivalent to Microsoft Visio, and is used to create diagrams. It has a number of built-in image sets e.g. for networks, and can be exported in numerous different formats! https://wiki.gnome.org/action/show/Apps/Dia

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PiTiVi is a video editor. It isn’t as advanced as a number of different commercial packages, but for basic use it is really powerful. Only issue is that’s it’s only compatible with Linux. http://pitivi.org

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Audacity is a sound recorder and editor. The interface is pretty old but it’s quick and powerful. Can export in a number of formats. http://audacity.sourceforge.net/

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Fotowall is a really neat little program which allows you to do all sorts of interesting things with pictures and photos. Collages are a particular strength and the features it provides are very extensive. http://www.enricoros.com/opensource/fotowall/