Have you been interested in open source software, but you are afraid that you will not able to meet your basic computing needs? Perhaps you need specialized software that you don't think has an open source alternative? Fortunately, with the popularity that free and open source software has recently experienced, there are many viable alternatives to most common programs. Read on to discover five open source alternatives to popular software.

Microsoft Office

Microsoft Office is a great package that includes software for web design, word processing, spreadsheet creation, and other tasks. Fortunately, there is an open source counterpart in Open Office. Open Office has a program that matches functionality for nearly every piece of software that contained in Microsoft Office. Open Office includes software for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, 2D art, and databases. It can also open and save files in most major formats, including those used by Microsoft Office.

Adobe Photoshop

Do you need software for heavy-duty image manipulation, but nothing can compare to the rich feature-set of Photoshop? Look no further than GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Software). GIMP includes many of the features that Photoshop has, including: photo retouching, photo enhancement, as well as support for a variety of file formats. In addition to these features, it also has an interface that is completely customizable. 

Microsoft Internet Explorer

Once the industry leader, Microsoft Internet Explorer has last many users due to its clunky interface and security vulnerabilities. Luckily, there are several alternatives that are gaining popularity. One of the best is Mozilla Firefox. Firefox includes such innovative features as: tabbed browsing, automatic spell checking, and a built-in download manager.

3D Studio Max

Rendering 3D models takes some serious software, and that usually comes with a seriously high price. Fortunately for the computer artist on a budget, there is a great open source alternative in Blender. Blender has many features that you would expect to find in a professional software package, including: UV unwrapping, physics and particle effects, model rendering, and model shading. It is worth consideration by anyone who is serious about 3D art.

Adobe Acrobat

Acrobat has long been the industry standard for professional document creation. There is now an open source alternative in the form of PDF Creator. PDF Creator can create a PDF file from any windows program. The software is easy to set up and use, and is a must for anyone who needs to share professional quality documents without having to worry about compatibility issues.