In today's world of high-priced professional software it can seem almost impossible to get the programs you need without spending a huge amount of money. From photo and music editing to simpler tasks like word processing, the prohibitive cost of commercial software can leave those of us on a tighter budget without many options. So what can an up-and-coming photographer do? How can a musician edit tracks without spending a month's rent? The answer to these questions lies in free and open source software.

At this point you may be asking yourself, What exactly is open source software? The term open source itself refers to the fact that the source code (that is, the code that tells the program what to do and how to function) is available for anyone to obtain and edit. These programs are intended to be distributed free of charge and, with a little know how, edited just as freely. Anyone can download these programs, edit them, and pass the new version along to others. Below you will find a listing of popular programs and some free or open-source alternative. Enjoy!



Adobe Photoshop: Gimp.


Gimp is a powerful photo editing tool and is also very useful for various graphic design endeavors. This software is completely free and is highly comparable to Photoshop.


Adobe Audition: Audacity.


While not as powerful in many respects as Adobe Audition, Audacity does offer many tools for editing and creating music and sound. Also useful for recording.


Microsoft Office: Open Office.


Open Office provides a powerful set of office tools including word processor, spread sheet, and presentation applications. Open Office is also compatible with MS office and even allows saving in MS office formats. I'm using it now!


Internet Explorer: Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome.


While Internet Explorer is itself a free program I can say with confidence that it can't compare with Firefox or Chrome in terms of speed, functionality, safety and customization. These two browsers are all around better choices.


Instant Messaging: Pidgin.


While most instant messaging clients are free it can be a hassle to use multiple clients when a program like Pidgin can be used to manage all your favorites. Intuitive and inviting interface makes Pidgin a joy to use.


The above is just a very small sampling of available free and open source software options. I encourage you to try these programs and search for more that you might find useful.