Get maximum use with your computer using FREE software.

Is your shiny new expensive computer sitting on your desk not being used to it’s potential?

  • Is it because you don’t have any software for it?
  • Or, the software that you want to use is too expensive?
  • Or, the software that you want is upgraded only every 5-6 Years.

The following article will show you where you can get FREE software to put that idle computer to use.

You might ask WHAT is Free Software?

Originally I thought that Free Software and Open Source software were one and the same until I read the following articles.

“Why “Free Software” is better than “Open Source”” from https://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-software-for-freedom.html.

“Why Open Source misses the point of Free Software” from https://www.gnu.org/philosophy/open-source-misses-the-point.html.

The main difference between the two can be summarized in the following statement.

“The fundamental difference between the two movements is in their values, their ways of looking at the world. For the Open Source movement, the issue of whether software should be open source is a practical question, not an ethical one. As one person put it, “Open source is a development methodology; free software is a social movement.” For the Open Source movement, non-free software is a suboptimal solution. For the Free Software movement, non-free software is a social problem and free software is the solution.”

What operating systems will these applications run on?

All of the applications in this article have been chosen because they will run on all operating systems such as Linux, Mac or Windows. If there are certain applications that will only run on one system it will be identified as such. There are many more applications that are Mac or Windows only(they are not included here).

The first of these are Office Suite applications.

These are applications that people will get the most use from as they consist of a word processor, a spreadsheet, a database, a presentation, a drawing and a math module.

All of the following contain each of these.

  1. LibreOffice can be downloaded from http://www.libreoffice.org/download/libreoffice-stable/ where you can select the version for your operating system.

  2. OpenOffice from Apache can be downloaded from http://www.openoffice.org/download/. Yes, I know it says openoffice.org. This is because it was originally supplied by that organization.

  3. Calligra Suite is available at https://www.calligra.org/get-calligra/.

A little history about the first 2. They both started out as StarOffice. It was decided to make StarOffice a commercial application from the open source code. Some of the developers didn’t like this so they split off and created OpenOffice.

Again there was a disagreement between management and developers so LibreOffice was created. Now the Apache group has taken over OpenOffice to continue development on it.

IMHO(In My Humble Opinion) I think that LibreOffice has proceeded further in the development of the application as there are new releases every several months.

Free financial management applications

  1. Grisbi is available from http://grisbi.org/post/Download. This is the only one of these applications that I have used. I no longer use it as I don’t have that many financial transactions to manage and found that it took too much of my time to enter all of the accounts and data.

  2. Gnucash http://www.gnucash.org/. I did look at this one time a long time ago and discovered that it involved double-entry accounting practices. I once took a college accounting course and the only thing I learned is that I do NOT want to be an accountant.

  3. Buddi http://buddi.digitalcave.ca/. I don’t know anything about this other than it is a free financial management application.

  4. Spreadsheets http://financialsoft.about.com/od/spreadsheettemplates/tp/Free-Budget-Spreadsheets.htm. This site has some spreadsheet templates that can be used for financial management in a spreadsheet application as available in the above office suites.

  5. Homebank http://homebank.free.fr/downloads.php. This is another free financial management application.

  6. Money Manager EX http://www.moneymanagerex.org/download. Another free financial management application.

  7. Skrooge http://skrooge.org/download. Still another financial management application.

Even though I have not used these applications it must be that there is a huge market for them because there are so many available. There are even quite a few that are not free, but why spend the money when there are so many free ones available. You can keep track of your savings in one of the above choices.

And, because they are free you can try several to find the one(s) that you like and works best for you.

Free E-Mail managers.

The only one I could find for all 3 operating systems is Thunderbird. It is available from https://www.mozilla.org/en-US/thunderbird/download.

I have used this for a number of years and find it very helpful. One problem I am having now is my hard drive where the profile is stored crashed so I could no longer write to it. I moved the file to another hard drive and then had problems adding some of my accounts to it. I finally was able to add all of my accounts.

I have just read a book called “Take back your life!” by Sally McGhee. This book is about using Microsoft Outlook to get organized and stay organized. I thought it has some good ideas but seeing I DON’T use Microsoft I did an Internet search for a replacement for Outlook. The one that was mentioned numerous times was Thunderbird. I looked at the calendar and task list there and now have started using Thunderbird to organize my tasks.

Now comes library managers for all media such as books, music or software.

  1. GCStar is available from http://wiki.gcstar.org/en/Install. This is a little more involved to get installed as it requires you to use the terminal/cmd on Windows on your system to install it. Once it is installed it is simple to use and will search the Internet for information about your book or other media. It will also work with a bar code scanner to enter the ISBN from the media you are cataloging.

  2. Tellico is available at http://tellico-project.org/download. This is one program that I use that is available for Linux only. It is similar to GCStar above but it seems to be much faster in finding the information from the Internet.

  3. Calibre for ebooks is available at http://calibre-ebook.com/download. This will catalog all of your ebooks. It will also convert books from one format to another.

Do you want your own Blog?

If you want a blog there are several free ones. The most popular is WordPress.com which with its sibling WordPress.org has over 20% of active websites according to one report.

Another free one is Google Blog which requires you have a Google account.

The WordPress.org software is free but you will need to pay a webhost company to host it for you. You can do more customization with it than with WordPress.com. A lot of web-hosts will have a 1-click option to install it for you otherwise you will have to download it from WordPress.org and then upload it to your webhost.

I have read several times that it does NOT pay to use a free webhost as they might not provide support and like they say in Hawaii, “Here today, gone to Maui!”

The ones that require payments are getting very cheap now. I am using Dreamhost.com and they are currently charging $8.95/month with currently some special deals for only $5.95/month. They generally charge for a year at a time with some additional discounts for multi year payments. This includes a lot of free stuff_(technical term)_ like unlimited domain name hosting, unlimited email addresses and unlimited disk space.

They will also register your domain name for you for an additional charge based on the type you select such as com, net, info etc.

How about your own web site?

There are several free frameworks that make setting up a website very easy, however these will also require you to pay a webhost to host them for you.

Several I have used include:

  1. Drupal is available from https://www.drupal.org/download.

    Your chosen web-host might have a 1-click installer for this otherwise you will have to download it to your computer and then upload it to your web-host. I have several websites that are developed using Drupal. It can also be set up so that only one copy of the code can power multiple websites.

  2. Django https://www.djangoproject.com/download/.

    This includes its own web server application so it can be used to develop websites on your computer before uploading them to your web host. I found this useful to create an application for my own use on my own computer.

  3. Ruby from https://www.ruby-lang.org/en/downloads/ is another website framework.

    This is similar to Django above in that it can be used to develop on your own system .

For development work on your own computer https://bitnami.com/ has a number of the above kind of applications that you can download and install with their 1-click install much like a web host would do it. This will include the Apache Web server, the MySql database server and the application code all in one bundle/stack.

Applications that are not part of an office suite, I.E. Stand alone.

Word processors.

The only word processor that I was able to find is AbiWord. They have a download page at http://www.abisource.com/download/ but it says the Mac OSX binaries are slightly outdated and the Linux version is usually available from your Linux distribution repository. There is a direct link to the Windows version and also to the Source code so you can compile it yourself.

It has a user manual that is written in English, French and Polish. It also has a number of plugins that extend the usefulness of the program.

Database servers

There are a number of stand alone database servers available.

  1. MySql.

    This is used by a large number of web-hosts for interactive web sites. It can also be used on personal computers.

  2. MariaDB.

    This is a spin-off of MySql and uses the same commands.

  3. Postgres.

    This is another database that is used by web-hosts

I hope that you find this information useful to get more use from your computer.

If you are currently using any of the above applications I would be interested in what you think of the application. If you are using any other applications that I have not listed that you find helpful just leave me a comment and I will look at it and enter into this post.

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