July 26, 2004
The Free Software Experiment
On my old computer, I had a ton of software I’d acquired during college on education licenses and … by … er … other means. Photoshop, Flash, Dreamweaver, Cool Edit, and assorted other programs. My new computer was built by a coworker for about $350, and I’m currently trying to populate it with good software. But I’m staying on the up-and-up this time. I’m sticking to all software I can afford. Thanks to the $20 copy of Win XP my coworker got me when he visited Microsoft, I didn’t get Linux, although I considered it. Here’s what I’ve found so far in my foraging for software, all free:
- Expressions 3: My drawing program. MS took over the company that had made this software, and has for some reason made it free. I’ve been quite happy with it so far, although there’s a bit of a high learning curve, especially if you’re used to doing all your illustration in Photoshop.
- Star Office 7: My office suite. Sun’s slightly gussied-up version of the open-source OpenOffice project, which I have maligned in these very pages. I haven’t had to do any hardcore word processing at home yet, and I don’t know if I will, but I think if I do, this should be fine.
- The GIMP: My photo-editing program. Pretty capable, although I’m so used to Photoshop that I haven’t had the patience to really get down and learn it. I could not deal with the interface until I got this plugin, though.
- RagTime Solo: My page layout program. A beauty from a German software company. The version of the software for personal use is free, and is exactly the same as the commercial-use version, which costs Њ845.
- Audacity: My audio-editing program. Decent, although I’m considering trying ProTools Free again now that I have a computer than can handle it.
- Picasa: My photo organizer. Why I need a photo organizer, considering Win XP’s photo display features are perfectly satisfactory, I don’t know, but it’s free. Whatever.
Other sundry free excellent software:
- Blender: 3d graphics program. Just check out the image gallery.
- Sea3d: An amazing open-source 3d Settlers of Catan application.
- Notepad++: An HTML text editor that’s oddly comforting.