Why am I qualified to accept this mission? Well, I use several PC's with several OS's - among them are Win2K3, Suse, and FreeBSD servers, and Windows XP, Mac OS X, RedHat (well, Fedora, now), and Suse desktops. Additionally, I'm a cheapskate. My friends (figuratively speaking, as I don't really know any of them) that write Open Source and freeware programs provide me with invaluable resources - typically free as in beer, although some of the open-source server offerings are free as in puppies - that I now cannot live without.
My job involves providing my hardware, software, and networking expertise to small healthcare organizations. Most of these groups depend on public funding for their survival, so they typically cannot afford the latest and greatest commercial applications and OS's. Fortunately Open-Source, Freeware, and low-cost alternatives are not only available, they are useable, and often times comparable to the commercially available apps that they mimic. So don't forget to make a donation, either of time (programmers!) or of money (the rest of us!).
Open Source and Freeware Apps - Multiple Platforms
If you can't find your platform on these guys download pages, you're way more geek than I!
IMHO, the premier office suite for the next decade! Cross platform compatibility is only a minor feature when compared to the easy to use, functional applications that come as part of this package from Sun and Friends.
- Writer - Excellent word processor with features and useability rivaling MS Office (any version).
- Calc - Compares well to Excel - again with the MS comparison, but they're unavoidable, aren't they?
- Impress - MS PowerPoint, anyone?
- Base - Similar in form and function to Access. Admittedly, I haven't played much with it, so I'll have to say more on it later.
- Draw - nice buiness drawing system - think Visio
If you use a Windows OS, its become difficult to use Internet Explorer without picking spyware. If you use a Mac, IE is no longer supported. If you use Linux, well, IE is not a consideration. A while back, I found a browser to get excited about, and remain so, no matter which platform I use. All politics and prejudice aside, this is the best browser available.
Firefox has lots of useful (and useless) plugins. Oh, and its searchbar is able to use almost any search engine.
Sadly, this fabulous app is unavailable for anything but Mac OS X (I upgraded to Tiger jut so I could run this) and Windows. Overlooking that, this program is just fun. You are presented with a virtual Earth that can be looked at from every angle. The web site Googlehacks.com has a wonderful collection of fun and informative tools, like near-real time weather maps, and extra maps and plugins.