Often in life the best things are free and this is especially true with computer software. Open-source software is free, completely legal to use and it does almost everything premium software can. In some cases, open-source applications even outshine their paid counterparts.
Open-source software is the work of thousands of volunteers around the world – people like you – who found software prices and restrictions on their use to be oppressive. Usually when you buy a software package, you are not allowed to share it among friends, use it on multiple computers in your business or modify it in any way. Freeware software is free of charge although you are still not permitted to make changes to it. On the other hand, you are free to do almost anything you like with open-source software.
Here is a list of some of the most useful free and open-source software available now. All of them are available for free download from their respective websites.
Linux is an operating system similar to Microsoft Windows and Apple iOS. It has been in development since the earliest days of computing and it is the operating system of choice for internet servers, government agencies and many private users. It comes in many varieties. One of the most popular is Ubuntu, which was commissioned by the famous South-African Mark Shuttleworth. It was designed to be easy to use and run well even on older computers. There are usually free alternatives available for all the software you would run on Windows, although many of your existing Windows programs will run on Linux as well.
For a long time Microsoft Office has been used almost exclusively here in South Africa. If you want something that works exactly the same but does not cost thousands of rands, try OpenOffice. It comes with a suite of programs that work very similarly to Word, Excel, Powerpoint and Access. Apache OpenOffice (open-source, 137MB):
VLC and Potplayer are two different media players that are able to play almost every video format available. Both have a long list of features including subtitling and audio synchronization.
MusicBee is the work of one Steven Mayall. It is easily the most stable and feature-rich music player available for Windows today. It works on iOS too, but unfortunately there is no Linux version available yet.
MusicBee (freeware, 25.4MB):
PDF (Portable Document Format) is a popular format for documents that is recognised by almost all computers and tablets. OpenOffice has a built-in PDF converter, but this tool is useful if you need to convert documents from Microsoft Office or other programs into the PDF format.
Have you ever deleted important files by mistake and wished you could get them back? This program does exactly that. It is interesting to note that professional forensic services are able to recover some data even after it has been deleted from the disk and the disk was smashed to pieces with a hammer.
Recova (free version available, 4MB):
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