Save Money and Time with Free Software

You can save hundreds of dollars by using free, open source software that works as well as the commercial software you're using now. If you're a typical user, you can get all the software you'll ever need for next to nothing.

First, let me explain the “free” in free, open source software (FOSS). It means the software is distributed for free and others are free to modify it. You are free to use it for free, but some developers will gladly accept a small donation to support their work. If a donation is suggested, the amount is a mere fraction of the cost of comparable commercial software.

In just a few hours, I was able to convert my new laptop from commercial software to FOSS, replacing Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Photoshop, and several other commercial applications with fully functional FOSS. Best of all, I replaced Windows with Ubuntu, an operating system that's easier to use.

FOSS is created and maintained by a global community of computer professionals and enthusiasts whose work is supported by a mix of volunteer labor, user donations, and corporate sponsorship. Unlike commercial software, it can be freely modified and redistributed by anyone who cares to do so. As an example, Ubuntu is one of nearly 300 graphical user interface versions of the Linux operating system, many created for small special-interest user communities.

Easy to use, easy to upgrade

You don't have to be a computer expert to use FOSS. It's designed to be as easy to use as commercial software. The screen displays usually aren't as fancy, but that often means that it's easier to find the commands you need.

Using FOSS applications doesn't require you to abandon all your current data files or prevent you from exchanging files with users of commercial software. FOSS applications will open and save to the file formats of their commercial counterparts. And many commercial applications open and save to FOSS file formats.

With FOSS, upgrades are always free, so cost is never an impediment to having the latest version of your favorite applications. And, if one of your favorites loses its appeal, you can always look for an alternatives; there's lots of FOSS available.

Replacing Windows brings added benefits

All the advantages mentioned so far can be had by installing FOSS applications on your Windows computer. Replacing Windows with Ubuntu offers additional advantages.

Two outstanding features of Ubuntu are the Software Updater and the Ubuntu Software Center. The former keeps track of all the applications and utilities on your system and easily downloads and installs updates and upgrades to all of them in a single easy operation. The latter lets you select from hundreds of free Linux-compatible applications and utilities, and install them easily.

Don't let Linux intimidate you. You may have heard that it's an arcane system understood only by people who have dedicated many hours to its study. There is some truth to that, but, with a GUI version like Ubuntu, you don't have to know Linux. It's in there, but you'll never see it unless you go looking for it.

If free, easy-to-use software sounds good to you, give it a try. You can install FOSS on a Windows computer or try out a complete Ubuntu test environment without disturbing your current Windows setup. Once you do, you may never go back to commercial software.