Free yourself from commercial software
You can save hundreds of dollars by using free, open source software (FOSS) 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. You can also save time if you choose a FOSS operating system that comes bundled with many essential applications and utilities, as well as the means to easily add many more.
In just a few hours, I was able to convert my laptop from commercial software to FOSS, replacing Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Photoshop, and several other commercial applications with fully functional FOSS alternatives. Best of all, I replaced Windows with Ubuntu, an operating system (OS) that's easier to use.
Let me explain the “free” in free, open source software. It means the software is distributed for free and others are free to modify it. You can use it for free, but some developers will gladly accept a donation to support their work. This is especially appropriate if you are using FOSS to make money. If a donation is suggested, the amount is a fraction of the cost of comparable commercial software.
FOSS is created and maintained by a global community of computer professionals and enthusiasts who are serious about providing high quality software. Their work is supported by a mix of volunteer labor, user donations, and corporate sponsorship.
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 doesn't require you to abandon your current data files or prevent you from exchanging files with users of commercial software. FOSS applications will open and save to most of the file formats of their commercial counterparts.
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.
All the advantages mentioned so far can be had by installing FOSS applications on your Windows computer. Replacing Windows with a FOSS OS offers additional advantages. Many are available, including Debian, Ubuntu, Fedora, openSUSE, and many more. After looking at quite a few, I settled on Ubuntu, so it will be the OS of choice for these pages.
Nearly every FOSS OS is simpler to use than Windows, with cleaner, less cluttered desktops. They are updated to newer versions more often than Windows, and they give you access to a bunch of FOSS that is not available for Windows.
Two outstanding features of Ubuntu are the Software Updater and Ubuntu Software. The former keeps track of the applications and utilities on your system and downloads and installs updates and upgrades to all of them in a single easy operation. The latter lets you select from hundreds of FOSS applications and utilities and install them easily.
If free, easy-to-use software sounds good to you, give it a try. You can download FOSS onto your Windows machine or take Ubuntu for a test drive without disturbing your current Windows setup. Either way, it will cost you nothing but a little of your time.
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