Free & Open Source Software
Help for PC users wanting to quickly and easily replace their existing pay-for and proprietary software with suitable free and open source alternatives. This page is a community service and does not venture into the ideological and philosophical issues, but provides practical, simple and easy-to-follow advice.
Step 1: Replace your MS internet browser with the Open-Source "Firefox" browser and make sure you accept the regular updates.
During installation Firefox will ask you if you want to import all your existing MS Internet Explorer settings (Favourites, Cookies, passwords, etc.) Set Firefox to be your default browser. Don't un-install Internet Explorer; Microsoft has made it an integral part of many of its other applications and some of your other programs (MS Outlook, MS Office, MS FrontPage, etc.) may stop working! Note: Keep the number of sites you set up to be browsed with IE to a minimum to avoid problems with viruses, spyware, trojans and pop-ups.
Immediate Benefits: Your internet browsing will feel un-changed, but from now on with less pop-ups, crashes, spyware, etc. As a bonus, you now can now use tabs when browsing multiple sites!
Step 2: Replace your Virus Checker software with a free product
There are a number of free Virus Checkers. One of the most reliable and popular is AVG. Download and install the latest version from http://Free.Grisoft.com (look for "AVG Free"). Make sure you enable automatic updating. (Note: A pay-for version provides some extra functions.)
Immediate Benefits: Your PC will be well protected from viruses - without any licence or renewal fees.
Step 3: Replace your Spyware Checker software with a free product
There are a number of free Malware/Spyware Checkers. The one we have found the most reliable and with very good reviews is AdAware 2007 Personal Edition. Download and install the latest version from www.Lavasoft.com Make sure you update it regularly. (Note: A pay-for version provides some extra functions.)
Immediate Benefits: If you update and run AdAware regularly, your PC will be protected from spyware - without any licence or renewal fees.
Step 4: Install PDF Reader
More and more articles, papers and other documents are distributed in the "PDF" format. The advantage of this format is that it will display and print the same on any computer, operating system or printer. While not providing full authentication and security, distributing documents in this format does hinder accidental and mischievous alteration of the document. Download and install the latest version from www.Adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep2.html.
Immediate Benefits: You can view and print all documents in "PDF" format that you receive.
Step 5: Access all your Instant Messaging (IM) contacts with one free program
The "Miranda" (open source!) or "Trillian" free software allows you to chat with all your IM contacts (ICQ, Yahoo, AOL, MSN, Skype, etc.) using one program, rather than a separate IM client (eg. Yahoo Messenger, MSN, ICQ, etc.) for each. Download the free open-source Miranda program from www.Miranda.org or the free version of Trillian from www.CeruleanStudios.comm (a pay-for version provides some extra functions).
Immediate Benefits: By combining all your IM contacts into a unified chat program, you can chat to all your friends and colleagues using one program (without losing the functions of the various IM/chat programs) and you also reduce the loading on your computer.
Step 6: Make FREE phone and video calls with Skype
Skype is free software that allows you to make free phone calls (Voice over IP "VoIP") to other Skype users; also calls to normal phones which cost ~$0.02/min and SMSs ~$0.11 each. Download for free from www.Skype.com. Skype will work with the built-in microphone and speakers of your laptop, but the use of a simple headset (~$10) gives excellent sound quality and is highly recommended! Skype also provides Video Conferencing!
Click here for the complete Skype VoIP User Guide with introduction, problem solving help, hints and technical information.
Although Skype is free, it is not open source; WengoPhone is an open-source alternative.
Immediate Benefits: FREE phone calls to other Skype users; cheap calls to any phone.
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The "Google Pack"
Google also seems to have picked up on the idea of providing "Free & Open" alternatives to Windows products... The "Google Pack" includes FireFox, AdAware, Trillian, Adobe PDF Reader, etc:
What is "Open Source" and what can it do for me?
Some of the programs listed here are Open Source; here is the Official Definition of "Open Source". The Open Source Industry Australia (OSIA) the national industry body for Open Source in Australia. Get Open Source Books and Manuals and read the useful Open Source primers.
Slashdot's Robin 'Roblimo' Miller is the author of "Point & Click Linux!" and loves to read analysts' and Windows users' reasons why Linux isn't ready for the desktop so much that once in a while he likes to turn the tables and write about Windows from a Linux user's perspective ... His article describing a Linux-user's one-week experience using Windows is quite funny ...
Run Free and Open Linux
Download the most user-friendly Linux: Kubuntu
This includes the latest version of www.OpenOffice.org
Comprehensive list of office suites (Wikipedia)
Use Australian dictionaries from www.JustLocal.com.au/clients/oooau/
[(VSF Sites)/HL7.com.au/Narrow Column.htm]