SOFT­WARE

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Front Page -

How to have bun­dles of free fun.

A COM­PUTER is a fresh slate for get­ting or­gan­ised, but buy­ing and installing soft­ware for your new ma­chine can re­ally add up.

What if you could get most of it for free and it was as re­li­able as pur­chased pro­grams?

Free soft­ware can be used, stud­ied, mod­i­fied, copied and re­dis­tributed.

From sin­gle- pur­pose pro­grams to video phone calls, to more com­plex ones like installing a free op­er­at­ing sys­tem, there are a lot of al­ter­na­tives to pay­ing for soft­ware.

You may be con­tent with Win­dows or IOS run­ning on your ma­chine, but free and open- source soft­ware de­vel­op­ers pre­fer op­er­at­ing sys­tems that they can al­ter, ma­nip­u­late and im­prove.

Open source op­er­at­ing sys­tems in­clude GNU/ Linux ( www. gnu. org) and Ubuntu ( www. ubuntu. org. au), which both use the Linux OS ker­nel ( www. linux. org. au), but what­ever you’re run­ning, you can save bun­dles on free, down­load­able pro­grams avail­able on­line.

Browser

Google Chrome is a browser- based op­er­at­ing sys­tem based on the Linux ker­nel that is de­signed for com­puter users who spend most of their time on the In­ter­net.

It won’t run soft­ware it­self, but web apps can be used in the Chrome browser to ac­com­plish tasks such as word pro­cess­ing and me­dia viewing, as well as on­line stor­age for stor­ing most files. www. google. com/ chrome­book

Of­fice pro­grams

Mi­crosoft Of­fice is the top pro­gram for of­fice pro­duc­tiv­ity, but you can save hun­dreds of dol­lars by down­load­ing a free al­ter­na­tive such as Li­bre­of­fice www.li­bre­of­fice.org or Open­office www.open­office.org to do your word pro­cess­ing, spread­sheets, pre­sen­ta­tions, graph­ics and data­bases.

An­tivirus

AVG Anti- virus Free is a re­li­able pro­gram for find­ing and re­mov­ing mal­ware on your com­puter or smart­phone.www.avgfree.com.au

Me­dia player

VLC Me­dia player is a free and open source cross- plat­form mul­ti­me­dia player and frame­work that plays most mul­ti­me­dia files as well as DVD, Au­dio CD, VCD and var­i­ous stream­ing pro­to­cols. www.vide­olan.org/vlc

Photo ed­i­tor

Google Pi­casa is Google’s im­age and video man­ager and ed­i­tor with an on­line com­po­nent, Pi­casa Web Al­bums, that gives you an easy place to share pic­tures on­line. http://pi­casa.google.com

Record­ing au­dio

Au­dac­ity is an open- source au­dio tool for record­ing and edit­ing au­dio files in dif­fer­ent for­mats, in­clud­ing MP3S ( with a plug- in). www.au­dac­ity.source­forge.net

Free phone

Skype serves as a PC- to- PC au­dio and video call­ing phone and is al­ways free. You only pay for Skype if you need to call land­lines, send SMS mes­sages, or want to get mul­ti­ple peo­ple on a video con­fer­ence. www.skype.com

Record­ing calls

MP3 Skype Recorder records Skype calls ( even those to land­lines) to MP3 for­mat. Calls can be saved in mono or stereo, in the bi­trate you choose, with no lim­its to the length or size of the call or re­sult­ing au­dio file. www.voip­call­record­ing.com

On­line back- up

Drop­box al­lows you to store your files on­line in an ac­count start­ing at 2GB, which are also ac­ces­si­ble on the Web and on smart­phones, run­ning IOS, An­droid and Black­berry.

www.drop­box.com

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