Some times you may find yourself needing new versions of word processing software, or image editing tools for one reason or another. An assignment is due, and you or your parents can't afford to purchase new software. All is not lost. There are high quality open source software packages available for free. All you have to do is download them. These are not shareware, nor are they pirate programs. They are legally available, free programs.

Most of the programs are actually available for all three platforms, Windows, Mac and Linux, the upstart Unix variant that is available freely for the same systems that run Windows and Mac.

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Not necessarily software, but useful nonetheless:

ALISON - Free online learning website proving hugely popular for ICT skills training

Free Interactive Learning, Skills Training for ECDL, ICDL, BCS Unit-E, BCS e-Citizen, ICT, Internet, Financial Literacy, Psychometric Testing, for staff, students and individuals.

Now, on to the software.

First for the Mac: Apple's X11
X11 Quartz is an open-source version of the software that Apple bundles with OS X. Except better. You'll need this for Inkscape and other open source software to run on the Mac. Install this first.

Now, on to the main programs.


Libre Office is a Microsoft Office-like Office suite, and includes database Access like software, vector drawing and presentation software.

AbiWord, another Word-like processor program, although pared down to essentials. Some people prefer this to Libre Office. Both, by the way, open Word Perfect documents in addition to Microsoft Word documents.

Celtx began as a Firefox addon, then turned into a full-fledged scripting program in its own right. It is called the "Number one choice for media pre-production."

Scribus is currently being used by many professional magazines and newspapers for both online and print editions. This Open Source Desktop Publishing app is available for Linux, Mac OS® X and Windows, and is similar to Quark and InDesign.

Audio Production

Audacity is free, open source software for recording and editing sounds. It is available for Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows, GNU/Linux, and other operating systems. It won't do absolutely high end work, but it will do high quality work. As well, there are plenty tutorials online and books available at your favorite online bookstore, if you need help.

Ardour describes itself as "the new digital audio workstation". It features multitrack recording, non-destructive non-linear editing and unlimited undo. It also exports to standard file formats. Only available for Mac and Linux. The developers request a payment so they can continue to develop the program.

Main site for JACK. JACK was designed from the ground up for professional audio work. Available for Mac, Windows and Linux.

This page has a list of audio applications that are available to work with JACK.

Image Editing/creation

Inkscape, draw freely. An SVG vector program, it has been used to create website mockups, graphics and commercial art. This is a professional grade program, open source and free.

Photoshop clone. This has a somewhat steep learning curve, but then, so does Photoshop. There are versions available for Linux, Mac and Windows. The Mac and Windows versions are native apps that do not require any helpers like X11 Quartz to run. As well, there are plenty tutorials online and books available at your favorite online bookstore, if you need help.

CinePaint can just as easily be placed in the video editing category because it has been used on such films as Titanic and Shrek to achieve digital effects.

CinePaint, based on Gimp, has been used in films such as Titanic, The Lord of the Rings snd many others. The website that hosts quite bare and does't seem to really tell the tale of how awesome this software can be. Check it out anyway.

This one is for Mac only.
This is for Windows users.

Book Cataloging

Calibre (open source) is a book and ebook catalogue, which can also store and keep a database of your collection. In addition, it can allow you to read your eboks through the app right on your computer, with the ability to bookmark, jump ahead and back in chapters, search for terms and more. You can also use the app to transfer ebooks to your device of choice. It is availabe for all three platforms.


If you want to try out Linux without installing it, several distributions have 'Live CDs' available. Here are just a few. These are all free to download.

This South African based Linux is very popular among new users.

Fedora Is the community created version of Red Hat Linux - That is, before the Official Red Hat Linux gets released, it starts life as Fedora. Confused? Try not to be! This is a fantastic, polished Linux operating system.

Linux Mint is for people who like their Ubuntu with a dash of green. I'm joking - but only just. The other selling point of Linux Mint is, that they have versions that bundle media codecs that other distros can't due to legal restictions according to different country laws.

That's all for now. I hope you have found this list useful.