Web Tools and Applications

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Joomla! is one of the widest used open source Content Management Systems. It is a fork of Mambo. Ihave created may websites utilizing this feature-rich software with it's very friendly interface. The Joomla! community is very large and developers design extensions to enhance your development. FlintHomes is the first site I used this software and I must say there was a very small learning curve, however; it was painless.

Kompozer and NVU WYSIWYG editors are open source alternetives to applications like DreamWeaver and M$ FrontPage. For editing logos my preferred application is Adobe FireWorks , however Krita and Karbon14 are fairly reasonable replacements. For photo manipulation you must check out the GIMP (Gnu Image Manipulation Program). Although many believe it to have a steeper learning curve compared to Adobe Photo Shop, others find it easier. Many plug-ins are available for this software and after a little practice, I'm sure it is very commparible to Photo Shop and Corel Draw.

Although I do use Adobe CS3 MAster Collection for much of my design and publishing, I have built entire sites using strict Open Source software. Please list any applications and tools I may have left out. I know there are many but the Apps listed above, I found to be the easiest to learn. Give them a try and I am looking forward to anyones comments and soggestions.


Thinking About Trying Linux

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There are thousands of available distributions ( Or "Distros") of Linux. DistroWatch is a great place to start. Many believe that Linux is only for the "techi types" out there, however; in the past few years the Linux community has made great strides in developing distros to make converting to Linux a painless step. While there are many distrobutions out there that are geared to the more tech savvy users (Skackware, Gentoo etc.), there are also many that try to mirror other enviroments so the conversion is real easy.

There are several different ways to aquire Linux, from fully installable CDs and DVDs, to Live CDs that enable the user to run Linux from the optical drive utilizing the system RAM without the need of installing to the HDD. This is one of the greatest technologies I believe because most of the Live CDs allow the user to install to HDD after trying them. For new users I suggest trying PCLOS 2007 or Granular (both Mandriva based Distros), this is probably one of the most user-friendly distributions I have ever tried, and believe me I have tried many. Ubuntu, a debian based version of Linux is also one I would reccomend due to its' large community. Although Linux may not offer the support that you get from companies like Microsoft, and MAC, they are community based with active members that can answer most of your questions.


What is Open Source

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The Open Source Initiative began in the early '80s under 'free software", which later changed to open source to the misleading term free. Free meant freedom, not free as in a monetary since, rather giving the user the freedom to modify the source code.

The software included the source code which can be modified and changed to suit the users needs. The Firefox Web browser is probably the most used open source application. Created by Mozilla, strong supporters of the Open Source Initiative. Users who use the Firefox Web browser are probably familiar with the many features available. Users can also modify the plug-ins being used, speed of the browser, and hundreds of configurations by going into the configuration file. Simply type " about:config " minus the "" in the address bar of the browser.

Linux is probably the most powerful of all open source software. It is an entire server and/or desktop operating system. Users can configure their computers, everything from themes, schema's, functionality, etc, everything is configurable. Giving the usr total control over the system. Many may feel they have this in a Windows environment, (Until they try Linux that is).

Everything from office software to enterprise business software , Open source software is a great alternative to expensive commercial software, and many titles have more powerful tools than their commercial counterparts. In todays economy it is important to budget finances, open source software will help businesses maintain the top secure technologies on any budget.


Multimedia Software

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With so many media players it is hard to tell which one is the best. With the right configurations, plug-ins and codecs most will function basically the same. However I feel VLC (Video LAN Client) is the best "out-of-the-box" player for almost any type of media.

For audio manipulation, Audacity is one of the greatest treasures in open source software. Audacity has many tools allowing you to remove voice tracks, split and edit any sound file. It has the power of more expensive commercial software, and it's FREE!

There is tons of software for creating CDs and DVDs. One problem is there are so many different formats that it can get confusing. Burning an audio disk or creating a DVD from a file on your computer may seem simple, but ripping that DVD movie and creating a "BACK UP" of your movies or even files on your hard drive may get more challenging. The latest versions of K3b and Brasero are two excellent pieces of software that are user friendly and comparable to Nero 8.

That is my choices for my multimedia software. Although many of these applications are mostly found running in Linux environments, there are versions for other operating systems as well. http://sourceforge.net/ is a great place to browse for open source software.