Save Money on Software by Trying 'Open Source'

Do you have photos that you would like to edit but you don’t want to fork over hundreds of dollars for a good photo editing program? Or do you want to do your taxes but hate the idea of having to purchase the new updates every year?

Maybe open source applications can fill that need for you. Because they are free, you won’t have to bust your budget to obtain them. These are not programs that you have to use online. They are actual, download-able programs.

Open Source is defined as follows:

” In general, open source refers to any program whose source code is made available for use or modification as users or other developers see fit. (Historically, the makers of proprietary software have generally not made source code available.) Open source software is usually developed as a public collaboration and made freely available.”

(source and full definition; emphasis mine)

Many reputable companies are involved in creating and supporting open source software. In fact, there are actually benefits to using open source:

Commercial products typically favour visible features (giving marketing advantage) over harder-to measure qualities such as stability, security and similar less glamorous attributes. As a shorthand, we shall describe this phenomenon as quality vs features.

Open Source Software developers are evidently motivated by many factors but favouring features over quality is not noticeable amongst them. For many developers, peer review and acclaim is important, so it’s likely that they will prefer to build software that is admired by their peers. Highly prized factors are clean design, reliability and maintainability, with adherence to standards and shared community values preeminent.

(source and entire article [which is worth at least perusing]; emphasis mine)

Because it is created by super super smart people who live and breathe words like PHP, FTP,  CGI and SSI, some of the pages are dry and hard to follow. There are more programs (with really odd names) out there than you could ever use or need. And that defeats the purpose I have here at Modern Media Mom. So I’ve narrowed down the search for you:

Some places to start:

OSAlt – provides information on many commercial programs as well as the open source equivalent. You’ll find links to open source accounting/business, web development, graphics and photo editing programs – a free alternative for Windows productivity: write, spreadsheet, draw, create presentations.

Open Source Windows – this only lists Open Source for Windows (though most of it also works on other operating systems.) – click “Find Software” for the listing

Free and Open Source Software – Sun Microsystems site on using open source; click on “Learn More” for a listing of the projects they are involved in.

Free Software Foundation – you can find a list of all of the projects they are involved in, but your eyes will probably glaze over. Suffice it to say, they are the creators of GIMP ( GNU Image Manipulation Program) which was the very first Open Source program.

Note: Most of the software runs on Microsoft Windows, GNU/Linux, Sun Solaris, Apple Mac, but there are also many that only work on certain operating systems. So center your search around your operating system.

Have you ever tried an Open Source program? Share your thoughts on it in the comments.


  1. […] regular reader of Modern Media Mom has surely noticed that I have an affinity for Open Source software (OSS) and applications. After all, when people join together, ideas can come flooding out, […]

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