Open Source, Here I Am!


open sourceYesterday I bought a brand new netbook (a Lenovo Ideapad S10) to bring with me when I travel. I was a little annoyed that it didn’t come fully equipped with Microsoft Office. I’ve been an Office user since the day I had my first PC (yes, I’m a PC) and never really thought there would be free and reliable alternatives to this Microsoft best-seller. Then I googled the term “office open source” and found a site that’s most likely going to change forever my “relationship” with softwares…

I had heard about Open Office before but I never gave it much thoughts. I already had Microsoft Office installed on my computer so why would I look elsewhere? But this time, I had a good incentive to look around for free Office alternatives, simply because I didn’t want to spend a few hundred bucks in a software I rarely use.

Reading the Open Office website, it seemed that it offered everything I was looking for. Again, I’m not a heavy user. I simply need to type text documents or create simple spreadsheets every once in a while, but no major documents requiring all the features of MS Office. My main concern was that I should be able to edit and create .doc, .xls, and .ppt documents. It seemed that I would be able to do that… 3 is the leading open-source office software suite for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics, databases and more. It is available in many languages and works on all common computers. It stores all your data in an international open standard format and can also read and write files from other common office software packages. It can be downloaded and used completely free of charge for any purpose.

I did a quick search for Open Office reviews and everybody seemed really stoked about it. The only complain people had was when trying to use Open Office for project in collaboration; not a big deal since I don’t do this. So I finally downloaded a copy of Open Office and installed it on my computer. The download and installation process was easy and quick, and in less than 5 minutes, I was running the full suite on my PC.

First thing I did was trying the word editor. It really looked and felt like MS Word. I created a .doc document, and opened an existing .doc document from my computer. Everything worked just fine. I did the same test with the spreadsheet editor. Same positive results. Then I noticed a little icon that enables me to print my documents to PDF. That’s an additional feature that I really like about this Open Source thing.

What do I like the most about Open Office? It’s FREE! Not “free” like in these sneaky softwares that you download thinking it’s free to be bugged later with countless reminders that you need to upgrade to a paid license. No. It’s free as in 100% free. You can do whatever you want with it. You can install Open Source on 1,000 computers if you feel like it; it will still be free. 3 is free software. That means you are free to download it, free to install it on as many PCs as you like, free to pass copies to as many people as you like. You may use 3 for any purpose without restriction: private, educational, public administration, commercial… Free, really free.

Great! So I had my Office suite ready, now I had to find a good HTML editor. I looked online but I didn’t seem to find anything good. Maybe my search queries were the problem. So I asked the Twittersphere for advice and got a few replies back pointing to different options. After looking at them more in details, I chose to go with Kompozer. It’s not as friendly and complete as DreamWeaver but that will do the trick. After all, this is for my netbook and I don’t expect to edit many web pages while on the road.

I still needed two additional softwares to have a fully operational netbook: image editing, and email. I didn’t have to do any research on these 2 as I had previously used GIMP and I had heard many good things about Thunderbird. I downloaded these two and installed them as well.

I haven’t had the opportunity to use these open source softwares much but from what I see, they will do the trick and will perfectly suit my needs. Now I really need to add more RAM to this poor little Lenovo S10…

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