Opening up to open source

You don’t have to run Linux to use open source software. There are literally thousands of great open source applications available for Windows. Here are some of our favourites.

VLC

VLC is the Swiss Army Knife of multimedia. Listing the multimedia formats that VLC doesn’t support is easier than listing those that it does, because VLC supports almost every single format available. But VLC is more than simply a multimedia player; it also supports streaming and TV capture cards, can be used to stream video input over networks and converts and transcodes a broad range of formats. VLC is perfect for almost every single media situation.

GanttProject

If you do any kind of project management then you’ll want to check out GanttProject. This open source application is full-featured and makes it easy to track and manage projects. As with any good project management software it breaks tasks down into a tree of tasks, complete with dependencies. GanttProject is also compatible with Microsoft Project so that you can exchange projects with other users.

Launchy

If you’re a fan of keystroke launchers such as Quicksilver on Mac OSX then you might want to check out Launchy. Launchy is a cross-platform keystroke launcher that makes it easy to perform a range of actions by simply typing. So you can open applications, send e-mails and do much more. You launch Launchy by hitting alt+spacebar, type in your action and Launchy takes care of the rest.

Audacity

Audacity is a top-notch piece of software for recording and editing software. It can be used to do everything from recording live audio to converting audio formats, cutting, splicing and duplicating audio and exporting audio to multiple formats. Unless you’re a professional sound engineer Audacity is about the best software you can get. Anything better than this costs a great deal of money.

Inkscape

Inkscape is a vector graphics application, similar to Adobe’s Illustrator and Corel’s Draw. But far from being a poor relative to either of these applications Inkscape is, in many cases, a better tool than either of them. It has excellent support for the SVG (scalable vector graphics) format so images translate well to other applications and its ease of use makes Inkscape a far easier tool to use than the likes of Illustrator.

FreeMind

FreeMind is Java-based mind mapping software and is one of the standards when it comes to this type of software. Files can be exported in a range of formats including a range of web formats or as files suitable for other mind mapping software. And, being Java-based, Freemind runs on most platforms so one set of files can be used across Windows, Mac or Linux.

VirtualBox

If you’re a geek then you need to run more than one operating system. Maybe you just want to test something, or you’re developing a cross-platform application or you’re just having fun. Forget dual-booting, VirtualBox is the best virtualisation tool for running multiple operating systems alongside each other. Its powerful integration features mean that running a virtual operating system feels exactly the same as running your live one. A must have for any serious geek.

Paint.net

Paint.net is a fantastic little photo editor that does most of the things heavyweight editors do without the overhead. Paint.net supports layers, unlimited undos, special effects and a wide array of drawing tools. Paint.net is not Photoshop or The Gimp but for many uses it’s actually better suited to tasks than those very full-featured tools.

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Opening up to open source