The usage of open source programs is beneficial for many reasons, not the least of which is security. The fact that the code of any open source program is available to the general public means that there are more opportunities to find flaws in it and improve it. Likewise, the quality of any program increases with the number of developers, and open source tools often have as many as thousand developers constantly working on improving them. Here are 5 great open source tools everyone should consider using.
This free email client is available for numerous platforms, which gives it a decided advantage over commercial products like Microsoft Outlook. As for users of web-based mail services like Gmail, Hotmail, and AOL Mail, Thunderbird can be set up as a client for all three. The program comes with its own tool for recognizing and removing spam. One of the most important features, composing an email, is very user-friendly in Thunderbird, allowing the user to work on several different mails in separate windows at the same time. The interval at which the program saves drafts automatically can be changed (the default is 5 minutes).
GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program)
With an intuitive interface and a long array of various features, this open source program has grown into a viable alternative to Adobe Photoshop over time. Its Layers, Brushes, Tools and Paths panels can be easily manipulated to the user’s taste, and, while there are slight differences from its more famous counterpart, any user should adapt to GIMP easily. A particularly great feature of this program is the ability to create scripts in a variety of programming languages (Scheme, Perl, Python, TCL), which means that a large number of extensions is available to users of GIMP. These extensions, of course, are themselves open source, so they can be further modified if the user wishes to do so.
With every new version, LibreOffice improves its compatibility with old and new Microsoft Office file formats and increases its usability. The latest version (4.4) sports a cleaner user interface than before, a good example of which is the usage of tooltips to explain the functions of various icons. Editing a text is now simpler than before. For those who don’t want to deal with anything Microsoft-related, a couple of open source fonts are introduced in place of the widely used Cambria and Calibri. The code is constantly improving with every version. It is now much cleaner and more bug-free.
This vector-based graphics program is a great open source alternative to Adobe Illustrator. The user interface is arranged so as to give maximum space to the actual working area, with various toolbars and palettes discreetly nestled around it. Illustrators can use this program to make fairly complex drawings, having at their disposal a number of drawing tools, filters and extensions. Inkscape also features a functional text manipulation option, with many effects being available for application to blocks of texts. There’s also a possibility of sharing files saved in Inscape with users of any application that supports the SVG format.
VLC Media Player
Another popular program working on a variety of platforms, VLC Media Player has become the first choice for playing videos at home. It features a simple, easy-to-use interface. For many users, one of the biggest advantages of this program is that it doesn’t require external codecs to play various video file formats. It also handles various subtitle formats very well. Some of the advanced features include looping and playing the video frame by frame. In addition to that, various effects can be applied to the video and the audio track. For even more options, lots of plugins and extensions are available.