There are basically two types of free software, open-source and freeware. Some of the open-source programs are licensed under the GNU General Public License (GPL). Being open-source allows for the users of the software to modify it to fit their needs, however any distribution of the resulting software must also be free under the GNU GPL. Because of the licensing structure, many open-source projects grow to be very large and robust applications that provide the same function as industry-standard commercial software.
Open-source programs are truly free software in the sense that the projects belong to the user community. On the other hand, freeware programs are typically less than complete versions of sometimes quite expensive solutions sold by the same company. Large applications have a high learning curve and often the freeware version’s limitations are not noticed until the user has committed a good deal of time and effort into learning to use the program.
The following is a list of links to free software programs that I have used and recommend:
- Office Software includes not only a full office suite and full operating system, but also a task list manager and other assorted applications.
- System Administration tools are not directly related to the work you want to accomplish on your computer, but are essential to keeping your computer up and running efficiently. This includes anti-virus software, system cleaners, and more.
- Web development includes an HTML generator, an image processor, a Flash animation tool, an HTML editor and more.
- Music / Recording includes a music notation program and an audio recorder among other applications.