Open Source

Open Source Initiative Logo

Many people find it hard to believe that Open Source software can be as good (or even better) than proprietary offerings.  Well, whatever you have heard to the contrary, it's true, there is a lot of very good software out there, much of it free, or available for a modest voluntary donation. Open Source software used at Tech-Trends includes:

  • Open Office, Libre Office, Neo Office (for the Mac). Used for spreadsheets, documents, databases, and presentations.  And yes, it is very compatible with its proprietary equivalents.  The only issue is where people create poorly structured templates for application forms and similar.  (A pet hate.  Please ask us if you want to create really usable templates that can be used by anyone!)
  • GIMP.  A really powerful image editing program.  Compatible with many image formats.
  • Inkscape.  Really powerful vector image editing.  This and GIMP together provide features to satisfy all but the most advanced user.
  • Scribus.  Desktop publishing for Linux and Mac.  We use this to create digital masters for professional print services. The built-in verifier picks up many issues before you even do a draft print.  Please do not confuse documents produced by desktop publishing with those produced by word processors, as the latter are always of inferior quality when printed.
  • Virtualbox. This is used to host all our virtual machines. Why have an office full of computers when you can have virtual computers to run your servers, and other occasionally needed machines, such as Windows.  No more messy looking wires all over the place. If something goes wrong with a virtual computer, we just reset it back to the last known good version.
  • Truecrypt. Used to encrypt our traveling external disk drives. We understand that it is almost impossible to read disks that have been correctly encrypted without the password and optional keys.  This software we routinely use on Windows, Mac and Linux, so suggest you look at it before spending any money on systems not so widely supported as this excellent software package. Although Truecrypt was discontinued by the orginal authors in 2014 rumours of its passing have been exaggerated as, apparently, have suggestions about serious flaws. Version TrueCrypt v7.1a the last full release, continues to be available from various websites, but do check the authenticity of the files before downloading. If a site does not tell you how to do this, then do not download the files.

We do not use anti-virus software as our Linux and Mac machines are essentially immune.  Our experience also suggests that Linux and Mac computers seldom need any support after initial installation, but we may be able to give some ad hoc advice if needed on configuring a Linux computer for the first time

Our only Windows computer is a virtual computer used to check software compatibility and to run some software that is not available in Mac or Linux versions. We have not tried the Open Source software above on Windows, but would be interested to hear of your experience.