Three Free, Open-Source Wonders for Web Workers


When things are free, the price is always right. That’s one of the great things about open source software, and many open source applications are now so mature that they compete very directly with proprietary alternatives. Here are three open source applications that you may not use, but may even be preferable to proprietary alternatives. They’re all available for the Mac, Windows or Linux.

Dimdim for Online Meetings. Dimdim is widely regarded for its ability to host online meetings including up to 20 people–for free. The latest  version of this free, open source application added many new features including letting you record your meetings and share playback URLs.

The recording feature in Dimdim is not found in most other popular freeware online meeting applicatons, such as Yugma (although I remain a big fan of Yugma). Many of the freeware online meeting applications also limit you to only 10 concurrent participants at one time. Mac, Windows and Linux users can use Dimdim.

AbiWord for an Alternative Word Processor. AbiWord is one of my favorite free, open source applications. I wrote a review of the newest version over on the OStatic blog.

AbiWord is available for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux. It has a much lighter footprint than other word processors, and if you’re used to using Microsoft Word you’ll feel particularly at home but appreciate how light and fast AbiWord is. If you work on a cross-platform basis with other web workers, it’s also a good choice, and supports all essential file formats.

Scribus, for Flexible Desktop Publishing. Scribus is a very respected free and open source desktop publishing application, which I wrote up previously here. This is a great application to reach for when you want to do logos, booklets, brochures, and other prettier-than-usual documents.

On Scribus’ site, you can find links to many extensions and add-ons that add value to the core program. Scribus is also good for PDF creation, You won’t find quite the number of features found in proprietary applications such as InDesign, but for most common desktop publishing tasks, Scribus gets the job done well.



I got excited about Dimdim until I read their terms of use (for the free account):

” … By submitting, posting or displaying the content you hereby grant Dimdim a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive license to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute any content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services for any purpose … ”

I’m just curious how others deal with these terms. Do people not feel it matters?


Correction, some of Dimdim’s competitors do not work well on Linux.

Scribus and Abiword both work great on Linux too.

Jonah Cagley

Hi Samuel,

Just letting you know that Yugma does have a session recording feature that is available for Professional users. The Host can record a Yugma webcast and save the recording to their recorded session file space. The Host can also send this recorded session to any person they wish by using the Send Recorded Session function. This feature is located in the My Yugma Session Management section. Let us know if you have any questions regarding this function at Hope this helps!

Steve Chazin

Steve from Dimdim here – thanks Sam for the mention. We’re seeing huge growth in use of Dimdim. Our tagline “Meet freely.” is really resonating in this economy. We’re delighted to be able to save people tons of money vs WebEx, tons of cash on airline tickets, and tons of CO2 commuting to work. Enjoy Dimdim for free and thanks again.



Abi-Word is great stuff. Easy to use and available as a portable version, too.

I use DimDim quite a while for my customers. First, they are all very surprised getting this kind of service for free and after the presentation they are all satisfied with the technology used.



Michael Smith

Re: AbiWord

While I do like it and I have it installed on a Stealth MXP drive from MXI with on the Mojopac desktop it has both there and on the main PC a problem in that is decided to default install the English (GB) dictionary but every time that it is being used cannot find that dictionary and has to be manually set to the US dictionary. Still not found a way of properly getting the dictionaries to work. Suggestions welcome.

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