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 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.