Thursday, July 3, 2008

Open source

Most of my friends know that I keep on ranting about open source. I wouldn't do justice to this fact without listing down at least a few open source apps that I simply adore. I have always believed that open source is the solution to the problem of piracy. Most of us (read 'poor people') are not in a position to afford expensive software. Rather than getting on the wrong side of the law by using illegal copies of proprietary software, its always best to use their open source alternatives. Some of the software listed below do their jobs better than their commercial alternatives. Yeah, and since you guys already know about Firefox, I am not even going to list it here :) !!

  1. TrueCrypt Everyone of us has something personal something important that we would like to hide from the rest of the world. People who think that they have nothing to hide, are simple being naïve. I bet most of us don't want to share our Salary Slips, Credit Card Statements, Increment Letters, Resumes, Bank Statements and stuff like this with strangers. However when it comes to storing this data securely, we casually fling it into our tiny portable data storage devices and flaunt it everywhere we go. So much for security. You lose the drive, and the guy who lays his hands on your drive has a treasure trove of your information. This is where TrueCrypt comes in. The best on-the-fly encryption utility that I have used. It creates a virtual encrypted partition where you can store your data. Once you enter your password, the drive is just like any other drive where you can drag, drop, copy, paste, view or delete files from! Magic ....
  2. KeePass Passwords are a sensitive topic. I can bet 95% of the people reading this blog use the same password for all their email accounts, and probably a different but singular password for all their bank accounts. If this is not enough they securely store their list of passwords on a spreadsheet hidden deep inside their Folder hierarchy or worst still, on a piece of paper tucked inside their wallets (omg!). KeePass is the open source alternative to your not-so-secure way of storing passwords. Using industry standard encryption technologies, your passwords are encrypted in KeePass' database, and even if you manage to lose your portable drive with a KeePass database, rest assured that your passwords are safe (unless of course you were working for a top secret military agency, and people are ready to spend billions to use brute-force to crack your passwords! But then, on second thoughts, you wont be reading my blog, you would have better things to do :) !!)
  3. Notepad++ After that heavy dose of encryption and security (meant to scare you indeed!), coming to simpler things in life. I find 'Notepad' as a lean text editor, which can hardly do any text editing other than using it as a temporary clipboard for copying and pasting stuff around. If you need a serious editor with things like column editing, macros, compare tools and a zillion other plugins to do some very cool stuff, Notepad++ is the answer. A simple utility that you can carry around in your portable device, it can do magic with text editing! Use it, and I bet you will feel sorry for having wasted your time after Notepad :) !
  4. 7-Zip Most of us grew up with the assumption that archives can only be opened with WinZIP. An ubiquitous utility found on almost every computer that I have ever used, it is not free. Come 7-Zip to the rescue. Much smaller and simple to use than WinZIP, and can handle all the archives that I have ever come across (included RAR files and ISOs!) 7-Zip is the best archiving utility that I have used.
  5. VLC Media Player Music is everyone's religion, and who doesn't use a music player on his/her PC? But then the problem with so many media file formats is that most media players support only a limited number of them. I found VLC Media Player to be the best amongst them. It has support for maximum file formats that I use, and its a simple, no-jazz kinda media player that I simply love :) !!
  6. PDF Creator I don't have a printer at home, and I do believe in the philosophy of 'save paper'. Well so saying, there are a billion small things that you want to save as a backup for future reference. An on-the-fly PDF creator is something that I miss in Windows. But then here is where PDF Creator comes to the rescue. Sitting like a simple printer on your machine, you can print anything out of any application and viola, PDF Creator will give you a beautiful PDF of it .. WYSIWYG at its best.
  7. PDFTK Builder And the perfect example of technology driving more technology is this. How many times in your life have you wondered "I wish to create a single PDF of all those pages of the single document that I have scanned!" or "How am I gonna extract just this one page out of this 49 page PDF document?". PDFTK Builder can let you play around with your PDF documents like you never did before. And best of all .. its free!
  8. Open Office Though all of us need to make documents/spreadsheets or presentations at one point of time in our life, most of us aren't rich enough to buy a licensed copy of Microsoft Office for the petty work that we do at home. Open Office is the best alternative that I have used for Microsoft Office, and it has never once failed me!
  9. Gimp Yeah, everyone needs to touch up photos, create some amazing visual effects and generally do stuff with their photos and images that paint can't simply handle. GIMP is the most amazing and powerful image editing software that I have ever used (I haven't used Adobe Photoshop, but then, I ain't rich enough to buy it anyways!). I have been able to do most of my work with images using GIMP, though I must agree it has a big learning curve!
  10. Infra Recorder Before the advent of cheap portable disk drives, all our data went around in CDs. I always had this problem of using a good free software for disc burning. Though Nero was coupled with the external CD writer that I bought, I never had any disc burner software for my Laptop, till I stumbled across this amazing utility. I have always used Infra Recorder for all my burning needs, and I never had a problem!

So that's it, my list of 10 favorite open source apps (that are relatively unknown!). I am no geek, so if you are looking for Open Source alternatives for your favorite software, check out this site .. and it should help you on your quest to freedom!

Updated 7/22/2008:

For those of you who are not comfortable using TrueCrypt, here is an excellent article that takes you through a step by step process to install an encrypted partition on your portable drive.


  1. People say "idle time is Satan's playground" , however somebody is utilizing it so Fruitfully :p.
    Amazing!! so many new terminologies you have made us familiar with..Thanks.

  2. Downloaded Gimp, PDFTKB and 7-zip.
    'll let u know how useable they r :)

  3. I can't tell you bout GIMP, but the other two softwares have no learning curve whatsoever :) !!

  4. I like the Gimp thing..Never knew this :)