In this economy everyone wants to be an entrepreneur. With the help of the Internet you can launch your music career with MySpace, get your literary masterpiece published by Lulu or network through Skype with buyers when running your own small business. Like hosted CRM helps to minimize confusion a propos client management, tasks, as well as marketing and sales for businesses, virtual life has taken away a lot of the costs involved in managing your career, but that doesn’t mean that starting a business is free. You may only have to buy software once, but those programs can cost, sometimes more than you can afford. Thankfully, programmers in the open source community have been working to create free alternatives to a lot of the software you may need.
GIMPshop instead of Photoshop
GIMPshop is a hacked version of an old open source favourite GNU Image Manipulation Program, or GIMP. GIMP let people do pretty much everything that Adobe Photoshop could do without having to buy the expensive software ($700 USD to buy the new Photoshop CS4).
The only problem, Adobe users couldn’t get used to the GIMP interface. Many people were used to the look and feel of Photoshop. Then along came Scott Moschella. Moschella took the GIMP code and matched it to the interface of Photoshop, thus GIMPshop was born.
This open source program has a huge list of features, works on the major platforms, and gives users the option of customizing the software to what works best for them.
Unfortunately, GIMPshop doesn’t support PS plugins, but usually has an alternative one for most of your needs.
Cinelerra not Final Cut Pro
You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars to buy a good quality video camera these days, but you do need quality video editing software to fine polish the finished product. Cinelerra is highly advanced professional video editing software, created by Heroine Virtual Ltd.
This fantastically free program doesn’t put a cap on the image resolution of the video you’re editing (you can work in HD), contains a huge list of audio and video effects, features non-destructive editing, gives you unlimited tracks to edit on, has context sensitive menus, headroom extended meters and lets you preview effects in real time (That’s right, no more time wasted waiting for something to render just to see if you like it). You can edit like the professionals without having to pay out ($1000 USD for Final Cut Pro).
But for all its pros, this program does have its cons. This powerhouse only operates on Linux and only comes as source codes. You’ll need to know computers to use it. The original program doesn’t offer community based development and comes with no support from the developers.
Fortunately, if you’re worried about not being computer savvy enough to hack it on your own; you can check out Cinelerra-CV, an online community dedicated to debugging and providing support for the original Cinelerra program.
Go with Audacity When You Can’t Afford Pro Tools
If you’re editing music or cutting audio together, Audacity provides the basics and provides them reliably. Audacity definitely isn’t on par with Pro Tools, but it’s a great alternative for people just starting out. It allows you to record live audio, digitize tapes and records, change the speed or pitch of whatever you’re recording and edit a wide variety of file types—MP3s, WAV, AIFF or Ogg Vorbis. Audacity has a number of useful audio effects you can use and features non-destructive, multi-track editing.
The interface is friendly and easy to use, it’s compatible with the big three operating systems, the software is extremely stable and it’s absolutely free. You can’t lose. You won’t get all of the bells and whistles you’d get with a licensed, professional grade program, but Audacity should be able to give you what you’ll need and get you on your way.
Quit Quark and go with Scribus
If you’re starting any kind of business, you can’t get away from having to do a certain amount of graphic design: letter head, promotional posters, maybe album covers. This could mean that you’ll have to hire a graphic designer or, if you think you can pull off the design yourself, shell out for a desk top publishing program like QuarkXpress or Adobe InDesign. Graphic designers cost and conventional desktop publishers can run into the hundreds ($800 USD for QuarkXpress and $700 USD for Adobe InDesign), and drain your cash reserves.
Scribus offers new businesses or fledgling designers a chance to conserve their money while pursuing their careers. It runs on all of the major operating systems, supports most image formats and can create scalable vector graphics.
The only major downside is that Scribus can’t create or read any of the traditional file formats, so you’ll have to do everything within the Scribus program.
Swap Microsoft Word for OpenOffice
Microsoft Word is a must for computer users as it often comes installed on new windows based computers. But if you don’t already have Word and want it, you’ll have to buy the entire Office Suite. The cheapest suite on the market right now is Microsoft Home and Student 2007, with a price tag of around $150—a lot of money to lay down for users on a budget.
Luckily, in the open source world we live in, you have options. Open Office 2.0 was released in 2005 with the aim to provide all the same tools Microsoft Office offers.
The Open Office layout and feel is very similar to MS Office with an added bonus it can open a variety of file types including .doc and .docx. Open Office also works on most of the major platforms: Windows, MacOS and Linux. Earlier versions of this software did have bugs, but one of the advantages of open source software is that many of the glitches are patched quickly—feature enhancements and bug fixes are released every few months.