No need to pay for expensive software and operating systems

Here's How to Run Your PC for Free

by Alex J. Coyne

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The latest version of Microsoft Windows (10) will cost you between $119 (Home) and $199 (Pro). Office Suite for Windows or Mac runs between $149 for Home & Student, $229 for Home & Business, or $399 for Office Professional.

Access to all features of Adobe software (including the "creative cloud") is by monthly subscription. Photoshop CC, Illustrator CC and Dreamweaver CC are $19.99 per month, and Adobe Pro DC is listed at $14.99 per month.

Basic antivirus, another PC essential, can cost anywhere from $24.95 to $39.99 (Kaspersky Internet Security) and more.

That means that running a PC with just the basics can cost you upwards of $300. That's not even counting any extras!

Luckily, free and open source software provides an alternative. Making the switch can save you hundreds and you don't have to be an IT genius, so why not? In addition to being free, open source software often offers support directly from tech-savvy users and constant improvements. Have a look at these software recommendations:

Operating Systems

Start from the ground up and ditch the paid operating system for Linux, which is your free alternative to Windows. It comes in a variety of versions to suit your needs. Damn Small Linux clocks in at only 50MB and can boot from a USB, but if you need something more constant, there's also Ubuntu, Fedora, and Mint. See this guide at for picking the distribution of Linux that's right for you.

Office Suites

LibreOffice and Apache OpenOffice both make great alternatives. OpenOffice is deconstructed into Writer, Calc, Impress, Draw and Base, which gives you everything a traditional office suite would.

Photo Editors

If graphic design is your thing or you just like making memes during work hours, GIMP is rated one of the top open source photo editors around.

Pixlr isn't technically open source, but it's a great free in-browser photo editor for when you're on the move.

Just Browsing

Most people ditch Windows' default browser first. Chromium, Mozilla Firefox, and SeaMonkey are your browsing alternatives. They are safer, better, and faster than the aging Explorer your system might have come with!

More Stuff!

For creating pdf's, look no further than pdfforge.

For editing videos, VideoLAN comes recommended.

If you're going a step further and branching into animation too, give Blender a try.

Use Mozilla Sunbird to set up your schdule and reminders.

VLC Media Player is great for playing music and videos, and it supports most audio and video formats.

For any type of sound editing or converting, Audacity is your best bet.

FileZilla is your free FTP-server.

TurboCASH does the work of much larger and more expensive programs very well and gets rave reviews as being the top open source accounting program.

So, will you be switching to open source?

Reviewed June 2017

Take the Next Step:

  • Which open source software package will you download and try today?
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