Why do we spend so much money on software? Is it because there is no other option?
No! The truth is that just about every personal computer need can be fulfilled via open-source software!
What is open-source software?
Normally, when we purchase software, we are purchasing a compiled program that allows us to run it; if we have an idea for improving the application, we can only sit back and say "wouldn't it be nice..."
Open-source software is freely distributed (although you may see it included in commercial packages such as Red Hat Linux) and includes source code. There is nothing prohibiting us from altering the application to our liking; in fact, it is standard practice to make changes or additions to the source code and redistribute it.
Even those who are not so tech-savvy can recognize the obvious benefit of free software. Here are some of the most popular open-source packages:
Firefox - A fully functioning web browser with consistent updates - from Mozilla.
OpenOffice - Provides all the functionality of Microsoft Office without cost - from Oracle.
AVG (Free) - An extremely thorough anti-virus program.
Miro - Media player/converter.
Audacity - Record and edit sound files.
GIMP - Image manipulation program packed full of great features.
So, the next time you are about to spend big bucks on a "necessary" software package, take a minute to Google the name of the program along with the term open-source. You may be very pleasantly surprised.