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A layman guide on free ware and low cost software, introductory guide to Inexpensive Serious Software

ST Fan's Guide to Inexpensive Serious Software






Beyond The Norm

Linux Mascot reading Linux gazette copyright lewing@isc.tamu.edu created with the GIMP free graphics software Now you know the range of inexpensive (or almost free) serious software available in the market and you also have an idea of where to look for them. We have covered most of the software that an average PC user needs. What we have not covered are those areas of special interest such as programming, digital photography, e-commercial web services, etc. Even in these special areas of interest, you will be amazed with the number of free software and free services available. (Free to use and free for distribution but not free in cost!) Most free software are technically better than the pay version but the pay commercial software have better GUI, and more user friendly. However, we don't need a friend who is a piece of software, rather we need a software which is a tool that really works.

We will take a quick tour of what is available in this special area. For instance a total C development software package complete with assembler, linker, including a set of header files for Windows, where you can produce native compiled Win32 programs and dlls without needing special libraries is the LCC-Win32. Without a doubt LCC-Win32 is the most complete non-commercial C development package for Windows and is free. You can find it at www.cs.virginia.edu/~lcc-win32/. If you are into programming you can find many free compiler for JAVA, Perl,  other computer languages and resources at the website of Programming-Giuseppe Ciaburro. A treasure chest of scripts can be found at Hotscripts.com a huge collection of many scripts including javascript, php, cgi, java, c and c++, asp, etc. This site should be your first stop in searching for scripts. All scripts are grouped into various categories such as New-listing, Most popular, Top rated, etc and has a good site search function to assist you in your search for the right script.

A remarkably comprehensive free panorama software is PanoTools. However the software designer and Maths Professor Helmut Dersch of PanoTools chose to concentrate on the functionality and features and less on user interface. To master PanoTools you have to go through a deep learning curve. In fact we are still experimenting with it after several months. You can't complain because it is totally free and the software is one of the best and a must-have for panorama enthusiasts. If you want to try out a simpler free panorama software, take a look at PanoWarp. PanoWarp is quite easy to use but you need to use it together with another graphics editing software. Mr Guillaume Dargaud the creator of PanoWarp recommends that PanoWarp be used with PanitShop Pro. But you can use GIMP, it does not matter.

There are more inexpensive serious software available for whatever your need is, and we can go on and on but we have to end somewhere you know! Just as the Hollywood's golden phrase said "leave your audience wanting for more!"......so we can write a sequel to it like the sequel of a movie. ;-P

Well that's it, we have shown you starting from the bare Operating System to creating your document and spreadsheet, setting up web page and then hosting it on the web. All these serious stuffs and how much it cost you? You only pay for the Windows OS and the Anti-virus software - all in maybe RM500. If you are the adventurous type you may have ventured into the world of Linux and paid less than a hundred Ringgit for a set of CDs and have more software running on your PC than you need. There is a direct proportion between cost and learning curves. If you are the learner type you will find it easy to switch over to the open source platform such as Linux or FreeBSD. However if you want the easy way out without much learning you can go all the way with the commercial software but you will need to pay RM8000 or more depending on the software you choose. If you run two PCs at home you have to double that amount just to be on the right side of the law and it is not uncommon to find two or more PCs in many homes these days. The suggestion we lay out will save you money and time as all those software that we discussed are well proven and reasonably easy to use, have good user manual or on-line help available for most of it. Now you can forget about the illegal pirated software, be law abiding and enjoy home computing with peace of mind.



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