BY BILL FERRIS
How much does your school spend on software? You’ve probably got Microsoft Office installed in the central office. Maybe the school newspaper uses Adobe InDesign and Photoshop. That’s a few thousand dollars worth of software right there, depending on the size of licenses you need. Open Source Alternative wants you to save that money by suggesting, well, open-source alternative programs that do the same things as their pricey commercial counterparts, but won’t cost you a dollar (let alone several thousand of them).
To use OSA, just type in the name of the commercial software you’re trying to replace, and you’ll be presented with a few possible options. OSA suggests several of the usual suspects — it recommends programs like OpenOffice, Moodle, and Audacity. It also highlights programs like OpenLaszlo, a free alternative to Adobe Flash, the $700 animation program used to make pretty much all of the animation you see on the web. A web design or e-Commerce class could benefit from using these free tools — or maybe this would be the deciding factor in starting a web design class in your school.
Of course, not all free tools are created equal, so be sure to try them out before MS Word the heave-ho. Basically, make sure the free tool meets your needs, and evaluate how valuable certain features are in relation to how much they cost you. Chances are you’ll be able to find at least a few ways to save your school some money with open-source software.