How does a start-up with little or no income, yet, stay legal on software licensing and still ‘get the job done’? Welcome to the world of Free and Open Source Software (FOSS).  Daniel Curry, Indy’s Computer Geek,  shares some of his favorites in today’s blog post.

As a start-up business I know it can be very hard to find the software tools you need to get a job done, especially when that job is for internal growth. It can be even more difficult to find the money to purchase the big brand name, commercial products such as Microsoft Office or Adobe Photoshop. Here are five alternatives to these worthy, yet expensive products.


  • Office Suite – OpenOffice is a great suite of office applications. It offers a great option to the Microsoft suite, especially since the standardization of the MS file formats. One of the best benefits of OpenOffice is it’s ability to export (save) a document directly to a PDF format.
  • Accounting Software – I like GnuCash and jGnash equally well. I would consider jGnash more of a personal or home financial package and GnuCash as being useful for both personal and professional record keeping.
  • E-Mail – Mozilla’s Thunderbird is my preferred e-mail client. It simply works, it is free and has an abundance of add-ons to increase business oriented functionality such as calendaring. With over 2.4 Billion add-on downloads how can this tool be wrong for any business?
  • Graphic Image Manipulation – Gimp. An odd name for a very powerful tool that competes against the likes of Adobe Photoshop. Where the Gimp may be missing shortcut tools compared to Photoshop, it makes up in price point consideration. It is free, with an active support community constantly adding new functionality and providing assistance to those that request it.
  • Web development – Today, almost no business can survive and grow without a website. To build your own website can be very challenging, so please let me introduce you to Nvu. Nvu is a complete website authoring tool to compete with MS Expressions and Dreamweaver. It is easy to use. With only a little effort, you will quickly get the hang of it.

These are just a few of the tools I use and recommend to clients when there are questions about licensing and affordability. Share your favorites with us at my website.