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Letter from the Director Ask Emerson Best Buddies Spotlight e-Buddy of the Month Tech Corner e-Buddies in Action!

contentsTechnology Corner

Free Stuff 101: The Wonderful World of Open Source Software

If youíve ever had the pleasure of purchasing software for your computer, you may have noticed that computer software is expensive. For most of us, the price tags for even the most commonly used applications, such as word processors and spreadsheets, can be astronomical.

Is there any way to find the applications you need for your computer without breaking the bank? Thankfully, there is an alternative for those of us who are not made of money: open source software.

What is open source software?

Open source software generally refers to computer software whose source code can be viewed and modified by the public at large. This contrasts with closed source (or proprietary) software, whose source code is not accessible to the public and cannot be readily viewed, modified, or replicated.

Free access to source code encourages software developers to modify existing applications in order to improve the overall performance of the software, and these developers often volunteer their time to do so. The result is free software that is constantly evolving and adapting to meet user needs.

How can open source software help me?

There are quite a few open source programs out there that are designed to do just about everything. The trick is finding the right one for your needs.

Need a word processor, but canít afford the brand name software packages? Open Office is an open source office suite, similar to Microsoft Office that provides word processing and spreadsheet applications at ZERO cost. To get started, please visit:

http://www.openoffice.org/

For a more exhaustive list of open source software programs, please visit:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_open_source_software_packages

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Have an e-Buddies tech question? Send questions or comments to Bill Maurer at BillMaurer@bestbuddies.org.


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