This is part two of a series about free software I have installed on a laptop computer that I am using as a cheap, portable business machine.
The objective of this experiment, other than to save money, was to see if I could happily do away with the commercial software packages that I've used for years.
The only software I have paid for is Windows XP, and that was bundled with the laptop when I bought it.
Initially, I thought I'd miss too many of my favourite features from programs like Microsoft Office and Adobe Acrobat.
I was pleasantly surprised, however. I can do about 90% of what I need to do using these free programs, and most of the balance I can achieve in one way or another using other freebies.
This week, I'll look at a free office suite, PDFs, and CD burning.
Office Suite: a while back, I wrote a column on Sun's StarOffice 8, which is a commercial package that retails for nearly $70 (R460) in the US. Incredibly, the package is available free, legally, through Google Pack at: http://pack.google.com
Similar to Microsoft Office, StarOffice is a complete office suite, with powerful word-processing, spreadsheet, presentation, drawing and database capabilities.
It is not as flashy as Microsoft's recent versions - it reminds me of the utilitarian Office 2000 - but it is fast and easy to use.
StarOffice comfortably opens and creates files in Word, Excel and Powerpoint formats.
Read all about the suite at www.sun.com/software/star/staroffice, then head over to the Google Pack address above, download your copy and save a fortune.
Tip: download using an ADSL connection, or ask a computer dealer to do it for you and then burn and install a CD. Downloading by dial-up is possible, but will take several hours.
PDFs: the Portable Document Format (PDF), developed by Adobe, is the best format for sharing "electronic paper". …