Saturday, July 28, 2007


Scribus is a very professional and polished desktop publishing program for making flyers, banners, menus, and the like.

Installation is fast and easy, although fonts are a big deal. Also, Ghostscript is required if you want to do PostScript or Encapsulated PostScript printing/importing. Don't worry if the download link says "Download Source" for the Windows versions, the Scribus team has seemingly misrepresented the button; it leads straight to where you can choose to download the installation executable.

Although Scribus doesn't have as many templates as Microsoft Publisher, the user interface is very familiar due to its similarity to the standard Office icons and menus. Also, Scribus has excellent abilities to convert documents to PDF, which Microsoft Office cannot do without third party software.

All in all, Scribus is a very sleek open source alternative for desktop publishing.

Official Site:

Saturday, July 21, 2007

PortableApps 1.0

U3 is a great technology that happens to annoy the peas out of me. The idea behind U3 is great; install applications on your removable device (usually a USB thumb drive) and run them anywhere with your customized settings in place. And the good thing is, this technology works pretty well, except that it's a nuisance!

First of all, U3 runs as a separate program, which means it's useless for applications where it's most useful, which to me is on systems that have access control and don't allow you install or run foreign programs.

Secondly, U3 installs as a separate CD-ROM drive, and it's horrible to have a boss looking on as you plug your thumb drive into his precious computer and suddenly see the U3 splash screen because he has AutoRun enabled, freaking him out.

Worst of all, U3 is proprietary technology, so the inherent security risks presented by allowing foreign programs to AutoRun can't be detected or fixed by the masses.

Good news though - PortableApps is the open source equivalent of U3!

There are several bundles that you can download with preselected programs; I chose the "Base Edition" which lets you choose precisely which applications you want to have installed.

Speaking of installation, it was a breeze, with a solid GUI that guides you through the process.

Some limitations exist though; you can only add applications that are hosted by PortableApps, although since it's open source you can hack any other open source application to work with PortableApps.

However, for me it's a great alternative to U3, and highly recommended.

Check out the full listing of the applications that are ready to use: Application List

Official Site:

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Miro 0.9.8

The Democracy Media Player is now known as Miro, following user feedback that the name was misleading. The new name should be without any political intrigue, and although a Google search for the term "miro" yields their official website at the sixth spot, over time it should gain PageRank and move up in the listings.

I downloaded the preliminary version that they're calling "Public Preview". It looks pretty much identical to Democracy, with the same Apple-esque interface and the same features as before. However, their website states that there are many small changes, including a memory leak fix. You can get the latest use at the Miro blog.

Good luck to those at the Participatory Software Foundation with Miro!

Official Site:

Sunday, July 8, 2007

FullSync 0.9.1

FullSync is an excellent program for synchronization and backing up of important files. Most people will find it most useful to use it to backup essentials on a USB drive, but I also use it to sync any development projects across different computers.

It's very flexible, with great features. Fullsync allows users to choose which files to update (through simple clicking or advanced regular expression filtering), supports scheduled backups, and even handles backups over networking with a variety of protocols (ftp, sftp, samba).

I've never had a problem with FullSync, it runs extremely stable and fast. Highly recommended.

Official Site:

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Abiword 2.4.6

Abiword is a lightweight, robust word processor that easily replaces Microsoft Word. It supports a wide variety of open and proprietary word processing formats and languages.

Although it can't save documents with the .doc extension (due to Microsoft's closed source proprietary file format), Abiword can save as documents as Rich Text Format files and then wrap them to look like a .doc file, effectively enabling users to switch between Word and Abiword seemlessly. It'll also open .doc documents fairly well, as long as there are no complicated tables or figures.

As a member of my university's tech support, I have a lot of students come in who want to type up essays for their foreign language classes, and Abiword tends to be the best solution, especially for languages that have text running from left to right.

The lack of macros makes Abiword extremely secure; Microsoft Word allows macros, which although helpful for advanced users, mostly serves as a method for virus transmission for the majority of people who just want a no frills word processor.

The well designed user interface should be very familiar and intuitive to anyone who has used any office productivity software, and the keyboard shortcuts are all the same.

Highly recommended.

Official Site:

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