The new millennium introduced something new to Macs and PCs. Free software.
Whether open source, freeware, or unrestricted shareware, free software has come of age. What’s free on your Mac?
This may be more of a question and answer session and less of a disclosure sessions, though I’m happy to share my list of free Mac applications.
Apple charges us for Mac OS X (or, we buy a new Mac), but it’s loaded with an excellent array of applications and utilities that most of us need.
Many Mac users require compatibility with the rest of the business world so we fork over hard-earned money for the likes of Microsoft Office and Adobe Creative Suite.
In fact, just a handful of such Mac applications can cost more than a Mac mini with an Apple Cinema display, so it’s obvious that some software comes with a healthy price tag.
So it is with Apple’s own iLife (again, free with a new Mac). At $79, it’s a bargain, assuming you need the tools in the package. What about the rest of the free and nearly free software on your Mac?
How much free software do you have? Thanks to Mac360’s Value Vixen, Alexis Kayhill, my Mac has dozens of applications, utilities, tools, that didn’t cost me a nickel. Open source, freeware, unrestricted shareware, whatever you call it—the value is substantial.
For example, how do you top the value of Vienna, one of the best RSS news readers on the planet, Mac or Windows, and priced less than free beer?
The very best backup utility, SuperDuper!, isn’t free but comes with the pure cloning capability at no charge.
For the most part, Dashboard Widgets come in the free flavor. Eye candy shouldn’t cost too much, right?
Mac360 as a Mac oriented web site is the beneficiary of open source and free software. The site runs on Mac OS X Tiger Server, of course. That comes with a healthy price tag.
But the site’s web pages are generated via a combination of software—the open source Apache web server, the PHP scripting engine, and the powerful MySQL database application.
MacUpdate has a very handy filtering feature which lets you de-select shareware and commercial Mac software, and just search and browse through what’s free.
In nearly every category, there’s free software that competes favorably with commercial software.
In the recent past, prior to the growing Open Source movement, software that didn’t have a price tag was seldom used for anything mission critical. In other words, if it was important, it needed a price tag.
Not so these days. Whether audio or video recording, spreadsheets and word processing, or graphics and photo manipulation, free software is in abundance.
Remember just a few years ago, it was that luminary visionary and recently grumpy chairman of Microsoft, Bill Gates, who said “hardware will be almost free.”
Interestingly, hardware prices, though lower for powerful Macs, more so than ever, have not reached the level of free. Software is becoming free. What does that say about Gates’ view of the future?
That begs the question, “How much free software is on your Mac today?” What Mac applications and utilities, those without a price tag, are integral to your productivity and efficiency and enjoyment on your Mac?