Software – Is Free Software Worth the Trouble?

Over recent years there has been a large debate on the cost of Software and whether once purchased the user is trapped into a spiral of upgrading software with the added costs involved.

I recently carried out an appraisal of the main software packages I use and the cost of that software. Bearing in mind that a great deal of the software was purchased several years ago, when there were no other alternatives. However because the software was originally purchased several years ago there has been in most instances several upgrades purchased during the following years.

If you had decided to set up a web business selling eBooks created from information obtained from the Internet then let us look at an example of the software required to download that information, process it and then upload the eBooks onto your website.

After downloading the files (If you bought them) you would need to download the packages.
Unzip them.

e.g. Winzip
Edit the source code. e.g. Microsoft Office
Convert to PDF. e.g. Adobe Acrobat
Edit the images. e.g. Photoshop
Create online Sales/Download pages e.g. Dreamweaver
Create Video e.g. Camtasia Studio
Upload the files to your website e.g. AceFTP

Those examples are the software packages that I own and would use and the cost runs into thousands of dollars. However, unless you are heavily into video, graphics or PDF Creation then you can carry out all of the above tasks for peanuts.

Zipping and Unzipping Files using jZip (cost Zero).
Editing the source code and creating PDF Files can be carried out using OpenOffice (cost Zero) Editing the images can be carried out using Gimp (cost Zero).
Creating HTML pages using Kompozer (cost Zero)
Creating videos can be carried out by using a much reduced cost CamstudioPro
Uploading Files can be carried out by Kompozer (cost Zero)
Camstudio is available for Free but I would recommend CamstudioPro at the present time.

So for general use there is nothing wrong with the software itemised.

Certainly I have used the free or cheaper packages and in most respects they have performed well enough to allow me to function.
Using free or cheap alternatives would free up capital to purchase professional software if you were concentrating on any particular area e.g. Video Production or Image manipulation. In this case then I would recommend that you purchased the full professional package.

This would generally give you more support as well as a robust, stable product.