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To read comments to this article, go here
Alternatives to Windows Applications
Sunday, December 21 2003 @ 07:25 PM EST

As many of you already have heard, Microsoft is orphaning some of its software soon, ostensibly because of the Sun Java lawsuit. The Devil made them do it. "No more free software support" reads one headline.

Free software is fine, actually, and there is no cutoff date ever for free software support. The community is always there.

Microsoft, however, is terminating support for such products as Windows 98, SQL Server 7, Windows NT 4.0, and Outlook 2000. They "are being phased out and will no longer be available to customers through MSDN Subscriber Downloads or other channels at Microsoft". You have until Tuesday to download whatever you need from this list. Extended support will be "retired" for more products in January, including Access 97, Office 97, Word 97, Excel 97, Standard Outlook 98, and PowerPoint 97. Here is a list of products "near the end of mainstream support."

Free support for Windows 98 ended last July, but this is the end of paid support also, as of January 16, 2004. Microsoft will continue to offer a variety of "self-help resources" on its web site until "at least January 16, 2006, two years after phone support for Windows 98 ends on January 16, 2004. These resources include the Microsoft Knowledge Base and Newsgroups." A lot of businesses are still using Windows 98. Now what are they supposed to do? Upgrade or else? eWeek has a special report on this story here. Note the figures Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols collected for his article in eWeek:

"According to AssetMetrix Research Labs, more than 80 percent of companies are still using Windows 98 and/or Windows 95. Dan Kusnetzky, IDC vice president for system software research, tells me that there are still 21 million Windows 95 users out there and about 58 million Windows 98 users. That's about 20 percent of all desktop systems. That's a lot of machines. If you're one of those poor folks, you've just about reached the end of your Microsoft support rope."

For those businesses who never switched to GNU/Linux systems because they thought they need Microsoft support, someone to call, you just might want to consider your "or else" options. If you are wondering what you are going to do next, worrying that you can't switch to Linux because there are applications on Windows with no equivalent in Linux, here is a list. It comes from a page for Linux newbies on Linux.ie's web site, listing GNU/Linux alternatives to Windows applications, and you will see that making the switch isn't as hard as you may have thought. With their permission, I am reproducing its content here in full.

Let's add any other applications that we know about that might be useful for those wishing to switch to Linux now. I would like to add Galeon to the list of browsers. And we should have a list of email applications like Evolution, too.

It looks like there will be more folks thinking about Linux now. We might as well give them a helping hand. Faced with an upgrade or else strategy, a lot of people are going to choose 'or else'.

******************************************

Alternatives to Windows Software
~by Ken Guest
With additions suggested by various members of the ILUG.

As one of the ILUG members who helped out at our stand at e-Xpo 2001, I have fielded quite a number of questions (both 'live' and via email) from people that would use Linux exclusively 'if only...'.
I pretty much intend for this page to grow over time - if you have a question, or want to suggest better alternatives then by all means please email me.

Censorware / Webpage Filtering.
I haven't cause for using censorware myself, but the question was raised by a father of two that he would like to use something equivalent to NetNanny to ensure that the coarser side of the Intenet wouldn't be discovered by his children. DansGuardian seems to pretty much fit the bill here and is free for non commercial use. As far as technical details are concerned, DansGuardian works by filtering out webpages based on content rather than on what the URL of the page is. It can also filter out files based on not just the file extension but also on the files mime-type.

Compatibility with Microsoft Office.
Quite a number of people expressed an interest in being able to read Microsoft files without having to boot into Windows. AbiWord, StarOffice and OpenOffice are all rather good software suites that can both read and create Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint files. Gnumeric and abiWord are good alternatives for Excel and Microsoft Word respectively.

Accounting Software.
There are many levels and kinds of accounts packages that people use. Some of these have equivalents for Linux and some have direct counterparts. At the personal level, there are GNUCash and AppGen's MoneyDance. At the enterprise level there's AccPac. The middle-ground, ie for small businesses, appears as though it may be inhabitated by Sage and Tas Software - we spent some time during the e-Xpo driving home the fact to representatives of these companies that there is a genuine business need for them to produce software that will run under Linux. Quasar Accounting is another package that you may wish to consider. It's 'fully functional' and runs on both Linux and Windows. It is also good for stock-management (inventory and shelf) and has multistore functionality as well. NOLA does accounting, inventory, point of sale, contact management, billing, puchasing, and reporting all in one integrated web-based package. SQL-Ledger is a multi-user double entry web-based system. A full list of features is available. You may want to read Finances, Linux, and Stuff... by Christopher Browne for other links and information on other Linux based accounting software.

Graphics and Multimedia
Some people asked about graphics packages for Linux. The foremost graphics app for Linux is called The Gimp. xfig is another recommended drawing program for Linux, as is PhotoGenics (which is commercially available for Linux, AmigaOS and Windows.
Corel Draw is also available for Linux.

Digital Cameras
I was asked if it's possible to use digital cameras under Linux - GPhoto will let you transfer photos to and from your camera.

Web Browsers
There is a serious number of webbrowsers available for using under Linux. Some of the more popular ones are Mozilla, Konqueror and Opera.

Firewalls & Internet Security
PortSentry and Snort Also, you should read up on ipchains and iptables.

Diagram Software - Visio
Dia and Kivio are two good alternatives.

Webpage Editors
IBM's Webshere HomePage Builder is a WYSIWYG webpage editor. Quanta Plus is a quick-turnaround webpage editor, you do need to know you're HTML though as Quanta Plus is not WYSIWYG.
Amaya is a highly recommended editor from the w3 organisation.

Desktop Publishing
As far as DTP is concerned, I found Scribus, which is an Open Source project. I'd be inclined to give Open Office (as linked to above) a go as well.

CD Burning
It has been possible to burn CDs under Linux for quite sometime, but it really has gotten very easy to do with the likes of the graphical X-CD_Roast.

DVD Players
Ogle is probably the best DVD player for Linux.> MPlayer is another alternative.

ERP + Contact Relationship Management software
Compiere

3D Art Modellers
Asked for ideas on which Linux based software should be used as an equivalent to Bryce, these were suggested by members of the ILUG:

LinuxArtist.org may list other alternatives and other appropriate links, especially on their 3D Listings page. There are also sections on Freshmeat.net that should be of interest:

Audio tools
MuSE is a very good sequencer. For score editors, try RoseGarden and NoteEdit. Fluid Synth is a good synthesiser.

 

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