Free Software for Users

Mozilla, and other Free software applications are a very sensible choice in terms of simplicity, features, usability and freedom.

The GNU/linux operating system, although very easy to use and increasingly easy to install and upgrade, requires more curiosity. A short introduction, pros and cons, and resources.

Last significant update : 2 July 2004

1 Free Software for any operating system

2 The Case for Free Software

Prior reading of Free Software: an Overview is recommended.

Software infrastructure (operating systems, networking and middleware software) is increasingly Free / Open Source, but most software users still believe they are stuck with proprietary software. They are not. Many pieces of Free software are available for Microsoft Windows and Apple MacOS as well as GNU/Linux and UNIXes, and they are a very sensible choice in terms of simplicity, features and usability as well as freedom:

Using Free software is the first step towards migration to a Free operating system. Installing Mozilla and will only take a few minutes of your time. You won't regret it. You deserve Free software.

3 Mozilla

Internet Application Suite. Two applications are also distributed separately:

The best choice:

4 Mozilla Firefox

5 Mozilla Thunderbird


Sun Microsystems bought StarDivision in 1999. On 13 October 2000, Sun open sources StarOffice 6.0. On 14 October 2000, the project begins (OpenOffice was already a registered trademark). It is a full-featured office productivity suite:

Good read/write compatibily with Microsoft Office file formats (better than Office itself for older versions), and a similar interface. Macros are not lost (they are commented out), but must be rewritten to be used in

7 Native File Formats file extensions
Application Extension
Writer .sxw
Writer Models .stw
Calc .sxc
Calc Models .stc
Impress .sxi
Impress Models .sti
Draw .sxd
Draw Models .std
Math .sxm
Master Documents .sxg

Compressed (zip) XML files, with at least:

Therefore, the whole range of XML tools can be used. For instance, 1.1 offers imports/exports from/to the DocBook format.

8 Free Software for Microsoft Windows

GNUWin II is a free software compilation for Windows. Lots of software, in many categories:

9 A Short Introduction to GNU/Linux

10 Linux Kernel

Kernel of an operating system

An operating system is a complex system, made up of a large number of components, or software layers. Ideally, these components are independant from each other, so that the large complex system becomes a set of smaller and more simple components.

The kernel of an operating system is its core component ; or its bottom layer, the interface with hardware.

The Linux kernel:

Version numbers:

11 Shell

The Shell

Text mode / command line (instructions are given line by line) user interface:

The shell is much more flexible and powerful than a graphical user interface.

12 X Window System

The X Window system, or X, or X11:

13 Window Managers and Desktop Environments

Graphical Interface
Window Manager
Desktop Environment

There is no clear distinction between desktop environments and window managers.

The project works on interoperability and shared technology for desktop environments for the X Window System.

14 The Gnome and KDE Desktop Environments

Desktop environments like Gnome and KDE provide a platform for software applications development, and a large and increasing number of applications with a common look and feel.

GNU Network Object Model Environment (GNOME)
K Desktop Environment (KDE)

15 GNU/Linux Screenshots

16 Gimp, XMMS

Screenshot. ROX, Gimp, XMMS.

17 FluxBox, MPlayer

Screenshot. FluxBox, MPlayer.

18 XFce

Screenshot. XFce, gDesklets

19 KDE

Screenshot. KDE, Konqueror.

20 Gnome

Screenshot. Gnome, XMMS.

21 GNU/Linux Distributions

22 What is a Distribution?

While Windows and MacOS have a single distributor, GNU/Linux can be built from scratch, and is available from various vendors.

Distribution =

= a set of packages (software components) including an installation and update system.

There are many distributions, suited fo various uses.

23 Debian GNU/Linux

Logo Debian

THE free distribution.

Debian has an exemplary social contract, and the Debian Free Software Guidelines have been used as a model for the Open Source Definition

Debian has been growing and improving since 1993.

24 Other Distributions

Try GNU/Linux without installing it!

Mainstream distributions:

Other distributions:

25 Migration to GNU/Linux

26 Reasons not to use GNU/Linux

27 Reasons to use GNU/Linux

28 Where to Start

Some vendors sell computers with GNU/Linux installed.

29 Resources: Software


Lists of applications:

30 Resources