Category Archives: Open Source

View all posts listed under Open Source.

Migrating from Windows to GNU/Linux

Can you save money by moving your business to GNU/Linux? The short answer is that you can. However, the long answer is that how much you save — or if you save at all — depends upon your resources and choices. If you are lucky, you might find a study comparable to your situation to help you plan, but most of these studies are biased one way or the other, so you should still need to do your own assessment as you plan the move.

Whether a switch is worth your effort is usually calculated in terms of Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). As the term emphasizes, TCO includes not only the cost of buying and installing the software, but also the cost of hardware to run it, administering it, training employees to use it, and maintaining and supporting it. Sometimes, TCO is divided into first year costs and yearly costs, to reflect the extra expenses of setup and configuration, and the presumably lower costs of running an ongoing system. But, however TCO is calculated, what matters is that making the switch is not just as simple as assuming that, because GNU/Linux has no licensing fees, you will automatically save money.

Continue reading

Your mail merging options with Thunderbird

If you use the open source Mozilla Thunderbird email client, you’re probably familiar with its powerful address book features: import and export, online status information for your friends, even synchronization. But one thing that’s not so obvious is how to do a mail merge to your address book contacts. Fortunately, where there’s a will — and some source code — there is a way.

By Nathan Willis

Continue reading

Unleash your inner Old Master with MyPaint (Open Source)

MyPaint is a lightweight, easy-to-use open source painting application that you might not have heard of before. Unlike some of the more mature open source raster-graphics applications (such as Krita or Gimp), MyPaint doesn’t try to do everything: it’s not a photo editor, it doesn’t bother with paths, geometric shapes, text manipulation, or fancy masking options. Instead, it focuses on one and only one use: painting.

By Nathan Willis

“MyPaint’s default interface, which make the canvas prominent and takes up as little space as possible for the tools.  You can click on a new brush or a color from the palette with the pen stylus.”

MyPaint is built around use with pressure-sensitive graphics tablets, and puts natural-media-simulation first. There is only one “tool” per se, the paintbrush with which you draw directly onto the image. However, you can choose from dozens of different profiles with which to use that brush, simulating everything from charcoal to pencil, to ink to watercolor. Each has a different behavior, including the way it responds to pressure, speed, changes in direction, and interacting with pixels already on the canvas.

Continue reading

Turbocharge Writer with AuthorSupportTool


Although is a competent productivity suite, you can add some nifty features to it using extensions. There are hundreds of nifty extensions available in the official extension repository. Some of them add a feature or two, while others take to a whole new level. The AuthorSupportTool (AST) extension  belongs to the latter category. AST not just adds some random features to Writer, it dramatically enhances the word processor’s functionality, turning it into a powerful tool for working on research papers and complex documents.

By Dmitri Popov

Continue reading

Get started with Blender

by Nathan Willis

The open source 3-D modeler Blender can perform so many different jobs that it can get a little intimidating. In addition to designing three-dimensional objects, Blender can handle rigging, character animation, kinematics, video editing, video game design, and in fact almost the entire tool chain required to produce a 3-D movie. Fortunately, if you have more modest goals in mind — say, simply creating a 3-D logo, Blender can do the job without forcing you through the entire learning curve … if you know where to look for help.

“The Blender user interface; even at start-up it can be intimidating to the new user, so it is helpful to run through a tutorial just to familiarize yourself with the tools.”

Continue reading The Need for Style

Office applications like can bring out the worst in people. The same people who wouldn’t dream of driving a car without a few lessons will start pounding away in a word processor as though it were a typewriter, ignoring basic features like styles and templates. In the end, they may produce the documents they want, but only with far more effort than is necessary. They might as well be pushing a car instead of turning the ignition key.

Nothing stops you if you really want to format manually, any more than anything prevents you from using the soles of your shoes to slow down a car instead of the brake. does nothing to stop you from indenting each new paragraph in Writer or setting each number format in a Calc cell on its own. For small, unusual documents, manual formatting may even be quicker.

By Bruce Byfield

Continue reading Extensions for Business Users is an excellent all-around productivity suite as it is, but you can add a few useful features using extensions to make it better suited for use in a business environment. Here are a handful of extensions worth considering if you are using as a business tool.

Continue reading

Labels with PostScript::MailLabels Getting Started (Open Source)

by Nathan Willis


Alan Jackson’s PostScript::MailLabels is a Perl utility to automate production of high-quality label layouts. it is designed to be useful to Perl scripters, who can easily incorporate high-quality PostScript output into their scripts, but the scripts included in the base package are, themselves, an easy-to-use set of command-line tools for label printing. Best of all, the package provides printer calibration and alignment tools.

Continue reading

Managing Bibliographies with and Zotero

If’s own bibliography feature doesn’t really cut it for you, you have several choices. One popular bibliography solution is Bibus, a cross-platform tool that integrates nicely with It is, however, not the only bibliographical tool out there.  In fact, there is another nifty tool called Zotero that turns Firefox into a powerful research tool. More importantly, it comes with an extension that allows you to use Zotero as a bibliography database. Zotero also sports a few clever features that make the process of creating and managing bibliographies much more efficient.

Continue reading

Inkscape 0.47 Totally Solid with Lots of New Tools


Inkscape 0.47 by Nathan Willis – Totally solid release with lots of new cool tools and functions

The free open source vector graphics editor Inkscape has released an update packing several new features, new tools, effects, and improved SVG compliance. Version 0.47 is available for Mac OS X, Linux, and Windows, as well as source code. Ubuntu users can also add the Inkscape Testers package archive to automatically upgrade.


Insckape ScreenShot

Continue reading