Macspiration 40 – The Download Drawer 6 – Open Source Alternatives

Do you want programs like Dreamweaver, Illustrator, Photoshop, or Office, but their prices don’t fit into your budget? If so, the programs listed below are all FREE open source alternatives to these programs (and others).

NeoOffice- the Office alternative

There are several open source Office alternatives out there, but NeoOffice is my favorite.

The core of NeoOffice is the word processor. Besides opening Word files and other text files, NeoOffice can open WordPerfect files (Windows and Mac formats!). It also saves into all of these formats. NeoOffice is a lifesaver at my school, where we are slowly converting to Macs and a lot of older files were done in WordPerfect. With NeoOffice we can open all of these old files.
Besides the word processor, NeoOffice also has a presentation program, a spreadsheet, drawing tools, and more.
Version 2.0 was just released, and an Intel version is due out next month. It runs a little slow, especially on older machines.

NVU- the WYSIWYG Dreamweaver/GoLive alternative

NVU is a great alternative to Dreamweaver and GoLive. It doesn’t have all of the features of those two programs, but if you need a program for designing websites and you are on a budget, try NVU.
Currently, NVU is PowerPC only.

Gimp- the Photoshop alternative

Gimp might be one of the more well known pieces of open source software. It is a great alternative to Photoshop, and a universal binary version was just released allowing it to run natively on a PowerPC or an Intel machine.

Gimp does require X11 on your computer. Running X11 is similar to running Classic in OSX. It is basically a virtual operating system running in OSX. If you have it installed you would find it in your utilities folder. If it is not there it can be downloaded from Apple here. For those who want a version of Gimp with a more Photoshop-like appearance, try GimpShop at

InkScape- The Illustrator Alternative

Like Gimp, InkScape requires X11 to run, and it is a universal binary. Once running, you will have a nice alternative to Illustrator. Does it have all the cool features of Illustrator like “Live Paint” and “Live Trace?” No, but for free you get a nice program.

Blender- for those into 3D graphics and animation

I can’t comment on this too much, since I’m more of a 2D illustrator. I’ve never been able to get into the world of 3D graphics. For those that are, Blender is worth a try. Like NVU, Blender is PowerPC only.

To see what Blender can do check out the movie “Elephant’s Dream,” which was produced entirely in Blender: Even if you are not interested in Blender, I recommend checking out “Elephant’s Dream.” It is pretty impressive.

Like I have said, all of the programs above are free. While they may lack certain features of the big titles, you can’t beat the price. Download and give them a try. You can always send them to the trash if you don’t like them.

Have any free programs you can’t live without? Send me an email, and it might show up in a future Download Drawer.


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