Monday, 24 January 2022

Open Source Software

I often see posts, on various forums, about what free software to use. Many commercial products offer a free version for home use or a limited feature version. One way or another, I usually end up moving away from those restricted versions.

The only reliably free software, tends to be Open Source products. Although there are many, lots of those do not get the commitment to be of any use however, a few become fully functional products that often rival their commercial counterparts.

The following is a list of the software, that I have found are sufficiently developed to be usable products, at least for my home use:

Photo Editing = GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program)
This is the niche that Photoshop fills in the commercial world. GIMP is a very capable photo editor and has a massive community of support and development.
Paint.net is also an excellent photo editor. For day to day use, I prefer the simplicity and speed of Paint.net.

Vector Graphics = Inkscape
This is the category that Illustrator fills. Inkscape is usable and has most, if not all, of the essential features. I would not claim it is a match for Illustrator but for free, Inkscape does an excellent job and is still being developed.
I have not fond an alternative, Open Source, vector graphics editor.

2D CAD = LibraCAD
I have not had much experience of LibraCAD but the reviews are good. This is what an architect would use for drawings. It is in the same line as the industry standard AutoCAD.

3D CAD = FreeCAD
This is the solid body, parametric editing solution. There are many commercial products in this area, like Fusion 360 and Solidworks.
I like FreeCAD. It has a few limitations in the way the user interface works and the occasional bug but I have been able to easily produce any model I have needed for 3D printing.

3D Mesh Modelling and animation = Blender
The investment in Blender has been so intensive and it's been around a long time, that it now rivals the commercial products. It competes with Maya and 3DS Max and other industry standard.
If you want to create models for computer games or for an animated movie, Blender is the product. Blender can also be used to make the movie!
Like most mesh modelling products, it can be difficult to learn. 

That's my list for now.


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