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By:    On: 2009-12-14

As most of you know I am a geek that swears by Linux and a variety of other open sourse software. Today I am going to toss out some software that is available for free and may help you with in Scouting, home, or your kids education. All the software mentioned is available for Windows, Mac and Linux.

Open Office: This is an office suite similar to Microsoft Office, which includes a word processor (word), spreadsheet (excel), presentation (powerpoint), drawing (simple graphical program), and database (access). Check out

Gimp: Is a complex program that is pretty similar in abilities to Photoshop. However Gimp seems to have a higher learning curve. It can be used to crop a simple photo to doing complex professional editing. Check it out at

Thunderbird: Thunderbird is a email client similar to Outlook, but comes from the same people who make Firefox. You can also get a add on for Thunderbird called Lightning to add in calendering abilities. Check it out at

Filezilla: If you manage a Scouting website that you need to ftp files to, then this is the tool for you. Filezilla is the best FTP client that I know of.

Stellarium: Stellarium is a free open source planetarium for your computer. It shows a realistic sky in 3D, just like what you see with the naked eye, binoculars or a telescope. It is being used in planetarium projectors. Just set your coordinates and go.

Amaya: is a Web editor, i.e. a tool used to create and update documents directly on the Web. Browsing features are seamlessly integrated with the editing and remote access features in a uniform environment. This follows the original vision of the Web as a space for collaboration and not just a one-way publishing medium.

PDFCreator: is a free tool to create PDF files from nearly any Windows application. It installs as a printer, so any program you can “print” from you can select the pdf printer and save the result as a pdf file.

VLC: VLC media player is a highly portable multimedia player supporting most audio and video formats (H.264, Ogg, DivX, MKV, TS, MPEG-2, mp3, MPEG-4, aac, ...) from files, physical media (DVDs, VCD, Audio-CD), TV capture cards and many network streaming protocols.

Pidgin: is an easy to use and free chat client used by millions. Connect to AIM, MSN, Yahoo, and more chat networks all at once.

7-Zip: is a application that works kind of like win-zip among others. It will compress and uncompress a large variety of format.

Jmoney: is a finance (accounting) manager that with some creative thinking might work for tracking unit finances.

Scribus: is a program for doing page layout and desktop type publishing.
Canorus: is a free extensible music score editor. It supports note writing, import/export of various file formats, MIDI input and output, scripting and more!

Childsplay: Variety of educational software for young kids.

TuxMath: is an arcade game that helps kids practice their math facts. The main goal is to make it effective and fun!

Tux Paint: is a free, award-winning drawing program for children ages 3 to 12 (for example, preschool and K-6). It combines an easy-to-use interface, fun sound effects, and an encouraging cartoon mascot who guides children as they use the program.

TuxTyping: is an educational typing tutor for kids starring Tux, the Linux penguin. This educational game comes with two different games for practicing your typing, and having a great time doing it.

This in reality is a pretty small sampling of what is available in the open source world, however it should be enough to get your minds working – remember google is your friend. If you know of other software I should have listed here, or comments about software I have listed, etc please tell me about it in the comment section below.

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Joseph Mason Kirton Jr.
Joe was an avid Scouter, and was involved heavily as his sons grew and progressed to Eagle Scouts. He attended Wood-Badge and participated in any possible Scouting activity. Joe and...

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