Open-source software rated: Ten alternatives you need

Open-source software is user-friendly, offers all the functionality most people will ever need -- and it's totally free. Here are ten of the best programs for your delectation

Open source products comprise the work of many collaborators -- sometimes thousands of them, and often separated by oceans. Each person works on small portions of a project, and anyone is welcome to contribute. The finished product will be available freely for anyone to download and, in most cases, modify.

All very touchy-feely, carey-sharey, but why should you care about open source? You should care because the vast majority of common applications, even complex commercial stuff such as Adobe Photoshop, Windows Media Player and Microsoft Office, have free, open-source alternatives. And this point is worth reiterating: open-source software is free. No cost. Zero. Zilch.

We've put together a collection of ten free open-source applications that will potentially save you hundreds of pounds. We've outlined their pros and cons and compared them to the nearest commercial alternative. -Nate Lanxon

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