Software expenses can add up fast when you work at home. Fortunately, good software doesn’t always have to cost a lot of money. You can find open source software that costs less than other programs and may also be available free. These are some open source tools you may find useful when you work at home. Most are available for Windows, Mac and Linux systems, but check the download site to be sure.

Office Programs

OpenOffice

OpenOffice is the first open source program I ever tried out. It’s a good replacement for Microsoft Office, in my opinion. I’ve been using it for a few years now with no problems. It can read and write documents from other popular office software. You can even use it to create PDF files. It includes Writer, Calc, Impress, Draw and Base programs.

LibreOffice

I’ve seen some people say they prefer LibreOffice to OpenOffice. I haven’t tried this one myself. Some people have been happier with LibreOffice since OpenOffice was acquired by Oracle. Both work in much the same way, allowing you to create, read and write documents that work with other office software. It includes Writer, Calc, Impress, Draw, Math and Base programs, so that you can do all sorts of document work and data processing.

Blogging & Content Management

WordPress

My blog runs on it, so I can’t forget to mention WordPress as an open source tool for working at home. It’s hugely popular, really flexible and just generally nice to use for blogging. There are other open source blogging platforms out there, but WordPress is the big one, which means you can find all kinds of themes and plugins to make it even better.

Drupal

Drupal isn’t just about blogging; it has a lot of modules you can use to configure your website. I’ve used Drupal, but I’m more comfortable with WordPress personally. Still, there are a number of themes and modules you can add to it to make your site look and run just the way you want it to.

Graphics

Inkscape

Inkscape is for creating vector graphics in SVG format. Their goal is to have abilities similar to Illustrator and similar programs. There are some performance problems reported, but overall people like this one.

GIMP

GIMP is a Photoshop alternative. It’s more for working on photographs and other bitmap images rather than vectors. It’s very powerful and flexible. You can import brushes to make your projects even more interesting.

Audio

Audacity

Audacity is a great tool for recording and editing sound files. It’s a good choice if you want to record a podcast. It can edit Ogg Vorbis, MP3, WAV or AIFF sound files, cut and splice, or change the speed of a recording.

Productivity

FreeMind

FreeMind is great if you like mind mapping. You can use it for a variety of projects, research, brainstorming and so forth. You can use links in the nodes, making it easier to connect to relevant files or websites. You can export your maps to HTML so you can share your projects online easily.

FreeMind does have some weaknesses. It has minimal image support, and really isn’t made for multiple users. HTML links do not work on all computers. That said, it’s still overall a good program.

Task Coach

Task Coach is great if you like having a to do list. You can synchronize it between your computer and iPhone/iPad. The computer versions are free, while there is a small charge for the iOS versions.

You can use Task Coach to track your progress as you go through the different parts of the tasks you set up. It can track how long you take on tasks and the budget you’ve allowed for it.

Security

KeePass

KeePass is a free way to manage your keywords in a secure manner. You probably know how much trouble it is keeping track of your passwords and creating secure ones. You just have to remember your master password. It uses a strong encryption technique to protect your passwords.

One of the great parts is that you can carry it on a USB stick, allowing you to move between computers with your passwords. This is quite handy if you use more than one computer in your work.

Do you have any favorite open source programs you use when working at home?