This Wednesday, 1/18/2012, Wikipedia, Reddit , and Boing Boing will go dark in protest of the Stop Online Piracy Act that is being considered in US House and the Protect Intellectual Property Act in the US Senate. These protesters are asking for the US public to call or write to their elected officials regarding the proposed legislation. Bloggers in this forum have taken a stance against limiting open source and net neutrality in the past and these two bills pose no less of a threat to the innovative culture that is open source.
Although there has been a healthy open source community for decades, legislation like SOPA or PIPA would exclude open source software opportunities to developers in the US if passed. These bills would essentially lock down portions of the internet to users in the US by creating a federally kept blacklist of internet sites that internet service providers would in turn prevent from being served to their US customers. This would prevent the US public from accessing the steady stream of free content from the open source community that has been continuously redefining the online world for decades.
Open source has been the frontier of technological innovation for decades and by passing this legislation the US Congress will simply ensure that the next Facebook, Google, or Amazon simply never get off the ground from US soil. In celebration of Open Source a list has been compiled with some great open source alternatives to common commercial software packages that can be downloaded for free:
1) OpenOffice: Similar functionality to MS Suite with modules for word processing, spreadsheets, databases, presentation and drawing
2) Dia: Produces charts and flowcharts like MS Visio.
4) paint.net: An image editing program with much of the some of the same functionalityof Photoshop.
5) Pidgin: A messaging aggregator, useful in communicating with all the disparate messaging programs out there.
*) Foxit: A pdf reader that won't bog down your system and won't update every six hours like Adobe Acrobat does.