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Truly free homeschool software

Recently I’ve been seeing articles about homeschoolers using free software:

Free homeschool software: Probably the best conjunction of words that a homeschooling parent has heard since they found out that their child is going to summer camp. Why shouldn’t it be? Getting more for less is as American as homeschooling itself.

I’ve commented on several of these articles to talk about the greater freedom of FLOSS, which also happens to be no-cost.  This article is my canonical writing on the subject for future reference.

There is another kind of ‘free’, which is the free in freedom.  There is a software that embodies the best aspects of free-as-in-freedom and free-as-in-no-cost.

Free and open source software (FOSS) is built by communities of participants and contributors.  This is the software that is at the heart of countless electronic devices (cellphones, wireless, etc.), what makes hum, and what makes Firefox a better web browser.  It is built using a similar collaborative model to that used by Wikipedia:

FOSS is specifically built and licensed to permit you to redistribute it at no cost.  It also allows you to modify it at will, so as to give those modifications to other people.  Because many, many more people can see and affect the software, problems (bugs) are discovered and solved more quickly than with proprietary, closed-source software.

This is a good starting place for finding a few, key programs:

Several great programs that also run on Microsoft Windows and Apple OSX operating systems are:

Photo/graphics (cf. Photoshop) –

Office/productivity –

Audio editing –

Web browsing and extensions – and

Kid favorite drawing –

You can also look in to switching to a completely free and open source operating system, such as Linux.  You can download a “live” CD, which allows you to boot your computer to run a living instance of Linux that only exists until you restart — it doesn’t install the OS until you ask it to.

… or Linux running the new Sugar kids environment (as used in the OLPC XO):

Another option is to run a live OS from a USB device:

So many, many options; many thousands of software packages for every walk of life.  All free as in freedom and at no-cost.