Open Source Image Editing Software

I’m usually a considered by most to be just a “programmer”, but occasionally the need comes up for someone to edit or create an image for a project. I might not be a designer, but I still need similar tools to accomplish this, but can’t justify the cost of Adobe Photoshop & Illustrator.

Here are some great (if not better) alternatives that are FREE and available on a variety of operating systems, not just Windows and Apple Macintosh.

GIMP – is an acronym for GNU Image Manipulation Program. It is suitable for a variety of image manipulation tasks, including photo retouching, image composition, and image construction.

Currently Supports:

  • GIF, JPEG, PNG, XPM, TIFF, TGA, MPEG, PS, PDF, PCX, BMP and many others.

It has many capabilities. It can be used as a simple paint program, an expert quality photo retouching program, an online batch processing system, a mass production image renderer, an image format converter, etc.

Inkscape – is an open-source vector graphics editor similar to Adobe Illustrator, Corel Draw, Freehand, or Xara X. What sets it apart is it’s native use of Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG), an open XML-based W3C standard.

Currently supports:

  • opening only SVG and SVGZ (gzipped SVG) formats.
  • save as SVG, SVGZ, Postscript/EPS/EPSi, Adobe Illustrator (*.ai), LaTeX (*.tex), and POVRay (*.pov).
  • import most raster formats (JPG, PNG, GIF, etc.) as bitmap images, but it can only export PNG bitmaps.
  • With the help of extensions, Inkscape can open/save as PDF, EPS, AI, Dia, Sketch and some others.

Together this suite can tackle most work that previously required costly software that isn’t available on many Operating Systems.

Happy drawing!

Open source planetarium software

One of the first applications I ever saw on a (original) IBM-PC was planetarium.  Additionally, in my “Navy Days” I became quite interested in astronomy, as the skies are never quite as clear as they are in the middle of the ocean!

Stellarium is a free open source and cross-platform planetarium for your computer. It shows a photo-realistic sky full of stars, constellations, planets, nebulas in realtime 3D, just like what you see with the naked eye, binoculars or a telescope. Other items like ground, landscape, atmosphere, and constellation illustrations can also be added.  You can even see the Sun and Moon in their actual locations.

Notable is that you can also update the existing star charts with improved information so that even more stars can be seen in the application.


Another good competitor that you may prefer more for various reasons is Celestia, it can be found at:

Happy sky-gazing, even if it’s only virtual!

Open Source Media Player

There’s a lot of free software out there, but just like with Instant Messaging software you have to install many of them to be flexible.


Several years ago I stumbled upon the VideoLAN Client (aka VLC) when researching methods to stream video from my ReplayTV (Tivo predecessor/clone) to my laptop as the files were in MPEG4 format and my previous clients didn’t support it.

I urge you to check it out as it’s an all in one solution, so that you don’t need all of that other bloat-ware installed.


P.S. – I should add that this plays most video and audio formats and is available on most platforms, not just Windows.

Decompiling Java code

Occasionally, there comes a need to “look under the hood” of the code in a JAR file. While java is a compiled language, it isn’t quite machine code, but rather exists in a psuedo-code form to be used by the Java Virtual Machine’s JIT (Just in Time) compiler.

A lot can be learned from looking at other source code, unfortunately when using decompiled code you don’t get the original variable names or javadoc, but you can often better understand the API’s and performance issues in particular code.

I’m personally fond of DJ Decompiler, but I list several here for your use:


Personalized Internet Radio

While many terrestrial radio stations “stream” their content to make it available to anyone with an Internet connection, sometimes it’s still “just radio”.

For a true ‘net’ user, it’s often better to make the whole thing personalized and interactive, not to mention…. commercial free!

There are several popular services available for this, here are a few that I’m familiar with:

All of the above are free (for now), though the RIAA is trying to change yet another “good thing” and may make this impossible for these companies to support in the future.

Happy listening!

Free Instant Messaging (IM) Clients

As indicated way back in my ‘Contact Information’ entry, I use several IM client networks. To make it easier on myself (and my poor computers), it’s usually easier to get an integrated client that connect to many services within one program.

My favorites:

For an even easier way to connect without software installations and to bypass many corporate proxy’s and/or firewalls is to use a web client.

My favorite (as I’m not aware of any others that are still online):


Online backups

We all occasionally suffer lost of vital documents, or entire hard-drives full of them. Backups are an essential tool in preventing most loss…. but performing them is often a tedious task. Copying files and/or burning them to disk is time consuming and easily overlooked when you are overwhelmed. A few months ago I found Mozy, it provides a free, and simple interface that schedules and backs up your files online…. as such all you need to do it schedule it and forget it (of course your computer also needs to be online).

Restoring files is done through their web interface, and while it sometimes takes a few hours, you get an email notification that it’s available for download as a ZIP file.

You get 2GB for free and can purchase more… referrals get you (me in this case) an additional 256MB… please check it out at:

Video Blogs (Vlog?)

When I first started subscribing to Podcasts, I used a variety of client software. Notable was iPodder “Lemon” (now known as Juice). Soon after that I found Democracy Player (now Miro), a client that natively supported video in addition to the common audio (MP3) standard. Both clients are free and available on many common platforms.

In the video space, I’m a regular watcher of:


I’ve used EveryDNS (free service) for years to host my DNS services.    Recently I found that they now offer public DNS service for lookups as OpenDNS.   While I still run my own private DNS server for caching and various private addresses.  I now do a simple forward lookup to their servers to gain the extra services they provide… notably Phishing  and typo protection.

Setup is very simple for most users, and even a non-technical person should have no problems following their installation instructions for a single computer/device or an entire network.
Happy networking!!!

PHP on Apache 2.2 (Win32)

This came as a shock to me a while back, when i started evaluating an upgrade to Apache 2.2 from Apache 2.0.58. It seems that PHP doesn’t ship with a handler for Apache 2.2, as such after a huge headache and little bit of searching I found this article and downloads available at

It should also be added that other great binary assets are available at these sites/