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FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions with Answers

Questions we get asked and the answers we give.

How can I get help with Free Software?

One simple but effective way to get help is use a web search engine to find the answer, see the choice from the Wikipedia list of search engines.

If you have an error message, text output, or message then:

  1. Copy & paste in the error message, text output, or message you are given into the search box.
  2. Surround this in quotes.
  3. Perhaps add an extra word or two to help give the search some context.
  4. Search.

An example is that someone was running Ubuntu and trying to setup their printer. It told them to 'Run HP Set-Up from the Console' and they didn't know what to do. Using the above method gets a search of:

'Run HP Set-Up from the Console' ubuntu

This finds the Ubuntu help page on it.

If you are just trying to find something out (but don't have an error message, text output, or message) then you need think of the keywords that describe what you are looking for:

  1. Type in keywords, making sure to enclose multi-word terms in quotes.
  2. Search.

What free software is there for the Microsoft Windows OS?

The OpenDisc, "is a high quality collection of open source software (OSS) for the Microsoft Windows operating system.". Their ideals differ from ours, they don't believe in paying for software. But they have a good list of programs, divided in sections of design, games, internet, Multimedia, productivity and utilities.

Open Source Windows, "A simple list of free, open-source software for Windows.".

The FSF have a page, Free Software replacements for proprietary applications on the Microsoft Windows OS.

Cygwin describes itself as "a Linux-like environment for Windows.". It basically gives you the power of a GNU/POSIX system on Windows. It has a package management system with large repository of software.

Evince, which "is simply a document viewer" has just been released for Microsoft Windows. The Windows Installer is available from the Evince Downloads page. Evince can view PDFs and PS (PostScript) files.

How do I make CD from this distro ISO file?

So you have downloaded a ".iso" file for a distribution you want to install and you want to know how to make a CD of it. Simply copying it to a CD, like you would any other file, won't work. Instead you need to burn the ISO as an "image".

If you are running a free software system then you no doubt have software to write ISOs such as Brasero or k3b. When using them select Burn Image, Burn ISO, or similar.

If you are running Windows then consider installing InfraRecorder (it's free software) and/or look at Debian's How do I record a CD-R under Windows?. Also you can use Burn Aware Free for this.

If you are running MacOS then look at Debian's How do I record a CD-R under Mac OS?.

How can you make money from free software?

The purpose of a free software licence is to give the user freedom. It is not about giving away software at zero price. It is not about not making money.

What is the difference between free software and open source software?

In terms of software licences and licensed software the differences are small. The amount of software (and licences) that are only one or the other is tiny.

The difference comes from the objectives and hence the strategies used in order to achieve different objectives. Open Source advocates talk about how this software development methodology results in development being quicker, better and less buggy. Free Software advocates talk about user freedom. We summarise this as "Open Source is software development methodology, Free Software is a philosophical idea." and believe that Open Source misses the point.

What is the UK Government doing with free software?

OpenSourceGov, "This site has been created to support the UK government's open source strategy and action plan."

What free software is there for animation?

  • Blender, "3D content creation suite" - "model • shade • animate • render • composite • interactive 3d"
  • Synfig, "powerful, industrial-strength vector-based open-source 2D animation"
  • Pencil, "lets you create traditional hand-drawn animation (cartoon) using both bitmap and vector graphics."
  • Stopmotion, is "for creating stop-motion animation movies."
  • GIMP-GAP, "the GIMP Animation Package, is a collection of plug-ins to extend GIMP 2.6 and above with capabilities to edit and create animations as sequences of single frames."
  • FFmpeg is a complete, cross-platform solution to record, convert and stream audio and video.
  • WinFF, "is a GUI for the command line video converter, FFMPEG."
  • MPlayer (and MEncoder), video player (and encoder) that can do many, many formats.
  • DeVeDe, "is a program to create video DVDs and CDs (VCD, sVCD or CVD), suitables for home players, from any number of video files, in any of the formats supported by Mplayer."
  • Nip2, "aims to be about halfway between Excel and Photoshop. You don't directly edit images --- instead, like a spreadsheet, you build relationships between objects."
  • xawdecode/XdTV, "allows you to watch, record & stream TV."
  • HandBrake, "multiplatform, multithreaded video transcoder."
  • Kdenlive, "an intuitive and powerful multi-track video editor, including most recent video technologies."
  • Cinelerra, "is the most advanced non-linear video editor and compositor for Linux."
  • Avidemux, "is a free video editor designed for simple cutting, filtering and encoding tasks."
  • Cinepaint, "is a deep paint image retouching tool that supports higher color fidelity than ordinary painting tools." (Possibly dead upstream)

How can I help with Free Software?

One way is by Beta testing Free Software applications such as Firefox Beta and LibreOffice.

For example there are a lot of freelancers and companies which often do it. For example OCSICO Company often sends reports about Firefox Beta and other free software.

How can I set up an LTSP cluster?

See our notes on setting up an LTSP cluster.

What portable players are there for Ogg?

See PlayOgg which contains a link to a List of portable players that support Ogg formats.