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Open Source You Can Use, August 2009

In this installment: three birds (one of them a singer), a tiger, and a scribe. Read on for details.

In this installment: three birds (one of them a singer), a tiger, and a scribe. Read on for details.

For those of you looking to wean yourselves all the more from Outlook, Thunderbird 3.0 beta 3 is out, the newest milestone in the evolution of Mozilla's flagship mail client. Calendaring still isn't integrated (for that you'll need Sunbird, now also available as a PortableApp), but the program itself is a fine general-purpose mail client. Sample nifty feature: I don't use my Gmail account much, but having Thunderbird as a front end to it is a blessing.

I was enthusiastic about the open source music player Songbird, and its current 1.2 version is now packaged as a PortableApp for easy install. Unfortunately, I'm still not happy with its performance, and the user interface sometimes sacrifices elegance and utility for features I find myself using once and then disabling entirely. It also still takes forever to import a good-sized music library; can't they make this happen in the background, as is the case with most every other music player I've used?

On Windows, the VNC protocol's been a hit-or-miss substitute for Remote Desktop. But a new implementation of VNC named TigerVNC caught my attention a while back, and its Windows version blows away just about every other VNC I've tried thanks to close integration with Windows's own display subsystem. It also allows for some finer-grained connection tweaking than other VNC editions I've used. The project just released a 1.0 version a couple of days ago; go try it out.

Last but not least, the open source desktop publishing application Scribus is now in its 1.3.5.1 revision. I was using the older 1.3.3.12 build for my own publishing projects and was impressed with the results I could achieve with it, but this version brings the program to an even greater level of polish and professionalism. Best feature: direct export to PDF, with pro-level pre-flight checking options.

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