12 Resources for Free Open Source Tutorials and Tools

by Ostatic Staff - Aug. 22, 2008

Since its inception, we've tried to make collections of tips, pointers to free tutorials, and advice on the best applications a regular part of the editorial content here at OStatic. These have included screenshot-driven guided tours to how to use top tier OSS applications, pointers to free tutorials on everything from AJAX to OpenOffice, and guidance on finding free open source webinars on topics such as MySQL and Ubuntu. We're in the process of putting up a dedicated repository for all of these, but in the meantime, here are 12 of our most popular educational roundup posts.

OStatic's Firefox Superguide has been one of our most popular posts. It collects more than 100 ways to get more out of the Firefox browser, including screenshot driven tutorials, and a collection of the very best extensions for Firefox.

The iMacros Firefox extension is incredibly powerful--an application unto itself, disguised as a Firefox extension. It lets you record macros that you can play back at any time, and the process is about as easy as using a VCR. In this post, you'll find a collection of screenshots that function as a guided tour to using iMacros, including how to use Super Bookmarks--macros that sit right on your Bookmarks menu in the browser, capable of executing task-based scripts of any complexity--or elegant simplicity--you choose. Several readers have gotten this running in minutes and written in with imaginative, time-saving applications for iMacros.

It used to be that open source video tools were scarce and often fraught with problems--but no more. In this post, we recommend eight top-notch tools for video playback and encoding, ranging from the very flexible SMPlayer, which lets you add subtitles to your videos, to the super-easy Simple Theora Encoder.

Along with free, open source software, there are many good, visual tutorials for top open source applications found free on the web. In this post, you'll find a whopping sixteen of them. You can brush up on web development skills such as CSS and AJAX, become a graphics wizard with GIMP, and learn how to install and master any Linux distro.

Some people love Linux but just can't use it full time. In this post, you'll find a discussion of free virtualization options that can put Linux right on your Windows PC or Mac.

Speaking of web development, our post More Than Five Top, Free Tools for Web Developers has been very popular. It discusses Piwik (open source web analytics software with useful plug-ins from the community), Kompozer (a very popular web development environment, especially for CSS fans), and OpenX (a free, open source ad server for monetizing your site), plus several more.

If you haven't tried out some of the open source tools focused on animation and video conveniences, take a gander at this post. It introduces Blender (powerful 3D animation software that has been used to create full-length animated movies), XVid (a utility that can compress video files at a ratio of 100:1), and more.

Want to put a bushel of free open source applications on your computer or even on a USB thumb drive in one, free download? You can find out how to do so here, and dive right into everything from the OpenOffice suite of productivity applications, to Thunderbird e-mail, to open source calendar applications. Many of the applications are guaranteed to be ones you've never heard of, but they're all hand-picked by folks in the know. You get hundreds of applications--all free.

Are you upgrading a Linux box? Our own Reuven Lerner--a skilled and experienced developer--has a guide here to a large collection of resources for SELinux--which protects Linux systems from security threats.

High-end graphics software is expensive when you shop on the proprietary aisle, but we've collected six cool, free tools here. Make sure to check out IrfanView (which is freeware, not open source, but just had to be here).

Are you under the impression that BitTorrent downloads are illegal or DRM infected? There are plenty of sites out there that offer free and legal torrent downloads to save bandwidth and make file sharers happy. Here, Lisa Hoover discusses sites such as Legit Torrents, where you can get free video, games and Linux distros, plus nine other legal torrent sites worth checking into.

Webinars have increased in popularity in recent years, and this post rounds up seven resources for finding free ones on open source topics. You can sit in on educational webinars on MySQL, Drupal and much more.

We hope these free tools focused on open source help you.