Getting free teaching software

As I know you all read in the last post, I’m a big fan of free and open source software (FOSS). This is not only because it doesn’t cost anything, but because it’s something that you can use and enjoy in whatever way you like (the “freedom” part of free). Not too bad.

Last post I promised to describe how you can get good free software for your classroom. Here are the easy steps you need to follow:

  1. Install the Linux operating system on your computer. Yes, I know you didn’t actually do this after the last post. However, if you’re going to get free stuff, you have to get the right program. Go install Linux, or at least think about it when browsing your free software options below.
  2. Take a look at what free education software is out there. This will require your friend Google. Just head over to Google and search for “linux chemistry software”, “linux education software”, or whatever subject you’re interested in getting software for. In my own random search, I found something called “KStars”, which is an astronomy program. I’m not entirely sure what it is, but since it costs nothing to upload, I’ll check it out.
  3. Install the software: This part can be a little complicated. Fortunately, the wise Linux user knows to ask for help through the magic of Google and then just do whatever it told you to do. “How do I install KStars” gave me exactly the information I needed. Just follow the directions and you’ll be fine. After three typed commands and two minutes of downloading, I had KStars.
  4. Play with the software: After about a minute, I was able to get an image of what the sky outside my window looks like. Or would look like if it wasn’t cloudy. Or daytime. Check it out:

Anyhow, I recommend you check out the world of free and open source software. I’ve been using it instead of Windows for nearly a decade and I don’t miss it at all. Plus, I’ve got the coolest molecular drawings of everybody in my neighborhood, thanks to free software.

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