Interesting question. I use open source almost exclusively. I
purchase Apple OSX for my operating system which is based on open
source and plays happily with many programs out there. The main
difference between proprietary software and open source is the
libraries. Proprietary has most if not all libraries enclosed in it
own wrapper, where as open source uses publicly available libraries.
A blessing and a curse. For power hungry work like graphic arts or
cutting edge work like magazine business open source is fantastic if
you can stay abreast of the continuos up grades in these libraries.
There is help out there. For libraries there is help; For Mac users
there is Fink
and Darwin Ports
http://www.macports.org or http://www.darwinports.com
and others. For Linux there are many more places to go. For pc I
don’t know but google can help.
I use LaTex for all my paper work, and this would take some getting
used to, at least a few months. I use Gerbins i-installer
and Texshop GUI
very user friendly. You will need to add a couple style files from
CTAN to get what you need for invoices, TCO Browser
makes it a little easier. I use invoice package from Oliver Corff, it
is letter style invoices and has french translations easily
available. You would be able to email Oliver and he will help you
within a few days usually. I take it from your email that you are in
France and LaTex is very good for french language work. There is a
LaTex forum for Mac that you should check out even if you are on
other systems. They are very friendly. MacOSX-TeX@email.esm.psu.edu
I keep templates of invoices and packing list ex-cetera, with all the
items I sell on the template that are commented out. I can then just
activate what I need and run the document through LaTex and it is
finished. If I don’t add a personal note I can do an invoice with
three clicks plus the number of items I am putting in the invoice. I
then get a pdf for email or printing. For email pdf are nice because
they are redacted and locked so less chance of being scammed.
I use Scribus
to organize my output from LaTex for any news letters and NVU
can help build web content with out knowing html.
For bookkeeping I tried a few and have never really been happy with
any so I use a older version of Quicken I got in a bundle and am
happy. I use MySQL
for inventory and mileage records. It can be hard at times and I
don’t care for the effort, but, most commercial databases are fairly
out of date by time they are released and you are tied in for life,
where as MySQL can be migrated to newer versions and other DB’s such
For graphic art Inkscape, Gimp and Blender are all well documented
and are as easy to as their counter parts. My daughter grew up with
Inkscape and she had to recently work with Illustrator for school
and found them to be equal. My son is animating some of his school
work in Blender. All info is available in ASK or Google.
I have many other open source programs to numerous to mention for
other small tasks. Once you get to a couple of forums for the areas
you are most interested in you will find everything you need. Open
source is difficult to start with, but, most forums and archives are
good and you will be comfortable within a few months.