Category Archives: FOSS

FOSS Under OS X – MacDown

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FOSS – I am a proponent of FOSS (Free Open Source Software). For one thing, FOSS has a great price – FREE. For another, it is software that is, for the most part, developed by the users. I had come across MacDown a few weeks ago and have been trying it out.

So what is MacDown? MacDown is a simple-to-use editor that allows the user to create documents using Markdown. And what is Markdown? As stated in the MacDown Help file:

Markdown is a plain text formatting syntax created by John Gruber, aiming to provide an easy-to-read and feasible markup. The original Markdown syntax specification can be found here.

MacDown is created as a simple-to-use editor for Markdown documents. It renders your Markdown contents in real-time into HTML, and displays them in a preview panel.

As you can see from the image above captured from the MacDown Help file, MacDown presents the user with two panes in the document window. The left pane is where the user enters text while the right pane displays the formatted document.

Most, but not all, features of HTML are supported. The features that MacDown claims are:

  • Highly customizable Markdown rendering.
  • Syntax highlighting in fenced code blocks.
  • Sophisticated auto-completion.
  • Visit the MacDown Features page for more details.

So why would you want to use MacDown? That is a good question. Most of the time I make notes in Apple Notes. Most of what you can do in MacDown can be done in Notes too, though once you learn Markdown, creating a formatted document is more efficient in MacDown (you can do everything from the keyboard without using your mouse and the application Menu bar).

Once you have created your document, you can export it as either an HTML file or as a PDF. Since you are seeing the formatted document as it is being rendered, any errors can be immediately corrected.

This is not an App I expect to use every day, but it is one I am adding to my ‘macOS Toolbox’ list. I think that I will discover more uses of MacDown the longer that I use it. I certainly recommend that you give it a try.


  • Software is Free
  • The application is Open Source and under current development
  • Markdown syntax is easier to learn than HTML
  • Efficient creation of formatted documents
  • Documents can be exported as either an HTML or PDF
  • Formatted document created in real-time
  • Included Help file with Markdown syntax examples



  • No commercial support available
  • Not every feature of HTML is supported
  • You do have to learn Markdown syntax
  • An Internet connection is required while using MacDown


See my other Mac and OS X articles


macOS New App Release – Notenik 3.0


Product Announcement – PowerSurge Publishing of Seattle, Washington has released Notenik 3.0 for macOS. Does the Mac world really need another note-taking app? Perhaps not, and yet a new one, Notenik, has recently entered this crowded field. For users seeking cutting-edge user interface design, all we can say is: best move along, this is not the app you were looking for. Similarly, for those who have been beguiled by the notion that a “note” consists of all sorts of odds and ends other than text, Notenik will not be their cup of tea.

For those who can get beyond these two limitations, however, Notenik may yet appeal with its unique set of features:

  • Free and open-source software
  • A simple, consistent user interface that is easy to understand
  • All notes stored in plain text in transparent locations easily accessible to users
  • Notes organized into as many separate collections as desired
  • The ability to add additional fields to notes within a specific collection
  • Notes stored in a dead-simple “label-colon-data” format that can be easily created, read and modified with any text editor, on any platform
  • Simple syncing using Dropbox, iCloud or any other file-syncing service
  • A flexible, powerful tagging scheme that places tags within each note, so that they can be easily transported to any device and any platform
  • The ability to format notes using Markdown, and to convert such text to HTML, for use on the Web
  • An extensible paradigm that can be used, for example, to store bookmarks and tasks, in addition to plain old notes.

If some of these features sound intriguing, then it may be worth a free download to check out Notenik and give it a trial run. If you find anything missing or amiss, then the developer is happy to receive feedback.

System Requirements:

  • macOS Sierra
  • 64-bit processor
  • 200MB

Notenik 3.0 is free, and is available at the Notenik website.

macOD -MacHTTP.js

Product AnnouncementMacHTTP.Org of Leesburg, Virginia has released MacHTTP-js Preview for macOS, a full-featured Web server for 21st century desktops and servers. MacHTTP-js is a modern take on the classic stand-alone, desktop computer Web server plus a whole lot more, using current state-of-the-art technology while derived from the core ideas that went into the creation of the original Mac Web server, MacHTTP.

MacHTTP-js eliminates the need to understand arcane command line tools or to be an expert in deploying Linux-based servers. Instead, it returns to its roots as a double-clickable application with a friendly user interface allowing anyone technical enough to operate a text editor to set up a web server or create compelling Web applications on their desktop which can be migrated to public servers.

Implemented with modern technologies like node.js, Express.js, and Electron, MacHTTP-js is designed for upcoming versions to run on multiple different operating systems and computers, from Macs running macOS to Windows 10, various flavors of Linux (Ubuntu, Debian, RHEL, etc.), and even Raspberry Pis running Raspbian or container-based systems like Docker. These other versions will be released as part of the final release of MacHTTP-js, coming soon. This software is a Free Opens Source Software (FOSS) project.

The Preview version of MacHTTP-js runs on any version of macOS that is actively supported by Apple. For more information on MacHTTP-js, or to download the fully functional MacHTTP-js Preview version on macOS, free of charge, visit their web site.

macOS – OnlyOffice 4.1.1

Product Announcement – Ascensio System SIA of Riga, Latvia, the developer of IT solutions for business, today is pleased to announce that they have opened the source code of its ONLYOFFICE Desktop Editors, presenting a free and open source alternative to Microsoft Office for Mac OS. ONLYOFFICE Desktop Editors is an office suite that combines text, spreadsheet and presentation editors, allowing anyone to create, view and edit documents offline. Being fully compatible with MS Office, the editors support all the popular document formats, including ODF.

The application features all types of formatting options and allows users to edit complex documents as well as easily switch to online mode and collaborate on documents with colleagues or teammates. The collaborating features include real-time co-editing in two modes, reviewing and tracking changes, commenting, built-in chat. The editors also support connecting third-party plugins. Developers can use these plugins to add specific functions they need to the editors.

System Requirements:

  • Mac OS 10.10 or higher
  • Windows (both 64-bit and 32-bit)
  • Linux also supported
  • 193 MB

ONLYOFFICE 4.1.1 is now free and available worldwide. The office suite is available under AGPL license v3. This means you’re able to download and use ONLYOFFICE Desktop Editors without any restrictions. The application can be downloaded from the official website, the source code is now available on GitHub.

FOSS Software for macOS


I came across this and had to share it with my fellow macOS users., is a volunteer organization  in Australia that “acts as a central location for the Committees, Editors, Web Masters and other Leaders of Australian Apple User Groups to find useful resources.

Rather than try to put it in my own words, let me quote their press release:

As part of the celebrations of Software Freedom Day 2016, has compiled a selection of some of the best, yet totally free, software that’s available for the Mac, collected together on a single DVD, called “Spotlight on FOSS 2016” plus a bonus video and a copy of The AppleUsers Spotlight “Software Freedom Day 2016” Special Edition are included.

Apple User Group Leaders and Organizers of Software Freedom Day events can download the Golden Master (and support files including a DVD Label and Promo Flyer) free of charge from Copies of the DVD can then be burnt and distributed to Apple User Group members and to attendees of Software Freedom Day 2016 events – again free of charge.

A five page flyer, supplied as a PDF, which details the DVDs content is also available for printing out and displaying at Apple User Group Meetings and SFD Events. Feel free to expand it to A3 and use it as posters to promote the DVD contents.

The “Spotlight on FOSS 2016” DVD contains:

Audio: Audacity

eBooks: Calibre, Jomic

Education: Celestia, Moodle, Stellarium

Games: Aleph One – Marathon, Armagetron Advanced, BZFlag, Cube 2: Sauerbraten, PrBoom, PySol Fan Club Edition, Scorched 3D, Wesnoth

Graphics: Blender, GIMP, Seashore

Internet: Adium, Cyberduck, Firefox, Kompozer, RSS Owl, SeaMonkey, Thunderbird, Transmission, Vienna

Office Productivity: Apache OpenOffice, FormulatePro, FreeMind, LibreOffice, Skim

Utilities: Burn, ClamXav, MAMP (Macintosh, Apache, Mysql and PHP), Quicksilver,, SheepShaver, The Unarchiver, VirtualBox

Video: HandBrake, Miro Video Converter, Miro, Plex, Video Lan Client (VLC)

Bonus Video: Happy Birthday to GNU, by Stephen Fry

I am a big advocate of using FOSS on the Mac. Check the list here to find the Mac User group near you that is distributing the DVD. Capital Macintosh User Group (CapMac – in Austin, TX will be among the distributors.

FOSS Under Mac OS X – Scribus

Scribus is a cross-platform (OS X, Linux, Windows, and BSD) desktop publishing (DTP) program that began development in 2001. Scribus is the Open Source answer to commercial programs such as QuarkXPress and InDesign. Scribus can be used for layout, typesetting and file preparation for professional grade image setting equipment. It can also be used to create animated and interactive PDF presentations and forms. Scribus is a good tool for creating everything from small newspapers, brochures, newsletters, and posters to business cards.

FOSS Under Mac OS X - Scribus1Scribus supports most of the common bitmap formats such as TIFF and JPEG. Vector graphics can also be imported. Text in the OpenDocument and HTML formats are easily imported. Other text formats can be imported, but loose some of their embedded style information. There are many different templates provided to get you started on the type of document you want to create.

FOSS Under Mac OS X - Scribus2Scribus does not have the polish or power of the commercial software tools, but for most jobs it will get the work done quickly and efficiently. Since the tool is free, it is always worth downloading and trying it before you commit to an expensive commercial product. The product reviews on SourceForge rate Scribus 4.8 out of 5.


  • Free Open Source Software
  • Supports common bitmap formats
  • Vector graphics can be imported
  • Uses XML-based file format, easily manipulated with scripts (Perl, Python, etc.)
  • wide array of document templates


  • Does not support native file formats of other DTP programs
  • Limited text import
  • Documentation could be better

See my other Mac OS X articles

FOSS Under OS X – Inkscape

Have you had the need to create a high quality drawing on your Mac? If so, Inkscape may be your answer. Inkscape is a vector graphics editor (similar to Adobe Illustrator) that can satisfy the needs of the professional or the beginner. What sets Inkscape apart is it’s use of SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics), part of the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) standards. The software is also cross platform – available for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux.

Whether you want to create a quick sketch, or a near photo quality image, you can do it in Inkscape. Vector design is often the preferred method of image creation for logos, illustrations and art which require high scalability. The Inkscape application is used across a wide variety of industries (marketing/branding, engineering/CAD, web graphics, cartooning) and individual uses.

A wide range of tutorials are included that will guide you whether you are a beginner or a seasoned artist. The list of features that Inkscape includes is extensive, as listed on the Inkscape web site:

Object creation

  •  Drawing: pencil tool (freehand drawing with simple paths), pen tool (creating Bézier curves and straight lines), calligraphy tool (freehand drawing using filled paths representing calligraphic strokes)
  • Shape tools: rectangles (may have rounded corners), ellipses (includes circles, arcs, segments), stars/polygons (can be rounded and/or randomized), spirals
  • Text tool (multi-line text, full on-canvas editing)
  • Embedded bitmaps (with a command to create and embed bitmaps of selected objects)
  • Clones (“live” linked copies of objects), including a tool to create patterns and arrangements of clones

Object manipulation

  • Transformations (moving, scaling, rotating, skewing), both interactively and by specifying exact numeric values
  • Z-order operations (raising and lowering)
  • Grouping objects (“select in group” without ungrouping, or “enter the group” making it a temporary layer)
  • Layers (lock and/or hide individual layers, rearrange them, etc; layers can form a hierarchical tree)
  • Alignment and distribution commands

Fill and stroke

  •  Color selector (RGB, HSL, CMYK, color wheel, CMS)
  • Color picker tool
  • Copy/paste style
  • A gradient editor capable of multi-stop gradients
  • Pattern fills (bitmap/vectors)
  • Dashed strokes, with many predefined dash patterns
  •  Path markers (ending, middle and/or beginning marks, e.g. arrowheads)

Operations on paths

  • Node editing: moving nodes and Bezier handles, node alignment and distribution, etc.
  • Converting to path (for text objects or shapes), including converting stroke to path
  • Boolean operations
  • Path simplification, with variable threshold
  • Path insetting and outsetting, including dynamic and linked offset objects
  • Bitmap tracing (both color and monochrome paths)

Text support

  • Multi-line text
  • Uses any installed outline fonts, including right-to-left scripts
  • Kerning, letterspacing, linespacing adjustments
  • Text on path (both text and path remain editable)
  • Text in shape (fill shape following stroke)


  • Fully anti-aliased display
  • Alpha transparency support for display and PNG export
  • Complete “as you drag” rendering of objects during interactive transformations


  • Live watching and editing the document tree in the XML editor
  • PNG, OpenDocument Drawing, DXF, sk1, PDF, EPS and PostScript export formats and more
  • Command line options for export and conversions
  • Perfectly compliant SVG format file generation and editing

Check out some of the artwork created with Inkscape on their on-line Gallery. If you need to create scalable graphic images, Inkscape may be just what you are looking for.

See my other Mac OS X articles


osx_apertureFrom time to time I have the need of an editor for my photos. A very
in depth solution is the GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP). The development of GIMP began in 1995 and it still has a very active development community.

I like GIMP as it is cross platform – OS X, Windows several different Linux distributions, Solaris, and BSD. GIMP is an ideal program for photo retouching, image composition and image authoring. Image editing tools include filters and brushes, transformations, selection, and layers and masking. GIMP includes ‘smart’ tools such as a clone
tool, a healing brush, a perspective clone tool, blur and sharpen tools, and dodge and burn tools.

GIMP has a customizable User Interface and supports the common image file formats: JPEG, GIF, PNG and TIFF. GIMP also accepts a wide range of plugins and scripts developed by the users. While GIMP cannot do everything Photoshop can, it can do many of the most common tasks.

There is very good documentation in several languages for GIMP and nearly 50 tutorials available from the GIMP web site. If you need more than the on-line documentation provides, there have been several books published on GIMP and how to use it.

If you find GIMP to be of interest, you should check out Starter Guide to GIMP – Free Mac Image Editor

See my other OS X articles

FOSS Under OS X: Audacity

audacity-macosx-smallI have occasionally had the need to edit audio files. A great tool for that is Audacity. Audacity is a cross platform (Windows, OS X, and Linux) multi-track audio editor and recorder. The features of Audacity include:

  • Recording live audio
  • Recording computer playback on any Windows Vista or later machine.
  • Converting tapes and records into digital recordings or CDs.
  • Editing WAV, AIFF, FLAC, MP2, MP3 or Ogg Vorbis sound files.
  • AC3, M4A/M4R (AAC), WMA and other formats are supported using optional libraries.
  • Ability to cut, copy, splice or mix sounds together.
  • Ability to apply numerous effects including changing the speed or pitch of a recording.
  • See the complete list of features.

Should you ever have the need to edit sound files, Audacity is an application that you should consider.

See my other OS X articles

FOSS Under OS X: Gramps

I have an on-going project to research my family history. A program that I have been using to help document that is Gramps. This is an active Open Source project with multiple releases per year. Gramps is cross platform with versions available for Linux, Windows, OS X and BSD.

Gramps includes a full set of features that anyone wishing to document their family history might want:

  • A dashboard to help you monitor the progress of your research.
    A variety of widgets provide quick analysis of your data and
  • A list of every individual in your records featuring
    birth/death dates and more.
  • A summary of the active person’s parents, siblings, spouses
    and children.
  • A list of every family group featuring parent names,
    relationship status and, if applicable, marriage dates.
  • A graphic representation of the active person’s ancestry
    featuring photos and birth/death dates.
  • A list of every event in your records featuring descriptions,
    event types, dates and places.
  • And much more

I have been entering my data now for about the past year and find this program comparable to the popular commercial software. The web site includes documentation as well as tutorials. If you are interested in documenting hour family history, this is a low cost, yet highly functional solution.

To see all of my Mac OS X related posts visit my MAC OS X page