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Essential free software for your PC

Choose File > New to open the New Document dialog to do this. Select Automatic text frames for ease of use and enter the number of columns you want. Click OK and Import text directly from a Word document or text file. Just right-click anywhere in a text frame and choose Get text.

With your text in place, you can add a headline. Select Insert Text frame and drag the frame into place over your existing text. Select the text entry tool and type in your headline. In the Properties dialog, select Text and choose the font size and formatting that you want. To prevent the text flowing underneath your headline, choose Shape in the Properties dialog and check "Text flows around frame".

Use the frame handles to adjust the height and width of the headline. To add an image select Insert Image Frame and drag the frame into its position. In Properties, choose Image > Scale to frame so that it fits. Avoid distortion of the image by ticking the Proportional box. Move back to Shape and tick Text flows around frame.

Get a free operating system!

Linux is the no-cost computing alternative to Windows systems.

No matter how many free programs you install, you'll still have paid for at least one piece of software: Windows. The cost may have been absorbed into the price of the PC itself, but you can't use Windows without having paid for it. To some extent it's Hobson's choice because most PCs come with it preinstalled, but not all do. So if you purchase a PC without its own operating system or you want to try a different one out, enter the world of Linux and get one for free.

There are many different distributions to pick from, and they differ in ease of use, system requirements and what software comes bundled. To check out what's available, have a look at Distro Watch, which provides news on the latest releases, along with information on pretty much every distribution out there, including download links and where to order installation discs by mail.

Ubuntu has become a popular distribution of late due to its ease of use, a very supportive user community and the effects of a marketing budget behind it. It's a good starting point for anyone wanting to give Linux a try, not least because the installation CD is also a live disc. This enables you to try out the OS by booting your computer from the disc without making any changes to your hard drive. There's an install link on the desktop if you want to set it up more permanently on your PC.

Alternative to Windows

One of the most important things to remember about Linux is that it's modular.

Different distributions are made by taking the basic kernel and then adding parts to it. This includes the graphical user interface (GUI) that enables you to select programs and display them in windows. Ubuntu uses Gnome, which uses a series of menus at the top of the screen. If you'd rather have a layout like Windows, choose KDE.

Kubuntu is a version of Ubuntu that uses KDE instead of Gnome, but there are other distributions that use KDE and you can always use more than one window manager with your version of Linux. It's all about choice – with Linux you get it in spades.

Draw vectors with Inkscape

Few open-source tools are as powerful as this vector graphics app.

Graphics programs can fall into two different categories: raster and vector. Raster graphics include photographs and drawings composed of a pattern of pixels. Vector graphics are more concerned with shape.