I am a Linux user, and taking an investment and portfolio management course that uses excel. I was wondering if there are open source alternatives to excel for optimal portfolio calculations? If yes, are they used basically the same way as excel?
One answer is to use R (see the Finance taskview http://cran.r-project.org/web/views/Finance.html ). In this case it does not work like Excel (and that's a good thing).
You can try CrossOver Office or LibreOffice/OpenOffice Calc. And let me qualify that with: Don't go down the LibreOffice road, you run in al sorts of issues such as rounding errors and that one missing function and you will not get any support from your professor.
On a personal note: During college I preferred to dual boot or use a VM.