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Must-Have Free Software

Posted: Tue Jul 28, 2009 5:11 pm UTC
by Axman
So I'm working on an article about what applications everyone should install after a clean install of Windows, XP, Vista, or 7. These applications are all free, and either fill in the gaps in Windows or severely enhance it. What do you install right away, or when you're using someone else's PC, what do you immediately notice is missing? You can tell me I'm wrong, I'll look into all additions and substitutions, and yes, I am crowdsourcing my work a little.

Here's my list:

Webbity Web Web
Firefox
Firefox addons: Adblock Plus, TabMix Plus, Simple Mail, Shockwave Flash, an addon that rhymes with hell oh hell
alt.: Opera, Chrome
Thunderbird (theoretical, what with Simple Mail, Opera)
alt.: Windows Live Mail
uTorrent
FileZilla
PuTTY
Pidgin

Utilities
7-Zip
alt.: WinRAR
WinContig defragmenter
K-Lite Codec Pack
ImgBurn
alt.: ISO Recorder power toy
DVD Shrink, RipIt4Me, DVDFab HD Decrypter
Virtual CloneDrive
Foxit Reader
Audacity

Work
Open Office (If I didn't already own Office 2007)
Evernote
alt.: Tomboy, WikidPad
Gimp
Notepad++
alt.: Vim (Cream), Emacs

Multimedia
Windows Media Player
alt.: Amarok, iTunes, VLC
Windows Media Center
alt.: Boxee, XBMC

Distractions
(All suggestions welcome, but should be universal, i.e., will run on integrated graphics.)

Re: Must-Have Free Software

Posted: Tue Jul 28, 2009 5:45 pm UTC
by Tillian
Free as in beer, I take it? In any case, either VLC or Mplayer is a must for me. I'd also mention Emacs, but seeing as you already have vim in your list, I'd better back off instead :wink:

Putty? Cygwin?

Re: Must-Have Free Software

Posted: Tue Jul 28, 2009 6:08 pm UTC
by Axman
Yeah, the thing is, once you install K-Lite, you don't need other players, and the DVD codec is beautiful. I suppose I should list iTunes as an alternative... Also, El Oh El, y'know, LOL, is a fork of HaH.

Is there a specific version of Emacs for Windows that's better than others? What about other text editors in general? I'm probably going to list Notepad++ as an alternate.

Re: Must-Have Free Software

Posted: Tue Jul 28, 2009 6:28 pm UTC
by Tillian
I've used the ones from http://ftp.gnu.org/pub/gnu/emacs/windows/ 22.2, I think. It treats C:\Documents and Settings\<User>\Application Data\ as ~, so navigating to My documents (or wherever you store your files) is kind of a pain, but it's better than nothing. Don't quote me on this, though.

Re: Must-Have Free Software

Posted: Tue Jul 28, 2009 6:30 pm UTC
by Angua
Which would you use wikipad or evernote (both are apparently alternatives to microsoft one-note) or something else?

Re: Must-Have Free Software

Posted: Tue Jul 28, 2009 6:59 pm UTC
by Axman
Oooh, Evernote, forgot Evernote.

Re: Must-Have Free Software

Posted: Tue Jul 28, 2009 7:01 pm UTC
by Area Man
Firefox: NoScript - whenever there's a hole found, this is usually the workaround til it's patched.
I also like Tree Style Tab on my widescreen monitors, but I don't know if it'll work with tabmix.
BTW, if your site/article has ads, doesn't it put you in a weird situation advocating adblock install?

Another must-have for me is VirtalBox.
A non-bloaty PDF reader that doesn't take 2 min to start, and doesn't have all the security holes.
And of course a compiler, but that depends on your audience.

Re: Must-Have Free Software

Posted: Tue Jul 28, 2009 7:23 pm UTC
by Axman
Area Man wrote:BTW, if your site/article has ads, doesn't it put you in a weird situation advocating adblock install?
I may split Firefox addons to another article, we'll see. If I get cleared to talk about Adblock Plus, I'll just ask Dear Reader to whitelist TTL and other pages who they want to support. The only reason it's in there is for Simple Mail, really.
A non-bloaty PDF reader that doesn't take 2 min to start, and doesn't have all the security holes.
It's in there, Foxit Reader.
Another must-have for me is VirtalBox. And of course a compiler, but that depends on your audience.
Definitely not our audience, heh.

Re: Must-Have Free Software

Posted: Tue Jul 28, 2009 7:27 pm UTC
by Angua
What about Audacity for recording lectures? (I have a new laptop - Vista Tablet PC).

I would love open-source software that might come in handy for uni.

Re: Must-Have Free Software

Posted: Tue Jul 28, 2009 11:55 pm UTC
by lulzfish
WinDirStat and its Unix friend KDirStat are wonderful for cleaning up a file system visually.

Re: Must-Have Free Software

Posted: Wed Jul 29, 2009 5:05 am UTC
by Berengal
I use WinSplit for all my tiling needs on windows. Invaluable when you need to juggle 6+ windows on a multihead setup like I do at work.

Re: Must-Have Free Software

Posted: Wed Jul 29, 2009 7:42 am UTC
by Amnesiasoft
Always have me some Paint.NET. It's not as powerful as GIMP, but I find the interface to be beyond anything the GIMP can compete with. Not to mention most of the other features in GIMP are not actually helpful*.

*Text layers and a proper transformation tool are pretty much the only features I ever miss.

Re: Must-Have Free Software

Posted: Wed Jul 29, 2009 9:13 am UTC
by Zohar
Protection software - anti virus, anti malware... I use CCleaner as well, and FileHippo is pretty cool (checks all your installed software for updates).

Re: Must-Have Free Software

Posted: Wed Jul 29, 2009 11:51 am UTC
by headprogrammingczar
Avast, obviously. Also, for online data backup, Dropbox, and if you ever somehow need to be able to quickly set up a VPN, Teamviewer is a lot better than Hamachi. As for entertaining distractions, nothing beats L3DT, an impressive realistic terrain generator that shows you what it is calculating in real time.

Re: Must-Have Free Software

Posted: Thu Jul 30, 2009 7:01 am UTC
by Zamfir
I have recently started to use Virtual Dimension, basically a hack that gives you multiple desktops like Linux has. It is not entirely 100% bug free in my experience, so I am not sure if it should be on the list. It is a lot better than the PowerToy that does the same thing.

Also, the Windows PowerToy calculator. Even better, Python plus Scipy plus iPython, just to use as calculator, but that might be overkill for most users, and too troublesome to install if you won't use it.

FreeCommander or some other Norton Commander clone

For music I usually use Foobar2000, but actually the last Windows Media Player is pretty good. More in general, Microsoft does appear to become less horrid the last few years.

I have to say, the last 2 versions or so of Adobe Reader are very snappy, and a lot more pleasant to use than Foxit.

Sketchup? it's a simpel 3-D drawing program, not everyone might need it, but everyone does love it.

Re: Must-Have Free Software

Posted: Thu Jul 30, 2009 3:43 pm UTC
by kernelpanic
A really entertaining game is funguloids, it has really good 3D graphics and nice sound. The linux version has an unresolvable dependency issue, so it won't install, but the windows version in wine works perfectly.
Rigs of Rods is also a good way to spend some time, but chances are you won't like that game

Re: Must-Have Free Software

Posted: Tue Aug 04, 2009 4:11 pm UTC
by 10nitro
Adobe Photoshop: GIMP - raster graphics
Adobe Illustrator: Inkscape - vector graphics
Note: these are both GTK+ apps. They use different ports of GTK+, which makes interoperability troublesome on windows.

Zamfir wrote:I have recently started to use Virtual Dimension, basically a hack that gives you multiple desktops like Linux has. It is not entirely 100% bug free in my experience, so I am not sure if it should be on the list. It is a lot better than the PowerToy that does the same thing.

My buddy swears by yotm 3d. It uses <ctl>+<shift>, so that interferes with say <ctl>+<shift>+Z (unix-style redo... used by notepad, Inkscape, LabVIEW...)

Zamfir wrote:Sketchup? it's a simpel 3-D drawing program, not everyone might need it, but everyone does love it.

alt: blender
alt: Anim8or (insanely light-weight)

Re: Must-Have Free Software

Posted: Tue Aug 04, 2009 4:32 pm UTC
by Greg02
Rainmeter/Samaurize, ThreatFire, PeerGuardian, LiteStep/Emerge, Cygwin, Powershell, RocketDock

DIstractions:
isc.ro (WordBiz)(Scrabble)
Chessbase 2007 Light

Re: Must-Have Free Software

Posted: Wed Aug 05, 2009 5:34 am UTC
by Axman
Backup utility favorites?

Re: Must-Have Free Software

Posted: Wed Aug 05, 2009 6:35 am UTC
by Atmosck
For the web section, definitely include Digsby. Best chat program i've ever used.

Re: Must-Have Free Software

Posted: Wed Aug 05, 2009 8:33 am UTC
by Amnesiasoft
I dunno, Digsby asks you to install a whole lot of garbageware. It appears to be optional, but that's not exactly something you can trust people not to install alongside it...

Re: Must-Have Free Software

Posted: Wed Aug 05, 2009 1:32 pm UTC
by Atmosck
Amnesiasoft wrote:I dunno, Digsby asks you to install a whole lot of garbageware. It appears to be optional, but that's not exactly something you can trust people not to install alongside it...


That's true, but at least it asks you. You just have to be paying enough attention to click no on all of them, and then once it's installed, it's worth it.

Re: Must-Have Free Software

Posted: Wed Aug 05, 2009 5:46 pm UTC
by Amnesiasoft
Yes, but do you expect the average person to understand that?

Re: Must-Have Free Software

Posted: Thu Aug 06, 2009 3:49 pm UTC
by Atmosck
Amnesiasoft wrote:Yes, but do you expect the average person to understand that?


Good point.

Re: Must-Have Free Software

Posted: Wed Aug 12, 2009 4:17 pm UTC
by RoadieRich
Virtualbox with alternative OSes for a distraction? I've got three flavours of linux and Windows 7RC on my macbook.

Re: Must-Have Free Software

Posted: Thu Aug 13, 2009 1:13 am UTC
by 1337geek
For multimedia, you should check out Songbird.

Re: Must-Have Free Software

Posted: Thu Aug 13, 2009 9:21 am UTC
by LuNatic
I use Windows XP, so some of these might not work on newer systems. Also, I'm to(o?) lazy to check against your list and remove dupes.

Must Have:
7Zip
CCleaner
Firefox
Foxit Reader
Irfanview
MBAM
Spybot S&D
VLC
XviD

Want:
CDeX
DeepBurner Free
The GiMP
Flash Player
Open Office
Process Explorer
PC Wizard
Quicktime (nicer interface to use than VLC, less codec support)
Songbird
Skype
Taskbar Calculator
Teamspeak 2
The Font Thing
Ventrillo

Re: Must-Have Free Software

Posted: Thu Aug 13, 2009 1:22 pm UTC
by Themata
For anyone searching for a good radio broadcasting/automation program, It took me a lot of searching to find, but anyone looking for a good windows program similar to SAM Broadcaster, but free, look into ZaraRadio.

http://www.zarastudio.es/index.php?lang=en

Re: Must-Have Free Software

Posted: Thu Aug 13, 2009 6:54 pm UTC
by Jorpho
Axman wrote:WinContig defragmenter
Curious. Why this instead of jkDefrag + frontend + PageDefrag?
LuNatic wrote:Quicktime (nicer interface to use than VLC, less codec support)
Ugh. Never. Quicktime Alternative all the way.

Re: Must-Have Free Software

Posted: Fri Aug 14, 2009 6:02 am UTC
by cmd
I do rather like Sandboxie.

Not sure if it's been mentioned, but Gimp, Blender, Filezilla, HydraIRC/mIRC.

Also, I think Notepad++ is pretty good.

Re: Must-Have Free Software

Posted: Mon Aug 17, 2009 12:25 pm UTC
by googlyeyesultra
Although many of these have already probably been mentioned, here is my list:
Google Sketchup
Blender
Paint.net
GIMP
Firefox (with associated plugins and addons)
Chrome
iTunes
Notepad++
OpenOffice

Obviously, some of this doesn't apply to everyone, though.

Re: Must-Have Free Software

Posted: Wed Aug 19, 2009 1:06 pm UTC
by Zamfir
cmd wrote:I do rather like Sandboxie.

Not sure if it's been mentioned, but Gimp, Blender, Filezilla, HydraIRC/mIRC.

Also, I think Notepad++ is pretty good.


How does Sandboxie work in practice? Could I use it to help make stupid nice and friendly family members' PCs low-maintenance?

Re: Must-Have Free Software

Posted: Wed Aug 19, 2009 7:15 pm UTC
by scarecrovv
When I sit down at a new Windows machine, the first thing I do is install:
Firefox
Gvim

If I plan to use it for a while, I continue with:
MinGW
MSYS
Thunderbird
Active Perl
Active Python
CLISP
Gkrellm (in spite of the bugs and lack of plugins in the windows version)
Songbird
Pidgin
Google Earth
Bit Torrent

Re: Must-Have Free Software

Posted: Fri Aug 21, 2009 8:27 pm UTC
by Bhelliom
A Playerless install of the latest CCCP codec pack is a must.

Re: Must-Have Free Software

Posted: Fri Aug 21, 2009 11:03 pm UTC
by Jorpho
Bhelliom wrote:A Playerless install of the latest CCCP codec pack is a must.
Unless you're delving into old and obscure stuff, you can manage quite well with SMPlayer or some other MPlayer derivative. Failing that, there's Media Player Classic Homecinema with FFDShow, along with Real Alternative and Quicktime Alternative if you encounter those formats with any kind of frequency.

(And there's VLC, but its video quality seems rather suspect.)

Re: Must-Have Free Software

Posted: Sat Aug 22, 2009 12:41 am UTC
by cmd
Zamfir wrote:
cmd wrote:I do rather like Sandboxie.

Not sure if it's been mentioned, but Gimp, Blender, Filezilla, HydraIRC/mIRC.

Also, I think Notepad++ is pretty good.


How does Sandboxie work in practice? Could I use it to help make stupid nice and friendly family members' PCs low-maintenance?


Actually it works pretty well. If you have the paid version(yarr! :wink: ) you can force programs(such as a web browser) to start "Sand-Boxied" where they can do no harm to the rest of the computer. I'm not sure how it works with downloads though...

This should help you out.