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19 August 2005
I have recently reinstalled one of my computers as the operating system had become corrupt. Perform the reinstall has highlighted the number of extra applications that I have installed. Most of these are free. The following are all for Windows XP (Linux thankfully comes with most of these or equivelants already installed).
Most of these are classed as Free software, but some are only free in financial terms. Full details of what is classed as free software is available from: Free Software Foundation - The Free Software Definition. I have marked some of these as (NOT OpenSource) to signify that they are not neccessarily "Free"
There is a freely available Office Suite which competes with Microsoft Office (but over £300 cheaper). It is called OpenOffice.org. If you don't have an office suite then it's well worth keeping the money in your wallet and trying OpenOffice.org (OOo). Even if you do have Microsoft Office, if you don't have the professional version then OpenOffice.org will provide a presentation package (that rivals powerpoint) and a database which are not included in the home editions. The fact that OpenOffice.org can also save files as PDF files makes it worth having alongside other office suites.
Version 2 should be out shortly which is a big improvement on the older version. If you can't wait then you could download version 1.1.4, or the beta version 1.9+
The Firefox Webbrowser has many benefits over Internet Explorer. This includes better security, and tabbed browsing, as well the flexibility of extensions.
See my related blog entry
The Thunderbird Email Client has a number of benefits. The main benefit is the lack of scripting support which makes the client safer than some of the alternative browsers. Thunderbird has good support for POP, IMAP and RSS.
See the following blog entry for help if you get the wrong password in Thunderbird:
The GIMP is a free image editor. It includes a lot of features that are normally only available on expensive applications.
The GIMP can be a little hard to use at first, but is very powerful.
Stores passwords on your computer. These are encrypted to protect them from someone else seeing them.
Installing the Java Virtual Machine (JVM) allows java applications to be run. By installing this then you can run java software as it is downloaded. See Jedit later for an example of a java based application. Whilst Java is an open standard the JVM is licensed by SUN. It is therefore not Free as defined by the FSF.
CygWin provides a unix like environment on Windows. Whilst this may sound like it's just for unix people, it allows a number of unix/linux applications to be run under windows. In particular I use ssh and sitecopy.
Also see the following related information:
There are a number of free tools that can create PDF files. OpenOffice.org mentioned earlier has the ability to export documents as PDF files, but the following are more universal. PDF Creator acts as a print driver and can create PDF files from any application and PDF toolkit can manipulate files.
Also see the following information
The notepad supplied with Windows XP is very basic. There are a lot of free editors around which have a lot more features including syntax highlighting, flexible wordwrap options etc.
The one I use is jEdit. It is a Java based editor and so can work across different operating systems including linux.
Different people have different requirements for their editor so you may prefer something completely different.
Most of my web design is created by editing the raw html and css files. I therefore use editors designed specifically for that. In the past I used 1st Page 2000 by Evrsoft. This isn't however OpenSource, and has been a few years since the last version was released (although a new version is due to come out soon). I have since been using HTML-Kit which again is not OpenSource.
More software can be found at the FSF Free Software Directory.