My machine is overdue for a format and with that in mind I have put together my list of free software that I use daily. As a Windows user of many years I am still a creature of habit, but some of this software is Mac OS X/Linux compatible.
Ad-Aware SE Personal (Windows)
Still the most effective anti-spyware available for free. Lavasoft regularly issue update definitions which are a free download from within the program.
AES-128 and SHA-1 file encryption. An easy way to encrypt files for restricted access. For users wanting access to encrypted files but not wishing to install any software, an install-free “viewer” can be downloaded, only 70kb in size.
K-Lite Codec Pack/Media Player Classic (Windows)
Easy way to solve all your codec worries and get a free media player in one hit. Media Player Classic has a built-in DVD player, support for AVI subtitles, QuickTime and RealVideo support. It can also be configured to play video files in a dual monitor setup.
Mozilla Firefox (Windows/Linux/Mac OS X)
Browser of choice. Fast, secure and has decent web standards support. I am particularly fond of Firefox for the ease with which extensions can be installed and managed. Some of my favourite extensions include Adblock which will let you block images, embedded objects, etc from entire domains/IP addresses and Web Developer, a powerful toolset which lets you quickly access technical aspects of a website. See DB’s Best Firefox Extensions for more.
Mozilla Thunderbird (Windows/Linux/Mac OS X)
A long-time user of Microsoft Outlook, I switched to Thunderbird once I ran out reasons not to. A sleek email client with the same inbuilt support for themes and extensions that Firefox has. Thunderbird’s adaptive junk email filter can be quickly trained to keep your inbox free of spam. I still haven’t found an easy way to export email and archive it to files but your email can be backed up under Windows XP by manually copying the mailbox store in Thunderbird’s ‘Application Data’ folder.
OpenOffice.org (Windows/Linux/Mac OS X)
Faced with forking out for Microsoft Office 2003 or lumping it with Notepad/Wordpad/Microsoft Office Word Viewer 2003, I turned to OpenOffice.org somewhat reluctantly. So far it has been stellar as I’ve transitioned from version 1.1 to 2.0. OpenOffice supports Office formats like .xls and .doc and will let you save to those formats as well. It is a rock-solid program and now includes Base and Impress, alternatives to PowerPoint and Access.
Audacity – record, edit and export audio (Windows/Linux/Mac OS X)
Azureus – excellent BitTorrent client (Windows/Linux/Mac OS X)
Crimson Editor – a text editor that just works (Windows)
CutePDF – free PDF maker (Windows)
dBpowerAmp – right-click ‘Convert To’ music file conversion (Windows)
FileZilla – solid FTP client (Windows)
Skype – top notch VoiP and instant messaging (Windows/Linux/Mac OS X)
100 Open Source Downloads – (Windows/Linux/Unix/Mac OS X/Classic Mac)