Free Windows Software That I Recommend
As of 2014-07-26
The following is free software that I use on Windows 7 at home. All also run on
Windows XP. For other versions of Windows, please check the documentation on the
appropriate Web site.
Despite being free, these packages are not in the public domain and each comes with
Software for All Users:
- Web Browser
- The browser I use everyday is Firefox
which I use on Windows and Linux. I also like Opera.
- E-mail Client
- An e-mail client is a fairly simple program and there are many good ones (even
Microsoft's Outlook Express is minimally acceptable). I now use
Thunderbird except at
work where they won't let me. Its spam filter is very good.
- File Erasure
- When you delete a file, its contents remain on the hard disk. Fairly simple
tools can recover this data. Sensitive files should be erased by a program
specially written for this purpose. Eraser
is easy to use and will ensure that a scientist with an electron microscope
will be unable to recover your deleted files.
- Clock Accuracy
- If you want your system clock to be accurate,
Atomic Clock Sync
can do this either automatically or whenever you run it manually. It is a very
easy program to install and use.
- Password Database
- I have more user-ids and passwords than I can remember. So I store them in a
KeePass database which uses strong encryption
and is controlled by a single master password.
- Portable Document Format (PDF) Reader
- Adobe's free Acrobat Reader is large and slow. I've been much happier with
Foxit Reader for Windows.
- Rather than pay for PKZIP or WinZip, you can use 7-Zip
which supports several compression algorithms and includes strong encryption.
- I'm not a computer game player but I do occasionally play chess against
GNU Chess for Windows.
Software for Programmers:
- Programming Language
- Unlike Unix/Linux systems, Windows does not ship with many useful programming languages. For
scripting and general-purpose programming, I like Python.
It's an interpreted, object-oriented language with simple syntax and a large collection
of standard libraries. It's elegant and reliable, and is simple enough for a beginner but
rich enough for a pro. I use Active State's
ActivePython on Windows.
- Text Editor
- Notepad and WordPad, the text editors that are shipped with Windows, have almost
no features. There are many excellent commercial text editors (I like TextPad)
but Notepad2 or, if you
want more features, Notepad++
are just as good.