I have been meaning to do this post for some time, but was spurred to action by A.R. This post will basically consist of a reference of world-class open source (for the end-user, open source means several things: It’s free. It’s has tons of programmers all over the world working on it, donating their time to do so. Its bugs are fixed quickly. It’s open, which means that any programmer can go in and change how the application behaves through valuable extensions or changing the code.) software that is valuable for people to have.
Firefox – a great, world-class browser which is highly acclaimed by, among others, The New York Times and Forbes. (In ascending order of credibility with each at the polar opposite ends of the credibility spectrum.)
Thunderbird – Firefox’s companion email program. It also has a built-in RSS feed reader for reading blogs or any other websites with RSS feeds.
OpenOffice – a Microsoft Office replacement that deals with MS Office documents (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc) and provides a great interface that is similiar to the $400 Microsoft Office Professional.
The GIMP – world class photo manipulation software. Does everything the $556 Adobe Photoshop CS2 does. GIMP stands for GNU (it’s kinda complicated what GNU stands for (let’s not get into self-recursive acronyms and acronyms within acronyms) but it’s basically a name for Linux) Image Manipulation Program.
Audacity – full featured audio editor
Gaim – multi-protocol instant messaging client that works with the AIM/AOL, ICQ, Yahoo!, MSN, Jabber, IRC, Napster, Gadu-Gadu, Zephyr, and SILC networks.
7zip – an compression program that more than takes the place of the $29 WinZip. It supports 7z, ZIP, CAB, RAR, ARJ, LZH, CHM, GZIP, BZIP2, Z, TAR, CPIO, RPM and DEB formats.
CDex – a program to copy CDs to your computer
VLC Media Player – a media player that can do everything a media player needs to do, plus some.
RealVNC – a server/client for remote access. If you have a computer that is connected via broadband to the internet, you can set up a RealVNC server on your computer and operate your computer remotely from any broadband internet connected computer. You can also use this program across your local area network. (Yeah, I’m talking to you, Tom.)
Azureus – bit-torrent for all your (legal, of course!) P2P downloads
eMule – another P2P client for (legal!) downloads
DOSBox – an emulator that allows you to run old DOS programs on your modern OS.
Ethereal – a network packet capture program. You won’t need this unless you are a network admin. It’s really invaluable for diagnosing complex networking problems.
EasyPHP – a distribution that packages Apache web server, PHP, and MySQL into one point-and-click, easy to install package. This is invaluable for web developers and web server admins. Manually patching together LAMP (or even AMP) can be a long arduous process which is, at times, necessary, but if you can avoid it at all, do so and use EasyPHP.
I’m sure there is software in my repertoire that I have missed. Feel free to ask a question about a specific application that you need or problem you have and I’ll (along with the other, smarter, techies that frequent this blog) do my best to answer it. Also, please mention in the comments any great open source programs that I have missed. If I agree with you, I’ll stick it up here in the post.
Update: Reader Jeff points out Linux. I feel really stupid. Here I did a post on Open Source Software and I forgot to mention *the definitive piece* of Open Source Software: Linux. Linux is the piece of software that really launched the FOSS movement. It’s is an Operating System that replaces (or dual-boots with) Windows.