Free Software




FREE SOFTWARE


The plain Truth
Calm down and no harm will happen. The truth is that for most of the ususal (and unusual) needs there is free software ready to help.
Sometimes it is so good that it can compete with commercial applications and in a few cases it even leads the market. Think about that next time you are going to pay or to run your favourite P2P application: a Google session costs nothing, after all!
There are many advantages (price aside) in using free software. For example, as long as the project lives you will have free updates forever. In addition, you don't have to mess with cracks and serials. In the latest years I was able to replace most of my software with free alternatives. As a matter of facts, this site has been built only with free software.
In order to provide some help for the beginners, here I will list some of the best free software I've found, grouped by category. Note that there are many other applications that could have been added, but I decided to only describe those I already used. This means that I don't implicitly state that those applications are the best you can find, only that I've used them and found them good enough to replace commercial software in many cases.

The products with a bold name are open source and in my opinion deserve special attention.

Categories


System Administration
7-Zip
You simply don't need to look further. It handles several formats, zip, rar and a very good proprietary one among others.
UltraVNC
Provides remote access to a pc. I've used it several times and it works!
FileZilla
A very easy to use ftp client. There is a server as well, but I've never used it.
SpeedFan
If you want to have full control over the fans in your case.
VirtualBox
Ever wanted to run a OS on the top of another OS? VirtualBox virtualizes your system, if you don't know what use is that, then most probably you don't need it.
DosBox
Dos emulator. Some of the programs (expecially games) made in the good old days can be run on this emulator.

Internet and File Sharing
Mozilla Firefox
I don't use IE since years. Enough said.
Mozilla Thunderbird
A very powerful email client, with a lot of powerful features. I can't replace MS Outlook perhaps, but it can replace Outlook Express for sure.
Google Chrome
I've never used it extensively, but it has become so popular that I though to mention it.
eMule
I still use it for all my P2P.
µTorrent
Fast, small and easy to use torrent client.

Security
AVG Antivirus
Not Open Source. It is a feature limited version of the full AVG application, but a pretty good shield nonetheless.
Spybot-S&D
Helps to protect your system from the spybots threat.
PeerGuardian
It offers a protection against 'suspect' ip addresses so that your P2P client won't connect to them.
NMap
Very useful tool for port scanning and network topology investigation.

Graphic
The Gimp
Replacement for photoshop & co. It is not as powerful (HDR support and CMYK/Pantone color spaces are missing), but it has everything an average photographer needs.
Blender
3D suite to model, animate, texture and render 3d scenes. It is very powerful, but its infamous GUI prevented many people from using it. The new version (still in alpha) looks simply amazing!
Inkscape
Very nice vector drawing application.
Yafaray
Standalone, high quality renderer for Blender.
Luxrender
Standalone, phisically based renderer for Blender.
Qtpfsgui
An HDR images viewer, with several Tone Mappers operators.

Multimedia
Audacity
Very nice multitrack sound editor, with many filters already ready to use.
VLC
My multimedia player of choice: reads every format you can imagine.
MediaCoder
Audio/Video converter that supports a huge amount of different formats.
FreeRip
CD music tracks ripper very easy to use.
CDBurnerXP
Very good burning software. It supports CD, DVD, BR and HD-DVD.
ImgBurn
A very lightweight, easy and effective CD/DVD/BR clone utility.
Cinefx
It is not yet downloadable, and should be the new incarnation of Jahshaka, a video editing software that promised a lot but had an unfortunate ending.

Office
OpenOffice
Probably the best MS Office replacement suite available. Try it, you will not regret!
PDFCreator
Makes you able to create PDF documents from any application that support printing.
Foxit PDF Reader
Same as Adobe Reader, but more stable, lightweight and fast.
PotgreSQL
A very powerful, open source database system.
Recuva
Recovers files wich have been previously deleted.
PC Inspector File Recovery
Recovers files wich have been previously deleted.

Development
NetBeans
A fully featured Java/C++ IDE.
Visual Studio Express
This is the free edition of the MS Visual Studio IDE. It is the standard de facto for .Net projects.
SharpDevelop
This is quite good C# development IDE. Not as good as VS, but it is Open Source.
Notepad++
A very lightweight text editor with syntax highlight for dozens of programming languages. A must have for any developer.
PHP
Free programming language mostly used for dynamic web programming.
Java
Free programming language with a huge comunity behind
KompoZer
Visual HTML editor.
ArgoUML
Open source tool to develop UML diagrams.
GCC
The GNU Compiler Collection. Includes a very good c/c++ compiler.
CygWin
Linux-like enviroment for windows. It can serve two main pourposes: you want linux functionalities but want/are forced to use a windows system or you want to compile and run on you windows box a program written for linux (or only available for gcc).

Educational
Stellarium
Open source planetarium. Very advanced and beatiful to see!
Celestia
Beatiful 3d representation of our universe. You can travel across the galaxy and visit every corner.

Linux
Of course I cannnot end this document without talking about Linux, a free and Open Source alternative to commercial Operating Systems. There are as many Linux distributions as one could ever desire, and each of them suits specific needs. My current notebook runs with Ubuntu but at the end of the day is often a metter of personal taste.
Most of the Open Source software previously listed is also available for Linux, but there are applications which are specifically designed for this software and which are not shown on this page.
A few popular distributions are the following:
Ubuntu
OpenSuse
Fedora
Red Hat
Knoppix