Favorite 100% free software and web apps and utilities

What 100%, never-pay-a-dime, free till the day you die software and web apps are currently in your repotoire?

Currently, I use gaim for IMing. It has AIM, Yahoo, MSN, ICQ, IRC, and a slew of other chat programs that no one uses, since those are the big ones. It’s not without its problems, though. File transfers under AIM don’t always go smoothly, and the GTK+ runtime enviroment it uses is buggy as Hell (mouseovers are a big problem. Mouseover windows appearing when your cursor is somewhere else entirely.) But when forced between that and the bloated, POS that is the real AIM client, I’ll take gaim anyday.

I use The Gimp for what little graphics manipulation I do. Not as many features as Photoshop, but more then enough for what little I do.

Hipcal is my calendar of choice. It integrates with other things like Outlook and Thunderbird for schedules, contacts, etc…, it sends emails and text message alerts for events, and has groups that can be made so everyone in that group all gets the same alerts, events on their calendar, and so forth. And the best part? It’s desined for Firefox, not IE. Woo!

Foxit is better than Adobe at opening up it’s own PDF files. As long as all you need to do is reawd and not edit, it’s far superior. Only a single, one megabyte exe file. Perfect for anyone that has had system crashes or slowdowns when trying to view PDFs.

And, of course, Firefox and Thunderbird for web and email.

I heart Irfanview.

I’m getting pretty fond of PodcastReady to sync up my podcasts on my non-iPod mp3 player.

I like Winamp, Irfanview, Spybot, Ad-Aware, AVG Anti-virus, Trillian (Gaim never worked with my computer), and several others (can’t remember) for the PC.

As far as my Mac goes…well, I’m not on it right now, so I’ll have to get back to you on that (at work, haha). But I’ve found a few nifty ones.


I’ve been really getting use out of www.tadalist.com, and I use Trillian (free). AVG and Ad-Aware are must-haves. I also like FRAPS for capturing screenshots. The free version only saves at .bmp, but it’s easy enough to do a batch conversion after.

Ad-aware and Active Ports.

www.vmware.com just made their GSX server free - now just called “Server”. You can’t beat free virtual machines.

I loaded up a copy of CactiEZ in VMware server to monitor a bunch of stuff in my office network. Works like a champ. I’ll be using CactiEZ over a regular Cacti install now (which is also free).

I’ve been using Sam Spade on Windows machines for years. A nice collection of network tools.

Wireshark (which used to be Ethereal) is a great network tool.

The free software I’ve used more than anything would be Apache webserver, PHP, MySQL and a slew of other web apps running under Linux. You can run a highly stable webserver using nothing but free software. I have a Apache webserver at home which I use to design websites. All it cost me was the price of the hardware and my time to configure it (which took about an hour).

I have a robust hardware firewall running Monowall. I bought a little Soekris 4801 for the firewall hardware (it uses a Compact Flash card for a hard drive) and installed Monowall. It allows for some fairly advanced routing and includes a VPN. You can run Monowall on an old junky computer with a couple NIC’s if you prefer. So far, I’ve not had one complaint or issue with it.

For fun, how about Stellarium? It is one of the better star map programs I’ve seen.

Oh yeah,. and OPERA!!!

For writing with no distractions, I like WriteRoom for Macs, and a clone, Dark Room for Windows.

It lacks general appeal, but WinMerge is probably the best file diff utility out there.

Media Player Classic Best media player ever.

I’ll second that. Especially when coupled (tripled?) with Real alternative and quicktime alternative.


I love you.

the vlc media player is of course a great dvd player, and it’s also turned out to be my favorite general media player as well, being very similiar to media player classic. it doesnt feel fat.
ephpod is a great tool to rip mp3’s off of an iPod to your pc.

Real Alternative is a nice media player plugin to avoid that hateful real media player. so your wmp can play ra files.

And the greatest of all.

Musicbrainz Anyone with an mp3 collection will be thrilled to discover this software that titles your mp3 file with artist, album, track title, track number by comparing its fingerprint to the server and gives you a percentage of accuracy to judge and approve prior to it naming away.

All of the 37Signals apps are top notch, especially Backpack.

For ripping CD’s to mp3s (or just a general converting tool) you’d be hard to beat CDEX

Here are some from my list that have not been mentioned yet:

DosBox - A DOS emulator that can run plenty of old classic games that don’t run on your new computer

FileZilla - An open source free FTP client

FileZilla Server - An open source FTP Server. We use this one at my work all the time.

Free Ram XP Pro 1.50- A memory manager to suppliment the memory management in Windows. A “Must Have” if you still run Windows 98.

PDFCreator - A free program for making PDF files without using Adobe Acrobat.

rjhextensions - Adds useful functions to the context menu of Windows Explorer such as multiple file rename, command prompt, path to clipboard, and other.

SaverStarter - Allows for the control of the windows screen saver by simply moving the mouse cursor to a corner of the screen.

TrueCrypt - Free open-source disk encryption software. It will allow you to mount and encrpyted volume on your pc.

Seconded. I ripped my entire cd collection for my ipod with this program and it worked wonderfully.

OpenOffice, so I can finally open all those Office files people keep emailing me and discover they’re just slideshows of their damn cat or something.

ShutDownPro is a great little program, living in the systray, that offers a slew of shut-down options, plus a lot of tools and other good info about your computer. All available with just a right click.

7-Zip - more functional than WinZip and totally free. It handles .rar archives too.

AVG Free - good antivirus program, free for home use.

Sysinternals - lots of great Windows utilities. The company just got acquired by Microsoft so they may not stay free for long.

UltraVNC - outstanding remote control software which supports encryption, file transfer, the SingleClick add-on, and other nice features.

Google Earth.
Audacity for audio editing.
Alfaclock - customizes the XP taskbar clock. I use it just to display the seconds.

I also use many already mentioned.