My Favorite Free / Open Source software

This is a list of Free / Open Source software that I install on my machines. This isn’t software that I think is cool and that you ought to use. It is all software I use on a regular basis.

Windows XP is my OS of choice and I use the Windows versions of these programs.

FireFox FireFox (www.getfirefox.com) web browser. Not only is Firefox small, fast and easy to use, it supports a variety of extension which allow you to totally customize your browsing experience. The extensions I use are AdBlockPlus and the Del.icio.us Buttons.

AdBlock Plus makes advertisements disappear. Web pages load much faster and are easier to read when you don’t have download banners and flash advertisements.

I use the Del.icio.us buttons to bookmark websites I find. Del.icio.us is a social bookmarking website. Your book marks are stored on the web where you, or anyone else can look through them at amy time. Never lose your bookmarks again.

One feature I love is the total control I have over how cookies and browsing history is handled. I configure FireFox to delete all broswing history and cookies when I exit.

Firefox also sports a tabbed interface, allowing many websites to be open in one browser and a built-in search, so you can just enter the search terms and go. You don’t have to go to a search engine page first.

Firefox has inline spell checking when entering data into web forms. I can’t imagine what ericsprojects.com would look like without this feature.

Paint.net Paint.net (www.getpaint.net) has a great set of painting and drawing tools. It supports layers and has unlimited undos. It is the closest thing to PhotoShop for personal use. Windows Only, requires .NET from microsoft.com, which it will download during installation.

FastStone FastStone (www.faststone.org) Image Viewer. Freeware image browser, converter and editor that supports all major graphic formats including BMP, JPEG, JPEG 2000, GIF, PNG, PCX, TIFF, WMF, ICO and TGA. It has a nice array of features such as image viewing, management, comparison, red-eye removal, resizing, cropping, color adjustments and much more. I use FastStone primarily for previewing a batch of photos and resizing for the web. It makes the job quick and easy. One option I like to set is to have FastStone take over all image types, except PSD (PhotoShop).

TrueCryptTrueCrypt (www.truecrypt.org) 256 bit AES personal encryption for Windows and Linux. TrueCrypt allows you to encrypt entire partitons on your hard drive, create encrypted files and build encrypted USB thumb drives. I have a TrueCrypt thumb drive and a TrueCrypt file on my hard drive and keep the two synchronized. You shouldn’t use a Laptop or USB drive (anything portable) without it.

EraserEraser (www.heidi.ie/eraser) securely erase files. You can choose how Eraser overwrites files with several possible patterns from 1 pass with pseudo-random data, 3 pass DoD 5220.22-M, to the even more sophisticated 35 pass Gutmann. Eraser integrates into Explorer, giving you a Right-click Erase option. Windows only.

7ziplogo7-Zip (www.7-zip.org) is the current champ at Zipping and Unzipping files. 7-Zip is a tiny (less than one meg) exe. This program has such a minimal install, be sure to go into the Tools->Options. On the System TAB, Select all extensions except maybe ISO and on the Settings TAB turn ON the Show “..” item.

editpadlite.jpgEditPadLite (www.editpadlite.com). Sure you can use notepad or find many other Notepad replacements. I’ve used EditPadLite for a number of years and can’t find a reason to switch. It can open up many documents in a multi-tab interface and has search and replaces that is as powerful as it is easy to use.

One thing I love about Free/Open source software is that it usually is much smaller than the commercial software it replaces. Some of these programs are small enough to fit on a floppy disk. Do they still make those ??

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