Jan 27, 2007

[Software] My Favorite Free Apps

Recently I've been playing around with various free or open source applications in an effort to move away from resource-heavy, expensive software. I thought it might be helpful to all those Geeky Guide readers out there to know what your options are.

So here are my favorite applications in no particular order:
  1. Mozilla Firefox - Arguably one of the best browsers on the market, Firefox remains my favorite alternative to Internet Explorer. The many "add-ons" available - whether they're extensions or themes - help you, the user create the experience that you want. It's a bit more technically-inclined than some of the others, which may make it a bit tricky for the average user to become comfortable with right away.
  2. OpenOfffice.org - for me this remains to be the best alternative to the MS Office suite of applications given they are able to address most of your desktop publishing needs (including replacing MS Visio with OpenOffice Draw). There's a minimal learing curve period between MS Office and converting over to OpenOffice, but it's not too bad. Favorite feature - saving files as PDFs directly.
  3. Mozilla Thunderbird - to complete your desktop suite, you'll need an email program and Thunderbird fits the bit quite nicely. It's pretty easy to use and it supports the same add-on system as Firefox so again you have that customization option.
  4. GIMP - this is an open source alternative to big photo editing applications like Adobe Photoshop. For the average home user, this is more than enough for your needs. Let's face it, do you really need all those functions Photoshop is capable of providing? Unless you've involved in graphics design or the like, this free alternative is more than enough.
  5. AVG Anti-Virus Free - a pretty decent anti-virus application. The free version is pretty lightweight in terms of resources but has updates available daily, which means you'll always have up-to-date virus definition files. A good way to go if you're not willing to shell out cash for the big boys.
  6. ZoneAlarm - perhaps one of the best free firewalls available on the market today, it does a great job of keeping most unwanted would-be hackers out while giving you full control over what does go in or out. The interface is pretty easy to use and it's a generally simple program that's good from the get-go.

I'm also in the process of testing out a few more applications that show some promise, namely:
  1. Gaim - this is a multi-platform IM client that allows you to talk to friends on AOL, MSN, YM, Google Talk and others all from one program. It's a bit on the technical side since it's still in development and given that it's open source there's a pretty large community already supporting it. Various plugins are available so you can emulate the emoticons from the other clients, perform file transfers and even support voice calls. Without the plugins, remember that Gaim is only for chat and not much else.
  2. Foxit Software - this is actually a company and not an application in itself. The group has three programs of interest - a PDF reader, a creator and an editor. To combine the three will cost money but taking the three applications is free of charge. Let's face it - usually PDF editors/creators cost money so this is quite the breakthrough.

You can choose to use them or not, that's ultimately up to you. Just thought I'd "share the wealth" as it were. There are a lot of other programs that I use that I didn't discuss here like Ad-Aware and Process Explorer, but I'm sure there'll be time for them later on.

Try them out - there's nothing like the feeling of free.


  1. "remains to be the best alternative to the MS Office suite", how true.

    There is also Plan-B for OpenOffice.org, professional support with screencasts (short videos) and smart search, where you find what you are looking for.

  2. I did a post on which free products I use for security. Besides AVG and ZA, I've got Defender on my list too.

  3. hey u need to check out blender 3d a 3d anim tool (jus 11 mb size) .. u can dwnload it frm blender.org!