Computer Software

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Free Software

The following is a comprehensive list of 'industrial-strength' free software. That is, where the software is comparable to a paid, proprietary solution. This does not include trial runs or other seriously limited software, but can include closed-source free (as in beer) software.

Free operating systems

The free and open source software community has developed several viable operating systems. High-profile examples include FreeBSD and Linux.

There are many different varieties of each. Different types of an operating system are referred to as 'distros'. Some of the most popular Linux distros are Ubuntu, Fedora, Debian, and Linux Mint. See DistroWatch for a comprehensive list of Linux Distros, alongside reviews, news, and download links.

These operating systems are inexpensive to use, not only because the software itself is free, but also because it can be configured to operate on old, cheap hardware. For instance, the lightweight Xubuntu version of Ubuntu requires only 192 MB RAM and 2 GB hard disk space. Used computers meeting these requirements can regularly be found for $50 or less.

Other Programs

Image Editing

  • Irfanview Image viewing solution. Good for organizing, renaming, slideshows and image basic image manipulation
  • Picasa Google's image organization and manipulation program. Good for organizing photos and adjusting tone.
  • Gimp GIMP is an acronym for GNU Image Manipulation Program. It is a freely distributed program for such tasks as photo retouching, image composition and image authoring. It has many capabilities. It can be used as a simple paint program, an expert quality photo retouching program, an online batch processing system, a mass production image renderer, an image format converter, etc. GIMP is expandable and extensible. It is designed to be augmented with plug-ins and extensions to do just about anything. The advanced scripting interface allows everything from the simplest task to the most complex image manipulation procedures to be easily scripted.
  • Inkscape Vector drawing, comparable to Adobe Illustrator.


  • Firefox No explanation needed. The most extensible open-source browser available.
  • Chrome Google's browser. Extremely fast and lightweight.
  • Opera Extremely fast and lightweight. Lower memory footprint and faster than Chrome and Firefox.
  • Epiphany Epiphany is the web browser for the GNOME desktop. Its goal is to be simple and easy to use.
  • Midori A lightweight web browser.
  • SeaMonkey Web-browser, advanced e-mail, newsgroup and feed client, IRC chat, and HTML editing made simple—all your Internet needs in one application.

Video Playback

  • VLC Plays virtually any kind of video. Allows addition of subtitles to videos, adjusting playback speed, aspect ratio, etc.


  • vim Classic *nix modal editor. One of the two 'holy editors' for text editing (the other being emacs, below).
  • emacs Text editor/operating system (Fun fact: The ERE book was written exclusively using emacs.)
  • Eclipse Modern IDE, originally written with Java in mind. Tons of plugins, now extensible to support Python and numerous other programming languages.
  • Free world-class compilers/interpreters include gcc, clang, OpenJDK, CPython, GHC, and MIT/GNU Scheme.


  • LibreOfice LibreOffice is the power-packed free, libre and open source personal productivity suite for Windows, Macintosh and GNU/Linux, that gives you six feature-rich applications for all your document production and data processing needs: Writer, Calc, Impress, Draw, Math and Base. Support and documentation is free from our large, dedicated community of users, contributors and developers.
  • Evernote Take note of anything.
  • LaTeX Typesetting.


  • Foobar2000 Arguably the most flexible music player. Endless customization options, handles most audio formats, extensive bulk metadata adjustments, lots of add-ons. Note, however, that it only runs natively on Windows OSes.


  • SumatraPDF Ultra-lightweight PDF reader
  • Calibre E-book management software. Converts e-book formats, allows you to add them to your device, allows library organization