Recommended No-Cost Software

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Recommended No-Cost Software

Postby LongRunner » May 10th, 2017, 4:15 pm

Here is software that has proven useful to us, and is legally obtainable without spending any money. (Why didn't I just title this thread "Recommended Free Software"? Because the word "free" has two distinct meanings which are otherwise, inevitably, blurred together; availability at no cost, as in "free beer", and liberty, as in "free speech". All of what is called "free software" in "common" parlance, is free in the "free beer" sense, but only some of it is free in the "free speech" sense. Richard Stallman explains in more detail and depth.)

Where available, links are to the software author's own site, as this is (normally) the safest against malware (and general crapware). If the official location is no longer available/functional, links to Wayback Machine or a reputable software archive will be used instead. HTTPS (secure) addresses are used, where supported by the relevant site(s).

We'll probably have to make multiple posts and/or additional threads, to sufficiently cover the vast range of software in existence. So for now, I'll start with essentials (not necessarily complete):

Audio editor
Audacity (Windows, Mac OS, Linux)

BitTorrent client
qBittorrent (multi-platform) - an open-source, ad-free alternative to μTorrent. I urge anyone still using μTorrent to switch over as soon as possible.
Warning: The "Screenshots" link goes to SourceForge, which has gotten a bad reputation lately due to malware/crapware issues, so I'd recommend running a malware scan on anything downloaded from them - if you are willing to keep downloading from them at all…

CD/DVD authoring
InfraRecorder (Windows) - while a bit neglected update-wise, it is one of the few utilities in its class to remain crapware-free. (You will have to go elsewhere if you want Blu-ray or HD-DVD support, unfortunately.)

Compressed archive manager
7-Zip (Windows, with limited ports to other platforms available) (Warning: Some links on the download page go to SourceForge)

File manager
XYplorer (Windows) (updates to the free edition have been discontinued since November 2016, but the last version is still available for download)

Instant messaging client
Pidgin (Windows, Mac OS, Linux) (Warning: Downloads hosted at SourceForge)

Malware detection and removal
Malwarebytes (Windows, Mac OS) - widely recommended in this category. The free version of Malwarebytes 3 provides basic anti-malware/spyware and anti-rootkit functionality forever, and a 14-day trial of the "premium" features. As has been customary for Malwarebytes, the free version is (after the trial end) limited to manual scanning on demand. To be fair, classical anti-virus software has proven increasingly helpless against new threats - and not only can it cause inadvertent damage with false-positive triggering, it can even open up security holes of its own. On a computer likely to be used by untrained people, real-time anti-virus software may be justified (although such people might not even be able to operate the anti-virus correctly!); however, if you're an experienced user (who knows how to avoid contracting malware) configuring a PC just for yourself (and perhaps other tech-savvy friends or family members), it is highly questionable.

Multimedia players
foobar2000 (Windows) - audio-only player with a wide range of available add-ons and customisations. Attention, audiophiles - if you want to compensate for frequency response aberrations, I strongly recommend this plug-in equaliser which provides much cleaner sound through-put than the built-in unit, and also allows finer adjustments.
VLC (multi-platform) - extremely popular, versatile player for a wide range of formats. Note: You may need to tweak some settings to get the correct black and white levels in certain video formats, including DVD-Video.

Office applications (word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, and related)
LibreOffice (Windows, Mac OS, Linux) - a free alternative to Microsoft Office and its kin, with some (reverse-engineered) ability to open the former's documents. It still has a few glitches, unfortunately (the most annoying being the text positioning on-screen going out of whack), but I'd take it over reinforcing Microsoft's stranglehold.

PDF reader
SumatraPDF (Windows) (also supports ePub, MOBI, CHM, XPS, DjVu, CBZ, CBR)

Raster image editors
GIMP (multi-platform) - a powerful program that mainly seeks to be an alternative to Adobe Photoshop.
Paint.NET (Windows) - designed as a more capable replacement for Microsoft Paint.

Scientific calculator
SpeedCrunch (Windows, Mac OS, Linux)

Text editor
Notepad++ (Windows)

Vector graphics
Inkscape (Windows, Mac OS, Linux)

Web browsers
Opera 12.18 (Windows) (third-party site, but links to Opera's own FTP server) - officially a "legacy" version (made for the sake of those still on Windows XP SP1), but regarded by many as the last "true" Opera (the new "Opera" being just another Chromium derivative). Following its release, Behemot featured it in our News section. A pity it's only for Windows, as I'd wager quite a few people would have wanted a Linux version; Linux (and Mac) people will have to either make do with 12.16, or use something else altogether.

If you have additional suggestions, questions, malware warnings, or just general commentary, please reply with them/it. However, do not waste screen space conversing about things irrelevant to this topic.

History of this post:
v0.1 (initial) listed foobar2000, GIMP, InfraRecorder, Inkscape, LibreOffice, Malwarebytes, Opera 12, Paint.NET, Pidgin, qBittorrent, and SRWare Iron
v0.2 (2017-06-23) added 7-Zip, Audacity, Notepad++ and SumatraPDF
v0.3 (2017-08-22) added SpeedCrunch and XYplorer
v0.4 (2017-10-17) deleted SRWare Iron (as it seems to be a bit of a scam); will then make separate posts per category, and this post will become the index
Authoritarianism is for wimps.

Smart people don't buy "smart" devices without very carefully weighing up the risks and benefits beforehand.

My PC: Core i3 4130 on GA-H87M-D3H with GT640 OC 2GiB and 2 * 8GiB Kingston HyperX 1600MHz, 2 * WD3003FZEX-00Z4SA0, Pioneer BDR-209DBKS, Seasonic G-360, Silverstone PS08, Windows 7 Pro (somewhat begrudgingly).
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