AlexJ's Computer Science Journal

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Open Source Software on Windows

I use Windows 7 on my laptop. But that doesn’t mean that in the Windows world you can’t find OSS. So I would like to make a list of the programs that I install on my machine when I do a fresh install of the operating system. And for those who didn’t know that there are free and open solutions for some programs, maybe you will find it useful.

Note: the following may contain a LOT of personal choices. Not everybody needs to agree with it.

Without a doubt, the first thing I install is the browser. I am a Mozilla Firefox fan, so the only address in my IE history is the Firefox download page. For me, it is the best browser by a long shot. I also install Google Chrome (theoretically also open, because it’s based on the Chromium project) to keep it as a second browser for other people that want to login into my computer. But I find Firefox to be better for geeks where as Chrome is better for less technical users. But it’s just a personal opinion.

An archive manager is something any system needs (the Windows built-in is not that great). And since I hate the “please buy this” windows in WinZip or, worse, WinRar, I usually use 7-zip. It is nice because it’s free, lite, easy to use and supports any archive type I need (including tar and gz).  I was also recommended another tool, called PeaZip, that I am currently testing.

Since not a day goes by without having to ssh into another machine, a need a ssh client. Putty is the way to go. One thing that Putty doesn’t do is scp. For that I use WinSCP. I don’t even know a non-free alternative to these, but since they do such a good job, I don’t need to know another.

I actually use WinSCP as a FTP client and it does the job most of the times. But there are times when I need something built for FTP. And I do that with FileZilla.

For my entertainment purposes (playing video files and listening to online radio), VLC is the best way to go. MPlayer was something that I used to use but it lagged behind, so I moved to VLC.

I mostly use WordPad for what Notepad should do, but sometimes they lack features or ease of use compared to a sane text editor. I used at some point Vim for Windows, but the truth is that vim is good for CLI. So I started to use Notepad++, which is exactly what the name says. Lite and easy to use, but with all features that you would need. It’s actually very good as an IDE, for programming.

Since we live in a peer-to-peer world, I need a Torrent client. I was a utorrent user, but since they started adding adds and other spyware, I turned to good old Deluge.  Not as full of features and as eye-candy as utorrent, but it gets the job done. And it’s simple and lite.

On Linux, I use xchat2 as an IRC client. But the Windows version of XChat is not Free. So I turn to Pidgin. It is actually not that good as an IRC client (it’s kind of patched up for that) but it is very good for other IM protocols.

I sometimes need to edit/create images. Most of what I need, I do in Paint (yes, Paint). But there are times where I need something else. Inkscape is a good tool because it’s simple to use and even does vector formats (like SVG). For image editing, GIMP is what it’s needed (although I can’t ever say that I really know how to use it… but I can’t use Photoshop either…).

Maybe something that not everyone needs, but it’s almost a must for people in computer networking: Wireshark, for packet capturing. I always end up installing it after a while.

But there are things where I know that there are OSS alternatives, but I prefer the non-OSS ones. LibreOffice and OpenOffice are ok (I usually install LibreOffice) but are still way behind Microsoft Office (or even Google Docs sometimes). And when it come to virtualisation, I prefer VMware (Workshation or Player) instead of VirtualBox (but I do keep vbox installed most of the times).

So, basically, this is how my laptop looks like and yes, there is open source on Windows.

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