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Top 10 Software Titles Every Home PC Needs? 936

Posted by Cliff
from the stuff-to-talk-about dept.
eabell asks: "I'm buying a new mid-grade laptop computer, which I plan to dual-boot between Windows XP Home and Mandrake 9.x. Before its arrival in a few weeks I'm trying to think of what 'essential' software I'll need to make a usable home system. In general I'd like to spend as little money as possible (free is good). As far as my needs, think 'typical family PC' without an emphasis on gaming. I know I can get something like Open Office for word processing, presentation, etc. needs, but is there such a good thing as a good free virus checker? A good free email client? A handy web browser? What would you consider the top 10 (or so) pieces of software for a new home system, bearing in mind that I need software for both the Windows and Linux side of things?"
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Top 10 Software Titles Every Home PC Needs?

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  • For a free Antivirus software go for AVG Anti-Virus [grisoft.com]. Free for non-commercial, non-networked use. It's what I install on people's machines when they are low on cash, and want to continue running Windows.
    • by cK-Gunslinger (443452) on Wednesday October 08, 2003 @12:38PM (#7164238) Journal
      I will second this comment, as I like AVG.

      I keep a CD of free Windows software for people (helpful when I build them a new PC.)

      AVG Anti-Virus (AV)
      OpenOffice (Office)
      Firebird (Browser)
      Thunderbird (email)
      AdAware (Spyware seek-n-destroy)
      Winamp (Multimedia)
      3DMark (benchmarking)
      some game demos
      etc...
      • by mechugena (311767) on Wednesday October 08, 2003 @12:58PM (#7164601) Homepage
        I personally would add Spybot - Search & Destroy [safer-networking.org] to that list. It has some of the same functionality of AdAware, and even supercedes it in some cases. My laptop and home system run them concurrently, and I'm gradually throwing it on the systems at work. I hate having to go around removing all that spyware manually. When will the users listen?
      • by blibbleblobble (526872) on Wednesday October 08, 2003 @02:49PM (#7165499)
        "I keep a CD of free Windows software for people (helpful when I build them a new PC.)"

        A good version of this is The OpenCD [theopencd.org] for people who want ideas, or to check your own "useful programs" CD against what other people are using.

        (disclaimer: one of my programs was on the suggestions list for theopencd)
      • HTML-Kit by Chami and can be found at www.chami.com is an excellent editor for programming. It has the ability to plug in modules. It is one of the primary reasons I still use Windows at all. There are some OSS solutions coming of age but nothing I like well enough yet.

        PDF Creator as a replacement for Adobe Acrobat.
        RealVNC as a replacement for PCAnywhere.

        Of course you know a lot of the GPL stuff is cross platform so that's good...

        Let's see other stuff I have on my CD, and I do have all the good stuff Gun
      • by hkmwbz (531650) on Wednesday October 08, 2003 @05:24PM (#7166250) Journal
        I mostly agree with you, but I also have to break it to you: Firebird and especially Thunderbird are not to be considered as "production" software. This might sound like a troll, but the response you will get if you visit the MozillaZine forums for example, and complain about the lack of an installer, certain issues with extensions and so on, is that you should consider using another browser. Also, a lot of Firebird enthusiasts are actually hesitant to spread the word too much, or to convince people to use Firebird if they are not aware of the state it is in (such as posting glowing reviews on download.com). I am not saying that it is a bad browser, but it is still at 0.x, and needs some work before Joe Blow can use it without problems.

        And Thunderbird is so far from completed I wouldn't recommend it to anyone who is not willing to put in a lot of effort to actually test and report bugs for the program.

        I think the Mozilla suite/SeaMonkey might be more down most people's alley.

    • You beat me to it. Having personally used AVG (free edition) for quite some time, I find that it is as good as any of the commercial ones (I am virus free). I don't know that it checks Mozilla/Thunderbird mail though. Try installing your mail client first, or AVG won't pickup the directory. Good Luck.

      Also, I have to ask what need you have for WinXP. If it is not a gaming machine (ie, you won't be playing Doom 3), then you can easily run WineX and then you won't have some issues inherent with any M$ so
    • Free for non-commercial, non-networked

      Ummm.. Errr. If it is non-networked, how is it going to get a virus ?

      • Ummm.. Errr. If it is non-networked, how is it going to get a virus ?

        Loading up someone else's infected files through the floppy/CDRW drive will do it, just like in the old days. Though nowadays all the infected files are Word docs instead of executables.

    • I think a pop-up stopper is essential. I used to use History Kill, but it isnt free (and I suspect its kind of buggy).

      I always used to Google toolbar, but now it has a pop-up stopper. Which is just another reason to use it!

      I also recommend Ad-Aware by Lavasoft (www.lavasoftusa.com); this program will remove any spyware that may get on your computer. The basic version is free, and the updates are free.

      Last, you NEED a firewall. The best I have encountered is from www.zonelabs.com- it is called ZoneAlarm.

  • Kazaa Lite (Score:5, Funny)

    by delphin42 (556929) on Wednesday October 08, 2003 @12:32PM (#7164126) Homepage
    Once you have that, everything else is only a few clicks away...
  • Windows XP (Score:5, Funny)

    by inertia@yahoo.com (156602) * on Wednesday October 08, 2003 @12:32PM (#7164132) Homepage Journal
    All I know is that Windows XP is the best $300 game of Solitaire I've ever played.
  • mozilla & cygwin (Score:2, Insightful)

    by shakah (78118)
    cygwin for the Windows-side of things, of course.
    • Re:mozilla & cygwin (Score:2, Informative)

      by maxume (22995)
      I tend to prefer unxutils [sourceforge.net] and MinGw [mingw.org].
      Why depend on cygwin, when msvcrt is already gonna be there?
    • by dasmegabyte (267018) <das@OHNOWHATSTHISdasmegabyte.org> on Wednesday October 08, 2003 @01:25PM (#7164952) Homepage Journal
      Uhh, no. Not for a home user. Home users want to USE software, not write it, not compile it. Pretty much anything you'd want to do as a home user is better done using the standard Windows GUI, or (god forbid), DOS. Shit, I'm a developer and I still prefer the old Dos commands to Cygwin...it just seems so kludgy. Windows isn't UN*X like in most of the ways that are important (different threading, different hardware interface, different file systems, different security model), so I see no reason to have a seperate, non-Windows system for performing file operations, etc. Unless you've got a really good reason for emulating Linux on windows (like a bunch of legacy apps on a server), it's just confusing.

      Since the machine has Mandrake installed for the dual boot, it makes sense that users savvy enough to want the extensibility and control of a UN*X like system are going to reboot anyway. That gross green CYGWIN icon can only confuse the people you don't want confused.
  • I used Mozilla for my web browser at home it suits all of my browsing needs.
  • ad-aware (Score:2, Informative)

    by HaveBlue34 (142274)
    ad-aware, free for private use.
    http://www.lavasoftusa.com/software/adaware/
  • Mozilla, and its components. However, do you want to be able to access the same emails from each OS? would you need a third partition for this sort of data perhaps?
  • Opera! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Marx_Mrvelous (532372) on Wednesday October 08, 2003 @12:33PM (#7164149) Homepage
    Opera has climbed into my "must get everyone using" category. I think it's a fantastic product and deserves a lot of attention.
  • by EggMan2000 (308859) * on Wednesday October 08, 2003 @12:34PM (#7164154) Homepage Journal
    Here is my top ten list (in no particular order) for Windows. I'll let everyone argue about the Linux tools.
    CygWin [cygwin.com] the Linux-like environment for Windows.
    Mozilla [mozilla.org] naturally.... Use this for mail, news, and browsing if you like.
    WS FTP Light [ipswitch.com] a FREE, FTP client that works great.
    PuTTY [greenend.org.uk] a free SSH client for Windows.
    VNC [realvnc.com] remote controll software, NOTE: the location is no longer on the ATT Labs UK site.
    GNU-EMacs [gnu.org] for Windows. I usually install it, but use Vi more.
    Dev-C++ [bloodshed.net] a free C++ compiler. I use VC++ 6.0, but this is free, and I think it's pretty good.
    NetHack [nethack.org] You MUST have NetHack installed on everything...
    Free-AV [free-av.com] free Anti-Virus software for Windows.
    Boingo [boingo.com] to see where the closest hotspot is. (free) you don't need the service.
    • We must have differing views on what a "family" needs for their PC as I can't see most families doing C++ development coding in EMacs on their family PC :-)

      A little family get-together around the PC to do some kernel tweaking before bedtime?
    • by cavemanf16 (303184) on Wednesday October 08, 2003 @12:42PM (#7164313) Homepage Journal
      I completely agree with the above poster's advice. Add in:
      OpenOffice 1.1 [openoffice.org]
      and
      Winamp 2.x [winamp.com] for audio/video usage in Windows, or
      XMMS 1.8 [xmms.org] for audio/video usage in Linux.
    • by Lord Kholdan (670731) on Wednesday October 08, 2003 @12:43PM (#7164329)
      Warning, snippage included

      CygWin the Linux-like environment for Windows.
      PuTTY a free SSH client for Windows.
      VNC remote controll software, NOTE: the location is no longer on the ATT Labs UK site.
      GNU-EMacs for Windows. I usually install it, but use Vi more.
      Dev-C++ a free C++ compiler. I use VC++ 6.0, but this is free, and I think it's pretty good.


      For a home system? For a developer box? yeah. but for a home system?

      But barring that, you deserver +5 Informative for mentioning nethack.
    • Your list is rendered 30% redundant by your first entry.

      WS FTP Light a FREE, FTP client that works great.
      use ncftp from cygwin

      PuTTY a free SSH client for Windows.
      use openssh from cygwin

      GNU-EMacs for Windows. I usually install it, but use Vi more.
      use emacs AND vim from cygwin

      Dev-C++ a free C++ compiler. I use VC++ 6.0, but this is free, and I think it's pretty good.
      *cough* cygwin

    • by jmoriarty (179788) on Wednesday October 08, 2003 @12:43PM (#7164339)
      CygWin the Linux-like environment for Windows.
      WS FTP Light a FREE, FTP client that works great.
      PuTTY a free SSH client for Windows.
      GNU-EMacs for Windows. I usually install it, but use Vi more.
      Dev-C++ a free C++ compiler. I use VC++ 6.0, but this is free, and I think it's pretty good.
      NetHack You MUST have NetHack installed on everything...


      Sweet Christmas! The poster asked for a general family-type system. I'm not sure what sort of family YOU have, but these programs would cause my mother to die from fright.

      Not that they aren't handy tools, but I don't think that is what the poster was after...
    • I would switch out "WS FTP Light" for "Filezilla". It's open source and gets you sftp support as a bonus.

      Why bother with Dev-C++ when you can get gcc and the rest of the standard unix developer tools as part of cygwin?

      Boingo was really annoying when I tried it out. I uninstalled it after 5 minutes. I would put "Freezip" on the list instead.

      It costs a modest amount of money, but ZoneAlarm should probably be on the list as well.

      Openoffice should get a mention too :)
    • by EisPick (29965) on Wednesday October 08, 2003 @12:55PM (#7164558)
      A few (free) alternatives:
      • Instead of Mozilla, I prefer the leaner Firebird [mozilla.org] for browsing and Eudora [eudora.com] for email. If you take the time to learn how to use the Filters feature, Eudora's pretty good at filtering spam. Especially if you crank up the size of the History of addresses you sent to and store your contacts in the address book. You can then filter messages whose sender "doesn't intersect" your address book or history into a spam folder.
      • Instead of WS FTP, I prefer Filezilla [sourceforge.net], which is truly free (you have to pretend to be a student or a non-profit to use WS FTP for free) and does sftp as well.
      • TTSSH [zip.com.au] is a much less clunky ssh client than PuTTY.
      Also:
      • If you use a Palm, PalmEudora Sync [wanadoo.fr] keeps your addressbooks synchronized (which will help with those Eudora spam filters).
      • Mark's Adding Machine [freeyellow.com] is much better than the Windows calculator for balancing checkbooks.
      • by Eil (82413) on Wednesday October 08, 2003 @02:40PM (#7165427) Homepage Journal

        TTSSH is a much less clunky ssh client than PuTTY.

        Less clunky? C'mon. I haven't used TTSSH in a long time, but I remember having nothing but troubles with it. PuTTY configuration is easy (if a little odd at first), the binary is small, and is dead simple to install.

        TTSSH:
        * Download Teraterm
        * Install Teraterm
        * Download TTSSH
        * Unzip TTSSH
        * Run TTSSH

        PuTTY:
        * Download PuTTY
        * Run PuTTY

        Also, I note that on the TTSSH pages it still says that TTSSH does not support SSH v2 and never will. PuTTY does, which is useful for me, because I use v2 pretty much exclusively on my network.
    • AOL [aol.com] allows you to get "content" that you wouldn't be able to get anywhere else.
      Gator [gator.com] allows all sorts of useful searching and ads on your computer.
      MSN explorer [msn.com] A very nice web browser that takes over your whole web experience.
      Webshots [webshots.com] is a very nice background rotator that hogs bandwidth and proccesor time and whaterver else it does.
      Weatherbug [weatherbug.com] is a handy little sys-tray app that shows the weather, and watches your every move.


      So if you are willing to listen to all the "help" given here on /. You will
    • You MUST have NetHack installed on everything...

      In fact, once you install nethack on everything, you won't need to install anything else for months or years, considering how much else you're actually going to get done...
  • by Gortbusters.org (637314) on Wednesday October 08, 2003 @12:34PM (#7164157) Homepage Journal
    for better porn browsing. Search your feelings, you know this to be true!
  • Mozilla Firebird (Score:2, Informative)

    by cbqwinner (152547)
    It's small, fast and has a ton of built in features.
  • by T-Kir (597145) on Wednesday October 08, 2003 @12:35PM (#7164175) Homepage

    AVG Free edition [grisoft.com]

    Zonealarm [zonelabs.com]

    Winamp Classic [winamp.com]

    ..they are the first things I install.

    • by millahtime (710421) on Wednesday October 08, 2003 @12:41PM (#7164293) Homepage Journal
      Don't install Zone Alarm. It can cause your internet connection to stop working and is a pain to fix. There are several documented issues with it and to fix it is a total pain. They used to have some of these issues and fixes documented at their site but pulled them. One of their reps told me that the only fix for one of the problems was a reformat and reinstall of the OS because they were never able to trace the problem.
      • by NexusTw1n (580394) on Wednesday October 08, 2003 @01:08PM (#7164720) Journal
        I used to rave about ZA being the king of firewalls.

        However I've now seen with my own eyes several machines totally screwed by ZA - and yes, by trial and error I've proven it was ZA that was causing the problems.

        It can do weird things to the TCP/IP stack that can only be undone under XP with an NETSH IPRESET command, or by uninstalling and reinstalling the protocol in 2000/ME/98. The problem will reoccur as soon as you reactivate Zone Alarm.

        I wouldn't recommend it, even in it's free form anymore. Which is a shame, because it used to be damn good.
    • by Ost99 (101831) * on Wednesday October 08, 2003 @12:57PM (#7164583)
      NEVER ever install ZoneAlarm!
      It corrupts downloads, uses a *lot* of system resources and shuts down connectins at random (IMAP is a real pain with ZoneAlarm).

      Use Kerio [kerio.com] instead. It's free, and just as easy to set up.

      - Ost
      • by EinarH (583836) on Wednesday October 08, 2003 @01:19PM (#7164865) Journal
        Or Sygate [sygate.com]

        Much better than ZoneAlarm.

        And do not think that "XP allready got a firewall" because that firewall don't stop outgoing connections. So when one of those trojans has snagged all your banking information the Xp firewall won't help you stop it.
        Having a firewall that detects outgoing connections is vital to learning about new spyware/malware/trojans/virus on your computer.

  • I just switched from my Evolution+Mozilla setup to a Mozilla only setup for email, contacts and web.

    It has _everything_ I need and the security tools are better (in my opinion) than the ones provided with Evolution: Evolution can use the external gpg system to sign, check signatures and encrypt, but the Mozilla Messenger uses RSA and Digital Certificates with the registered CAs and Personal Certificates, which is a better approach.

    And is free as in speech and as in beer, works for windows and linux, and h
  • It's probably been said already, but Mozilla Firebird [mozilla.org]

    No pop-ups, easily configurable for no ads, no spyware, no ActiveX crap, and it is free.
  • 1. TextEdit
    2. BBEdit
    3. iTunes
    4. iPhoto
    5. iCal
    6. AddressBook
    7. RBrowserLite FTP client
    8. Mozilla/Safari
    9. X Windows with OpenOffice
    10. Q U A K E III A R E N A with a broadband connection.
  • Must have (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) on Wednesday October 08, 2003 @12:36PM (#7164190)
    dual-boot between Windows XP Home and Mandrake 9.x. Before its arrival in a few weeks I'm trying to think of what 'essential' software I'll need to make a usable home system

    Get Partition Magic : as you use get used to both systems, you'll be able to progressively shrink your Windows partition and make your home system more and more usable.
  • I know you said no emphasis on gaming, but without these two games, your life just isn't complete!
    • Beware: System Shock 2 wouldn't install on Windows 2000 because of some kind of direct X issue (I wept! and gnashed my teeth, too!).

      Does it work on XP? That might be enough reason for me to get an XP-based laptop I've been looking at for a while...
  • OS X. ;P

    Ok, for real (assuming Windows) - Zone Alarm, Norton A/V, Firebird, Thunderbird.

    You might want to investigate http://www.litepc.com [litepc.com] as they have finally! released a version for Windows 2000/XP (It removes IE, OE, Media Player and all sorts of other icky-ness) Haven't tried it yet, but it looks promising.

  • I can't live without Mozilla and Winamp/XMMS. I have actually gotten used to just using a webmail client for my email so it doesn't matter which OS I'm using, and I have the mp3's stored on a fat32 partition mounted as /music in Linux, and M:\ in windows.

    Whatever software you can get for both OS's, get it. I'd definitely have to agree with OO.o if money is an issue, but frankly, Office XP works better, and faster. Sorry, folks, but it's got a lot more dev time behind it and it shows.
  • Can't help you much on the linux side (everythign else is already there in the distro...)

    BUT here are a couple of ideas

    AGV Antivirus -- http://www.grisoft.com/us/us_index.php

    e-mail -- webmail or outlook express

    photoediting -- GIMP for windows

    AWESOME Browser -- Mozilla Firebird

    Open Office

    All I can think of.

    Only thing you DON't have in this setup is a personal DB like Access, but do you really need that? I also havn't recommended anything specific to your work.. that is up to you.
  • by mccalli (323026) on Wednesday October 08, 2003 @12:37PM (#7164215) Homepage
    I came out of University ten years ago, got a job and wondered why I was still broke at the end of every month. I finally bought a spanking new 486 as development/Doom machine, and decided that for that amount of money I'd better try to do something useful with it too.

    Quicken.

    Now, I have no real experience with alternatives so this is a rant about using financial software in general, not Quicken in particular. However, the use I've got out of that piece of software is astounding. The information it gives you for planning is just priceless. You always know where you are, roughly what to expect, can play with what-if's to check how your situation might change...it's excellent.

    Get a home finance package, and get into the habit of using it about once a week. I guarantee you won't regret it.

    Cheers,
    Ian

  • First off, I highly recommend Firebird. When switching between the two OSes, the interface will stay the same, which is a big plus.It's free. Thunderbird is their mail client, which handles a whole bunch of different options and tasks. Free as well. www.mozilla.org.

    Second: Sygate Personal Firewall, downloadable from Download.com, is a huge boost in security and a *very* configurable firewall for Windows machines. It's free. AVG virus scanner is free and well-updated.

    Winamp/XMMS - if you plan on any multim
  • Pricelessware (Score:5, Informative)

    by cybermace5 (446439) <g.ryan@macetech.com> on Wednesday October 08, 2003 @12:38PM (#7164244) Homepage Journal
    Go to the Pricelessware [pricelessware.org] site maintained by the alt.comp.freeware Usenet group. On the group, they post and evalute freeware, and the winners make it on to the pricelessware list. Nagware, adware and shareware are frowned upon; the vast majority of the programs listed are no-strings freeware.
  • For IM... (Score:3, Informative)

    by CGP314 (672613) <CGP@ColinGregory ... net minus author> on Wednesday October 08, 2003 @12:39PM (#7164250) Homepage
    For instant messaging, I'd go with gaim. [sourceforge.net] Its ability to let you talk to people while leaving an away message up is a lifesaver for avoiding ex-girlfriends.
  • Irfanview (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    The best, lightweight graphics viewer, also does movies and sound clips. Great for slideshows keyboard shortcuts for everything. Even my mum can use it and she can't even use a mouse (seriously)

    www.irfanview.com
  • Lets see... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Lord Kholdan (670731) on Wednesday October 08, 2003 @12:40PM (#7164267)
    1) Firewall. You will need a good firewall. I've had good experience with Sygate personal firewall. But I'm by no means expert on this.

    2) New Browser. Some people are happy with IE but most appreciate the choice. I suggest Opera. As a plus, that'll also include a mail program but I cant comment about that.

    3) Audio. Winamp is the winner here, hands down.

    4) Video. If you're unhappy with WMP I suggest ZoomPlayer. Remember to download few codec packs too.

    5) This isn't really something to buy but I'll say it anyway. Newest service pack/patches. When starting from a clean table they're much easier to install and it's good to start with a patched computer, even if you're too lazy to keep it that way.

    Oh and links:
    www.sygate.com
    www.opera.com
    www.winamp. com
    http://www.inmatrix.com/files/zoomplayer_down load. shtml

    Those should get you started.
  • If you do a google search [google.com], google says the article was posted 20 hours ago, despite slashdot just showing it a few minutes ago.

    Is this a bug in google or do they have access to the articles before the general public?
  • Spyware stuff (Score:5, Informative)

    by zapp (201236) on Wednesday October 08, 2003 @12:40PM (#7164280)
    The best Ad-ware / Spyware removal tool I've found is
    SpyBot Search & Destroy [com.com]

    There is also Ad-Aware [lavasoft.com] though.

    Other stuff (non spyware related):
    Winamp [winamp.com](2x is best)
    Trillian [trillian.cc]/Gaim
    Browsers (and mail): IE6, Mozilla, Opera are all fine

    I've found both SlickRun and PopupPopper from Bayden Software [bayden.com] to be useful as well.

  • ZoneAlarm (Score:3, Informative)

    by TheTomcat (53158) on Wednesday October 08, 2003 @12:40PM (#7164284) Homepage
    I was discussing the virtues of software firewalls with my co-workers this morning.

    It's REALLY nice to be able to see what's "phoning home", on top of the regular firewall.

    There's a free version, too.

    S
    • Re:ZoneAlarm (Score:3, Informative)

      by Karhgath (312043)
      Stay Away from ZoneAlarm. I'm serious. It causes more headaches than anything, have some bugs when unistalling, is generally not very good at doing it's job and takes stupid decisions if you don't configure it correctly from the get-go. It also is the worst UI i've seen.

      The best one, in my previous experience as an ISP tech support, is Tiny Personal Firewall. I'm not sure it has a free version(I think it has one, but it's an older build), but it's about 50$ IIRC for the full version. Sygate is also nice.
      • Re:ZoneAlarm (Score:5, Informative)

        by YomikoReadman (678084) <jasonathelen@gmail . c om> on Wednesday October 08, 2003 @01:26PM (#7164971) Journal
        I've read over half a dozen posts like this so far, but this is the last on my viewables, so I'll post my reply here.

        Personally, I don't see why everyone is bashing ZA. I have been running it since they started releasing a free version, and have never had a single problem ever. On the other hand, I have watched BlackICE, Tiny, Sygate, and every other personal firewall I have tried let everything through that I didn't want coming in. Can ZA be a bit of pain as far as configuration goes? Yes, it can. I personally find it to be a bit of a pain whenever any of my MMOs are patched, because I have to reallow access. On the flip side of that, do I have to worry about script kiddies getting in through my mail or FTP ports? No, I don't because if an IP isn't on my ZA allow list, it doesn't get through, period. As far as an Uninstall bug goes, I have never run into that, while I have had that problem with all the Firewalls I mentioned.

  • A program that's not for gaming and runs almost constantly on my machine: iTunes. And when you need to make about two hours go by real fast, just turn on the visualizer mode. Oh, yeah: and keep a towel handy to soak up the drool while you sit there all strung out on "visual valium."
  • For email, I have set up Mozilla Thunderbird [mozilla.org] on my wife's Windows XP box - and she loves it.

    It has a very smart spam stopping feature, its easy for her to use (non technical person), and it doesn't have all of the virus problems associated with Outlook.

    She used to complain about Outlook all of the time on her old system. Since I put Thunderbird on there, I haven't heard a peep out of her; that is testimony enough in my book...
  • Its hard to think of 10 things you NEED that don't ship with the OS install.

    Your linux install will come with all the softare you need (strictly speaking). Your windows install will already have most of what you need, but will be missing a few things:

    1. A decent archiving utility that can handle most common formats (not just ZIP). I like Aladdin's Stuffit, but there are others. Winzip, which is quite popular has a shitty interface. Why consumer operating systems don't have better built-in support for
  • For audio recording and some mixing: http://audacity.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net]
    1. Mainstream Virus scanner (McAfee, Norton, ?) - worth the cost
    2. Non-virus-enabled Email client such as Netscape 7 or Mozilla - free
    3. Image viewer - I like ACDSee - small cost
    4. Unix shell - Cygwin - Unix shell amongst the borg - (mostly) free
    5. Zip tool - I prefer PowerZIP - small cost
    6. Telnet/SSH client - PuTTY rules - free
    7. Remote desktop - RealVNC - free
    8. Office tools - er, ahem, ah, MS Office - if you don't have to pay for it - big cost
    9. Text editor - TextPad - small cost
    10. CD/DVD burning tools - Nero, CloneCD, etc
  • On the Linux side, I think you'll find much of what you need included in your Mandrake distribution. A brief list of things to look for:

    1. Open Office (Excellent, though I find myself using gnumeric for alot of spreadsheet things still)
    2. The Gimp (You'll always need to edit graphics)
    3. Evolution (This is all I ever use anymore for email)
    4. GAIM (Assuming you'll do instant messaging)
    5. Transgaming WineX or Crossover Office (Even though you wont be doing primarily gaming, this is a handy way to make wine u
  • Firewall - Kerio Personal Firewall [kerio.com] - bloat-free firewall, very small memory footprint, extremely powerful, and it's free.

    Compression - 7zip [7-zip.org] - compression utility that handles virtually every format, integrated into UI, and it's free.

    Imaging - Irfanview [irfanview.com] - image viewer handles virtually all image formats, plays Flash and video, plus can thumbnail, batch-convert, retouch, and it's free.

    Music - Winamp [winamp.com] - Plays virtually all music formats (including WMA without the DRM annoyances), plus 2.91 now plays vi
  • My suggestions: (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Noryungi (70322) on Wednesday October 08, 2003 @12:47PM (#7164407) Homepage Journal
    Let's see...

    Here is what I use every day:

    Windows email: Pegasus Mail or Sylpheed/Claws
    Windows antivirus: AVG antivirus
    Windows browser: Firebird
    Windows office: Open office + MS Word (ugh!)
    Windows editor: vim/Gvim
    Windows firewall: ZoneAlarm, Note Tab
    Windows ripper: CDEx
    Windows Multimedia: WinAmp3
    Windows audio: Audacity
    Windows graphics: The Gimp, Iview32
    Windows SSH: PuTTY
    Extra: Unix command-line tools for Windows.

    Linux email: Sylpheed
    Linux antivirus: N/A
    Linux browser: Gaelon or Firebird
    Linux office: Open Office or Ted + PostGreSQL + GNUmeric + ...
    Linux editor: vim/gvim
    Linux firewall: IPTables... ;-)
    Linux GUI: XFCE
    Linux Multimedia: XMMS
    Linux Audio: Audacity
    Linux Graphics: The Gimp, Gnome Viewer
    Linux SSH: OpenSSH (what else?!) :-)

    Etc... etc... I could go on and on but most of the programs I use really are free software or freeware.
  • ... I know I can get something like Open Office for word processing, presentation, etc. needs, but is there such a good thing as a good free virus checker? A good free email client? A handy web browser? ...

    What is everyone's predisposition for zero-cost software?? Sometimes, it doesn't hurt to shell out a little cash for something you appreciate.

    That said, here's my list:

    1. StarOffice 7 (or the latest OpenOffice)
    2. Mozilla or Opera or ... (browser)
    3. Mozilla Mail or Evolution or ... (email)
    4. XMMS or WinAmp
  • Assuming you use IE as a browser (which I assume the majority of my fellow posters will advise against) the Google Toolbar [google.com] is a must have.

    It's a double must-have for a family system for the searching power it brings to computer neophytes.
  • Some free, Free and not so free applications:

    Webbrowser Mozilla Firebird [texturizer.net] (Win / linux)
    Email Eudora [eudora.com] (win) Evolution [ximian.com] (linux)
    Office suite OpenOffice.org [openoffice.org] 1.1 (win / linux)
    SSH client putty [greenend.org.uk] (win) openssh (linux)
    Videoplayer VLC [videolan.org] (win / linux) or BSPlayer [bsplayer.org] (win) and Xine [sourceforge.net] (linux)
    Editor Textpad [textpad.com] (windows) Kate [kde.org] (linux)
    Chat Jabber PSI [affinix.com] (win / linux)
    Firewall Kerio [kerio.com] (win)
    Anti virus F-Secure [f-secure.com] (not free) (win)

    - Ost
  • ...are the SysInternals tools [sysinternals.com] just in case I want to be serious about what the box is doing, and the Textpad editor [textpad.com] in case I want to be serious about editing.

    And it's never a bad idea to have the Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer [microsoft.com] handy.
  • Total Commander (Score:3, Informative)

    by Karamchand (607798) on Wednesday October 08, 2003 @12:56PM (#7164573)
    A perfect file manager. No mouse needed, fully customizable, packer and filesystem plugins.
    For the Linux side use for example midnight commander.
    • Re:Total Commander (Score:3, Informative)

      by Murdoc (210079)

      I have to agree with this one here, I've been using TC since it was still called Windows Commander (after Norton Commander) but M$ sent them a "nasty" letter [ghisler.com] about using the word "windows". Rather than fight them at all they just changed the name because they felt that it was limiting them anyway, so now they can go cross-platform. I love it when someone can turn a disadvantage into an advantage. Best ability you can have in life!

      One feature you didn't mention was the wicked FTP client. Since the program

  • by gosand (234100) on Wednesday October 08, 2003 @01:09PM (#7164724)
    Some of my must-haves....

    Irfanview [irfanview.com] - hands down the best image viewer out there for Windows. Free. Windows only (but will run under Wine if you want)

    Gimp [gimp.org] - if you want to edit images. Free. Linux and Windows.

    MAME [mame.net] - for games, period. Free. You can buy some ROMs, or *ahem* ask around. Windows and Linux. (Xmame)

    CDex [n3.net] - for CD ripping in Windows. Free. Windows only, but several good ripping programs are available for Linux. (search freshmeat)

    GNUWin [gnuwin.epfl.ch] - a collection of free apps for Windows. Worth the download.

    Audacity [sourceforge.net] - if you want to create/edit sound files. Free. Linux and Windows.

    Winamp [winamp.com] - for listening to audio files. Free. Windows only. I like XMMS for Linux over Freeamp.

    Opera [opera.com] - web browsing, email. Free. Windows and Linux. I prefer it over Mozilla, but not by much.

  • Windows suggestions (Score:3, Informative)

    by W2k (540424) <wilhelm.svenselius@gma i l .com> on Wednesday October 08, 2003 @01:17PM (#7164822) Homepage Journal
    Mozilla [mozilla.org], powerful and free web browser/mail suite.
    OpenOffice [openoffice.org], powerful office suite.
    Ad-Aware [lavasoftusa.com] for keeping spyware (Gator etc) out.
    BitTorrent [bitconjurer.org] for all your P2P needs.
    ZomeAlarm [zonelabs.com] a good firewall.
    Avast! Antivirus [avast.com] good AV app, free for home use.
    TextPad [textpad.com] powerful and easy-to-use text editor.
    SmartFTP [smartftp.com] powerful and free FTP client.

    On top of these, I always install these non-free apps (non-development related):
    Paint Shop Pro [jasc.com] all the relevant functionality from Photoshop at a much better price.
    Klient [klient.com] the best IRC client. Ever.

    Some people have mentioned:
    CygWin - a home, non-dev PC doesn't need it
    VNC - a home, non-dev PC doesn't need it, and it has security issues
    Dev-C++ - not needed on a home PC, it's for development.
    NetHack - huh!?
    Boingo - the article submitter didn't mention anything about having a WLAN card, so why would he need to find hotspots?
    Winamp - redundant since Microsoft released WMP9, which I've found to be just as fast, more stable than WA3, and better at playing movies. Of course, YMMV, and some people prefer to stay away from MS stuff for ideological reasons.
  • My top ten picks (Score:5, Informative)

    by guacamolefoo (577448) on Wednesday October 08, 2003 @01:22PM (#7164916) Homepage Journal
    Sorry for the repeats of others' picks, but you wanted my advice, and here it is:
    1. AVG Antivirus - free for home users with free updates
    2. OpenOffice.org 1.1 (office suite)
    3. Irfan (for image viewing)
    4. Mozilla - tabbed browsing, pop-up blocking and email filtering
    5. Pegasus Mail (an alternative email client if you hate Mozilla's)
    6. Winamp for audio playing (I prefer the 2.x versions)
    7. CDex (for making MP3 files from CD)
    8. MAME (for playing old arcade games)
    9. Nero (for burning CDs)
    10. Qcast media player (lets my PS2 read video, photo, and MP3 files from my computer so that it can display same on my TV rig)

    Other tools that I use extensively, but which are not necessarily "home user" applications are:
    1. Putty (for ssh connections to servers)
    2. WS-FTP (ftp - free for non-commercial use)
    3. VNC (lets me take control of other machines remotely using the GUI, also lets me control my home machine remotely the same way)

    As far as entertainment titles go, it really depends on your preferences, but mine are:
    1. Baldur's Gate I/II
    2. Neverwinter Nights (tons of free modules extend the playability tremendously)
    3. Civil War Generals II (very, very cheap and it's a neat (American) Civil War game, also lets you create scenarios to play. The stuff they give you is really easy to beat, though. I'd like to see a third edition of this title.)
  • by JavaLord (680960) on Wednesday October 08, 2003 @01:32PM (#7165019) Journal
    Here are the programs you need to have a k-133t windows system.

    1. AOL [aolsucks.org]- DUH, they are the greatest ISP ever.

    2. Webshots [towson.edu] - Impress your friends with your changing wallpaper!

    3. Hotbar [aroundcny.com] - Skin Internet Explorer and Impress your friends!

    4. AOHell [ncl.ac.uk] This program will make you l33t!

    5. Incredimail [dslreports.com] This makes your e-mail look k00lah then everyone elses.

    6. Microsoft Outlook [slipstick.com] because all the anti-virus tools work with it. You don't want to use another e-mail client, you might get a virus!

    7. Comet Cursor. [accs-net.com] Makes your cursor R0x0r.

    8. Intruder Alert 99 [accs-net.com] You need a firewall, the internet isn't a safe place!

    9. Gator [cexx.org] Gator is an awesome program that helps u remember ur passwords. This way u don't have to fill out stupid forms!

    10. BO Server [sophos.com] The guys in my gaming clan sent me this, they said it would improve my FPS, and make windows run faster. I think it did!
  • by msimm (580077) on Wednesday October 08, 2003 @01:37PM (#7165063) Homepage
    Windows:

    Kerio [kerio.com] /or Sygate [sygate.com] for firewall (both are good)
    Aladdin's free StuffIt Expander [stuffit.com] (unpacks a lot of different compressed files, including SIT and Gunzip's)
    AVG antivirus [grisoft.com] (free for personal home use)
    QuickClear lite [macrospeed.net] (deletes IE cookies/cache/empty's trash)
    StartPro [daesoft.com] (well, it used to be free. Gives you a nice list of programs set to load at bootup, including registry keys.)
    Ad-Aware [lavasoftusa.com] everybodies favorite adware/malware answer.

    Mandrake is (of course) easy:

    Got the Easy Urpmi [zarb.org] and follow the directions to install all the different media sites. Once you do that (its just a cut and paste job) you can fire up rpmdrake and search for software by name/description/type/etc. Mandrake installs with a lot of the right stuff already. I'd recommend maybe installing nano (easy command line text editor if you hate VI/VIM/EMACS/ETC) and of course if you running a system with a NVidia card get the NVIDIA drivers (rpmdrake, but if their not listed NVidia [nvidia.com] will have them).

  • by doodleboy (263186) on Wednesday October 08, 2003 @02:18PM (#7165279)
    Despite Microsoft's press releases to the contrary, Windows machines are not secure and need decent firewall and antivirus software. I see others have already mentioned the Kerio firewall [kerio.com], so I'll just add that it can be easily extended with Sponge's excellent, freely available filters [geocities.com]. (I'm using set 2, but there are versions that are both more or less rigorous). I've also AVG Antivirus installed it seems to work well enough.

    Some other useful free utilities:

    Tclockex [iafrica.com]
    A small utility that greatly increases the usefullness of the system tray clock. You can have the date as well as the time, as well as a resource monitor that lets you know at a glance how the system is doing.

    AboutTime" [arachnoid.com]
    A little applet that sets the system clock from a list of time servers. Works well and unobtrusively.

    7-zip [7-zip.org]
    An easy to use explorer plug-in that understands most kinds of compressed files.

    CDex [sourceforge.net]
    A great tool for ripping / converting CDs and mp3s.

    X-teq> [xteq.com]
    A very powerful utility that lets you change pretty much everything that's changeable in Windows. Allows you to set Windows update registration done, which would only be useful to pirates and won't be mentioned here.

    The Proxomitron [arcor.de]
    A web proxy that strips out ads, pop-ups and other garbage.

    I'm more familiar with Redhat, but I have no doubt Mandrake will come out of the box with programs that are functionally equivalent to the ones listed here.
  • My list (Score:4, Interesting)

    by danila (69889) on Wednesday October 08, 2003 @02:33PM (#7165381) Homepage
    Here is what I use, for what it's worth. Sorry, no links, too lazy for that - AllTheWeb [alltheweb.com] is your friend.

    Top 10:
    Browser - Opera
    Mail client - The Bat!
    IM - Miranda
    File navigator - FAR
    Treepad - extremely useful thing
    Winamp - play music
    BSPlayer or Sasami2k - play video
    Antivirus - Kaspersky AVP
    ACDSee or IrfanView to view images. PicaView is also very cool.
    Firewall - AtGuard!

    some more
    Spam filter - either use built-in or get K9 (easy to use bayesian filter)
    A news reader (if needed) - ForteAgent (although I don't like it, but haven't seen anything better)
    Media Player Classic with Real and Quicktime support (check Kazaa Lite Plus page) - no need to use clunky proprietary players
    Something to rip CDs, encode MP3s and record CDs. I use Nero and RazorLame. A virtual CD, like Alcohol 120%, may be.
    Image editor - PhotoImpact
    To view annoying PDF files - Acrobat Reader
    WatzNew - to check websites
    Proximotron - for fixing the web :)
    Internet Maniac - a bunch of tools like Ping and Traceroute
    NetLimiter - manage bandwidth between applications
    filesharing - Kazaa, eMule, Shareaza
    Download managers - Offline Explorer
    Stream downloaders - StreamBox
    Alarm - Music Alarm Clock (the only one I know with fadein/fadeout)
    Desknote - to place post-it notes on your desktop
    Cool Desk - virtual desktops
    Ad-aware - to remove adware and spyware
    VoptXP - drive defragmenter
    Remote Administrator or VNC - for remote administration
    PGPTools - encryption

    Yeah, it's more than 10, but there is no such thing as too much software. :)
  • by egarland (120202) on Wednesday October 08, 2003 @02:44PM (#7165461)
    This is what I make sure all the Windows computers I send out have:
    • Windows 2000 or XP (Anything older is more trouble than it's worth.)
    • Open Office
    • Mozilla and plugins:
      • Quick Time
      • Real Player
      • Flash player
      • Java JRE
    • Acrobat Reader
    • WinZip
    • Winamp
    • RealVNC (If they will ever need help)
    • Tweak UI
    • Norton Antivirus (or one of the free ones if it's not worth the money)
    I put these on every Windows machine, no matter what it will be doing. After that, you need to look at what it will be used for to determine what software should be on there.

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