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Ask Slashdot: What Software Can You Not Live Without? 531

An anonymous reader writes "Whenever I install a fresh operating system on my computer, I immediately grab a handful of programs that I simply must have. After that, I generally wait and install other pieces of software as I need them. My list of known, useful programs has dwindled over the past few years as projects died, ownership transferred, and functionality changed. At the same time, I've begun to have use for certain types of software that I've never needed before. It can be time-consuming and risky to install and evaluate every single option. So, I'm curious: what pieces of software do you find the most useful and reliable? Don't feel the need to limit yourself by operating system, platform, or hardware. If you're so inclined, a brief description about what makes the software great would be helpful, too."
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Ask Slashdot: What Software Can You Not Live Without?

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  • /. cookies (Score:5, Interesting)

    by L'Ange Oliver ( 1521251 ) on Sunday March 02, 2014 @09:27AM (#46380781) Homepage
    Always the first thing I install. It even works on all major OS. Keeps beta version at bay ;)
  • GCC etc. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by StripedCow ( 776465 ) on Sunday March 02, 2014 @09:29AM (#46380789)

    sudo apt-get -y install build-essential

    And also:
    sudo apt-get -y install vim
    sudo apt-get -y install git-core
    sudo apt-get -y install tcsh
    sudo apt-get -y install python
    sudo apt-get -y install python-setuptools
    sudo apt-get -y install libboost-all-dev
    sudo apt-get -y install gdb
    sudo apt-get -y install valgrind

  • by Blaskowicz ( 634489 ) on Sunday March 02, 2014 @10:21AM (#46381113)

    There is some nice stuff to have, sometimes trivial and sometimes quite useful.

    GNU screen (some people will like tmux)
    irssi (preferably it runs on an always-on box with screen and ssh server)

    dtrx : perfect to extract archives from the command line. It solves the problem of tar -xzvf random_shit.tar.gz : the archive's content may or may not be in a directory, such as random_shit/. So if you extract the archive right away, you run the risk of polluting your current directory with loads of crap (like 10 directories + 105 files at the root of the archive). If you do mkdir random_shit, cd random_shit and tar -xzvf ../random_shit.tar.gz, you run the risk of having wasted your time : if files were at the archive's root, all is fine. If they were in a random_shit directory, now your data has been extracted to a random_shit/random_shit directory and you have to do mv random_shit/* . then rmdir random_shit.
    I used to do the mkdir random_shit method, or to open the archive in a graphical archive manager before deciding what to do. But dtrx automates this! and works equally for .zip, .tar.gz, .tar.bz2 and all others.

    When I used Windows I liked some command line stuff too : set the DIRCMD environment variable to /O, have the console default to 80x43 and right-click to paste (I think, not sure that worked), and have Windows versions of wget and less.

  • by MarcoAtWork ( 28889 ) on Sunday March 02, 2014 @11:46AM (#46381543)

    - microsoft security essentials
    - windows firewall control (commercial)
    - cygwin
    - notepad++
    - sysutils (procmon etc.)
    - ultramon (commercial)
    - launchy
    - sharpkeys
    - autohotkey
    - visual c++ express
    - 7-zip

    - little snitch (commercial)
    - macports
    - better touch tool
    - keyremap4macbook
    - iterm2
    - alfred
    - geektool
    - menumeters
    - caffeine
    - xcode

    - whatever distro-specific set of packages gets me all the dev stuff
    - (if needed) whatever distro-specific repository gets me extra packages (say, epel)
    - kde
    - xfce
    - various personal customizations done over the years (xmodmap, ...)

    - firefox (noscript, requestpolicy, adblock, flashblock)
    - emacs
    - python / virtualenvwrapper / git ...
    - bash customizations (powerline, bash completions, personal scripts)
    - libreoffice and latex
    - truecrypt
    - virtualbox
    - dropbox
    - gimp

    these are the baseline, beyond that it depends from what I am using the actual computer for

  • by SpaceGhost ( 23971 ) on Sunday March 02, 2014 @12:29PM (#46381749)

    Most of the above (thanks for the tip on Greenshot, since Printkey2000 doesnt work on Win7.)
    Ultraedit is great but I'm hoping to do the same kind of scripting in Notepad++.
    Firefox with noscript, adblock, request policy, ghostery, https everywhere, mobile barcoder, pluggin toggler and self-destructing cookies and a few others.
    I have Keepass on my cpu and android phone.
    Whatever anti-virus Im currently using (Webroot for the moment)

    FileMenu Tools - various file utilities accessible via right-click in explorer, includes shredding and an excellent file renaming utility
    CutePDF - lightweight PDF printer
    CDRTFE - excellent open source optical media burner
    RichCopy - Microsofts GUI replacement for robocopy, highly configurable and multithreaded
    BareGrep - very light GREP search tool, doesnt require indexes, searches filename and content, quite fast.
    MenuApp - make my own pop-up menus in the taskbar
    Hotswap - enhanced control of storage devices
    Jacksum - great hasher accessible via "send-to", Hashtab also works
    Rainmeter because i hate not knowing what my computer is doing, Samurize when I need to monitor more than one CPU
    PrismHUD for the same reason

    and Audacity (and Lame), GIMP, Inkscape, Foobar2000, Foxit reader, RawTherapee.

  • Desktop utilities (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Immerman ( 2627577 ) on Sunday March 02, 2014 @01:33PM (#46382119)

    -Virtuawin - mature, stable virtual desktops for Windows. There's prettier alternatives, but this is the I've tried that has never caused any crashing or other issues.
    -WinCompose - Gives Windows users a Compose key for entering unicode characters (plus-or-minus, subscripts, extended math symbols, etc) using the same mnemonics as are standard on *nixes, rather than having to remember their code point or use a character map.
    -Everything - File search by name, winnows down a list of every file on your hard drive just as fast as you can type the word-fragments that should be in the file name (NTFS only)
    -WinDirstat - Directory size information - interactive tree-view is available instantly and updated as the breadth-first scan proceeds, pillow-view is added once the scan is complete.
    -BabelMap - far more powerful alternative to Character Map, including the ability to search by character name or browse by code page
    -SpeedCrunch - good calculator that keeps a long calculation history
    -GraphCalc - excellent 2D/3D programmable graphing calculator. Open source, but apparently pretty much abandoned.

    I won't bother much with heavyweight apps, since others have listed them many times. Except for
    Code::Blocks - cross-platform IDE. Not the best I've used, but it's available on all the major OSes.
    EasyMercurial - super-simplified, "grandma suitable" GUI interface for the handful of most commonly used version control functions, including graphical visualization of the branch/merge graph. Whether you don't use version control as not worth the hassle, or want to introduce budding developers to the wonders of source control without getting them bogged down in the details, you need this. And if/when you outgrow it your archives are all standard Mercurial, so you can seamlessly upgrade to the command line or a more powerful GUI.

  • My List (Score:4, Interesting)

    by inglorion_on_the_net ( 1965514 ) on Sunday March 02, 2014 @02:08PM (#46382367) Homepage

    First things first:

    aptitude so dependencies automatically get installed and uninstalled. Edit the configuration to not install recommended packages by default. Keep it lean!


    openntpd (or some other ntpd) so the computer will know what time it is.

    sudo so that I can log in as a regular user and still do system maintenance.

    openssh-server (or some other SSH server) so I can log in remotely. I usually change the port number. Make sure root logins are disabled.

    tmux so that I can have multiple shells in a single ssh session. screen works for this, too, but I recently switched to tmux.

    rsync so that I can copy files around efficiently.

    After that, it depends on what I want to do with the system. Usually, there will be at least some software development, so build-essential (libc-dev, gcc, make), irb, git. Usually ssh and some network debugging tools like ping and traceroute6.

    I like zsh, so if I'm going to be using the system extensively, I'll install that. If this is my primary system, irssi and mutt. If the system has enough memory to run it, emacs24-nox.

    If I want a GUI, xserver-xorg, xterm, whatever window manager I happen to like at the moment (wmii), some web browser (iceweasel).

    It's been a while since I've last done this, so I may have missed some things, but this seems to be about it. The package names are for Debian-like systems and will likely be a bit different for other systems, but I don't generally maintain those.

Garbage In -- Gospel Out.