Free Software Recommendations
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LibreOffice is a clean and fully-featured office suite with full support for Microsoft Office files. We recommend using Open Document Format.
FireFox is the browser from the nonprofit Mozilla Foundation that freed the web. We don't recommend Google Chrome because although it is based on a free software project (Chromium), it is distributed as proprietary software with many features that track your online activities.
- Adblock Plus allows you to regain control of the internet and view the web the way you want to. The add-on is supported by over forty filter subscriptions in dozens of languages which automatically configure it for purposes ranging from removing online advertising to blocking all known malware domains.
- Tree Style Tabs provides tree-style tab bar, like a folder tree of Windows Explorer. New tabs opened from links (or etc.) are automatically attached to the current tab. If you often use many many tabs, it will help your web browsing because you can understand relations of tabs.
- After the Deadline uses artificial intelligence to check spelling, style, and grammar. Use it to check your tweets, find mistakes in your email, and socialize with confidence. Click the ABC icon in the lower-right corner of an editable area to proofread your writing.
- HTTPS Everywhere encrypts your communications with many major websites, making your browsing more secure.
- Zotero Research Helper is like a personal research assistant, inside your browser.
- NoScript provides extra protection to your Firefox.
Ebook Reader and Library
Calibre is a ebook computer software that organizes, saves and manages e-books, supporting a variety of formats. It also supports e-book syncing with a variety of popular e-book readers and will convert e-books between differing formats.
RSSOwl is a free and powerful news feed reader. RSSOwl lets you gather, organize and search news in a convenient, easy to use interface with endless flexibility.
PDF Readers.org is a website that recommends the best free software PDF reader available for your operating system. This is a great alternative to the bloated Adobe PDF Reader that slows computers and is known for having security problems.
Pidgin (OS X users should use Adium) is an instant messaging application that connects with Jabber, Google Talk, Facebook Chat, AIM, Yahoo, MSN, and just about every other instant messenger network.
- Off-the-record is a plugin for Pidgin that will protects your conversations from being snooped on.
Adium (Windows users should use Pidgin) is based on Pidgin but made for OS X.
Thunderbird is an email application that gives you greater control over your messages.
Hotot is a microblogging client that supports Twitter and StatusNet sites such as Identi.ca
Privacy and Anonymity
Tor allows you to browse the web anonymously. It's an open network that helps you defend against a form of network surveillance that threatens personal freedom and privacy, confidential business activities and relationships, and state security known as traffic analysis.
Bitcoin is an experimental new digital currency that enables instant payments to anyone, anywhere in the world. Bitcoin uses peer-to-peer technology to operate with no central authority: managing transactions and issuing money are carried out collectively by the network.
KeePassX is an application to keep track of your passwords for people with extremly high demands on secure personal data management.
Transmission (Windows users should use Deluge below) is a fast, sleek, and lightweight BitTorrent client.
Deluge (OS X users should use Transmission above) is a powerful BitTorrent client with lots of advanced features.
Darknets and Anonymous P2P
Freenet is a distributed network to share files, chat on forums, browse and publish, anonymously and without fear of blocking or censorship! Then connect to your friends for even better security!
OneSwarm is a P2P file sharing service that protects your privacy. It's fast, BitTorrent-compatible, and free!
RetroShare is a private and secure decentralised communication platform. It lets you to securely chat and share files with your friends and family, using a web-of-trust to authenticate peers and OpenSSL to encrypt all communication. RetroShare provides filesharing, chat, messages, forums and channels.
GNUnet is a framework for secure peer-to-peer networking that does not use any centralized or otherwise trusted services. A first service implemented on top of the networking layer allows anonymous censorship-resistant file-sharing. Anonymity is provided by making messages originating from a peer indistinguishable from messages that the peer is routing. All peers act as routers and use link-encrypted connections with stable bandwidth utilization to communicate with each other. GNUnet uses a simple, excess-based economic model to allocate resources. Peers in GNUnet monitor each others behavior with respect to resource usage; peers that contribute to the network are rewarded with better service.
GIMP is a photo editing program similar to Adobe Photoshop. Photoshop gained a lot of attention in 2010 when they released Content Aware Fill, but GIMP has had the Resynthesizer tool for half a decade longer.
Hugin Panorama Photo Stitcher allows you to assemble a mosaic of photographs into a complete immersive panorama, stitch any series of overlapping pictures and much more.
Luminance HDR is a free software application that aims to provide a workflow for HDR imaging.
RAW Photo Editing
Darktable is a photography workflow application and RAW developer. A virtual lighttable and darkroom for photographers. It manages your digital negatives in a database, lets you view them through a zoomable lighttable and enables you to develop raw images and enhance them.
RawTherapee is a cross platform image processing software equipped with the essential tools for high quality and efficient RAW photo development.
Photivo is a raw photo processor. It handles your RAW files as well as your bitmap files (TIFF, JPEG, BMP, PNG and many more) in a non-destructive 16 bit processing pipe with gimp workflow integration and batch mode.
Inkscape is a free software vector graphics editor, with capabilities similar to Illustrator, CorelDraw, or Xara X, using the W3C standard Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) file format.
Scribus is a free software program that brings professional page layout to Linux/UNIX, Mac OS X, OS/2 Warp 4/eComStation and Windows desktops with a combination of press-ready output and new approaches to page design.
Underneath a modern and user-friendly interface, Scribus supports professional publishing features, such as color separations, CMYK and Spot Color support, ICC color management, and versatile PDF creation.
MyPaint Drawing is a fast and easy graphics application for digital painters. It lets you focus on the art instead of the program. You work on your canvas with minimum distractions, bringing up the interface only when you need it.
Alchemy Sketching is a drawing project aimed at exploring how we can sketch, draw, and create on computers in new ways. Alchemy isn’t software for creating finished artwork, but rather a sketching environment that focuses on the absolute initial stage of the creation process. Experimental in nature, Alchemy lets you brainstorm visually to explore an expanded range of ideas and possibilities in a serendipitous way.
3D graphics and animation
Blender is a 3D computer graphics software product used for creating animated films, visual effects, interactive 3D applications or video games. Blender's features include 3D modeling, UV unwrapping, texturing, rigging and skinning, fluid and smoke simulation, particle simulation, animating, match moving, camera tracking, rendering, video editing and compositing. It also features a built-in game engine.
Synfig Studio is 2D animation software, designed as powerful industrial-strength solution for creating film-quality animation using a vector and bitmap artwork. It eliminates the need to create animation frame-by frame, allowing you to produce 2D animation of a higher quality with fewer people and resources.
Pencil is an animation/drawing software for Mac OS X, Windows, and Linux. It lets you create traditional hand-drawn animation (cartoon) using both bitmap and vector graphics.
Media Players and Studio Editing
Miro is an Internet television application developed by the Participatory Culture Foundation. It runs on Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X and GNU/Linux and supports most known video file formats. It offers both audio and video, some in HD quality.
VLC media player is a multimedia player and framework that plays most multimedia files as well as DVD, Audio CD, VCD, and various streaming protocols.
Handbrake is a video transcoder that supports tons of formats.
Miro Video Converter is a super simple way to convert almost any video to MP4, WebM (vp8), Ogg Theora, or for Android, iPhone, and more.
Audacity is a basic application to easily record and edit audio.
Ardour is a hard disk recorder and digital audio workstation application. It runs on Linux, Mac OS X and FreeBSD. Its primary author is Paul Davis, who is also responsible for the JACK Audio Connection Kit. Ardour's intention is to provide digital audio workstation software suitable for professional use.
DJ and Live Mixing
Mixxx is digital DJing software that allows an individual to mix music using a personal computer, as a DJ would with a pair of physical turntables. It is specifically suited to the style of mixing known as beatmatching.
Avidemux is a video editor designed for simple cutting, filtering and encoding tasks. It supports many file types, including AVI, DVD compatible MPEG files, MP4 and ASF, using a variety of codecs. Tasks can be automated using projects, job queue and powerful scripting capabilities.
VLMC (VideoLAN Movie Creator) is a non-linear editing software for video creation based on libVLC and running on Windows, Linux and Mac OS X!
Musescore is a complete scorewriter and notation editor with a feature set comparable to Sibelius or Finale, and supports a wide variety of file formats and input methods.
Lilypond is a computer program and file format for music engraving. One of LilyPond's major goals is to produce scores that are engraved with traditional layout rules, reflecting the era when scores were engraved by hand.
Study Helpers and Productivity Apps
To Do Lists
TaskCoach is a simple todo manager to keep track of personal tasks and todo lists. It is designed for composite tasks, and also offers effort tracking, categories, notes and more.
Flashcards and Learning Enhancement
Mnemosyne Flashcards is a spaced repetition memorization application.
Gnaural is a brainwave entrainment application that can help you focus.
Full Screen Text Editing
FocusWriter is a simple, distraction-free writing environment. It utilizes a hide-away interface that you access by moving your mouse to the edges of the screen, allowing the program to have a familiar look and feel to it while still getting out of the way so that you can immerse yourself in your work.
TextRoom is a full screen rich text editor developed with especially writers in mind.
TextRoom and all other similar editors share one goal: to get you writing right away by providing distraction free environment to your liking, as well as familiar set of keyboard shortcuts to control its behavior. If you don't feel comfortable already with your editor of choice, you may find it useful.
Tomighty is a convenient, easy to use, eye candy desktop application that helps you organize and execute your tasks in the Pomodoro way. The Pomodoro Technique is a simple way to boost your productivity when performing mind-consuming tasks. It helps you keep yourself focused while reducing mental exhaustion.
Rachota is a portable application for timetracking different projects. It runs everywhere. It displays time data in diagram form, creates customized reports and invoices or analyses measured data and suggests hints to improve user's time usage. The totally portable yet personal timetracker.
TimeEdition is targeted at all users in a computer workplace who value detailed documentation of their working hours, whether they use it for customer billing or for monitoring the duration of individual projects.
SelfRestraint (OS X users should use SelfControl below) blocks websites you pick for a set amount of time. That way you can continue to go online without the fear of getting distracted. Once it's running, there's no turning back until the time expires.
SelfControl (Windows users should use Self Restraint above) is an application that lets you block your own access to distracting websites, your mail servers, or anything else on the Internet. Just set a period of time to block for, add sites to your blacklist, and click "Start." Until that timer expires, you will be unable to access those sites--even if you restart your computer or delete the application.
Launchy is designed to help you forget about your start menu, the icons on your desktop, and even your file manager. Launchy indexes the programs in your start menu and can launch your documents, project files, folders, and bookmarks with just a few keystrokes!
Notational Velocity is an application that stores and retrieves notes. It is an attempt to loosen the mental blockages to recording information and to scrape away the tartar of convention that handicaps its retrieval. The solution is by nature nonconformist.
Zim Notes is a graphical text editor used to maintain a collection of wiki pages. Each page can contain links to other pages, simple formatting and images. Pages are stored in a folder structure, like in an outliner, and can have attachments. Creating a new page is as easy as linking to a nonexistent page. All data is stored in plain text files with wiki formatting. Various plugins provide additional functionality, like a task list manager, an equation editor, a tray icon, and support for version control.
BOINC Distributed Computing is a way to donate your computer's spare power to crunching numbers for medical, scientific, and other research.
Electric Sheep is a collaborative abstract artwork founded by Scott Draves. It's run by thousands of people all over the world, and can be installed on any ordinary PC or Mac. When these computers "sleep", the Electric Sheep comes on and the computers communicate with each other by the internet to share the work of creating morphing abstract animations known as "sheep".
Anyone watching one of these computers may vote for their favorite animations using the keyboard. The more popular sheep live longer and reproduce according to a genetic algorithm with mutation and cross-over. Hence the flock evolves to please its global audience. You can also design your own sheep and submit them to the gene pool.
The result is a collective "android dream", blending man and machine to create an artificial lifeform. Learn more about it.
Diagrams and Mind Mapping