Perfectly Imperfect Family and Finances

A couples thoughts on faith, family, and finances

Free Software that Makes My Life Easier Part 1

Posted By on February 17, 2008

2 3.5 floppy disk
Over the last few years the amount of free, open source software has increased exponentially. Most of these programs work just as good, if not better than, their “name brand” competition. Here is a list of the 100% free software that I use on a daily basis.
  1. OpenOffice. This is by far the program that I use the most. It has all the features that MS Office has, and you can even save in Office format if you need to share the file widely or use it on a system that you cannot download OpenOffice on. You can get you free copy here.
  2. Gimp Shop. Same features as Adobe Photoshop, only loads cheaper. I will say that if you are not familiar with photo editing software, this may not be the best choice for you. The amount of editing this program allows you to complete is astronomical.
  3. Adobe PDF. This is a free pdf reader. I usually end up hitting one or two files online each day that are only available in .pdf format.
  4. Mozilla Firefox. This is a great web browser. The add ons are phenomenal, and it is a very smooth running browser that has rarely crashed on me. I will write another article on my favorite Firefox add-ons; way to many to list here!
  5. Mozilla Thunderbird. A very sleek email program that is similar to Outlook for sending and receiving emails. Also has add-ons available to add the calendar aspect as well.
  6. GnuCash. This is a program to rival MS Money, Quicken, and other financial software. It is not as easy to navigate, or set up as the others, but it has good built in help files to get you started. Be sure to download the last “stable” release.
  7. MusikCube. If you only listen to music on your PC, this is a very light media player. It has a wonderful customizable dynamic play list that lets you create your own dynamic list.
  8. Truecrypt. If you travel and use flash drives for sensitive information, this is a must have. Cutting edge encryption that actually makes the data invisible to those who do not know it is there. Website has more details.
  9. Sunbird. Another Mozilla application. A very user friendly calendar. I use it to schedule routine task. Also, you can download an add-on that will sync with Google calendar so you have access no matter where you are!
  10. Keypass. A password tool that keeps all your passwords encrypted and in one place. Allows drag and drop feature, and you can link to the sites inside the program.
Those are just a few, the rest will be revealed in later post. I think we will also do a post on Firefox add-ons only. They really make the functionality of my browser go through the roof.
What free software do you use? Ever had any massive failures while trying open source programs?
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4 Responses to “Free Software that Makes My Life Easier Part 1”

  1. Tara says:

    OpenOffice, Firefox, Thunderbird. Fabulous products, every last one.

    For PDFs, yes, the reader is good, but I like to print to PDF from any program. OpenOffice does this natively, but it’s nice to have from other applications as well. I use PDFcreator. It’s free and gets installed as a printer drive.

    Keepass – also a classic app. I’m a little biased on this one though. I founded an online password manager (PassPack – free of course) so I tend to prefer access 24/7 via web. A lot of our user use Keepass as a back up though.


  2. Tara says:

    Sounds great! Let me know if you have any questions. We have a new release coming up soon too, so lots of changes in the works:


  3. Spock says:

    For a fast PDF reader I use the free Foxit Reader. A lot faster than Adobe’s reader, and is a self-contained single exe-file. You can just drop it on your desktop if you want no installation hassles. And OpenOffice can export your documents to PDF. Remember to keep the original, though. The version I’ve used atleast doesn’t edit PDF-files.

  4. As a long-time Linux user, I’m accustomed to most of these programs, including Gimp, but I hadn’t heard of Gimpshop before. I’ll have to give the link a look-see.

    To your list I would add Eraser and GnuPG. Eraser is a one-at-a-time file eradicator (also works on directories and will encrypt the unused space on your drive so that all the blank space looks the same … leaving no clue as to where ‘the good stuff’ starts or stops.

    Eraser is only available for Windows. I use both XP and Ubuntu and I find that I miss Eraser on Linux.

    GnuPG is an e-mail encryptor / decryptor that uses public keys to enable secure communications when you need to email something that you WOULDN’T put on a post card. It also serves to authenticate the sender of an email and can serve as an irrefutable electronic signature.

    Bill in Detroits last blog post..How to Beat Depression

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