09
Apr
09

My New Computer – Part 3: The Software

I was going to leave this until after I finished the build, but with the hold up I thought I would put this together while I was waiting.

As part of my new build I obviously have to put all my favourite programs on my newly installed OS. So that I won’t loose anything I have on my current computer I made a list of everything in the program folder, I don’t tend to save installers so I will have to re-download them all but this is a good thing as often they will have been updated since I installed them last. Anyway, the following is about all the useful free software I have on my computer.

IMPORTANT! I can not guaranty the safety of the following links! Use all of this at your own risk!

The GIMP
GNU Image Manipulation Program. A free Photoshop alternative, so it probably isn’t good enough if you use Adobe professionally but it is still a very powerful piece of image editing software and it is getting better all the time. Some people might not like the muti-window layout of the user interface but it is quite good when you get used to it. Now up to version 2.6, there is nothing I need to use other image editing software for, well almost nothing, more on that further down the page.
For a full overview of the features have a look here.

IZArc
There are many programs available to open or create archive files, but this is my favourite. Not only is it free, with no nag screens unlike winRAR, but it can also open almost anything you throw at it as well as compress files in a wide number of formats from .7z to .zip. It can also make spanned archives and self extracting .exe files, though the latter two give false positives for viruses when sent via yahoo mail.

UPDATE: The latest version of IZArc seems to be quite buggy to me so I have changed to 7zip for the time being. I don’t like the interface quite as much but at least it works. Thanks to M_the_C for the suggestion.

CCleaner
Some people will tell you that a registry cleaner has no benefit and can even damage your system, while I agree they should be used with caution they certainly do have a benefit and this one is the best of the bunch as far as I am concerned. As well as fixing registry problems such as missing shared DLLs, unused file extensions and application paths, it can also clean temporary files, potentially freeing up a lot of space on your computer. It also has a feature for uninstalling programs as well as way to disable or permanently remove start up entries that is better than MSconfig (which only lets you disable them). On an old computer that has been filled up with crap over the years the difference in speed after running this program is amazing.

Fences
Stardock are well known for their desktop enhancements but this is one of the few that I have found useful. It enables you to organise your desktop icons into labelled groups to help keep things tidier, these groups can then be moved in one go rather than moving one icon at a time. They can also be hidden and restored by double clicking on the desktop.

IcoFX
A free icon editor with that all important Vista support enabling you to replace those 32×32 icons that come with outdated software with your own 256×256 versions. The image editor is basic but it can import .png files that you have made with other programs so in conjunction with The GIMP you can make anything. A few of the icons i have made can be found on my Deviant art account, but I mainly use it to convert other peoples dock icons to .ico format.

Foxit Reader
Ever wondered why Adobe PDF viewer is a 50MB download? Well after you use Foxit you will. This program is tiny, needs no install and the only thing Adobe can do that this one can’t is integrate with your web browser. It is worth noting the Adobe also installs other software that runs on start up simply to check for updates. Unnecessary bloatware, so I use Foxit instead.

UPDATE: Version 3 of Foxit has tabbed viewing for looking at multiple documents and integrates with your web browser.

Virtual Clone Drive
This virtual drive shows up in Windows in the same way as any optical drive. I found this one much easier to use than some of the others, and the complete lack of nag screens is nice as well. Has worked with every .iso I have thrown at it.

Cute PDF
A nice and easy way to convert a document to .pdf, and it works with anything that can be printed. CutePDF installs as an additional printer that can be selected from any program that can print instead of your default hardware printer. After you click print CutePDF pops up and asks you where you want to save the file. Simple as that.

Abiword
For those of you that don’t have a word processor and don’t need a full office suite Abiword is perfect. It comes somewhere in between Wordpad and Word in complexity and is compatible with a wide range of formats including Microsoft’s .doc (not sure about .docx though).

Firefox
Needs no introduction, you are probably using it to read this page right now. If you are not, click the above link to read all about it. I won’t go back to Internet Explorer after using it that’s for sure.

To finish off I should mention again, I can not guaranty the safety of the links! Use all of this at your own risk!. As a good friend of mine once said:

The Internet. You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. We must be cautious.

Usual rules about virus scanning apply, if one of the links is malicious please let me know so I can take it down. Hopefully you will find some of the above useful, not all software is for everyone however so there may be some that you wouldn’t install on your PC if you were paid to. If there are any other really useful bits of free software that you think I have missed please let me know and I will try them out.

Enjoy.

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4 Responses to “My New Computer – Part 3: The Software”


  1. April 9, 2009 at 18:00

    A good list.

    I used to use IZarc and found it to be able to do just about anything, I use 7zip now but there is very little difference.

    IcoFX, now that looks interesting. I’ve never known how to create icons, I used some custom ones in Linux once and they can be very nice. I don’t often get around to customising but if I do I’ll give that one a try.

    I use Foxit too, was introduced by the PC Gamer disc and I’ve never looked back. Adobe Reader is ridiculously slow by comparison.

    I read about Fences when it first came out but soon passed it over, I’ve just taken a look at the information page and it looks intriguing. Unlike some people I use my desktop, downloads go straight to it so I don’t forget them, it makes working with zipped folders easier too I think. But there are some icons I want to leave on, maybe this could be the solution?

  2. April 14, 2009 at 09:24

    Never seen Abiword before. I personnally use Open Office, which I think is the greatest thing in the world. Nice list though

  3. April 14, 2009 at 09:40

    Open Office is fine (I used it a lot when I was at Uni but when office 2003 came out the incompatibilities made it impossible, I guess they are fixed now, but does it work with 2007?) but I really don’t need a full office suite now so Abiword is fine for me.

  4. June 26, 2009 at 11:59

    @ M_theC, as the latest version of IZArc seems to be quite buggy I have switched to 7zip and updated the article to mention this. Thanks for the suggestion.


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