Best free software packaged in one CD
Software for Starving Students (SSS) is a non-profit organization that takes all the best open source and/or free software that college students might need, and makes them available as one downloadable CD.
Each included program is available for free download from the Internet, but SSS has done the legwork of putting the most useful apps in one place.
The latest edition (2007.01) is available for Mac or Windows. (Software for Starving Students download page)
I've been working as a IT geek for several years now, and I whole-heartedly agree with SSS' choices. Included in the CD are the following 5 programs I use daily:
- Firefox (web browser) -- Hands down the best web browser out there. You've heard it from your friends, why not try it for yourself? It makes the Internet a whole lot more tolerable. Open source software is not just for geeks and early adopters anymore. Some open source projects, like Firefox, work better than the commercial (cough, Microsoft) offerings. [getfirefox.com]
- Thunderbird (email) -- Thunderbird is made by the folks at the Mozilla Foundation, who also bring us Firefox. Judging Thunderbird on its own, as an email client, I have to say it's pretty good. Comparing it to its high priced cousins (cough, Outlook) there's just no comparison. I love the Mozilla Foundation's emphasis on a modular framework, so other developers can write nifty widgets to add additional functionality. Bottom line, I can tweak my Thunderbird to be way more useful (to me) than Outlook, and it's completely free. [mozilla.com/thunderbird]
- Gaim (instant messanger) - Instant messnging doesn't require proprietary software to work. That means you can use Gaim to chat on the ICQ, Yahoo, AIM, MSN, and GTalk networks. All at once, all with one program. Open source is cool, huh? [gaim.sf.net]
- OpenOffice (office apps) - OO is a collection of office apps that challenges Microsoft Office. OO will happily open and edit Word and Excel documents. Truth be told, there are some functions power users of MS Office might miss, but I think for 90% of us, OO is a suitable replacement for the (very expensive) MS Office suite. [openoffice.org]
- Filezilla (FTP) -- Most people don't need a dedicated FTP program. (In case you didn't know, FTP is a protocol for transferring files.) I've been recommending Filezilla for years, and in all that time, I haven't seen anything do its one stated purpose so well. Filezilla should be held up as an example of how a simple (single purpose) program is more useful than a hard-to-use, overly complex office application. [filezilla.sf.net]
If you're a starving student or just savvy enough to not pay for expensive commercial software, check out the Software for Starving Students CD.
Photo by jankroemer