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New computer = new software to install

I got my first laptop computer this weekend and, as with all new computer purchases, it’s time to fill the hard disk with the software I use on a daily basis. I thought I would list the software I use, and why below. Partly because I thought others might be interested to see what I use, and partly because I will then have a list of software I use for the next time I get a pc (no doubt things will have changed by then).

So, in no particular order…

  • avg free – a free virus checker. Much less intrusive than Norton, and doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. I’ll have one of those thank you very much
  • pspad – a free text editor. There are loads out there but in my opinion Pspad is the best, and it has a built in ftp system so I can edit files directly on the server.
  • firefox & thunderbird – these go without saying really. I am a big fan of the open source movement, and these two are some of the best. Firefox seems to have gotten a little less stable with version 2 but I’m hoping things get back on track soon – and it’s still better than IE. That said IE 7 is a big improvement on the old versions, and looks a lot better in Vista than on XP
  • keepass a handy little program for keeping all my passwords together. I could use notepad but Keepass has a master password meaning things are kept that little bit more secure. The only thing I miss is some way to synch the passwords across all my computers (home pc, work pc, and new laptop)
  • easyphp – A very handy development suite. This is actually apache, php, and mysql (+ phpmyadmin) in one handy package. I could setup and install them all individually but easyphp takes care of everything for me.
  • irfanview – an image viewer. It let’s me view images without loading something like photoshop. Slightly less useful now Vista is out, since the new image features are a big improvement over the old, but still nice to have.
  • media player classic (with quicktime, and realplayer alternative) – a nice simple media player. Let’s me play almost any video file, without the vast memory overheads of something like Quicktime or RealPlayer.
  • filezilla – an ftp client. Very useful for us web designer types
  • Open Office – I don’t do office based stuff very often but when I do Open Office does everything I need and more.

Notice the word free appears quite a bit – I don’t like to pay for things unless I have to, so generally find free alternatives if I can.

Now it’s your turn. What software do you install when you get a new pc? What is the one program you can’t do without?

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25 Comments »

  1. FileZilla all the way! I just checked out EasyPH, looks promising I might get it next time I reformat.

    For me, I install a few essentials and then accumulate a lot of rubbish later haha. Firefox and Opera first, and then, in no particular order: Itunes, FileZilla, my Adobe suite, utorrent and then Spybot and Norton for virus checking.

    I had to reformat my entire computer recently, but luckily I had a backup of my ‘My Documents’ folder, and here I have a folder specifically for setup and installer files, so i always have a back up of programs just in case the same happens again.

  2. I run Linux, but I have a very similar list of must-haves.

    * avg free – no need.
    * pspad – Kate
    * firefox & thunderbird – is there any other?
    * easyphp – for me it takes literal three clicks to set up all three so I don’t need a package
    * media player classic (with quicktime, and realplayer alternative) – Amorak
    * filezilla – gFTP
    * Open Office – Yup

  3. Good point about the backups. I have an external hard disk where I keep copies of all the software I use (listed above), but inevitably there have been updates of the various programs (there’s a beta of the new filezilla released recently) so I end up re-downloading a lot of it again anyway.

  4. I can’t live without some type of CD/DVD ROM emulation, so one of the first things I always install is DAEMON Tools.

    I also need some type of Bittorrent client so I usually install uTorrent.

  5. Interestingly enough I’ve also had the pleasure of setting up a new system on a laptop recently. Having never worked very much on a laptop before, there are a few things to get used to, so here is my list:

    - Avast antivirus (completely automatic updates; install and forget about sort of program)
    - Firefox and Thunderbird combo, of course
    - Skype, Trillian for chatty chatty
    - Lightroom (can’t beat it for RAW photo conversions)
    - Breezebrowser (orgasmic RAW photo viewer)
    - The Font Thing, great for all your font needs, and free
    - PSPad, yes Ben, I’m hooked
    - Outlook, for all my Smartphone syncing needs
    - Handy Backup, for automatically backing up to external drives and FTP, very handy indeed
    - TouchFreeze, for laptops this is a must-have; it disables mouse clicks when you type, thus preventing scrambled messages when you hit the touchpad accidentally

    I’ve left all the work-related softwares out, so these are just the must-haves. Nice!

  6. Tara – I’m surprised I hadn’t heard of passpack before. It looks quite nice. There are some nice ideas in there, and a centralised password system is something I have wanted for a while now (to replace keepass). I’ll be taking a look at that one.

    Niclas – I have been thinking about getting a backup system for my own stuff. You reckon handy backup is good then? I assume you mean these people – http://www.handybackup.com/ ?

    I didn’t add any messaging things into my list either. I don’t consider messaging important, but I have installed google talk, and will be installing Skype as well.

  7. Here’s my two pence:

    XAMPP – Alternative to EasyPHP, available in Linux, Solaris, MacOS and Windows flavours. http://www.apachefriends.org/en/xampp.html
    Winamp for windows, Amarok for Linux – My media players of choice.
    CDex – Useful, no-nonsense CD-mp3 conversion. Pulls cd info from freecdb. http://cdexos.sourceforge.net/index.html
    TextPad – For all my text editing needs. http://www.textpad.com/

    I’m not so sure about storing my passwords all online at one place, it seems a bit risky. No point in storing my isp details there at least.

  8. Ian – I would prefer something I can host myself. In fact I have been thinking about writing something just like that.

    I used to be a big Textpad fan, but it doesn’t appear to have been updated in… ever, and I think there are some extra features I could do with adding.

    Oh – and I use cdex as well.

  9. First of all, thanks for some good ideas guys. Sometimes the best programs are not the most well-known. Besides the programs already mentioned here, I can’t do without the following:

    • SyncToy to synchronise all my files between different systems and external backup media. I used to use CopyTo for this, but since it is no longer maintained, I switched to the free tool from Bill. This is also useful to synchronise a password file over different systems. Instead of using one of these password keeping tools (you have to install them on every system), I use a Microsoft Excel file with password protection and heavy encryption.
    • CCleaner to get rid of all the temporary files, caches and history in my system.
    • RenameMaster to mass rename my digital photos in “Location – Whatever is on the photo”.
    • Tunnelier to setup my SSH connections and run a command-line client, copy files and allow secure Remote Desktop Connections.
  10. I would say all the programs listed above.
    On top of all that, I can’t live without Photoshop or
    the Gimp. :) I know Photoshop better myself but
    since I’m living with my girlfriend now, and since I left
    my computer at home… I am using the Gimp for all
    my needs. (Game Textures/Web-Dev)

    *Hi Ben, it’s been a long time since we talked.
    I’m not sure if you remember me. I once asked you
    about your game “Limit Rush”*

    - Richy

  11. Ben – On PassPack: we are about to release a new version (Feb.28) which incorporates much of the functionality that keepass users know and love. It’s pretty exciting, so wait a few days and you’ll get to see all the new stuff. :)

    Thanks for the PSPad link, I’ll be trying that soon. I’m forever looking for a simple text editor – they all have something good, but I have yet to find one that fits just right.

    Cheers, Tara

  12. From a big mac fan boi, first let me extend my deepest sympathies or your recent purchase. I will make no such apple-ologies on my first laptop purchase, which was a little over a year ago –
    http://www.poconopcdoctor.com/?p=277

    Plus, it does do Windows, umm..or Vista. Not sure if I’ll upgrade my Boot Camp partition from a beta of Vista to the full version….

    BTW, thanks for a very nice template!

  13. En Windows:

    Firefox, Utorrent, filezilla, html-kit, Vlc Media Player, The Gimp, XAMPP, CleanCleaner, Foobar2000, Psi, Opera, AbiWord, OpenOffice.

    En Linux:
    Firefox, Psi, Abiword, Bluefish, gFTP, Rhythmbox, The Gimp, Emacs, Lampp.

  14. Richy – Hi :)

    Iwo – I have never used XAMPP so can’t compare the two. I do know I like EasyPHP though.

    Jim – Thanks for your… erm… opinion. Glad you like the theme at least.

    Thanks for the other suggestions anyone who has posted them.

  15. I just moved from a laptop to a desktop, and the last few days have been spent installing software I never realised I used so much, and also getting used to a horrible keyboard.

    A few of the applications I’ve installed:
    * Programmer’s Notepad- Tabbed notepad aimed at programming languages. Love it.
    * Launchy – Application launcher that uses alt+tab and the keyboard. Really handy.
    * Taskbar shuffle – Allows you to move items in the taskbar around. Very useful if you have a lot of tasks running and you want to group them in a certain way. I have my taskbar docked to the side of the screen, so this is a must for me.
    * XnView – Small image manipulator. Useful for resizing images and applying filters in batch.
    * Cygwin – I’m a command line nerd :(
    * WinRar / 7zip – I use 7zip for command line packing, and WinRar for shell stuff.

    I also patch the Windows XP theme manager so I can use unsigned themes. It might just be an appearance thing, but I means I can change to a darker theme that’s easier on the eyes.

  16. I think my last comment didnt go through.
    I would definitely suggest using NLite to lighten up your windows installation. And make a search for services.msc optimization on google. If you could stop some services that you don’t use, they will speed up your computer alot.

    As for programs:

    O&O Defrag: Autodefragmentation, better then anything
    VLC Player: Updated more regularly than Media Player CLassic
    Bitcomet: For torrent downloads! Heroes and Lost ;)
    Dreamweaver: For html editing

  17. I’ve never heard of NLite and windows came preinstalled. I’m quite happy with it’s performance – I’m a graphic designer and have been editing 300+ meg images with no problems.

    I’ve heard about vlc player before but never used it. It looks really nice, and have now downloaded it. I use utorrent for Heroes and Lost… and write my html by hand (pspad)

  18. It does sound quite interesting – I’m not sure it’s worthwhile for me though – also it doesn’t say it supports Vista at the moment… although i did see vlite which is in beta for vista.

  19. Acronis True Image to regularly backup whole disc partitions very quickly onto an external harddrive, with password protection, and ability to mount it and grab stuff from it whenever required, and much much more.

    SnagIt by Techsmith, a brilliant screen capture program.

    PDF 995 to enable print to pdf from any program, no footnotes and free or very cheap without the ad popups during creation.

    Serif Page-Plus is a desktop publishing program beats MS Word hands down for creating rich documents with lots of flexibility and minimal formatting restraints; also prints to pdf with security options.

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