Some Free Software

A Guide To Free Software

This page is meant to serve as a guide to free (and almost free) software. For those unfamiliar with the concept of free software, one of the first thoughts might be "Sure, you get what you pay for...". In the case of free software, this is not true. There are numerous free software packages maintained by people who do it for the love of the science. There are also numerous free software packages maintained by universities and various educational facilities. There are even free software packages maintained by non-profit organizations set up for the purpose of creating, maintaining, and distributing free software (the most important of these is the Free Software Foundation headquartered right in Cambridge; their site is a good visit with lots of information on the principle of free and open source software). In all of these cases free software packages are often better than similar commercial versions costing hundreds of dollars. In most cases the maintainers of free software are also users, so they have good reason to keep the software bug free. The next question might be "Why haven't I heard of them before?" The answer is that since they are free, they don't spend money on advertising -- it is not a reflection on their quality.

In any case, the Internet is full of freeware, shareware, and software that is available for just the cost of the media, shipping, & handling. Other variants exist, too; some software authors provide their software freely but request that users make a donation to a particular charity. Other authors just request that users send them a postcard or a coin from their local area. Other variants (like crippleware & nagware) also exist.

This page will focus primarily on high quality freeware. If you know of something that we're missing, please let us know by . You may also find our open source software collection to be of interest.


One of the most useful things to put on any machine is a browser. After all, much of the documentation for free software is available online on the web! Fortunately, there is a bevy of free browsers available.

Amaya runs on Windows '95 / '98 / NT / 2K / XP / Vista, Solaris, Linux, Mac OS X, HP-UX, IRIX, Digital UNIX, FreeBSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD, and more. It offers the most advanced HTML support of all the browsers.
See also:
The only browser besides Amaya to properly handle math equations in web pages, Amaya is currently only available as source for UNIX-like systems with X in its latest version (earlier versions can be obtained as binaries, too).
See also:

Office Software

Most people need at least some of the software traditionally used in the office. Such software includes word processors, spreadsheets, text editors, and database programs. (Note that simple drawing programs will be covered elsewhere.)

AbiWord is a full-featured word processor that runs on most UNIX-like systems, BeOS, Windows '95 / '98, Windows NT / 2K / XP, Windows Vista, and Mac OS X.
See also:
Acrobat Reader
Acrobat (PDF) is the current standard in portable documents; Adobe provides a free reader for Windows 95 / 98, Windows NT, Windows 2000, Windows 3.1, Windows Vista, Mac OS (both classic and X), OS/2, and most UNIX-like systems.
See also:

Graphics Applications

Ranging from simple drawing programs to full-featured 3D image manipulation systems, graphics applications fill diverse needs including: presentations, modeling, animations, etc.

Art of Illusion
Want to make some simple 3D pictures? The Art of Illusion application is written in Java and will thus run in any machine that has a Java virtual machine installed.
See also:


One of the most popular types of applications for computers, games entertain both the computer novice and pro alike. Not all games are expensive; some of the best available can be found for free.

A role-playing game for most Unix-like systems.
See also:
The classic Angband game will run under most UNIX-like OSes, but is currently available only as source.
See also:
Armagetron is a 3D Tron game that will run under most UNIX-like OSes, Mac OS X, and recent versions of MS-Windows.
See also:


A great deal of free software has been created to assist in programming. Whole software development environments are available as well as programming languages and simple frameworks to help one get a jump-start on a particular task.

Apple JDK
The Java Developer's Kit for Macintosh features everything required to develop Java programs under Mac OS.
See also:

More coming soon...

The above list should get you started. More will be coming soon; we'll be adding in some games plus a few general sites offering all manner of software. What else would you like to see? Don't be afraid to let us know and we'll try and add it to the list.