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.

Camino is a lot like Firefox but is available only for Mac OS X and takes advantage of features only available on that platform.
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Cyberdog has numerous interesting features but runs only under Mac OS. Although official Cyberdog development officially ended relatively recently, the user community has taken over and continues to expand its horizons.
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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.)

Chandler is a full-featured PIM. Designed to run on most flavors of MS-Windows as well as Mac OS X and Linux, it will also run on most other UNIX-like systems. Everything in Chandler is integrated together to better enable information organization; included are a capable calendar (with iCalendar support), address book, bookmarks holder, etc. plus an e-mail application.
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Sound Applications

Ranging from simple audio CD players to powerful sound waveform editors, sound applications can be used for entertainment or work.

A command-line audio CD player for UNIX-like systems with built-in support of CD recognition via CDDB.
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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.

The classic game Chess written for UNIX-like machines, Windows '95 / '98, and Mac OS.
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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.

Crystal Space
Crystal Space is a 3D engine used primarily to build games, but can be used for any application needing 3D graphic manipulations. It supports UNIX-like machines, Windows NT, Windows '95 / '98, Mac OS, BeOS, OS/2, and more.
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Some sites offer collections of software rather than a particular program, and this Free Software Guide would not be complete if it omitted them.

CNET Downloads
A large collection of software for Mac OS, Windows '95/'98, Linux, Palm, Windows CE, and EPOC. This site is much like a less extensive version of Tucows -- the downloader must be a little careful as not all software on the site is freeware; shareware, crippleware, nagware, and commercial software demos also abound.
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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.