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.

E-Mail and News Clients

For many people, e-mail is as important as the telephone and Usenet news is a handy source of information on numerous topics. They are grouped together here because it is very common for one application to feature both capabilities. Also, even though they're not really the same thing, news aggregators (for RSS feeds) are so frequently equated with news readers (for Usenet), we'll include news aggregators here too figuring that we'd only be adding to the confusion if we did otherwise.

The Program for Internet News and E-mail (commonly known as "Pine") is a textual e-mail and Usenet news client. In spite of it being text-only, it is so feature-rich and capable it remains extremely popular. Many people who have to deal with thousands of e-mail messages per day choose Pine for its speed and efficiency.
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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.)

One of the most advanced database applications available today, PostgreSQL fuses the power of Postgres with standard SQL. PostgreSQL is currently available only for UNIX-like machines and Mac OS X, but numerous programs exist to help users with other machine types (MS-Windows, etc.) connect to PostgreSQL databases.
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Graphics Applications

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

Want to try your hand at some complex 3D modeling or do you just want to make some simple 3D pictures? Either way, the "Persistence of Vision Raytracer" is the tool to get the job done. It is available for Windows '95 / '98, Windows NT / 2K / XP, Windows Vista, Mac OS, MS-DOS, Linux, Solaris, AmigaOS, and more.
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PV-DC1000 Drivers
Interface a PV-DC1000 digital camera to a UNIX-like or BeOS system.
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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 MIDI player for UNIX-like systems.
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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.

Network space combat for Mac OS (both X and classic), Windows '95 / '98, and x86 Linux.
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An arcade type game for some Unix-like systems.
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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.

Everything needed to develop Perl applications is freely downloadable and available for most flavors of UNIX, most flavors of MS-Windows, both flavors of Mac OS, OS/2, DOS, Amiga, BeOS, and more.
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Everything needed to develop Python applications is freely downloadable and available for most flavors of UNIX, most flavors of MS-Windows, both flavors of Mac OS, OS/2, DOS, Amiga, BeOS, and more.
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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.