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.

RSSOwl is an RSS news aggregator written in Java. It will run on any machine with Java installed.
See also:

Sound Applications

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

A full-featured MIDI sequencer / musical notation editor for UNIX-like machines.
See also:

Multimedia Applications

While multimedia is somewhat of an ill-defined term, it will be used here to cover applications that are capable of handling a combination of media types, especially video.

The RealPlayer Basic will run on Windows 95 / 98, Windows 2000, Windows NT, Mac OS, Linux, Solaris, IRIX, and AIX.
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.

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