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~ Opening Windows ~
(the legal approach)

         Petit image    Opening Windows
the legal approach
Version 1.41, August 2005
There's no need to pay for anything on the web, duh...

Introduction    The legal approach
redThe big legal freeware list red  
Searching freeware    (The illegal approach)  

How do you set up -legally- a full-fledged windows computer without any money at all

Let's imagine you have a brand-new PC with windoze on it. I'm not saying you SHOULD have a windoze PC, I'm just assuming you have, probably just because almost everybody else around you has, or because there was no other operating system choice in the shop you bought it: Praeterita mutare non possumus: our societies are a monopoly of the worst, let's face it.

I am not going to even try to push you onto the worthy GNU/Linux path... mostly because it is actually NOT necessary in my experience: you'll choose it by yourself - and ditch the windows operating system with gusto later - once you will have understood some basic lore :-)

Linux is free, blah blah, all its software is free, blah blah, and it's more stable and quicker than windows, blah blah... yet for the moment you are still using Windows. And you do not intend (yet) to change.
Well... So what? Why should you pay any money at all? Windows can be fully configured with good free "GPL" software (or other -less kosher- free software) that will cut pretty much any mustard.

Now, understand it correctly, really free software is a matter of the users' freedom to run, copy, distribute, study, change and improve the software, but the idea behind this page is to help anybody to prepare a windozian computer on the fly, for free like in "free beer", ready for any occurrence (and then some) he may run into, on his job, on the web or elsewhere :-)

This page is in fieri, please excuse its obvious shortcomings.
La va sans dire that after having taken advantage of this page your windoze computer (your box) will be - for free!- one of the best ones around your neighbourhood, in a radio of at least 25 kilometers :-)

And this, nota bene will happen independently of where you happen to live. This will work both in London and in Kathmandu, both in New York or in the Kamchatka peninsula... You may be as rich as a Cameroonian or as poor as a Norwegian, it would not matter at all: everything, on the web, is for FREE.
The nice thing of our web is that you do not need any more to be near a huge university or library in order to enjoy exactly the same amount of knowledge that you would get in Oxford or in Berlin. Provided you know how to search the web, that is.

As a matter of fact I wrote this page for a good friend of mine that is responsible of a small school in Rhodesia (I know that Rhodesia has now another, different, name, but I tend to remember nice names for places that -once upon a time- were nice :-)
This friend is a teacher (one of the last in that wrecked country) and his (black and white) pupils have at the moment just two battered windoze computers and no money whatsoever for software.

Thus this page will offer a completely LEGAL "free-software" approach in order to set up a full-fledged, powerful, windoze box for free.
Actually, mind you, I have nothing against "illegal" approaches on the web, not least because of their creativity, cleverness, shrewdness and teaching power.
However, since I firmly believe (la va sans re-dire :-) that the completely legal "GNU" approach of my friend Richard Stallman is the correct one and the one any seeker should follow, it is very likely that this page should be -still- quite useful. In fact here we will list the best windozian software applications that anyone can fetch for free. Yep, you heard it: free, like in free beer (not only like in free speech :-)
It will cost you Nil, nada, nichts, niente, gratis, rien... nothing to pay, never... most free applications -moreover- are delivered with a GPL license (copyleft), and with the respective complete source code (do not ever forget that published & public source code is what anyone needs to avoid malwares and spywares: no source code available = something fishy).

So this page should -after all- be quite useful not only for my friend in Rhodesia and his pupils, but also for many other readers of searchlores (and for myself when setting up some PCs in the middle of nowhere :-)

GNU: Worthy Programs for free
(The legal path)

Ok, admittedly: windows is a can of worms ... but sadly on this world things that do not work very well, nor make much sense, are still used intensively (private cars, cigarettes, lawyers and wars... to name just a few). So windows is here unfortunately, and - the mighty spreading of better operating systems (like GNU-Linux) notwithstanding - it is here to stay for a while.

So I will assume that you have a windows operating system, most probably (nowadays) one of those Windows XP editions known for cumbersome & slow functioning and for their customary delivering to Microsoft even what you are searching on your hard disk trough the start/search function.
No kidding: Try it, and check what's going on with a good firewall: any search on your own harddisk trough MS start-->search will trigger a hidden connection trough port 80 to ( Why? Well, simply in order to deliver to microsoft's spymasters both your IP and what you are searching for... on your own hard disk.

Well ok, once again: you have windows as an operating system. A poor choice if you ask me, but life is often a matter of compromises. So you have it, and you now need some programs. You "need" Word, you "need" Excel, etcetera. Well, so what? Do you have to pay something? Do you have to give money to Microsoft?
The answer is NO!
I know that many readers wont believe it, but still: The answer is NO! You can have everything (and then some) for free and in a perfect legal manner! Well, not exactly "word" and not exactly "excel", but MUCH BETTER!

Let's begin from the beginning.    For a good, complete, useful, working box you (usually) need:
  1. A wordprocessor (and a html editor) (and a quick pdf reader) (and a "frontpage" clone waay better than frontpage)
  2. A spreadsheet
  3. A database
  4. A disassembler
  5. A Hexeditor
  6. A finder
  7. A CD-ROM writer/copier
  8. A zipper/unzipper
  9. A graphic suite (and a 3D modeller)
  10. A music/Video player (Winamp? No! Vlc!)
  11. A music ripper/editor (Audacity!)
  12. A Graphics/Sound/Video Player (that does not spy on you like real player & co.)
  13. A firewall (or die)
  14. An antivirus (A real one, not that "Norton" crap)
  15. Some good games (And for "good", I mean games that will attract you or your kids for various YEARS, not days)
  16. A "disk usage" application (and what for one!)
  17. A browser (Say farewell to buggy -and dangerous- MSIExplorer)
  18. An email client (Say farewell to buggy -and dangerous- outlook)
  19. A ftp client
  20. A newsreader (Discover usenet)
  21. A steganographic tool (Maintain some anonymity using steganography)
  22. An alternative to Quicken (Ok this is not really necessary software, but Paul Lutus is an older one :-)
  23. A free telephone (Useful for anyone that does not want to give *that* much money to the bell sisters :-)
  24. A "gasp in awe" educational program (e.g.: our universe: the soothing power of Macrocosmos)

    ...and all possible university courses for anyone, and more...

Again, we want programs that are completely free, no strings attached, without spyware and we want programs capable of delivering high performance (not awkward grindings of the system à la MS-word :-)

As you'll see, using GNU-license applications and/or open source programs or "freeware" programs this list can be filled quite quickly :-)

It must be noted that some of the software choices listed below... (highly personal, your suggestions & critics are welcome) ... are not really kosher, because they are not GNU-applications.

This is, for instance the case of IDA, the best disassembler on this planet (and if you do not know why you should need a disassembler you still have a lot to learn).

The purpose of this page, though, is just to offer the best applications that you can have for free... note also that even on this very site there are MANY MORE useful programs and applications that you can download from both my tools and my software reversing tools pages: this is just a basic "fundamental" choice.

The good news: this will cost you (and my friend in Rhodesia) no money at all, wherever you are.
The bad news: some people will believe you are a wizard and shy away from your box, ashamed of having paid money for crappish & less performing software.
The worse news: this list is incomplete and can and should (and pheraps will  :-) be ameliorated. I hope that my readers will realize how important this "snowball of ours" could be: how far it could go down our webhills, and therefore send their feedbacks, suggestions, additions, comments and critics.

Ok, here we (legally) boldly go where very fews went before: let's (legally) open windows black and blue. Yo may as well reformat everything and start again with a clean windoze box, say "good riddance" to all that crap they installed when you bought it :-)

Your box should have:
  1. A wordprocessor
    Openoffice Downloads. Beats M$-Word hands down for smaller footprint, less intrusive behaviour and pdf-creating capacities. Hasn't got ALL the functions in Word, but noone has even met any human being that really uses them.
    "Hey, it works just like MS Office but it's free!"

    Alternatively: Abiword, Open source project, have a look at its capabilities :-)
    Runs on any operating system and has the ability to run in many languages.
    AbiWord is very small and requires very little resources to run, you'll prolly never go back to that bloated and crash-prone M$-word again :-)
    "You should try it, even if you already own another word processor"

    A html editor as well...
    Of course if you are serious about writing HTML code you need an ad hoc editor. Most searchers use ultraedit (there is a very old version that you can download from my own srtools.htm page, and -as usual- all newer 'stolen' versions are very easy to find all over the web), Ian Mead, the author of Ultraedit, may be religiously completely balooney (see his site), but he's a great good programmer godsnotwithstanding, and many of the functions that Ultraedit incorporates are completely missing in Micro$oft's Wordsaurius.
    Yet, once again, this is a page for good FREEWARE, so use arachnophilia instead of Ultraedit, and you will have a POWERFUL freeware HTML (& much more) editor, designed by Paul Lutus, an older one that will also explain you once for all what freeware is (or rather should be) about.

    Ha! my 'ultraedit' choice has brought us many critics and suggestions!

    ^^Kidd^^ wrote:
    In bangla.htm the only all-purpose editor is UltraEdit (not-free), and I think you should add some free editors like EMACS and VIM. As you know, they are POWER-USER tools, free, and multiplatform, so when changing OS, one doesn't have to learn new tools ;).
    EMACS download and info page :
    VIM download and info page :
    Of course, these two tools need to be learnt in order to power-use them

    Kane: Perhaps as a ultraedit replacement:

    oxo: I used pspad, before switching to my now preferred environment: (see below: kasimir's suggestion)

    Sminky: I used Jedit for a long time, if you are a java fan it is a good editor. The only complaint I have is on slower machines (like mine) because it run in java it is slow. On the plus side it is possible to make plugin for it.
    Right now I use DrPython which is theoretically a python editor. But because it use the scitilla text widget it can have sytax highlight for other languages. Also it has a scripting/plugin system which is very simple.
    On the downside DrPython is a little ruff arround the edges, it is not as well polished as jedit.
    Jedit and DrPython are both cross platform which I think is important.

    More text / coding / html editors... (kasimir's suggestion)
    Like arachnophilia, jEdit is Java software. jEdit just recently won EditPad, which was fairly remarkable thing to do, considering that many thought EditPad was the best editor there was.
    One of the best features of jEdit is its incredible extensibility and configurability, which allows you to tailor it exactly to your liking - admittedly something a novice user might find daunting.

    A frontpage clone as well...
    NVU: Free and QUICK frontpage clone (waay better than frontpage: it does not fill your html code with useless bloated crap).
    Speaking of novice users, many would hardly dream of hand coding a web site, and while you may prefer WYSIWYAF editors, there definitely is place for WYSIWYGs too, and Nvu is one of the best open source options around. Web Authoring System for Linux Desktop users as well as Microsoft Windows and Macintosh users to rival programs like FrontPage and Dreamweaver.

    A pdf reader as well...
    Foxit PDF reader: Free and QUICK reader for PDF documents. You can view and print them with it.
    Its small (less than 1MB download. It doesn't need any lengthy installation, so you can start to run it as soon as you have downloaded it. It finds text inside the pdf documents, select it and copy.
    And it starts up immediately, so you don't need to wait ages for many lengthy useless dlls loading or for an annoying "Welcome" screen to disappear.

    ..and a pdf creator:

  2. A spreadsheet
    Openoffice 1.1.2 Downloads. Beats M$-Excel hands down for smaller footprint and less intrusive behaviour. Hasn't got ALL the functions in Excel, but noone has even met any human being that really uses them.

  3. A Database
    Caché, or maxdb (ex sap) or the old Paradox 4.5

    Unfortunately for databases things are different. Alas, most free "office" suites still lag behind M$-Office (or Corel) for their database component (which, together with the lack of a PIM means that they cannot yet seriously disturb M$-office for real business practices).

    CACHÉ is a post-relational database that uniquely offers three integrated data access options: a robust object database, high performance SQL, and rich multidimensional access.
    "We are confident that if you try Caché, you will love its rapid development capabilities and high performance. That’s why we invite you to download a FREE, fully functional, non-expiring, single-user Caché license. See for yourself how you can Make Applications Faster" MySQL AB (from its version 7.5, the old SAP DB is distributed under its new name MaxDB by MySQL AB) offers MaxDB under the MySQL AB "dual licensing" model. The complete MaxDB offering is provided free of charge under the Free Software/Open Source GNU General Public License (GPL) and there is also a commercial license with no open source restrictions.

    Alternatively a school may even decide to use an older database: Paradox for windows 4.5. Old, but still quite useful database that was written for windows 95 yet runs perfectly in windoze XP. Moreover there is a wealth of very good paradox programming book in any second hand book shop that are as cheap as it gets, since almost nobody in his right mind would buy them today. Paradox 4.5 has been given out by Borland in its full commercial version almost 10 years ago (on the british magazine PcPlus n°15: 6.498.087 bytes... big download). (Instructions for install: after installation begin, the wizard will warn you that the directory C:\ODAPI isn't in your path. Don't mess with paths: just choose "cancel" and then move the whole CONTENT of the subdirectory ODAPI inside the C:\PDOXWIN subdirectory. This is quicker than choosing the correct subdirectories within the ad hoc initial screen).

    You want More? Have more!
    Just to let you know that PostgreSQL 8.02 is now natively available for windows ( I'm not that familiar with MaxDB, but Postgresql is definitely a better database (in terms of functionality) than the old MySQL. Another database that might be worthwhile is Firebird (Opensource version of Interbase)( Both of these could give some real competition to any commercial DB system (excluding Oracle for some really high-powered enterprise systems).
    (Greetings, Chavoux)

  4. A disassembler
    (A disassembler is nowadays even more necessary than many other applications, the sine qua non in order to understand what's going on -on your own box- "under the hood" and in order to "open source" many a windows software...)
    IDA!, 12.522.567 bytes... lotta bytes, biggest appz on my tools page... but WHAT for bytes!: IDA, Ilfak's masterpiece, version 3.85B, is a truly MAGICAL ITEM, kindly offered by Ilfak Guilfanov & Pierre Vandevenne: BEST disassembler around when you really need to work on something.
    This is no GNU software, and Ilfak wont give us the source code, yet this incredible marvel remains THE reference disassembler, and it's free!

  5. A Hexeditor
    (A Hexeditor is what you often use as soon as you have finished with the disassembler :-)
    Check the ad hoc section of my site. Hexworkshop beats them all.

  6. A Finder
    Agent Ransack (787735 bytes ), by David Vest, is the freeware version of File Locator Pro
    Agent Ransack is a tool for finding files and information on your hard drive fast and efficiently. When searching the contents of files Agent Ransack also displays the text found. Users can then quickly browse the results without having to separately open each file.
    The regular expression 'search' would match any string containing 'search'.
    So if you wanted to find a file with the letters 'teoma' in it the regular expression would simply be 'teoma'.
    To find a file that begins with 'Dear' or 'Yesterday' followed at some point by 'Document' or 'Documents' followed at some point by a number and has a '.txt' extension the expression would be: '^(Dear|Yesterday).*Documents?.*[0-9]+.*\.txt$'
    You can test your regular expressions, before searching, through an ad hoc Test->Regular expression menu option
    Use this useful program. NEVER use the "start/search" function in windows xp, which silently connects on port 80 to ( in order to deliver to the ugly microsoft's minions your IP and what you are searching for on your own hard disk. Start/search - in Windows XP - is MALWARE eo ipso.

  7. A CD-ROM writer/copier

    Deep burner free, free version of a commercial appz. Burn data CDs/DVDs, Burn AudioCDs, Burn and build ISO images, Bootable CD/DVD support.
    (check the FAQ)

    CDRDAO, Recording in disk-at-once mode writes the complete disc, i.e. lead-in, one or more tracks and lead-out, in a single step.
    Not always simple to find: this is a possible name:, and this is a possible searchstring:

    Note that this is a Disk at once program: The commonly used track-at-once (TAO) mode writes each track independently which requires link blocks between two tracks.
    Older CD-recorder models forced a two second pause (pre-gap) between two tracks whereas newer models allow adjusting of the pause length in TAO mode reducing the number of link blocks to a minimal amount.
    However, with TAO it is generally not possible to define the data that is written in pre-gaps.
    But exactly this feature makes audio CD recording interesting, e.g. by creating hidden bonus tracks or track intros in pre-gaps like it is common habit on commercial CDs.
    Finally, DAO recording is the only way to write data to the unused R-W sub-channels for e.g. CD-G or CD-TEXT.

    A frontend for cdrdao (@ Mariposa):

    DISK DUMP: A CD-copier, freeware and able to defeat protections: Disc Dump Manual

    Of course, if the above solutions do not suit you, you probably could eventually find some "freed" proprietary software à la nero, but -as stated more than once- the purpose of this page is to give you FREE software, and nero, despise being available all over the web, is not free.

    Alternatively you may try out CDBurnerXP Pro as well...
    ("With this software you can burn CD-R, CD-RW DVD+R/RW DVD-R/RW discs...")

  8. Zippers/unzippers

    Ok, don't you hate all those 'apparently free' zippers and acers and rarers that ask you for updates and show you annoying "unregistered" silly nagscreens?
    In fact for any average seeker it would be rather trivial to find on the web a good fully functional copy of winace (the best commercial unpacker, beats Winzip hands down). But winace is a commercial, bloated program nevertheless, and even if you steal it, you'll have a ugly sore on your harddisk. Here two possible free alternatives:

    1)   Zip Genius,
    ZipGenius, completely freeware, will cut all the zipped, aced, rared and whatnots mustard you will throw at him.

    2)   sevenzip: 7-Zip is a file archiver with the highest compression ratio: 7z. The program supports 7z, ZIP, CAB, RAR, ARJ, GZIP, BZIP2, TAR, CPIO, RPM and DEB formats. Compression ratio in the new 7z format is (mostly) 40% better than in ZIP format.
    It's completely free as per writing (version 7z414b), and uses the LGPL (GNU Library or Lesser General Public License).

  9. A graphic suite
    The gimp and/or Dogwaffle, and/or Pixia.

    The Windows version of GIMP can be downloaded from, it's a 11 megabyte download: no reason not to try it.

    Ok, both Paint shop Pro and Photoshop are way better, and very easy to find, regged, on the web. But this is a LEGAL page, remember? So forget them. The Gimp works well, and cuts its mustard, and Dogwaflle is lovely to use (but alas not a GNU program)., You will need to download both GTK+ Runtime Environment and The Gimp installers. Install GTK+ before installing The Gimp.
    Maybe it would be useful to download the user manual as well :-)

    Alternatively there's the free version of Project Dogwaffle 1.2, by Dan Ritchie. (Dogwaffle_Install_1_2_free.exe, 4,558,273 bytes): "The free version is fast and light, at just over 4 megs, and it's free, no strings attached. No spyware, no registration, nada, zip. Enjoy freedom of graphical expression"
    Funny name and not very well known, yet Dogwaffle is really FUN using. It is the only graphical program on the planet that allows you to paint on the computer in almost the same way as you would paint in oils on a real canvas. Ideal for schools (that's the reason it is here :-)

    Alternatively, especially for pupils that love to draw anime, a japanese graphic freeware seems appropriate.
    A very nice program, with a lively community and tons of tutorials, is Pixia, by Isao Maruoka: Pixia is free software and Isao is not giving anyone any authorization to sell it :-)
    Pixia's possibilities for photoretouch tasks and pure graphic design are quite amazing.

    3D Modelling as well... (Thanks, Illibran)
    One of the best 3D modelling packages around in order to model quickly human beings (and animals) is Poser, by Curious Labs. This is a very widely used application with millions of models/props/poses/animals/light settings produced by thousands of (more or less good at it) users.
    Many aficionados do believe that the more recent version Poser 5 does not cut as muich mustard as the old one 4... (and the older one is even easier to find, completely regged, on the Web :-)
    But this page should list just free, legal, software, and Poser is -alas- a commercial concoction. Hence don't use it, Nonono, no! (or you would have to steal it from the web, which wouldn't be nice).

    So let's list the free available 3D software...
    Wing 3D, but it does not supports animations. Here the Wing 3D Manual (in pdf format)
    Here some of the images you can create with Wing 3D.

    Here is Blender instead: "The first and only fully integrated 3D graphics creation suite allowing modeling, animation, rendering, post-production, realtime interactive 3D and game creation and playback with cross-platform compatibility"

    Here some of the images you can create with Blender.
    And here what it can do... it's rather HARD to learn, though.

    Finally there is Mizno's Metasequoia, a japanese product that will compel you to switch continuously between the freeware crippled version and the shareware version in order to work for free, as explained here. This is a MUST anyway if you want to use it outside Japan, since the full version is only sold in Japan...

    Once you have made your models you'll need a renderer, you can either steal Bryce, or use YafRay, a free raytracer under constant development, now integrated in blender as a external render-option, that works with wings as well!

  10. A Music/Video player: Vlc
    Here the windows version 0.7.0.: [] 5.116.711 bytes, (
    VLC (initially VideoLAN Client) is a highly portable multimedia player for various audio and video formats (MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, DivX, mp3, ogg, ...) as well as DVDs, VCDs, and various streaming protocols. It can also be used as a server to stream in unicast or multicast in IPv4 or IPv6 on a high-bandwidth network.
    full features list.
    Here the most recent version.
    When you use it to watch your movies, you better use the "f" key a lot.

  11. A Music ripper/editor: Audacity
    Here the last version of this wondrous cross-platform editor []
    You can use Audacity to: Record live audio, Convert tapes and records into digital recordings or CDs, Edit Ogg Vorbis, MP3, and WAV sound files, Cut, copy, splice, and mix sounds together, Change the speed or pitch of a recording and much more
    Audacity is free software, developed by a group of volunteers and distributed under the GNU General Public License (GPL).

    Here a complete tutorial about editing digital audio music files.

  12. A Graphics/Sound/Video Player

    IrfanView, by Irfan Skiljan
    IrfanView is provided as freeware, but only for private, non-commercial use (that means at home). IrfanView is free for educational use (schools and universities) and for use in charity or humanitarian organisations.
    Do not forget to install all the plugins at the same time, they are worth it.
    Does everything sound and image related, and very well, except RealVideo and RealAudio (for those you will use Realalternative).
    Real Alternative will allow you to play RealMedia files. This way you can play RealMedia files without having to install the notoriously spywares RealPlayer/RealOne Player. Since you need a player that is capable of playing RealMedia, Media player Classic (see below) is included, supports everything and works very well.

    Media player Classic
    Media player Classic, by Gabest
    Media player classic is the best, free, GNU General Public License (GPL), not-snooping alternative -based on the old Microsoft Media Player- to the more recent, infamous, overbloated (and hard to get rid of) "windows media player"
    (Btw: did you know that all Windows distributions still include the old Media Player v6.4? You can run it by clicking Start, Run and entering mplayer2)

  13. A firewall
    Sygate personal firewall, Codeseeker or Zonealarm
    Although the best firewall for windoze is a commercial one (Sygate Personal Firewall PRO), which was -last time I looked- fairly easy to find -completely regged- on the web, in this page we will stick to legal solutions and propose you instead either Sygate personal firewall, (ex-Sybergen Secure Desktop) or Codeseeker (GPL license, open source optimo maximo, part of the OWASP project), and zonealarm. Clearly Sygate (especially the PRO version) beats any other firewall hands downn (with the possible exception of Blackice, Alas! Another application that is lowly commercial and hence excluded from this list).

    How does Codeseeker work ? It intercepts all your Internet traffic by applying a set of safety rules, either those predefined, or those defined by the user. Then, it controls internet programs and blocks undesired connections. Moreover in the event of an attack occurrence, CodeSeeker informs the user through the administration console. The target of this software is to be able to stop any type of attack, even those unknown, with the help of "connectors" installed on the Web server, which will analyze traffic and will work appropriately. Although a detailed explanation (installation and operation) is provided in PDF format, included in the software (in English), this software is recommended for the experienced user.

    "ZoneAlarm is free for individual and not-for-profit charitable entity use (excluding governmental entities and educational institutions)."
    "Easy-to-use firewall blocks hackers and other unknown threats. Intrusion Blocking systematically identifies hackers and blocks access attempts. Stealth Mode automatically makes your computer invisible to anyone on the Internet."

    As Kane pointed out, a possible alternative is also Kerio personal firewall (free for non-commercial use)

    More firewalls on my tools page.

  14. A disk usage application:
    Windirstat, WinDirStat is a disk usage statistics viewer and cleanup tool for Microsoft Windows.
    WinDirStat is free software published under the GNU General Public License.
    (Download the UNICODE variant for windoze xp): its "graphical" representation of the files on your hard disks is well worth it!

  15. An antivirus
    AVG Anti-Virus System - Free Edition 6.0, alternatively: This is no GNU software, but remains a first-class antivirus. AVG Anti-Virus FREE Edition is available for single home computer use only.

    Alternatively: Avast: Czech antivirus: "avast! 4 Home Edition is now free of charge for home users on NON-COMMERCIAL computers"

  16. Some good games:
    Games are very important, and often underestimated by Operating systems geeks and other assorted free software foundation experts :-)
    You'll be able to find for next to nothing some outstanding games, a couple of seasons after their first publishing: waiting (and more generally refusing to update on the fly) is always a good idea with software: often enough the expensive new games -and applications- are full of bugs, because in the rush to publish the producers keep very few resources for quality controls.
    In most cases a good game will cost after only six months down to 1/10 of the original price, and will appear simultaneously on many a PC-magazine cover (so you do not have to buy the most expensive magazine either). And those very magazines will appear on second-hand bookshop after -say- another coupla months for 1/5 of their original low price. Mind you: this is still something not free, just something VERY cheap, duh.
    Free is the fact that by the time good games are published on some magazine covers it will ALSO be easy to find on the web a "no-CD" (or "no-DVD") patch. Hence you'll be able to offer the game AND the patch on a single CD/DVD and make many a friend (and friends' sons) happy for Xmas. This is basically for free and, for old applications, hardly illegal :-)

    Anyway, the real problem with games, and especially with all these "frilly-glamour looking" games, is that most of the time they are extremely boring after a short while. The ENGINE of the game is crap, just the looking is good. Kids and morons realize it only afterwards.
    So you'll have to evaluate cleverly your targets, and here -again- time will tell. The web is full with people spitting venom on expensive games that do not work well/are boring/are total crap despite the advertisement hypo AFTER A COUPLE OF MONTHS (at least) from their first appearance.

    Don't believe that "recent is better". Most of the time (with exceptions) this is simply NOT true for software, far from it.
    Check it by yourself: You'll be able to find an incredible quantity of very good games, of course for free, if you follow the paths of the "Abandonedwares".
    An example of a very good game is the complete Steel Panthers 2 version.
    Many friends have worked hard in order to port these strategical marvels, created for DOS many years ago, to the latest windoze systems. Here and here you'll be able to find, for free, the latest versions, and while playing and wasting many months - you have been warned - on these strategical and tactical marvels, you may be tempted to apply some sound theory! :-)

    There are, of course, two "classical" games everyone should have, try out in depth, enjoy for years, master if he finds the time, study with gusto and learn upon all his life long: Go ("Go isn't everything. Go is the only thing" -- Zhuge) and Chess (alternatively you can download the free, french tchechmeet, by Olivier de Lannoy). Another very interesting, albeits old, "abandonendware" strategic game is pendulous, which, its graphic simplicity notwithstanding, allows you to develop and finetune its different A.I.s and could hook a gamer for years.

    For schools, some logical games may also be useful: fire, by Stéphane Mitermite is a delightful sokoban-type puzzle, only with two moving elements, is completely free and has tons of levels. Brainsbreaker, by Juan Trujillo, is one of the best jigsaw games around, with a nice, if crippled, free download version. (The protection is however explained in full here).
    For schools that do not need all the most recent additions, however, an older full version of Brainsbreaker can be easily found on the web.

    And for people that want 'arcade' games?...
    Ok, here is a fairly good Billiard game, a tron game, a trackballs (marble madness) game, and cube, a new open source first person shooter game (tar.gz Platform-Independent package)...

    We even have a flight simulator already, complete with source code (FlightGear v. 0.9.8 has been released in January 2005 :-)

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    Special games: STEAM LOCOMOTIVES, the dream of all kids (and kids' fathers :-)
    As everyone knows, the best train simulator of the planet, by far, is Auran's Trainz that beat Microsoft's (actually Kuju's) Train Simulator so thoroughly that Microsoft declined to produce a second version. Trainz is -alas- a commercial product that you should pay for (even if everyone can easily find on the web 2 CDs released by deviance as dev-ts4a.bin and dev-ts4b.bin).
    But, as usual, we don't have to rely on snotty commercial products. You can use BVE, serious if a tag primitive, with a huge amount of followers and contributors, that -alas- requires Microsoft's NET crap.

    But you can use at once also the fantastic spoorsim, by Charl Vockerodt, with ONE diesel and ONE steam (South african) locomotives that will give joy to any kid of the world, for free. Free, duh, like in "free steamed rice". Alas this is true only for the slightly older version one that you can download from rapidshare right now (file name: file size: 12704775 bytes): version two asks unfortunately for money.
    Read the instructions and learn or print the command list BEFORE playing, there's no mouse support inside the program, like in Trainz (and there are many other limitations, yet SpoorSim it's great fun to play).

    And, ah, yes, if you want to learn how to drive a steam locomotive... which is not all *that* easy, you may fetch Brian Hollingsworth's book (with the same title how to drive a steam locomotive... it's on the web, use your seekers' skills) or you can read this *wondrous* manual (play the number game on the URL :-)

  17. A browser
    Firefox would be the kosher choice, and since this is a LEGAL page I will stick to it and keep it in first position... but I cannot resist: I invite you to use Opera instead :-)
    This is the best browser of the planet, while, alas, not a GPL licensed GNU software, and while not publishing its (gorgeous) source code, this is the best choice for seekers and internet savvy as well.
    Note that its advertisement silly nags are VERY easy to eliminate, should you really do not have the (scarce) money needed to buy it... as it after all deserves.
    Believe me: Opera beats Mozilla hands down (not to mention that ugly, overbloated M$-explorer malware crap).

    Hey!! Never forget our friend proxomitron... whatever browser you use.

  18. An email client
    Foxmail is probably one of the best choices around. And it's free like in free beer.
    Version 4 phoned home with a sms check, people protested and version 5 seems to be spyware free. Your firewall will tell. This is chinese freeware, good and quick, small and reliable, has anti-spam filters and the whole bazaar of options. Beats outlook so much that I begin to feel sorrow for Microsoft.

    Another email client:

  19. A ftp client
    " for bangla I suggest CoreFTP, incredibly basic looking but a lot of power under the hood (ftp/sftp/tls/etc), I've sandboxed it and it doesn't appear to be doing anything it shouldn't. It has a short nag/splash screen on startup, 2 seconds or so, which I suppose may irritate people, but its not nagging you to buy it :)"
    Of course, if you want to get rid of the nag screen you just search and find on the web a copy of resource hacker, open coreftp.exe with it, locate the dialog under the dialog tree, action > delete and save the file as something else. That's it.

    Another FTP client
    Soon in version 3, but I've been very happy using 2.2. Like text editors, I've tried awful many FTP clients - a very basic tool, but gets used so much, that even minor glitches start annoying. One major glitch with most FTP clients is the lack of folder tree - I just can't live without. FileZilla has this, and all other basic features I need, in a very solid package.

  20. A newsreader
    40tude Dialog, by Marcus Mönnig.
    Google is good for perusing usenet, but when you want to download the beef (the binary files) you need a newsreader.
    40tude Dialog is shareware for commercial users and freeware for private users, and has tyhe whole she-bang: Multiple server support, Multiple identity support, Multiple background threads, etc...

    BNR, BNR is a news reader software specifically tailored for binary articles. "Copyrighted freeware" (why doesn't he GPL it?)

  21. A steganographic tool ,wbStego4open is based an wbStego4 and supports Windows and Linux. Embeds data into bitmaps, text files, HTML files and PDF files.
    wbStego4open is published under the GNU General Public License (GPL). The source code ( is available for Delphi 5+ and Kylix 1+.

  22. An alternative to Quicken
    (Ok this is not really "necessary" software, but Paul Lutus is an older one :-)
    PLCash PLCash is a platform-independent personal financial program, that helps you, inter alia ton create and manage personal financial accounts, import and export data from/to Quicken and other financial programs & create reports and analyze your transactions using a sophisticated report generator.
    Also Paul Lutus' A Note about Freeware snippet is an absolute must read: "The modern Internet has become a corporate playground, a commercial free-fire zone, and is about to become one interminable advertisement, an ideal only dreamt of by television producers. The number of users has exploded as well, and the old Internet of cooperation and equality has been pretty much buried in the rubble" Indeed, alas, "O tempora! o mores!"

  23. A free telephone (Useful for anyone that does not want to give *that* much money to the bell sisters :-): PGPfone - Pretty Good Privacy Phone
    PGPfone (Pretty Good Privacy Phone) is a software package that turns your desktop or notebook computer into a secure telephone. It uses speech compression and strong cryptography protocols to give you the ability to have a real-time secure telephone conversation. Secure voice calls are supported over the Internet, or through a direct modem-to-modem connection. It's freeware, and comes with source code.

  24. A 'gasp in awe' educational program (in this case Astronomy): Celestia
    "Celestia is a free real-time space simulation that lets you experience our universe in three dimensions. Unlike most planetarium software, Celestia doesn't confine you to the surface of the Earth. You can travel throughout the solar system, to any of over 100,000 stars, or even beyond the galaxy. All travel in Celestia is seamless; the exponential zoom feature lets you explore space across a huge range of scales, from galaxy clusters down to spacecraft only a few meters across. A 'point-and-goto' interface makes it simple to navigate through the universe to the object you want to visit."

    After all this list of free software was originally made for a school-teacher in Rhodesia.
    And -I thought- if there is one thing the pupils in Rhodesia can for sure have which will be way better than what most of us have, it will be the unhindered chance to look at a deep night dark sky... without silly commercial light pollution...

    Here we go, gosh, how beautiful this software is, hold your lover's hand looking at it... Celestia. Choose as first choice Help/Run demo and gasp in awe...

    This is just an example of a completely free, fantastic educative software. There are MANY more -- completely free applications -- for maths, physics, biology... and so on.

    Alternatively you may want to install and enjoy Stellarium, "your own planetarium" (use the keyboard's arrows and see the night sky at your location as it is above you). It renders 3D photo-realistic skies in real time. With stellarium, you really see what you can see with your eyes, binoculars or a small telescope... great free software!

    university courses for anyone

    NEVER UNDERESTIMATE the incredible depth of the web. Intere universities are going on line every second thursday. If a school is interested in, say, astronomy, then a good idea could be to gather all the MIT university lessons on this field in pdf format.

    University level education, for free, at your (or anyone else) fingertips! Yessir: MIT's OpenCourseWare:, Introduction to Astronomy, Spring 2003, Lecture notes, Related Resources... see what I mean? (The web was MADE in order to share for free, eat this, commercial bastards :-)


Note that a possible almost "global" software alternative is said to be represented by the free suite easy office: a rather complete suite of programs, with even voice recognition, diagrams, spellers and vocabolaries, file encryption and whatnots, that "supports the Open Source community"
EasyOffice's free version is unfortunately a terrible, almost nightmarish "Nagware" festival, and it does have a tendency to strew itself all over the registry, which is a pain. Yet such a suite could be still useful enough to make any school on this planet happy, even if they do not have any money at all :-)
So once again, as strange as it may seem to Microsoft, there's no reason whatsoever when using windows to pay any money at all in order to use good, full-fledged, software (and of course there will be even less reasons as soon as you'll switch once for all to a MUCH better operating system like GNU/Linux :-)

Ok, fetch the programs listed above, integrate them with many other good applications you'll find on the tools and software reversing tools pages at searchlores, or you'll find by yourself using tricks like the ones described here, have a go, try the various free programs out, play some games, amuse yourself... you cannot go wrong: It's all free, useful and powerful... as software should always be (despite Microsoft).

Note that you may even boldly seek out and find by yourself many more software free jewels on the wide web... maybe you'll also find the time to point them out, so that they can be listed here...

Searching freeware

A very good place that Kane pointed out: alt.comp.freeware, a usenet group populated by people who despise spyware/malware and don't consider shareware an option.

How to search it is simple, either use a search query of something you want for instance "file manager" or look for people who have asked whats a good freeware alternative, eg "windows commander" to find what they suggested was similar.

An interesting alternative is to use as a query an ad hoc snippet in a given language, see for instance how using +"promuovere * programmi gratuiti" will point you to a nice italian site:, while, say, +"förder" freeware will point you to relevant german sites. And if you try similar searches on the regional search engines your signal will be even stronger, given the known advantages of going regional in order to reduce noise (instead of using google).

Another possibility, when searching freeware, is to check the applications listed under the LGPL (GNU Library or Lesser General Public License)

Still another interesting place is priceless ware: a compilation of software collected through a yearly vote by the participants of the "alt.comp.freeware" newsgroup.

Still another interesting place is myopensource: a south african compilation of useful, free, software. Unfortunately this seems to be a one man show and Quinton, while offering a very useful freeware compendium, does not seem to evaluate the software scene as severely as he should, and lists a lot of crap as well :-(

Missing stuff

Free web-based services (Web pages, web mail...)

Well... a really free web-hosting service! (as pointed out by Kevin Lyons, who is jolly right!):
"...a category may be missing. The item would be a free network web file service. No, I am not talking about the geocities garbage with the graffiti window popups all over the place and truly, if I could find one that didn't act that way I would tell you the address... Does it not infuriate you that the dissemination of ideas, even pathetic individual home pages must come with the dross of advertisements?"

And indeed there was a old project on these paths, alas, now obsolete... will we ever find some 'really free' providers?
For "email purposes" a possible "almost free" choice? (that is with the least strings attached and a lot of space and as less censoship and as much -relative- anonymity as possible)... could this be walla or another among the free (one giga or plus) email services?
And for hosting sites?
Your comments would be welcome.

Anything else missing? Anything wrong? Just send your own freaking feedback, bloody, lazy, useless web-leechers!

And now, ladies and gentlemen, some useful search engines minimal forms...

 Always 100 rez, safe off
  fastsearching for:
Find this Phrase

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