Here's a list of some good software that I use often.  Some is freeware and some is commercial; most of it runs on Linux, MS Windows, or both.

Server Tools

Free Linux Tools

+ripcd : handy script to rip CDs to WAVs and MP3s

+searchtext : like Google, but for your hard drive

Microsoft Stuff

Note: these files are either included on the Windows cdrom, or are freely available from Microsoft's website.  I have put them up here simply for convenience, because most of the time, it's impossible to find what you're looking for on Microsoft's website.

TweakUI lets you tweak many many "hidden" Windows settings.  The current version is 1.33 for Windows 95, 98, NT, ME, 2000, XP.  Download it from or get it from my site.  Once you download it, just extract or unzip it, then right-click on tweakUI.inf to install.

Internet Explorer Power Pack is a bunch of useful IE tweaks and functions.

The MSconfig Utility lets you clean up / speed up your computer by disabling persistent startup programs.  It comes with Windows 98, ME, and XP, but not 2000.

Kill process utility: kill.exe lets you kill a task that's not responding.  Or any task.  Works on Windows 2000 & XP, possibly others.  You probably also want tlist.exe which lists tasks and pids.  Both are also available here.

Photo programs / image editing tools

In my photos section, I have programs/tools/techniques for losslessly cropping, losslessly rotating, and extracting EXIF info from JPEG images.  I also have a very simple right-click method for creating a photo webpage from a folder of images, and it does all the resizing and HTML coding for you!

The GIMP is the best free image editor.  It's as good as Jasc's Paint Shop Pro, and even Adobe's Photoshop, for most people (including me).  Graphics professionals, or regular people who do tons of graphic design, might need/want Photoshop... but most people don't.  GIMP is free and it runs on Linux and Windows.

File Utilities

PKware v2.50 for DOS (zip/unzip tool)

PowerArchiver is a free compression / decompression tool for Windows.  It can zip, unzip, un-gzip, untar, unrar... it does it all.

Developer Utilities

Inno Setup: this is a free Windows installer package (like InstallShield, etc) which, according to its author, rivals or exceeds many commercial installers.

System Utilities

Download syscheck.exe to report CPU speed, amount of RAM, and some other stuff.  For Windows.

WCPUID (local download / author's page) tells you tons of information about your processor, cache, chipset, system, etc.  For Windows.

AVG is a free antivirus program for Windows, and it's full-featured and updated regularly just like Norton and McAffee are.  (Another free antivirus program is AntiVir, but I think it doesn't do automatic updates like AVG does.)

WinGrab (here or here) is a screen capture / print screen utility that can take screen captures at regular intervals.  So it can periodically log what's happening on a system.  This is particularly handy for remote monitoring of a system.  Freeware for MS Windows.

XXcopy is a fantastic file copying / backup tool for Windows.  It's freeware, command-line with a GUI progress bar, and it lets you easily do incremental "clone" backups of any files/folders on your system.  For example:

xxcopy c:\data\ d:\backup\data\ /CLONE /oNLog.txt /Q1 /FF /PB /NX0

That will create an exact copy of the c:\data folder in the d:\backup\data folder.  It will log the backup procedure in the file Log.txt, logging only errors (/Q1), using "fuzzy" filetime (/FF) to compensate for possible differences between timestamps on different filesystems, displaying the progress bar (/PB), and continuing even when the short filenames (the old 8.3-type DOS/Win3.1 filenames that are still logged by newer Windows versions) sometimes can't be preserved (/NX0).  See this page for the complete list of switches.

Internet Apps

Web Browsers

Mozilla is the web browser you should be using.

Free Web Servers

Apache: the best webserver there is, and it's free.  It takes a little setting up, but it's worth it.  And you'll learn a lot.  Apache runs on Windows and Linux.

SlimServe HTTPd: a free, easy-to-use webserver for Windows.  (Alternate location.)  Click here for short instructions on how to setup and use the program.

Need to know your IP Address?

Visit my ip address help page for websites that will tell you your IP address, and other ways to figure it out.

FTP Apps:

SmartFTP is an awesome free FTP client for Windows.

Network Data Monitors:

AnalogX's NetStat Live! shows current/average/total transfer rates, CPU usage, and more.  For Windows.

SuperScan is a very nice, small, free port scanner.  For Windows.

TDImon is also a very nice, small, free port-scanner-type thing.  It shows you all the communications happening in your system, with lots of detail, including the program/process that's communicating.  For Windows.

FPort is like TDImon, but smaller and simpler.  For Windows.

Instant Messaging:

America Online's Instant Messenger program (aka AIM, aka IM) lets you chat in real-time with other AIM users and AOL users.  It's free, you don't have to pay or be an AOL member to use the service.  If you do use AOL, you already have this program.  Once you download and install it, you enter people's screennames into your buddy list, and if they're online, their name will show up, and you can double-click on it to send an instant message to them.  Don't forget to email everyone and tell them your screenname.  If you'd like to know my screenname, click here.

Gaim is a free Linux version of AIM.  But it's not just an AIM client, it's also a client for MSN Messenger, Yahoo! Messenger, ICQ, IRC, etc.


Eudora email client is either shareware (older versions), adware (newest version), or costs money (newest version without ads). Note that "email client" is just a fancy phrase that means a program to check, send, store, and compose email.  For Windows.

Audio Programs

CD rippers (CD-to-wav converters):

CDDAE 99 ("CD digital audio extraction") is a small free Windows program that I use occasionally, because sometimes a CD has a track that won't rip with another ripper, but CDDAE will be able to rip it.

MP3 makers (wav-to-mp3 converters):

LAME is generally regarded as the highest quality mp3 encoder available.  It's free and it's available for Windows and Linux.  It's a command-line program, but the website has links to lots of "frontends" (like EAC and CDex, below) that give you a pretty window to use with it.  This is what I use to make my mp3s, together with EAC, below.  I use the r3mix setting, which is widely regarded as producing the best-sounding mp3s.

CD rippers and MP3 makers in a single program:

EAC (exact audio copy) is a free Windows program that makes the most accurate copies of your CD tracks onto your hard drive.  It can be configured to call an external wav->mp3 compressor (like Lame, above), so that it can rip and encode your CDs to mp3s in just one step.  This is how I make my mp3s.

CDex does the same thing as EAC.  From what I've read, EAC is supposed to make more accurate copies of your CDs, but I wanted to include CDex here as an alternative too.  For Windows.

MP3 Player:

WinAmp is a free Windows audio player.  It's originally and primarily an mp3 player; now it's a full-fledged audio program with support for nearly all major file types.  Get it from, and get a rad WinAmp skin.

XMMS is basically a Linux (and other *nix) version of Winamp.  It's free.


GraphCalc is free 2D and 3D graphing software for Windows.  You give it functions and it graphs them, in 2D or 3D, and you can rotate them, print them out, etc.  It's very cool.

Other math software: Octave, Scilab, and Maxima could all be considered "Matlab alternatives" in some ways.
Linux: Octave, Scilab, Maxima.
MS Windows: Octave, Scilab, Maxima.

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