Below is a list of programs, all of which I”ve used, and I believe everyone must have. They are all 100% free and incredibly useful. Some of them are even commercial quality. Anyhow, I”ve provided a link and a short description about each one. The list is in no particular order.7Zip – Fast and powerful zip compression/extraction. Faster than winzip and windows XP’’s extractor. Supports zip, tar, gz, and 7z files.
Blender – Powerful 3D modeling and rendering application. Similiar to Maya or 3dsMax, though the controls take some getting used to.
Gimp or Paint.net – Both of these are free and powerful photo editors. I use gimp extensively, but some people prefer Paint.NET over Gimp.
Filezilla – Easy to use and simple FTP client. It does support some complex upload features. Similar to SmartFTP without the annoying 30-day trial thing.
XVI Hex editor – Free hex editor. Supports insertions, pattern finding, and common type decoding.
Pidgin – Free instant message program that supports several protocols. Some of the protocols include AIM (OSCAR), ICQ, IRC, MSN, Yahoo!, and XMPP (used with google talk).
VLC – Awesome video player. If you”re looking for flashy effects use WMP or Winamp, but if you”re looking with 100% compatibility with nearly every format that exists, and a video player that will even play corrupted files, VLC is for you. It can also act as a streaming server, a client, can connect to a TV card, record audio from your computer, screen capture, etc. Too much to list here.
Audacity – Free audio editor. Can crop music, use multiple layers, repair bad segments, and also has numerous audio effects.
Psycle (Music creation) – Edit and create music with this program. All if it is synth, so it sounds very artificial.
Firefox – Free web browser. Similar to IE7, but it also supports themes and plugins which let the user community add stuff to it easily. Is arguably more secure than IE.
Putty – Program to communicate to SSH and telnet servers. Useful for managing linux/unix-based servers.
Thunderbird – Email client made by the same group that makes Firefox. Great software and tons of themes and plugins.
VC++ Express – Microsoft’’s free compiler and IDE suite. Arguably the best C++ compiler out there, and certainly the best IDE because of debugging capabilities alone. It takes a little work to set up, though. I”ll write a tutorial on how to set this up, so check out the resources.
OpenVPN – Great VPN client/server. I use it extensively to connect to my home network and have yet to have a problem. Coupled with the GUI, it’’s very easy to use (just read their manual).
Nvu – Good HTML editor, similar to dream weaver. I was confused the one time I used it, but I”m sure it gets easier once you learn how to use it.
Shader Designer – Great GLSL shader designing program. It seems that their website is down, so I”ve created a mirror here.
TightVNC – Fast program to view your desktop from a remote location. Client and server included. Works on windows and linux.
IsoRecorder – Good program to write ISO CD images to a CD.
Dependency Walker – View all the functions and dependencies of a DLL with this program. Useful to help debug a DLL in a program.
gnuplot – Great program to plot graphs. Can plot numerous graphs, both 2D and 3D.
Mathomatic – Great program for solving algebraic and calculus equations.
Maxima – Even better program for solving calculus/algebraic equations and even graphing in 2D/3D. Can be GUI based. Works in Windows/Linux/Mac.