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Top 10 Software Titles Every Home PC Needs?

Cliff posted more than 10 years ago | from the stuff-to-talk-about dept.

Software 936

eabell asks: "I'm buying a new mid-grade laptop computer, which I plan to dual-boot between Windows XP Home and Mandrake 9.x. Before its arrival in a few weeks I'm trying to think of what 'essential' software I'll need to make a usable home system. In general I'd like to spend as little money as possible (free is good). As far as my needs, think 'typical family PC' without an emphasis on gaming. I know I can get something like Open Office for word processing, presentation, etc. needs, but is there such a good thing as a good free virus checker? A good free email client? A handy web browser? What would you consider the top 10 (or so) pieces of software for a new home system, bearing in mind that I need software for both the Windows and Linux side of things?"

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What? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7156514)

This story is halfway down the page... but I don't see any replies...

Oh well, first post!

If you are too cheap for an AV program.... (5, Informative)

jawtheshark (198669) | more than 10 years ago | (#7164125)

For a free Antivirus software go for AVG Anti-Virus [grisoft.com] . Free for non-commercial, non-networked use. It's what I install on people's machines when they are low on cash, and want to continue running Windows.

Re:If you are too cheap for an AV program.... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7164236)

AntiVir(R) Personal Edition for Windows Me (Me&98&95) and XP (XP&2000&NT)

Re:If you are too cheap for an AV program.... (5, Informative)

cK-Gunslinger (443452) | more than 10 years ago | (#7164238)

I will second this comment, as I like AVG.

I keep a CD of free Windows software for people (helpful when I build them a new PC.)

AVG Anti-Virus (AV)
OpenOffice (Office)
Firebird (Browser)
Thunderbird (email)
AdAware (Spyware seek-n-destroy)
Winamp (Multimedia)
3DMark (benchmarking)
some game demos

He's right! (1)

preric (689159) | more than 10 years ago | (#7164266)

Been using AVG as anti-virus for two years now, and it even works with Outlook/OutlookExpress. Have yet to get a virus.

Kazaa Lite (5, Funny)

delphin42 (556929) | more than 10 years ago | (#7164126)

Once you have that, everything else is only a few clicks away...

Re:Kazaa Lite (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7164153)

everything else is only a few clicks away...

Including an RIAA subpoena.

Playing Media on Windows (1)

Eric Ass Raymond (662593) | more than 10 years ago | (#7164128)

Use ZoomPlayer [inmatrix.com] instead of Windows Media Player.

Re:Playing Media on Windows (1)

JPM NICK (660664) | more than 10 years ago | (#7164178)

Isn't Media Player free with his pre-installed copy of Windows XP?? why would you not use the intergrated media player? I think it works great for everyday use. The less sutff you install, the better and more reliable you system will be. I say stick with Media Player.

Re:Playing Media on Windows (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7164282)

Everything Microsoft has put out since media player 6.4 has been bloated shitware. Even on Windows 2000 I still use 6.4

I have no use for visual effects or a UI that would make a grown up run screaming.

Re:Playing Media on Windows (1)

Eric Ass Raymond (662593) | more than 10 years ago | (#7164297)

The trouble with Media Player is that it's hugely uncomfortable to use and eats screen real estate like crazy.

At least I can't resize the skinned mode window when I'm watching DVD or DivX. I have to use either the full mode or watch video in the encoded size.

Re:Playing Media on Windows (1)

GlassUser (190787) | more than 10 years ago | (#7164245)

Personally I would lean toward Media Player Classic and the ffdshow MPEG4 codec (both free/beer). I have them packaged in an MSI around here somewhere.

Mozilla for mail and browser (1)

redog (574983) | more than 10 years ago | (#7164131)

Does calendar too, need an irc client? yep mozilla

Re:Mozilla for mail and browser (1)

pixelgeek (676892) | more than 10 years ago | (#7164160)

-- Does calendar too, need an irc client? yep mozilla


Re:Mozilla for mail and browser (1)

Irishman (9604) | more than 10 years ago | (#7164171)

I see someone beat me to suggesting Mozilla :)

The mail program works well, as does the newsreader. The browser displays just about every page out there quite nicely. Multiple user support is good and it is quite easy to lock it down/configure it as needed, a very important feature for a family application (at least for some).

Windows XP (5, Funny)

inertia@yahoo.com (156602) | more than 10 years ago | (#7164132)

All I know is that Windows XP is the best $300 game of Solitaire I've ever played.

Re:Windows XP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7164164)

I would rather pay the $300 for Solitare than nothing for KillBill and Othello.

Moron, troll elsewhere.

Re:Windows XP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7164224)

You're just an AC on /.. What do you know?

mozilla & cygwin (2, Insightful)

shakah (78118) | more than 10 years ago | (#7164136)

cygwin for the Windows-side of things, of course.

Re:mozilla & cygwin (1)

xanadu-xtroot.com (450073) | more than 10 years ago | (#7164294)

Why in the hell would someone want to fork out the cash to buy Win* just to fork out the cash to get something better than 56K just to download *NIX (esentially)????

MySQL... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7164140)

...for easy categorization of pr0n collections.

Browser Suggestion (1)

hoagieslapper (593527) | more than 10 years ago | (#7164141)

I used Mozilla for my web browser at home it suits all of my browsing needs.

Re:Browser Suggestion (1)

Sir Haxalot (693401) | more than 10 years ago | (#7164260)

I used Mozilla for my web browser at home it suits all of my browsing needs.
Surely if you're only using it for browsing you should use Firebird [mozilla.org] instead?

Mozilla (1, Informative)

TimCrider (215456) | more than 10 years ago | (#7164142)

I've been using Mozilla firebird for my main browser and it's been really solid.

I also use Mozilla thunderbird for my email, and have been really happy with it.

You can get them from mozilla.org [mozilla.org]

Re:Mozilla (1)

frankthechicken (607647) | more than 10 years ago | (#7164249)

Firebird/Mozilla definately, my favorite browsers, but Thunderbird is still far too flaky for use in my opinion.

The only other free software I use is the eclipse [eclipse.org] editor, which I find fantastic to use, both in terms of reliability and usablilty.

Re:Mozilla (1)

indros (211103) | more than 10 years ago | (#7164257)

I have to concur wiht TimCrider's suggestion. I've been using FireBird & ThunderBird for several months now.

There is one exception however. My employer's timesheet website is just so screwed up it only works with IE.

Other than that, they are outstanding.

Obviously (1)

gerf (532474) | more than 10 years ago | (#7164146)

Mozilla, and its components. However, do you want to be able to access the same emails from each OS? would you need a third partition for this sort of data perhaps?

Re:Obviously (1)

wampus (1932) | more than 10 years ago | (#7164212)

IMAP or webmail is also usable in this situation. My (free) email provider has IMAP, POP3, and WebMail set up. I use IMAP on my clients at home, so things stay sync'ed between OS's and I can still check my mail from whereever with their decent webmail interface.

Top ten Windows apps to install. (5, Informative)

EggMan2000 (308859) | more than 10 years ago | (#7164154)

Here is my top ten list (in no particular order) for Windows. I'll let everyone argue about the Linux tools.
CygWin [cygwin.com] the Linux-like environment for Windows.
Mozilla [mozilla.org] naturally.... Use this for mail, news, and browsing if you like.
WS FTP Light [ipswitch.com] a FREE, FTP client that works great.
PuTTY [greenend.org.uk] a free SSH client for Windows.
VNC [realvnc.com] remote controll software, NOTE: the location is no longer on the ATT Labs UK site.
GNU-EMacs [gnu.org] for Windows. I usually install it, but use Vi more.
Dev-C++ [bloodshed.net] a free C++ compiler. I use VC++ 6.0, but this is free, and I think it's pretty good.
NetHack [nethack.org] You MUST have NetHack installed on everything...
Free-AV [free-av.com] free Anti-Virus software for Windows.
Boingo [boingo.com] to see where the closest hotspot is. (free) you don't need the service.

Re:Top ten Windows apps to install. (2, Insightful)

pixelgeek (676892) | more than 10 years ago | (#7164213)

We must have differing views on what a "family" needs for their PC as I can't see most families doing C++ development coding in EMacs on their family PC :-)

A little family get-together around the PC to do some kernel tweaking before bedtime?

Re:Top ten Windows apps to install. (1)

stevesliva (648202) | more than 10 years ago | (#7164220)

  • PDF viewer (Acrobat Reader)
  • Chat client (Trillian)
  • Absolutely essential for XP: Several visits to windowsupdate for security patches

Re:Top ten Windows apps to install. (1)

fuzzz (550738) | more than 10 years ago | (#7164281)

Instead of WS FTP, there is FileZilla [sourceforge.net] , an open source graphical FTP program. Free is good, but might as well try open source as much as possible.

let's see (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7164162)

Mac OS X
Photoshop Elements
Omni Graffle

that about covers it, and no need to dual-boot either, or use a virus checker.

Be realistic (0, Troll)

Ass, Ltd. Ho! (714400) | more than 10 years ago | (#7164170)

You need MS Office. You can't operate a home computer without basic functionality and communication with all your friends and collegaues who ALL USE OFFICE.

but being still more realistic, who ever PAYS for MS software anymore? just borrow a CD from a friend and find a registration number on Surfer's serialz or something. I mean come on.

really, that's about all of it. Everything else comes with windows.

Some windoze essentials (4, Informative)

T-Kir (597145) | more than 10 years ago | (#7164175)

AVG Free edition [grisoft.com]

Zonealarm [zonelabs.com]

Winamp Classic [winamp.com]

..they are the first things I install.

Re:Some windoze essentials (5, Informative)

millahtime (710421) | more than 10 years ago | (#7164293)

Don't install Zone Alarm. It can cause your internet connection to stop working and is a pain to fix. There are several documented issues with it and to fix it is a total pain. They used to have some of these issues and fixes documented at their site but pulled them. One of their reps told me that the only fix for one of the problems was a reformat and reinstall of the OS because they were never able to trace the problem.

Browser, mail client = Mozilla (1)

bigjocker (113512) | more than 10 years ago | (#7164176)

I just switched from my Evolution+Mozilla setup to a Mozilla only setup for email, contacts and web.

It has _everything_ I need and the security tools are better (in my opinion) than the ones provided with Evolution: Evolution can use the external gpg system to sign, check signatures and encrypt, but the Mozilla Messenger uses RSA and Digital Certificates with the registered CAs and Personal Certificates, which is a better approach.

And is free as in speech and as in beer, works for windows and linux, and has a lot of plugins available.

essential software (0)

VaXiNaToR (21643) | more than 10 years ago | (#7164180)

1. Quicken or MoneyDance (personal finance software)
2. MS Office, or OpenOffice 1.1 (office productivity software)
3. Virus Checker, worth the money
4. Nero Cd Burner software (for backups)
5. Mozilla (browser and email clients, free and secure)
6. FreeCiv, (best strategy game for free)

Anything else you want to do is up to you

For Mac OS X (1)

alchemist68 (550641) | more than 10 years ago | (#7164189)

1. TextEdit
2. BBEdit
3. iTunes
4. iPhoto
5. iCal
6. AddressBook
7. RBrowserLite FTP client
8. Mozilla/Safari
9. X Windows with OpenOffice
10. Q U A K E III A R E N A with a broadband connection.

Re:For Mac OS X (1)

oaklybonn (600250) | more than 10 years ago | (#7164288)

Of that list, only BBEdit and Quake are commercial and are going to cost extra. (Possibly RBrowserLite, I've never heard of it since I usually don't use FTP.)

So, how much is your mid range PC going to cost vs. a mid range mac? If money is an issue, you might want to re-evaluate the costs...

Must have (3, Insightful)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 10 years ago | (#7164190)

dual-boot between Windows XP Home and Mandrake 9.x. Before its arrival in a few weeks I'm trying to think of what 'essential' software I'll need to make a usable home system

Get Partition Magic : as you use get used to both systems, you'll be able to progressively shrink your Windows partition and make your home system more and more usable.

All you really need (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7164191)

Kazaa Lite
IE with the Google toolbar

if you install those, you'll get everything you need.

Deus Ex and System Shock 2 (1)

FortKnox (169099) | more than 10 years ago | (#7164193)

I know you said no emphasis on gaming, but without these two games, your life just isn't complete!

Re:Deus Ex and System Shock 2 (1)

crazyphilman (609923) | more than 10 years ago | (#7164302)

Beware: System Shock 2 wouldn't install on Windows 2000 because of some kind of direct X issue (I wept! and gnashed my teeth, too!).

Does it work on XP? That might be enough reason for me to get an XP-based laptop I've been looking at for a while...

Just one. (1)

teamhasnoi (554944) | more than 10 years ago | (#7164195)

OS X. ;P

Ok, for real (assuming Windows) - Zone Alarm, Norton A/V, Firebird, Thunderbird.

You might want to investigate http://www.litepc.com [litepc.com] as they have finally! released a version for Windows 2000/XP (It removes IE, OE, Media Player and all sorts of other icky-ness) Haven't tried it yet, but it looks promising.

AVG anti-virus (1)

MacBrave (247640) | more than 10 years ago | (#7164196)

I've been using AVG anti-virus Free edition on my WinXP machine at home for a couple months now. It seems to work OK for a 'bare bones' virus checker.

Try it at: AVG Anti-Virus [grisoft.com]

Not so sure on the family titles, but... (1)

WebMasterJoe (253077) | more than 10 years ago | (#7164198)

I can't live without Mozilla and Winamp/XMMS. I have actually gotten used to just using a webmail client for my email so it doesn't matter which OS I'm using, and I have the mp3's stored on a fat32 partition mounted as /music in Linux, and M:\ in windows.

Whatever software you can get for both OS's, get it. I'd definitely have to agree with OO.o if money is an issue, but frankly, Office XP works better, and faster. Sorry, folks, but it's got a lot more dev time behind it and it shows.

Here are a few of my favotites (1)

xagon7 (530399) | more than 10 years ago | (#7164200)

Can't help you much on the linux side (everythign else is already there in the distro...)

BUT here are a couple of ideas

AGV Antivirus -- http://www.grisoft.com/us/us_index.php

e-mail -- webmail or outlook express

photoediting -- GIMP for windows

AWESOME Browser -- Mozilla Firebird

Open Office

All I can think of.

Only thing you DON't have in this setup is a personal DB like Access, but do you really need that? I also havn't recommended anything specific to your work.. that is up to you.

Good god (1, Funny)

sbeast702 (447699) | more than 10 years ago | (#7164203)

This has to be the dumbest Ask /. posts EVER... somebody give him a coke, a smile and a fuckin link to download.com

Most important software for a home pc (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7164204)

1: gcc
2: vi
3: grep
4: bash
5: Do you really need anything else for a good home pc?

Re:Most important software for a home pc (1)

taradfong (311185) | more than 10 years ago | (#7164306)

Finally a bit on sanity. Except I'd add that you gotta use vim, and that recently awk changed my life.

Abiword (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7164206)

As an excellent, x-platform word processor [abisource.com] .

I find OOo to be too bloated, and full of features I'm not going to use. Just like MS Word.

Mac OS X (0, Offtopic)

lithandie (627181) | more than 10 years ago | (#7164207)

sure this will get modded as a troll, but if you got this software, you would not need to dual boot between linux and windows.....

Top 10 for Mac OS X? (0, Redundant)

TibbonZero (571809) | more than 10 years ago | (#7164208)

While we are at it... what does everyone need for OS X? Here's my list:

Msft Office (newest version)

Safari (why use IE?)




Photoshop 7.0

Final Cut Pro



Those are just personally what I need to operate well with it... I know those aren't for everyone. I can't even remember what i used on a PC hardly...

Quicken or equivalent (5, Informative)

mccalli (323026) | more than 10 years ago | (#7164215)

I came out of University ten years ago, got a job and wondered why I was still broke at the end of every month. I finally bought a spanking new 486 as development/Doom machine, and decided that for that amount of money I'd better try to do something useful with it too.


Now, I have no real experience with alternatives so this is a rant about using financial software in general, not Quicken in particular. However, the use I've got out of that piece of software is astounding. The information it gives you for planning is just priceless. You always know where you are, roughly what to expect, can play with what-if's to check how your situation might change...it's excellent.

Get a home finance package, and get into the habit of using it about once a week. I guarantee you won't regret it.


Free Goodies - Windows and Linux (1)

Ieshan (409693) | more than 10 years ago | (#7164217)

First off, I highly recommend Firebird. When switching between the two OSes, the interface will stay the same, which is a big plus.It's free. Thunderbird is their mail client, which handles a whole bunch of different options and tasks. Free as well. www.mozilla.org.

Second: Sygate Personal Firewall, downloadable from Download.com, is a huge boost in security and a *very* configurable firewall for Windows machines. It's free. AVG virus scanner is free and well-updated.

Winamp/XMMS - if you plan on any multimedia, it's a big neccessity. Both free.

GAIM instant messenger. Same deal with Firebird. Free.

If you plan on letting the Computer double as an entertainment center, spring for a cheap TV card. TVTime is excellent free TV Software that's extremely easy to set up and provides amazing picture quality (www.tvtime.net), and FreeVO lets your machine double as a TiVo type recorder (beware, takes a lot of setup and headaches).

First things after installing windows (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7164225)

All the service packs (of course)

AVG for antivirus
ZoneAlarm for firewall

From my "post installation" CD (1)

bo0ork (698470) | more than 10 years ago | (#7164228)

From my "post install" CD:

- Ad Aware
- Extract Now
- Mozilla
- Zone Alarm
- Motherboard Monitor
- Total Commander
- Adobe Acrobat Reader
- Open Office
- BSPlayer


Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7164233)

Congratulation to Mike Witty ib his pcoming nuptuails!

Pricelessware (5, Informative)

cybermace5 (446439) | more than 10 years ago | (#7164244)

Go to the Pricelessware [pricelessware.org] site maintained by the alt.comp.freeware Usenet group. On the group, they post and evalute freeware, and the winners make it on to the pricelessware list. Nagware, adware and shareware are frowned upon; the vast majority of the programs listed are no-strings freeware.

For IM... (2, Informative)

CGP314 (672613) | more than 10 years ago | (#7164250)

For instant messaging, I'd go with gaim. [sourceforge.net] Its ability to let you talk to people while leaving an away message up is a lifesaver for avoiding ex-girlfriends.

Start with Emacs (1)

amightywind (691887) | more than 10 years ago | (#7164251)

By installing Emacs 21.3 you get:

  • Text editor/Word processor
  • Chat
  • News reader
  • Web brower
  • Email client
  • Address book
  • FTP Client
  • Builtin shell
  • Lots of fun amusements
  • Multilanguage programming IDE
  • Lots more...

Irfanview (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7164252)

The best, lightweight graphics viewer, also does movies and sound clips. Great for slideshows keyboard shortcuts for everything. Even my mum can use it and she can't even use a mouse (seriously)


Game: Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7164254)

http://bluesnews.com/cgi-bin/board.pl?action=viewt hread&threadid=44119

Game is free

http://3ddownloads.com/linuxgames/wolf/et/et-lin ux -2.56.x86.run

One of the Best Game in Linux

Linux Top 10 (1)

ospirata (565063) | more than 10 years ago | (#7164255)

Here goes my list. I gues you would not need 10 1-OpenOffice.org 2-Mozilla w/Flash,Java 3-Acrobat Reader 4-Mplayer 5-Lopster 6-XV 7-Xmms 8-XTERM ...

Yet another lame Ask Slashdot... (0)

pebs (654334) | more than 10 years ago | (#7164265)

Just install Debian and apt-get install whatever you need as the need arises.

Lets see... (2, Informative)

Lord Kholdan (670731) | more than 10 years ago | (#7164267)

1) Firewall. You will need a good firewall. I've had good experience with Sygate personal firewall. But I'm by no means expert on this.

2) New Browser. Some people are happy with IE but most appreciate the choice. I suggest Opera. As a plus, that'll also include a mail program but I cant comment about that.

3) Audio. Winamp is the winner here, hands down.

4) Video. If you're unhappy with WMP I suggest ZoomPlayer. Remember to download few codec packs too.

5) This isn't really something to buy but I'll say it anyway. Newest service pack/patches. When starting from a clean table they're much easier to install and it's good to start with a patched computer, even if you're too lazy to keep it that way.

Oh and links:
www.winamp. com
http://www.inmatrix.com/files/zoomplayer_down load. shtml

Those should get you started.

Adobe (1)

JPM NICK (660664) | more than 10 years ago | (#7164269)

Do not foget Adobe Acrobat reader. You will most likely need to open a .PDF sooner or later.

http://download.com.com/3000-2378-10205470.html?ta g=lst-0-1

[offtopic] Google Subscriber? (1)

Zach Garner (74342) | more than 10 years ago | (#7164274)

If you do a google search [google.com] , google says the article was posted 20 hours ago, despite slashdot just showing it a few minutes ago.

Is this a bug in google or do they have access to the articles before the general public?

Spyware stuff (4, Informative)

zapp (201236) | more than 10 years ago | (#7164280)

The best Ad-ware / Spyware removal tool I've found is
SpyBot Search & Destroy [com.com]

There is also Ad-Aware [lavasoft.com] though.

Other stuff (non spyware related):
Winamp [winamp.com] (2x is best)
Trillian [trillian.cc] /Gaim
Browsers (and mail): IE6, Mozilla, Opera are all fine

I've found both SlickRun and PopupPopper from Bayden Software [bayden.com] to be useful as well.

ZoneAlarm (2, Informative)

TheTomcat (53158) | more than 10 years ago | (#7164284)

I was discussing the virtues of software firewalls with my co-workers this morning.

It's REALLY nice to be able to see what's "phoning home", on top of the regular firewall.

There's a free version, too.


Top 10 Software titles (1)

cheinz (714431) | more than 10 years ago | (#7164285)

I would consider AVG anti-virus and Opera web browser to be the most useful. Both free, or nagware. I would definately install Ad-Aware, which is free. WinRar is a good unzip utility. There was a firewall I once had called HackTracer. It was very good, and I think it was free for non-commercial use. I know ethereal is another app I always install quick.

Mozilla (1)

thinkninja (606538) | more than 10 years ago | (#7164289)

Using Mozilla Firebird & Thunderbird for web/mail is great if you're dual-booting linux/XP because it's easy to share profiles between the two OS's.

Email Client (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7164290)

Try mahogany.sourceforge.net for email client

Browser/Mail and alternatives to Photoshop.... (1)

ChibiTaryn (646855) | more than 10 years ago | (#7164295)

Well, for Browser or Mail, I highly recommend both Opera [opera.com] or Mozilla [mozilla.org] . Both will handle Mail and Browsing quite well, and a few other nifty things too.

I have used both, and there are features in both that I like... both are free, although one will display ads (Opera) until you purchase a copy.

I strongly suggest downloading a copy of both, and seeing which one you prefer.

If you want Graphics software for any arty things, try the GIMP [gimp.org] , or if you want something a little more painty (ie; emulates real painting and drawing materials) Open Canvas [portalgraphics.net] is good. I guess it depends what your needs are when it comes to editing or creating pictures.

Quick list (1)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 10 years ago | (#7164298)

- Comet toolbar

- Bonzi Buddy

- Gator

- swimming fish screensaver

- "deltree c:\" for Windows partition

- "rm -rf /" for linux partition

iTunes (1)

Frightened_Turtle (592418) | more than 10 years ago | (#7164314)

A program that's not for gaming and runs almost constantly on my machine: iTunes. And when you need to make about two hours go by real fast, just turn on the visualizer mode. Oh, yeah: and keep a towel handy to soak up the drool while you sit there all strung out on "visual valium."
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