Not Open Source, But Free: Four Must-Have Apps

by Ostatic Staff - Oct. 10, 2008

While OStatic is dedicated to open source, one of the big attractions with open source applications for many users is that they're free. That's why when we see really outstanding freeware applications--even though they're not open source--we still call them out. In this post, I'll discuss four really outstanding freeware options. Windows and Mac users will find tools to like here, and the price is right.

Beating the Boot Time Blues. Startup Delayer from r2 Studios is probably the best freeware utility I've found in 2008. (Hat tip to PC World for calling it to my attention.) I wrote about it yesterday on WebWorkerDaily.

This great little utility addresses one of the main points of frustration that Windows users have: lengthy boot times. The program gives you a list of the applications and other things that you load upon bootup, and then you can drag any item on the list down to an empty white space. Once you let go of your mouse there, a line appears in the white space with the line set by default at 20 seconds. That means Startup Delayer intends to wait 20 seconds before it attempts to boot the item represented by the line. You can drag the line around for the various applications you load upon startup to customize when they'll load.

When you boot a Windows machine, the applications you have specified to load crash into each other. That's why you have to sit and stare while their launches resolve. Check the WebWorkerDaily story for how I was instantly able to slash my boot time by a third with Startup Delayer.

Defying Dashboard. Mac users are undoubtedly familiar with what a resource hog Dashboard is. The amounts of RAM, processor cycles, and swapfile access that Dashboard consumes creates huge annoyances. TheAppleBlog has a good post up on a utility called DashQuit that can eliminate these headaches.

When DashQuit launches it computes the percentage of memory (RAM) that Dashboard is using and displays it in a little panel. With one click, you can disable Dashboard and then enable it again with one click. There are versions for Leopard and for Tiger.

Free and in the Cloud. Do you use the Zoho suite of free online applications? Zoho has a truly exhaustive set of hosted applications, ranging from a mail app to a word processor to a CRM app to project management and online sharing apps.

As Webware notes Zoho Mail is now updated so that it works both online and offline, and with the iPhone. Also check the WebWorkerDaily story. Offline availability and iPhone compatibility are holy grails for many applications right now, so this is a good one to look into.

Free Graphics Gem. IrfanView is one of the most popular freeware graphics programs in the world, which I wrote about here. (Just take a peek at the reader comments for that post.) It's great when you need to open an image editor quickly, perform quick tasks and get right back to work. However, it has a surprisingly robust feature set, especially if you often need to convert file formats or work with batches of graphics files.

IrfanView also has many useful plug-ins available for it, with outside contributors creating the plug-ins in nearly open source fashion. Highly recommended.

For many other good freebies from the pure and open source world, see our roundup.