Stocking Your New Computer With Top Open Source Apps

by Ostatic Staff - Sep. 12, 2008

The holidays are approaching, and that's when many people get new computers. Add to that the back-to-school rush, and the popularity of new hardware offerings such as netbooks (low-cost ultraportable systems), and there clearly a lot of people either unboxing new systems now, or about to do so. If you are in posession of a new computer, consider stocking it with a collection of top open source applications. In this post, I'll review and add to some ideas we covered several months ago on ways to do so--in some cases with just one download--for the Mac, Windows or Linux.

MacLibre, seen at left, is an open source software distribution for Mac OS X released under the GPL public license. In one free download, it gets you many free open source applications including AbiWord (word processor), Blender (animation and graphics), GIMP (graphics), Adium (instant messaging), Cyberduck (FTP client), Firefox (browser), Thunderbird (e-mail), ClamXav (antivirus), Vienna (newsreader), and many more. Check out the whole list. This is a great way to put a lot of good open source apps on that new MacBook or MacBook Air.

For Windows users, the Suite is a collection of pre-selected free, primarily open source applications that you can get in one quick download. It includes ClamWin Portable (antivirus), Mozilla Firefox - Portable Edition (web browser), Gaim Portable (instant messaging), Portable (office suite), Sudoku Portable (puzzle game), Mozilla Sunbird - Portable Edition (calendar/task manager) and Mozilla Thunderbird - Portable Edition (email client).

Linux users should keep in mind that there are many desktop environments for Linux that come with lots of good open source applications bundled. Take a look at this writeup on KDE and the slick applications under the hood in it. The latest version wraps in many new applications. Among the bundled examples, you get a personal information manager called Kontact, a browser, the DragonPlayer media player, and a whole lot more.

Like KDE, many Linux users will want to look into GNOME for a desktop environment that comes loaded with open source applications. The new version of GNOME includes many slick apps, such as Vinagre, a remote access and VNC client.

Red Hat Exchange (RHX) is a good place for Linux users to evaluate applications that the site lists in several categories, from databases to messaging and collaboration applications. (OStatic's own project pages are good for this purpose too.) RHX is not a one-download offering, but it is good for Linux users who want to window shop for free applications.

Keep in mind when you're unboxing that new computer that the open source arena can deliver you many good, free applications--often in just one step.