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Software Operating Systems Windows IT

Best Free Open Source Software For Windows 324

snydeq writes "InfoWorld surveys the FOSS-on-Windows landscape, detailing the 10 free open source solutions most likely to unseat proprietary offerings. 'Some, like TrueCrypt and VirtualBox, are real diamonds in the rough: enterprise-grade solutions that deliver many of the same bells and whistles of their commercial brethren, but for free. Others, like Firefox and, are already legendary, and their strong followings ensure their continued development and support at levels that rival the best proprietary solutions.'" Rather than click through 10 different pages, the slideshow presentation at least lets you hover over each page's link to preview the author's top picks.
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Best Free Open Source Software For Windows

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  • by Joce640k ( 829181 ) on Wednesday August 05, 2009 @06:15PM (#28964273) Homepage

    You could just list them in the summary - in less space than it takes to explain the "hover" trick

  • Print: (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Print version []
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 05, 2009 @06:18PM (#28964307)
    1. FileZilla
    2. VirtualBox
    3. OpenOffice.Org
    4. Firefox
    5. Paint.Net
    6. Media Player Classic
    7. TrueCrypt
    8. PDFCreator
    9. 7-Zip
    10. ClamWin
    • by whitefox ( 16740 ) on Wednesday August 05, 2009 @06:31PM (#28964509)
      Or if you want pictures browse to the print view of the article [].
    • Thanks.

      I couldn't make it to page 4 before it got /.-ed.

    • by lawpoop ( 604919 ) on Wednesday August 05, 2009 @06:39PM (#28964643) Homepage Journal
      PDFCreator!? I just downloaded and installed it yesterday on a Vista machine at work. I got a Yahoo search toolbar installed after specifically telling the installer app not to do so, and then I also got a 404 redirector installed too!

      This was from the installer I downloaded from sourceforge...
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by harmonise ( 1484057 )

        Yeah, I had that happen when I recently installed it. It's pretty slimy and left me with a bad impression of PDFCreator.

      • Thanks for the info. Enough reason to delete it from my download folder.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Enderandrew ( 866215 )

        Not to mention that if you're using OpenOffice (like this article suggests you do) then you don't need a separate PDF app. OO.o generates PDFs just fine.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by harmonise ( 1484057 )

          Not to mention that if you're using OpenOffice (like this article suggests you do) then you don't need a separate PDF app. OO.o generates PDFs just fine.

          Which is useful if you only create PDFs from OpenOffice and no other program. PDFCreator installs a PDF printer driver. Once installed, any program that can print can make a PDF. That's much more useful.

      • by Adrian Lopez ( 2615 ) on Wednesday August 05, 2009 @08:43PM (#28966033) Homepage

        I downloaded PDFCreator to give it a spin, but after learning about the toolbar and reading your post I've deleted it without completing the installation.

        Wikipedia has further [url=]details[/url]:

        Starting with version 0.9.8, PDFCreator has included a toolbar application, PDFForge Toolbar. Users have reported that this software changes their computer settings. PDFCreator's end-user-license-agreement states that the software will "modify your Microsoft Internet Explorer and/or Mozilla Firefox browser settings for the default search engine, address bar search, "DNS error" page, "404 error" page, and new tab page to facilitate more informative responses as determined by The Toolbar". All instances of "page not found - 404 errors" redirect to a malicious search site. Choosing to not install the toolbar installs it regardless. Some reviewers have termed the toolbar as "malware" and PDFForge has received criticism for including this toolbar with PDFCreator.[8][9][10]

        Writing in May 2009 Steven Avery stated:

        "PDFCreator, formerly a respected open source product, is causing havoc with a malware install toolbar. Amazingly SourceForge hasn't done anything about this yet and still lists the software, and for many their trust level is shaken as well.[10]"

        It has been reported that it is possible to deselect the Browser Addon during installation and that the PDFForge Toolbar can be uninstalled separately.[citation needed]

    • by harmonise ( 1484057 ) on Wednesday August 05, 2009 @06:40PM (#28964653)

      How about a list of more apps?

      Anyone else have any good recommendations?

    • by Brian Gordon ( 987471 ) on Wednesday August 05, 2009 @06:40PM (#28964657)
      I truly pity anyone who really thinks FileZilla is the best FTP client out there. Why don't more people worship The Perfection That Is WinSCP []? :(
    • No mention of WinSCP []? That's criminal!

    • by Toonol ( 1057698 )
      Media Player Classic is such a lifesaver. It ranks up with Firefox as "immediate install on every machine I touch", just in order to make the pc bearable. Most mediaplayers, commerical (MS & Apple, for instance) or free, have unbearable interfaces. Absolutely unbearable, with irregular window borders, pretend mechanical knobs, bizarre menus structures...

      Thank you, heartfelt, to the team behind MPC.
  • Lisp in a Box (Score:2, Interesting)

    by rolfwind ( 528248 )

    Not going to be the next firefox in terms of popularity... but lisp in a box is just nice for getting into lisp/emacs on any platform. Used to be a big learning curve how to set slime, etc. up and all that. []

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Junaos ( 1587199 )
      (let ((lisp (not real programming language))) ((parentheses (too many))) )
      • Don't worry, one day, you will surely grow up.
      • Re:Lisp in a Box (Score:5, Insightful)

        by dkleinsc ( 563838 ) on Wednesday August 05, 2009 @06:58PM (#28964885) Homepage

        Man, don't be dissing Lisp. Lisp is the foundation of a lot of the niftier concepts in lots of languages today, and is considered by most computer scientists to be one of the most perfect languages ever invented. Yeah, all those parentheses are a pain, but they consistently push you to do the Right Thing, and for me one of the highest complements I can place on non-Lisp code is "that looks almost Lisp-ish".

        And if you don't believe me, believe these guys:
        "The greatest single programming language ever designed." - Alan Kay
        "Lisp is worth learning for the profound enlightenment experience you will have when you finally get it; that experience will make you a better programmer for the rest of your days, even if you never actually use Lisp itself a lot." - ESR
        "LISP being the most powerful and cleanest of languages, that's the language that's the GNU project always prefers." - RMS
        "Any sufficiently complicated C or Fortran program contains an ad hoc informally-specified bug-ridden slow implementation of half of Common Lisp." - Philip Greenspun
        "These are your father's parentheses. Elegant weapons, for a more... civilized age." - Randal Munroe

  • Truecrypt (Score:3, Informative)

    by dnaumov ( 453672 ) on Wednesday August 05, 2009 @06:21PM (#28964359)
    Is the reason I actually stuck with Windows 2008 Server when evaluating my choices for a home NAS solution with easy-to-use partition encryption that doesn't get in my way and yes, I had tried out different Linux and *BSD-based solutions, but in the end, Win2008+Truecrypt was simply too powerful and too convenient to not pick as the clear winner. I might look at FreeBSD and OpenSolaris again when ZFS crypto finally gets implemented to see how it fares on the usability side of things.
  • Wubi? (Score:4, Informative)

    by jdb2 ( 800046 ) * on Wednesday August 05, 2009 @06:29PM (#28964485) Journal
    Seriously though, if you include Cooperative Linux [] then you get to include most of the Posix/Unix/Linux free-software universe.

    But still, I say Wubi [] is the #1 piece of free software to be had on Windows -- har har har. :P ;)

  • And then there is... (Score:3, Informative)

    by bmo ( 77928 ) on Wednesday August 05, 2009 @06:32PM (#28964517)

    The Open Source For Windows project []

    And while the Open Source CD project is dead, it looks like there's an alternative. []

    Now if only Windows had Debian style repositories.


  • (Score:3, Interesting)

    by fermion ( 181285 ) on Wednesday August 05, 2009 @06:34PM (#28964561) Homepage Journal
    Never heard of the application. Summary say it is extremely limited. Is there a reason, other than complexity of interface, that one might choose it over gimp. I suppose gimp does not have all the shapes of a drawing program, but it does paint, with colors.
    • (Score:5, Insightful)

      by EvanED ( 569694 ) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [denave]> on Wednesday August 05, 2009 @06:44PM (#28964701)

      Is there a reason, other than complexity of interface, that one might choose it over gimp.

      "complexity of interface" is a pretty damn good thing to base a decision on.

      I suppose gimp does not have all the shapes of a drawing program, but it does paint, with colors.

      When you have to look up documentation [] to figure out how to draw a straight line in the Gimp, and that documentation is somewhat condescending, you might start to think that the Gimp isn't actually that good for simple tasks.

      • by abigor ( 540274 )

        The best thing about that assholish tutorial is the terrible spelling and grammar. What a joke.

    • It is damn fast to load and pretty light to use.
    • is 1.6 megabytes and does everything most people need, even people who take a lot of photos but don't need to go into professional-level editing. It's one of the most impressive programs on any platform.

    • by sconeu ( 64226 )

      Article conflates the meanings of "Free".

      It says it's "free" only, not OSS. They mean free-as-in-beer. However, the Free if FOSS means free-as-in-freedom.

      • According to its website ( Paint.NET is MIT-licensed. I don't know which doublespeak definition of "free" that goes under, but it's definitely open source.

        • by Lightn ( 6014 )

          Except that the source code does not seem to actually be available. The download page that is linked from the license page does not say anything about source code except how it is licensed. Looking at the source of the page shows a commented out section that talks about how to get the source code and links here []. However the link to the source code on that page is dead.

          Also, the license has an exception for the GPC code, which is free for non-commercial use only. Admittedly, I don't know how much functio

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Nimloth ( 704789 )
      Paint .NET is a real good middle ground between MS Paint and Photoshop. The interface is lightning fast and neat, real easy to use, and pretty powerful. For a home user who occasionally has to edit graphics and/or photos, it's a neat program and it's free. Sure beats MS Paint at anything. If you're used to the GIMP, stick with it.
    • Because not everyone wants to retouch photos or do other complex things requiring a tool like GIMP. Many times, simpler is indeed better. If I'm just drawing a simple diagram, and don't want to futz around with some Visio-like tool (such as Kivio) since it'll take me three times as long, I just start up a simple paint tool, such as KolourPaint in KDE.

    • by GF678 ( 1453005 )

      Paint.NET is extremely small (1.6 MB download). It uses the .NET framework so it's well integrated with the Windows GUI. Unlike the GIMP it's very easy to use. It's fast. It doesn't have as many function as GIMP sure, but what it does have, it's nicer to use than GIMP by miles.

    • Sure, here's two reasons:

      1) It's rock solid stable. GIMP is crash-prone on Windows. I swear I've caused it to crash by missing a toolbar button and clicking inbetween.
      2) It has easy to create extensions, vastly enhancing capabilities. Stuff like, altering the colour tone of multiple images to match. You give it an old-style Western scene, and it'll turn any photo into that. Like most gimp-lovers, you seem to think "ease of use" counteracts "powerful". Software can be both. is simplistic, powerful,

  • Cygwin! (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 05, 2009 @06:37PM (#28964603)


  • InfraRecorder (Score:2, Informative)

    by travisb828 ( 1002754 )

    I recently came across InfraRecorder and was impressed. []

  • VirtualBox, eh? (Score:2, Informative)

    by rainmaestro ( 996549 )

    I suppose it has a few pluses:
    --It isn't a memory hog like VMWare.
    --Guest tool installation is noticeably easier for non-MS guests.

    But I still have issues:
    --Installing guest tools completely breaks my OpenSolaris guest display.
    --My shiny 1 GB graphics card becomes a 128 MB POS in the guests.
    --No USB support in the Open version.
    --Running my OpenSolaris guest in NAT mode totally gimps the connection.

    VirtualBox isn't bad, but I can't see it being a VMWare killer anytime soon.

    • by kill-1 ( 36256 )

      Yes, calling VirtualBox "enterprise grade" stretches it a little bit. It's a nice tool and they're making consistent progress, but I wouldn't recommend it for mission-critical solutions. There are just too many little bugs, also regressions in new versions. Most of them get fixed over time, but I still have to work around some things. VMWare on the other side has "always worked" for me.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Slashcrap ( 869349 )

      --My shiny 1 GB graphics card becomes a 128 MB POS in the guests.

      Yes, that certainly is a disadvantage compared to other virtualisation products which do exactly the same fucking thing.

  • What about VLC? (Score:5, Informative)

    by shinedog ( 1412267 ) on Wednesday August 05, 2009 @06:48PM (#28964759)
    Surely VLC [] should have made this list? While it isn't exactly pretty it is very much FOSS, cross platform, and removes the need to download endless quantities of random codecs. Definitely better that Media Player classic in my book.
    • Prettiness aside, I wonder why extended settings to for example tweak audio or video metrics always require two clicks to access.

      And even after accessing them, you need to re-activate them before any adjustment.

      Why? The reason I access these settings is to adjust them so it's better if I find them already activated. Is this too much to ask?

    • by GF678 ( 1453005 )

      It's probably worth mentioning Media Player Classic Home Cinema, which is a fork of MPC that contains (among other things) integrated codecs via ffdshow. I prefer using this to VLC because of the various weird GUI bugs in VLC, plus the accurate seeking MPC-HC has compared to VLC. VLC comes a close second though, and first place if you aren't running Windows.

    • VLC is certainly better at playing random video files, but I prefer the UI for MPC.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by tepples ( 727027 )

      Surely VLC [] should have made this list?

      The list was posted on a U.S. web site. VLC contains patented algorithms but doesn't come with a license to use the algorithms in the United States.

  • you might as well install Linux
    • Unfortunately, that's not an option for those of us condemned to corporate serfdom, so these FOSS-on-Windoze programs are great for keeping us sane.

      I don't know how I'd survive without Vim.exe, for instance.

  • by rklrkl ( 554527 ) on Wednesday August 05, 2009 @07:31PM (#28965305) Homepage

    It's really bizarre that the article author included Paint.Net in a list of "best free open source software for Windows", because the source code - as the author himself even admits - is *not* available for free download for any of the recent versions of Paint.Net.

    If that wasn't enough, there's been no new release of for almost a year and I'd have thought GIMP (or GIMPShop) was a clearly superior (and fully open source) graphics package on Windows anyway.

  • If we're discussing enterprise ready winners, why not talk about Zimbra and Alfresco?

    The main reason suits don't want to talk about leaving Microsoft or considering FOSS on their desktop is because they are very much tied to Outlook. And right now Sharepoint is Microsoft's new big gun.

    • by dave562 ( 969951 )

      Lets talk about Zimbra. I've tried to bring up the following subjects on the Zimbra forum but can't get straight answers. What is disaster recovery on Zimbra like? Does it have single mailbox / single message restore functionality? For example, if dumb user Jane tells me that she deleted the super duper important email that she absolutely needs to have, do I need to restore the entire mail database, or can I go into the most recent backup of Jane's mailbox and restore the single email that she deleted?

    • Believe me, I'd love to walk away from Exchange, but as of yet, I have not seen what I consider to be a credible replacement. Since a lot of the data in my organization is highly confidential, services like GMail are right out.

  • Best audio editor (Score:2, Informative)

    Audacity is one of the best free audio editors. []

Houston, Tranquillity Base here. The Eagle has landed. -- Neil Armstrong