Software you must have —a list

What's the best software you can use in your computer? Here is a list of recommended software and how to make best use of them:


+ Start by updating your system. Under Windows, I do this by checking my computer configuration report, and then visiting each hardware manufacturer's website to download the updates for all my computer drivers. Under Linux, I do this with a general package update.

+ Next we need to protect the computer from malware with an antivirus and a firewall, if you are connected to the Internet. I am currently recommending Avira or Avast, but you may choose any other product you like. You do not need an antivirus if you use Linux.

There's one thing to point out, anyway: keep your protection legal. Most pirated anti-malware software will fail eventually. If you don't want to pay, try Bitdefender free edition.

On the Internet

OK, so far you are up-to-date and protected. It's time to review well-known software used to surf the Internet.

+ To browse, I recommend Opera. It is by far faster and more reliable than Internet Explorer, and less complicated than Firefox with its millions of add-ons. Although Safari is a little faster, Opera is really fully featured with its BitTorrent and e-mail managers. If you are sticking to Internet Explorer, then I recommend you update to IE 9, which is the latest one now. There is no need to add every toolbar you are suggested to, by the way.

+ To browse well, you might need some additional software. Most videos will require the Flash player. You can download that from Adobe's website. My suggestion is to download the Shockwave player too. It is necessary for some other web pages.

+ Java is viewed and used with Sun's Java runtime environment. Just make sure to deactivate the pre-loader to avoid wasting memory. You can do that deactivating the respective option in your Windows' Control Panel.

+ To chat under Windows, these three options are excellent:, Trillian and Digsby. The advantage of Meebo is that it doesn't require any download, which makes it ideal when you are not at home. Between Digsby and Trillian, I choose Trillian at the moment. The reason is simple: Trillian will blink on your screen three times and then stay lit when a message arrives. Digsby will not stop blinking, which is really annoying. For Linux, Pidgin is a good application to use.

+ Lastly, on email, I am currently using Opera's built it email application, but I have tried Thunderbird and liked it.

Enjoying yourself

+ Almost everybody likes to listen to music or watch videos on their computers. I admit that under Windows I liked JetAudio, especially for their mp3pro support. I recommend VLC now. It helps you open more media files.

Working with documents

+ Most of you probably use Microsoft Office, but there are other options. In fact, I like how LibreOffice works, but it's getting quite large for some computers, and this could make it work slow. It is a pity Microsoft doen't provide compatibility with it.

+ For documents in portable document file (.pdf) format, I recommend Sumatra. It does the same as Adobe's Acrobat, but in a much smaller and lighter application. I switched long ago.

Working with images

+ If you work with graphs, then my recommendation would depend on how powerful you need your graphic software to be. Those looking for a slight tweaking of their photographs might find Google's Picasa enough. If that's not enough, then the GIMP or Paint.Net is more powerful.

+ Now, if you draw, you really need to try Inkscape. It's awesome.

Creating web pages

+ For those willing to make their own site, DreamWeaver is still the best for beginners. For those who can handle code, NoteTab is my choice for Windows, while Bluefish for Linux.

+ You can easily supplement it with FormsToGo and Flash. There isn't any free Flash alternative at the moment, but I like what the creators of Pencil did. I consider it a candidate, if forked or improved.

Last tips

+ Everybody needs to make a pack of files now and then. For this, my recommendation is 7zip.

+ If you are willing to burn a disc, I am using CDBurnerXP under Windows, and K3b under Linux. Both are free.

+ To prevent your computer from becoming slow, then deleting temporary files and defragmenting your hard disk are important tasks to carry out now and then under Windows computers. There are two good and popular programs to do this: CCleaner and Defraggler. Linux users do not need to do this either.

+ Lastly, to uninstall what you don't use any more, Revo Uninstaller is useful for removing an application from a Windows system without leaving much trace.

Well, that's all for today. Don't forget, I update these recommendations occasionally with my latest reviews. If you wish me to try your software, just drop me a line.

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Knowledge + Computers