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Free & Legal software for "new computer" and "office" needs. Things I find generally useful. I picked through a mountain of these and this is the best of what I found. These are the "tools" I use in my professional activities, Electrical Engineer and Software Development. If you find something better, please let me know! And feel free to share this page with your friends/family.

Ninite Installer   [for Windows & Ubuntu Linux] Contributed to this list by James Walter Taylor

Ninite is able to install most of the programs below, quickly and automatically. Just check off what you want. Don't forget to click Java under Runtime if you grab one of the office suites. You may see one or two other things you want while looking at Ninite's list.

Office Suite (Microsoft Compatible): LibreOffice
OpenOffice
WINDOWS, MAC, LINUX
LibreOffice Description

Compatible with MS Office Word, Excel, Power Point, Access, Visio files.

LibreOffice and OpenOffice save files natively in a Standard OpenDocument format which MS Office can also read/write. LibreOffice can also read/write Microsoft files. [e.g. .DOC, .DOCX, XLS, and XLXS type files]

I have both LibreOffice and OpenOffice installed on the same machine. LibreOffice (LO) is the most state of the art and free office suite available. OpenOffice (OO) is slightly simpler and did a better job of converting an Office 2007 DOCX file. Both use the OpenDocument format so it's painless to switch back and forth. I consider both to be very good and easy to use.

To work with MS-Access files using LibreOffice Base in Windows 7 and newer, an ODBC link must be made and used by LibreOffice Base. In Windows XP, MS Jet Engine for XP must be installed prior to creating the ODBC link to your MS-Access file.

I recommend LibreOffice where a highly capable fully functioning office suite is needed for enterprise desktop computing.

WPS Office:     WPS Office
IOS, Android, WINDOWS, MAC, LINUX
Looks and feels more like MS-Office, works on portable IOS and Android devices, and operates with MS Office doc, docx, xls, xlsx, ppt, and pptx files.

WPS is another good office suite. Runs on all major platforms; desktop and portable IOS/Android based computers. Perfect if you need high compatibility with the MS Office product suite. Your choice of current MS Office 2007 or 2003 type user interfaces.

The free version of WPS drops the ability to write docx, xlsx, and pptx support after a 30-day trial period. WPS will still read MS docx, xlsx, and pptx files after the trial period ends. This will leave doc, xls, and ppt file read/write support available in the free WPS. These older Microsoft formats work well for transfering files between MS Office, LibreOffice, OpenOffice, and other installations of WPS Office. WPS does not support the OpenDocument format standard.

I recommend WPS when high seamless compatibility is needed with MS Office; for school and business and/or an Office Suite is desired for portable devices.

WPS Office highlights

  • Designed for both Android smartphones and tablets
  • Fully compatible with Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and Excel
  • Supports DOC, XLS, PPT, TXT, PDF and more
  • One small-sized app includes Presentation, Writer and Spreadsheets
  • Easily access and edit documents from Google Drive, Dropbox, Box, OneDrive and with WebDAV
  • Share documents with other devices using WI-FI or through email and text message
  • Keep your work safe with auto-save
  • Keep your work protected with document encryption
  • Works with both USB and Bluetooth keyboards Wireless printing
  • Supports keyboard shortcuts such as copy & paste and much more
  • User interface now supports 44 different languages


Firefox: Firefox
Waterfox
WINDOWS, MAC, LINUX
Other Browsers are good; Chrome, MSIE 11, but what sets Firefox apart is it's secure Sync... feature. Sync makes a secure encrypted backup of Bookmarks, History, Passwords, Preferences, Add-ons, and Tabs on a remote server. Sync will also "Sync" all your Firefox installations on all computers and phones so it's like having the same browser on all your machines. If one of them dies or is lost, no problem, Sync and everything will be restored.

Waterfox is the 64-bit version of 32-bit Firefox.   Waterfox improved my Vista-x64 Laptop video frame rate from 3FPS to 15FPS. Your mileage may vary.

Depending on your OS (XP, Vista, Win7) Firefox may have to be installed to download LibreOffice. Many versions of MSIE were broken and wouldn't complete a LibreOffice size download. Firefox and Chrome cure this issue.

eMail: Thunderbird Logo Thunderbird WINDOWS, MAC, LINUX
Don't have Outlook? I use Thunderbird. Compatible with Yahoo Mail IMAP/POP3 (secure), Google Mail IMAP/POP3 (secure), pretty much any IMAP or POP3 capable server (Comcast, etc) with or without security.

Calendar can be added with "Lightning" Add-On. Lightning speaks iCAL and CalDAV for connection to remote server calendars. There is an Add-On for Google Calendar linkage. Our HOA Web Page Calendar is a Google Calendar I maintain from Lightning.

Addressbook (Contacts) can also be Sync'ed with a remote server. I use Sogo Connector and Google Contacts Add-ons to sync with remote servers. Search for these in "Add-Ons" if you need them.

Media Player: VLC media player WINDOWS, MAC, LINUX
Plays most multimedia files as well as DVD, Audio CD, VCD, and various streaming protocols.

File Archiver: 7-zip.org WINDOWS, MAC, LINUX
7-Zip is a file archiver with a high compression ratio.
  • Packing / unpacking: 7z, XZ, BZIP2, GZIP, TAR, ZIP and WIM.
  • Unpacking only: ARJ, CAB, CHM, CPIO, CramFS, DEB, DMG, FAT, HFS, ISO, LZH, LZMA, MBR, MSI, NSIS, NTFS, RAR, RPM, SquashFS, UDF, VHD, WIM, XAR and Z
For Linux, check your distribution for the program "7za"


Bit Torrent: (Not available in Ninite) Transmission WINDOWS, MAC, LINUX
Seems like everyone needs a Torrent client for something. This one is "simple" yet has all the features most need even for sophisticated setups. Here is another useful tool if you leave Transmission running on one machine as a Torrent Server Remote GUI

For Linux, check your distribution for "transmisson".


Avast Anti-Virus: Free Anti-Virus Software WINDOWS
It works, it's Free, and it auto-updates. My only complaint is I have to turn off "Chatty Kathy" who talks to me everytime this software does something. Fortunately this speaking feature is configurable.

Linux comes with its own Anti-Virus solutions


OpenDNS (Security): Use OpenDNS (Not available in Ninite) DNS Solution All
Fast, reliable, and user configurable. Block Phishing exploits, and sites you don't want your children to see. This is "configured" into your setup as opposed to "installed". It won't take any space in your machine and the benfits will give you peace of mind and faster web surfing. DNS stands for Domain Name Service. It's the service inside your computer which translates things like CrystalRidge.arno.com to 50.46.234.17 so your computers network connection can navigate to the right place on the internet.


Finance: (Not available in Ninite) GNU Cash WINDOWS, MAC, LINUX
A suitable replacement for Quicken/Quickbooks. Double entry accounting and chart of accounts/invoicing capability.

Think something else should be added to or corrected on this page, or you have something better?   Use feedback below to send your suggestions to me.

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