I have touched upon this in the other thread but I figured that I can do better. So here is a more comprehensive list of applications that end up every new machine or after a clean install of windows. This list is mostly geared towards windows, but most of the apps are multi platform – I will throw in linux alternatives where appropriate.
Web Browser: Firefox
This one is a no brainer. Firefox all the way! It’s hands down the best browser in the land – at least IMHO. I also usually install Opera as my secondary browser for testing. I do not install IE7 cause it sucks ass, opens more slowly than Firefox and since I use IE like once a month to access the odd IE only website out there, I just don’t need it.
Text Editor: Vim
I’m a Vi person so I install Vim on every single system that I own. Some windows folks swear by stuff like Notepad2 or similar notepad replacements, but screw that – Vim is superior. I do sometimes use Kate when I want to edit files on a remote server in-place (KDE’s network transparency FTW).
Video Player: VLC
There are like 2 file formats out there that can’t be played by VLC. Hell, you can even play a raw image of a DVD in it (works with iso’s and bin-cue’s). It is also small and relatively simple. I don’t think you can find a better player out there.
Music Player: Foobar 2000
I don’t listen to much music, but when I do Foobar 2000 is probably the best player for Windows you can find. Yes, I saw iTunes in action – that shit is sloooow and more bloated than WinAmp ever was. And WinAmp was plenty bloated. In fact, WinAmp’s story parallels that of Elvis – it started awesome, then got fat and died prematurely. :P
I’ve using this client back when it was still called gAIM. But I really love the recent releases. This project came a long way, and recently they actually even got an icon set that makes the GTK interface suck less. Also, not bloated. I think you can probably see a pattern emerging here. I hate bloated apps.
Launcher Program: Launchy
Ok, so I’m not entirely sure how to name this category. I call it useful. :P I use Katapult under Linux for the same purpose.
I like WinRar because it can extract files in about every single compression format out there. It can extract tar, gz, bz2 and even some disk image formats. The only thing it doesn’t do is 7zip I think. Yes, I know that it is proprietary (one of the very few proprietary apps on this list) but it is convenient.
SSH + SCP: SSH Secure Shell Client
Yes, yet another proprietary tool, but this is possibly one of the best applications of this type available for windows. It comes with a very nice SSH client, and a SCP client for file transfer. What’s even nicer is that each one has a quick access button for the other on the interface. So for example if you have an ssh session with a remote machine, you can use the same connection and just pop open an SCP client to start moving files around. And the non-commercial version is free. If you want open source alternatives there is always Putty and WinSCP which is hell of an app. In fact, I sometimes use WinSCP over the Secure Shell Client for file transfer.
TeXnicCenter is a great LaTex IDE for windows and I highly recommend it. Kile is also great, and the interface is possibly even better than TeXnicCenter but it has one fatal flaw – no inline spell check. Or rather, the spell check depends on the version of KDE you are using. I think in 4.0 Katepart library finally got this functionality, but if you have anything below that, you will have to do without it.
Java IDE: Eclipse
I’m sorry but nothing compares here. If you want to code in Java, you have to get Eclipse. Yes, I’m painfully aware that you have to wait 7 hours before it even displays splash screen, and then 12 hours more as it loads plugins an decides whether or not it should start in our lifetime. And I know it’s bloated and slow. But you know what? It’s worth it. It makes coding in Java work as if it was an interpreted language – shit gets compiled in the background as you type. Also, best atuo-complete system evar, most convenient debugger system evar, and there is like a septillion plugins out there to add even moar functionality here.
Perl/Python/PHP IDE: Komodo Edit
Eclipse is great for Java, and Vim is great for quick edits or small scripts. But if you plan to do something more serious you ought to have and IDE like editor with auto-complete, project management and etc. Komodo Edit is a great lightweight IDE for the non-Java stuff.
Twitter Client: Snitter
Not that you need a client to Twitt, but some people like it. I tried several, and I think Snitter is one of the better ones out there. It is fully functional, lightweight and pretty. Oh, and you can change almost every aspect of the look and feel by using css. There is even a Flickr group for modified Snitter layouts.
Quick observation – is it just me, or is the main application of Adobe Air platform at the moment is Twitter front end clients? For the life of me, I can’t think of a non twitter related Adobe AIR application. But if you go to the Twitter Fan Wiki half of the listed Windows and OSX apps depend on AIR. WTF?
Screen Shot App: Cropper
I like to be able to take screen shots of just a region of the screen. On Linux I usually go with KSnapshot but on Windows cropper performs very nicely. It can do bunch of formats including PNG and with the correct plugin you can even record quick gif or avi animations. It’s not perfect (the PNG files it outputs are not compacted and you can easily reduce their size by like 40% with pngout) but it is nice, easy to use and convenient.
IRC Client: Xchat
I hardly ever use IRC, but when I do I usually do it with xchat. They no longer provide free windows version, but since it is an open source project you can roll your own. If you are lazy and just want a windows build, you can find one at slilverx.com.
POSIX Compliant Shell on Windows: Cygwin
I didn’t really know what to call this category, but sometimes you want a unix like shell under Windows. Cygwin is probably the best choice here because you not only get a fully functional bash but also a billion of standard unix applications that come with it. If you prefer something more basic, you can always go with MSYS from MinGW.
Calculator: Windows Power Calculator
I think that the best calculator app you can get for windows is the Power Toy calculator. As with almost every single one of these tools (except for that retarded Alt-Tab replacement which I hate) I have no clue why they haven’t included it in the OS. Try it out – it’s definitely worth it.
On linux I usually just use bc -l. The X-bc (a GUI bc frontend) has a great set of mathematical functions and scientific constants which I always steal. Feel free to try their gui app, but I really just prefer to use the command line version.
Remote Assistance Tool: CrossLoop
I tend to do remote tech support for family and friends (from time to time) and coworkers (every fucking day). I tried bunch of different services, but CrossLopp is probably my favorite. It’s essentially just a front end for VNC (they use TightVNC I think) combined with a proxy. You use the client to establish vnc session between two machines using the CrossLoop server as a proxy. This means no futzing around with firewall settings, making it perfect for helping those hopeless cases who can barely figure out how to turn the computer on in the morning.
I’m putting this in misc because making a “make Windows clock not suck so badly” category didn’t seem like a great idea. But this is essentially what Tclock2 does – it adds basic functionality that should be included out of the box to the system clock in the tray. For example it lets you control how the time and date is displayed. For example, this is how my clock looks:
It’s such a simple app, but it really makes a huge difference. I love being able to just glance at the clock to check the date. I never fucking know what date is it, and having to hover your mouse over the clock to see this information is retarded. Every other operating system ever made by man that has a system clock UI component allows you to configure the way this info is displayed. But not windows…
Ok, this is all I have for now. This is where you come in guys. I need you to keep this list going by posting your favorite apps. Any apps will do – not just ones that fit into categories above. Let’s create an ultimate list of the shit that’s worth installing on your computer here. :)
[tags]applications, software, list, apps, tools[/tags]