Thursday, July 24, 2008

Free man's recipie (Open source alternatives for common windows programs)

Bought an Acer Extensa 4620Z laptop for my mother a few days back. My mom's used to windows, and so I had to get her a genuine copy of Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition. However, that's the only piece of software I bought by paying money. Everything elese, I have freeware alternatives..

Here's the list

1. ImgBurn:
This's a freeware (not open source) CD/DVD writing tool that supports all usual features. And guess what, it's extremely lightweight. The install file size is just 1.84 MB !!
- supports normal CD/DVD writing, erasing, creating and burning images etc.
- can be used with rewritable discs.
- presently does not support multi-session.

2. OpenOffice:
A free and opensource alternative for Microsoft Office and numerous other office suites.
- has feature parity with most of microsoft office. Not yet a match for the latest versions of office, but fits the bill for ALL normal usage one can anticipate.
- supports microsoft office document formats as well as a much more compressed native document format.
- supports exporting documents directly to pdf.

3. Mplayer:
free and opensource. The media player that truly plays anything.
I found support for all formats that I could think of ! Even windows proprietary codecs are supported by wrapping over the dlls.
And the best part is the numerous keyboard shortcuts ( Link ) The player allows syncing audio and video even when the original file's in error, subtitles, advanced seek capabilities, frame by frame advance, playlists and almost everything you will ever need.
I rate this software better than ALL other media players, whether opensource/free/proprietory.

4. Firefox:
free and opensource. They call it the fastest browser on earth. I'd say, it's the best browser on earth. It's fast, extremely light weithgt, fully standard compliant, and feature packed. Even windoze internut exploder wouldn't come close to it.. Only, there are moron website administrators who still build websites with windows proprietory widgets which only work with the nut exploder. That aside, you will never need another browser if you have Firefox !
That firefox is the most favored browser among techie community says it all !

5. IZArc:
A free archiving (.zip, .tar.gz, .rar, .cab etc) software. It supports a much more broad spectrum of formats than winzip and others. And its perfectly free, there's not even an optional registration unlike with winzip. And I'ven't used another archiving software other than this, within a windows environment, for the past 5 years..

6. AVG Antivirus:
free for personal use. If you run windows and you're sane enough, then you better have an antivirus. And AVG suits one's normal antivirus requirements.. And it's FREE.
Recently, this free factor has increased AVG's popularity greatly. I know a lot of people who run AVG free edition. And when an antivirus gets to be more popular, it's list of know viruses also becomes more exhaustive :)

7. Mozilla Thunderbird:
free and opensource. Thunderbird is a very good email and usenet client. And with the lightning (, it supports a calendar too ! Forget outlook and such fancies..

8. PDF Creator:,
free and opensource. Adobe PDF (.pdf files) is the best portable format for carrying documents. Almost every platform supports it. It's presentation is in a print-format. And once created, it is viewed in a viewer program like acrobat and hence will not be modified accidentally.
But how does one create pdfs?
With PDFCreator, a (simulated) printer gets installed onto your computer, and whatever you print to that printer is saved as a pdf file. So "if it can be printed, it can be made into a pdf" !!


Thursday, July 10, 2008

And the dictionary talks !

By now I have made my default dictionary. It's good, and gives most information I require.

Today, I also realized that it includes a recording for the word's pronunciation too.

I mean, the last I checked the little speaker icon next to the word was when I used to use windoze, and at that time I don't remember it working. (guess it was a premium service)

But today, I clicked on the speaker icon out of some un-fathomable curiosity, and it worked !!

Other lovely aspects of the dictionary:
- firefox search engine plugin available.
Hence search is just a CTRL-T + TAB + a few CTRL-arrow_keys away.
- Companion sites: encyclopedia, thesaurus etc.