My Recommended Awesome Free Software 2013

For anyone who is a cheapo like myself, or just have an idea of what tools I specifically need, here is a list of FREE software that you might find useful. None of that hacky, amatuer stuff.

NOTE: NUMBERING DOESN’T DENOTE GRADING SCALE

Every software I recommend I have tested or am still using.

By Chongchen Saelee

1. GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program)
http://www.gimp.org/

If you can’t pay several hundreds of US Dollars for the legal right to use Adobe PhotoShop, then your next best thing is the FREE GIMP. Developed by a handful of independent software developers (and lots of support by student developers), the GIMP provides a robust variety of tools, some even as good as PhotoShop. And you know what’s cool?

GIMP can run on a lot of operating systems, including Unix-based ones, of which the original usage aim was for. Heck, there is even some support for PhotoShop’s proprietary image format .psd, but it can only open it and edit some of the features. And finally, I love GIMP’s Ink Tool. That’s something PhotoShop doesn’t have. And if it does, it’s not intuitive enough to set up a custom brush or buying their latest version to see if it exists. GIMP is more than reasonable for the average user, especially for a FREE program.

2. FileZilla FTP
https://filezilla-project.org/

If you ever use the Internet, you need to be able to download or upload (or Unix coolies like to use “push” and “pull”) files between your personal computer and the servers. Internally, FTP (file transfer protocol) is used in all your Internet interactions where you download or upload files of any sort. So if you have a website not hosted on your own home server, then you’ll need an FTP program like FileZilla in order to transfer or receive files. This particular software is quite practical and reliable. And it’s FREE! And it doesn’t contain any adware or malware. Imagine that. That’s why I use it.

3. VLC Media Player or Video Lan Player
http://www.videolan.org/vlc/index.html

There are a lot of garbage alternatives to big-party media players Windows Media Player, Apple QuickTime, or Adobe Flash Video, but one stood out and was reliable enough that I’ve stuck with it since. That’s Video Lan’s VLC Media Player. It can play most if not all the major media file formats including mpeg, avi, mp3, m4p, flv, mov, etc. It can play your DVDs and Blu-Rays (some only, up until 2012) even though the menu functionality isn’t completely implemented. It can even rip and encode videos, including your DVDs.

It rarely crashes on normal usage with uncorrupted files. I’ll even fully back that VLC loads files WAY FASTER than their default players should. For example, WMV and MOV files load faster on VLC. You can take that to the bank. You can even play FLV (YouTube videos) offline with VLC. That’s some flexible power there and it’s FREE!

4. Qt Software Development Kit
http://qt-project.org/

A software development kit originally developed by a company called TrollTech, bought by Nokia, now owned by Digia (I think all secretly Microsoft, remember big M’s anti-trust days? I think that’s what that was about). Anyway, it’s free to use Qt to write your own programs. The catch is in their licensing. If you decide to embed the software they wrote into your own software, then you have to pay them. But if you use their software in conjuction with the software that you wrote, then it’s free.

To put it more technically, if you create static-linked programs with Qt, then you are using their libraries AND you have to also release your code as open-source, otherwise you have to pay a licensing fee to keep it closed-source. It has to do with legal liablity. But if you dynamically-link to the libraries, then you can keep your end close-source as long as you keep their libraries separate. Dynamically-linked programs can be written and distributed freely (you don’t need to pay Digia) or even sold for your own profit (your own code, that is)!

The only thing that is hard about using Qt is that you need to be somewhat tech saavy. Don’t think you can just download it and start making your killer iPhone app. The installation process can be a pain itself. But once it’s up and running, it’s pretty stable. And Qt software can run on different operating systems including Windows, Mac, and Linux-based!

5. NSIS Nullsoft Scriptable Install System
http://nsis.sourceforge.net/Main_Page

I was using this back in the day to distribute my SGDK games. It seems they have just updated it recently in July 2013 since 2009. It’s relatively simple to write a custom script and have your self-executable Windows installer ready for distribution. It not only installs your program, it can also uninstall. And it’s free!

6. 7Zip Packager
http://www.7-zip.org/

On Windows, the proprietary .zip file has become its lifeblood when it comes to compressing multiple files into a single packaged file. But people weren’t willing to pay WinZip their due, so the wise indie developers came up with their own FREE proprietary format .7z used by 7Zip. But it can also encode and decode .zip files need be. It can also encode and decode more powerful package formats used by hardcore developers like .tar, .gz, etc. Very useful program for packing and unpacking files either for archiving or for saving on bandwidth when sending through Internet.


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