Essential Apps

I'm a proponent of open source. These are the simplest and most elegant software selections I could find to do tasks on computers without all the bloatware.

Category For... Selection Description Platform License
Security Encryption Gpg4win (GNU Privacy Guard for Windows) Encryption software for files and emails. Windows GNU GPL
Radio SDR CubicSDR A cross-platform Software-Defined Radio application which allows you to navigate the radio spectrum and demodulate any signals you might discover. LinuxMacOSWindows GNU GPL
Productivity Document/image scanning Simple Scan Designed to let users connect their scanner and quickly have the image/document in an appropriate format. Linux GNU GPL
Productivity Document imaging Paperless Digital document management. MacOSWindows Commercial (need to find an open source alt)
Productivity A great DOS menu DirectAccess 5.1
Productivity Organizing collections of things OYC Organize Your Collection
Productivity Split and merged PDF documents PDFSAM Split and merge PDF documents with PDFsam, an easy-to-use desktop tool with graphical, command line and web interface. LinuxMacOSWindows GNU Affero GPL
Network Network protocol analyzation Wireshark Lets you capture and interactively browse the traffic running on a computer network. LinuxMacOSWindows GNU GPL
Network Network discovery and security auditing Nmap Uses raw IP packets in novel ways to determine what hosts are available on the network, what services those hosts are offering, what operating systems they are running, what type of packet filters/firewalls are in use, and dozens of other characteristics. Linux GNU GPL
Network Querying DNS servers dig A network administration command-line tool for querying Domain Name System (DNS) name servers. Part of BIND-Utils. Linux ISC License
Network FTP, et al. file transfer FileZilla A fast and reliable cross-platform FTP, FTPS and SFTP client with lots of useful features and an intuitive graphical user interface. LinuxMacOSWindows GNU GPL
Network IRC chat XChat Allows you to join multiple IRC channels (chat rooms) at the same time, talk publicly, private one-on-one conversations etc. Even file transfers are possible. LinuxWindows GNU GPL
Network VNC client, server TightVNC Free, Lightweight, Fast and Reliable Multiplatform Remote Control / Remote Desktop Software LinuxWindows GNU GPL
Network SSH client Bitvise SSH Client State-of-the-art terminal emulation, graphical as well as command-line SFTP support, an FTP-to-SFTP bridge, and powerful tunneling features. Windows Commercial; Free for individual use
Network Downloading Torrents Deluge A lightweight, free software, cross-platform BitTorrent client. LinuxWindows GNU GPL
Network VPN client Shrew Soft VPN Client Standard Provides secure communications between mobile Windows hosts and open source VPN gateways that utilize standards compliant software such as ipsec-tools, OpenSWAN, StrongSWAN, Libreswan, isakmpd. WindowsLinux Commercial, Free for personal and commercial use
Network Port Scanner LanSpy A fast port scanner for gathering information about open ports on remote computers. Audit your network for security reason issues. Windows Freeware
Network TFTP Server Tftpd64 A free, open source, IPv6-ready application which includes DHCP, TFTP, DNS, SNTP and Syslog servers as well as a TFTP client. Windows EUPL
Network Bandwidth testing speedtest-cli Command line interface for testing internet bandwidth using Python Apache License, Version 2.0
Multimedia Audio editing Audacity A free, easy-to-use and multilingual audio editor and recorder for Windows, Mac OS X, GNU/Linux and other operating systems. LinuxMacOSWindows GNU GPL
Multimedia Media playing VLC Media Player A free and open source cross-platform multimedia player and framework that plays most multimedia files as well as DVD, Audio CD, VCD, and various streaming protocols. LinuxMacOSWindows GNU GPL
Multimedia Photo editing GIMP A freely distributed program for such tasks as photo retouching, image composition and image authoring. WindowsLinux GNU GPL
Multimedia Converting video HandBrake A tool for converting video from nearly any format to a selection of modern, widely supported codecs. LinuxMacOSWindows GNU GPL
Multimedia Archiving YouTube vids youtube-dl Command-line program to download videos from and other video sites Python The Unlicense
Multimedia Ripping Audio CDs Exact Audio Copy A so called audio grabber for audio CDs using standard CD and DVD-ROM drives. It is free. It works with a technology which reads audio CDs almost perfectly. If there are any errors that can’t be corrected, it will tell you on which time position the (possible) distortion occurred, so you could easily control it with e.g. the media player. Windows Freeware (non-commercial only)
File System Mounting/creating disk images ImgBurn Read a disc to an image file (ISO, BIN, IMG, etc.), create an image file from files on your computer, write an image to a disc, and more. Windows Freeware
File System Visualizing file space SpaceSniffer Find lost disk space by using Treemap visualization to gain an immediate perception of where big folders and files are places on your disks. Windows Freeware
File System Recovering M$ product keys Produkey Displays the Product ID and the CD Key of Microsoft Office (Microsoft Office 2003, Microsoft Office 2007), Windows (Including Windows 7 and Windows Vista), Exchange Server, and SQL Server installed on your computer. Windows Freeware
File System Recovering M$ product keys Magical Jelly Bean Key Finder Retrieves your Product Key (cd key) used to install windows from your registry. Also retrieves product keys for many other applications. Windows Freeware
File System Reading and writing USB disk images Win32 Disk Imager Designed to write a raw disk image to a removable device or backup a removable device to a raw image file. Windows GNU GPL
File System File compression 7-Zip File archiver with a high compression ratio. WindowsLinux GNU LGPL
File System Hard Disk Information (S.M.A.R.T.) CrystalDiskInfo A HDD/SSD utility software which supports a part of USB connection and Intel RAID. Windows Modified BSD
File System Duplicate file finder dupeGuru
File System Create Bootable USB Drive Rufus Rufus is a utility that helps format and create bootable USB flash drives, such as USB keys/pendrives, memory sticks, etc. Windows
File System Text Editing gVim A highly configurable text editor built to enable efficient text editing. LinuxMacOSWindows charityware (GPL-based)
File System Visualizing file space Disk Inventory X Disk Inventory X is a disk usage utility for Mac OS X 10.3 (and later). It shows the sizes of files and folders in a special graphical way called "treemaps". MacOS GNU GPL
File System Disk Partition Management Active@ Partition Manager Create, delete, format and name partitions on your computer without shutting down the system. Windows Freeware
File System Securely Wiping Disks Active@ KillDisk Portable software that allows you to destroy all data on Hard Disks, Solid State Disks (SSD), USB disks, and Memory Cards. LinuxWindows Commercial
File System Editing text files Notepad++ Notepad++ is a free (as in "free speech" and also as in "free beer") source code editor and Notepad replacement that supports several languages. Running in the MS Windows environment, its use is governed by GPL License. Windows GNU GPL
Emulation OS virtualization Oracle VM VirtualBox A cross-platform, general-purpose full virtualizer for x86 hardware, targeted at server, desktop and embedded use. LinuxMacOSWindows GNU GPL
Electronics PCB designing EAGLE PCB Design A powerful and flexible PCB design software offering the high level functionality of expensive commercial circuit board design software at a fraction of the cost for over 20 years. LinuxMacOSWindows Freeware (non-commercial only)
Electronics PCB designing Fritzing Allows users to document their prototypes, share them with others, teach electronics in a classroom, and layout and manufacture professional PCB's. LinuxMacOSWindows GNU GPL

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