Free Software for Win32

By manchicken

I suspect that I’m not the only one in the world who has to use Windows for work. It is for this reason I decided to share my Free Software catalog with you all. Just because we have to use Windows doesn’t mean there isn’t some great Free Software available for us.

Just a note for those wondering what I mean by Free Software… when I say Free Software, I am referring to software that is licensed in such a manner as to grant you freedom with the software. This means that you can use the software in any manner you desire, study the software–including its source code–you can modify the software, you can distribute the software, and you can even distribute modified copies of the software. Free Software has everything to do with this freedom and nothing to do with the cost of the software. Free Software is bought and sold all the time, but when it is bought and sold the freedom remains. Now that we’ve got that cleared up…

So, below is my Vista-compatible Free Software list. Please do not mistake this catalog as an endorsement for Vista, Microsoft, Windows, or any proprietary program or hardware or company. I am still a full-blooded Free Software activist, and while this list has neat programs in it, I still only recommend using Free Software operating systems (e.g. GNU/Linux, FreeBSD) and Free Software programs. This list was compiled in the effort of keeping my Free Software love in a computing environment that is intentionally hostile to freedom.

Here’s the Catalog

  • Audacity (GNU GPL) — A pretty neat little audio recording and editing program.
  • ClamWin (GNU GPL) — A light-weight Free Software anti-virus application with regular automatic definition updates.
  • Dev-C++ (GNU GPL) — A very nice and functional win32 IDE and compiler.
  • FileZilla (GNU GPL) — A Free Software FTP client.
  • Gantt Project (Various Licenses) — A Free Software project management program
  • GNU Emacs (GNU GPL) — GNU Emacs Text Editor. A little wonky in win32, but it works.
  • GIMP (GNU GPL) — This is the world-famous GNU Image Manipulation Program. Excellent for all of your image manipulation needs.
  • InfraRecorder (GNU GPL) — A CD/DVD burner program.
  • Inkscape (GNU GPL) — A vector-based drawing program.
  • Launchy (GNU GPL) — This is a program very similar to Katapult. You press Alt+Space and you can launch a program or website favorite or document from this one simple program. It beats the hell out of searching through the applications list.
  • Mozilla Firefox (Mozilla MPL) — A very powerful and secure web browser program.
  • Notepad++ (GNU GPL) — A very nice full-featured GUI text editor in win32.
  • TheOpenCD (Various Licenses) — This isn’t really a program, but rather a distribution of Free Software programs for win32 environments.
  • OpenOffice.org (GNU LGPL) — With the exception of ODBC interaction, I use OpenOffice exclusively in Windows whenever working with documentation is necessary. Most of the time I still use KOffice or OpenOffice.org in KDE on Kubuntu GNU/Linux. Very few compatibility issues. This program also offers a GNU/Linux version.
  • Pidgin (GNU GPL) — A neat little instant messenger client.
  • PuTTY (MIT) — A light and powerful telnet/SSH client.
  • Thunderbird (Mozilla MPL) — This is a Free Software email client that is well integrated with the Firefox web browser (they’re both part of the same project essentially).
  • TortoiseSVN (GNU GPL) — A lightweight SVN program that works well with Windows Explorer.
  • VideoLAN (GNU GPL) — A cross-platform multimedia player program.
  • WinMerge (GNU GPL) — This is a very nice GUI diff program. If ediff didn’t rock so hard I’d probably use it in GNU/Linux as well.
  • WinSCP (GNU GPL) — A very convenient SFTP/SCP client.

Here is a list of win32 programs that are more free than not, but I still cannot recommend them as they are NOT Free Software.

  • 7zip — This program is licensed mostly under the GPL, BSD, and LGPL, but for some reason the decision was made to include unRAR restrictions. This restriction places a use and modification restriction on the program stating that RAR code may not be used to create a RAR archive, but only to read a RAR archive. This is in my opinion a very poor exercise of judgement on the part of the 7zip people.
  • gVim — this program has a license with distribution restrictions where it is possible for a user to be forced to send their modifications back upstream.
  • Paint.NET (MIT w/artwork CC) — This program is ALMOST Free Software program, but it does have a lot of non-free dependencies for building the source code (7zip and Visual Studio). Portions of Paint.NET are still held copyright to Microsoft with all rights being reserved.

Here is a list of win32 programs that are most certainly NOT Free Software, but may be useful nonetheless.

  • Visual Studio Express — Microsoft has put out a light edition of what appears to be their full suite of dev tools, free of charge. It’s useful, especially if you have a quick need for SQL Server for something or whatnot.
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