July 2, 2007

Programs to get you started

Posted in Beginner at 3:23 am by gloriouscomputing

Here are some of my favorite programs to put on a freshly installed Windows computer.

Firefox (Web Browser)
I use Firefox mainly because of all of the extensions it allows. To be honest, if I had to choose between bare-bone Firefox or bare-bone Opera, I would pick the now free Opera. In fact, I would recommend Opera to my parents over Firefox for just this reason. It is simply better right out of the box. http://www.getfirefox.com

Pidgin (IM Client)
Formally known as GAIM, this Instant Messanger client is infinitely better than AIM/ICQ/MSN/Yahoo combined…because, well, it allows you to connect to all of them. If your system tray has 4 IM clients taking up your screen real estate, give Pidgin a chance! Alternatively you can try Trillian. I used to use this latter, but I have since been able to change. My recommendation is to never get used to Trillian, and changing to Pidgin won’t be any trouble. Pidgin is open source, free (as in speech), and has silly things you can do, like mess with your idle time. http://www.pidgin.im

FileZilla (FTP Client)
Many people get away with not having to ever use the FTP protocol. Until one day. On that day, they will resort to painfully hard-to-use ways such as IE or Firefox. Web browsers are horrible FTP clients.
Trust me. One day, you too will meet the FTP protocol, and when you do, you’ll be happy conquer the day by having a trusty FTP client like FileZilla handy.
Besides being an FTP client, it is also an SFTP (Secure FTP, via SSH). I know. It’s ok. Relax. Like most Windows users, I too, was afraid of this idea. Solely hearing SSH was enough to run shivers down my spine. For now, simply forget that I mentioned this extra feature of FileZilla. However, I am planning a future article that will show you just how great having an SFTP server is, and how to do. Don’t worry, it’s not so scary at all. filezilla.sourceforge.net

7-Zip (Zip/Rar/7Zip File Compressor/Extractor)
This is a free and open source solution to compressing and extracting your files. I would also suggest WinRAR. 7zip can make .7z files, which have compression that is generally much better than rar or zip. WinRAR, the long-time PC standard, used by most who have anything other than WindowsXP’s build in zip folder.
I use both WinRAR and 7zip. I used 7Zip for everthing but extracting files. While it does a great job at compressing files, I personally found WinRAR to do a better job at extracting them.
There are other great solutions for this too.
IZArc is another wonderful (also free) program, that is not to be underestimated. For the time being, I would not declare a definitive favorite of mine. Since none of these programs have to run in the background, little harm is done by having all 3 of them. That’s my personal solution right now. Let me know what you all think. http://www.rarsoft.com http://www.7zip.com http://www.izarc.org

VLC (Video Player)
You simply can’t beat this video player. If you watch video files on your PC, you NEED this program. Get it. Now. http://www.videolan.org/vlc

Winamp (Music Player)
Personal favorite of mine. I use Winamp5, but with the classic skin. That way it takes up less memory, so I can have my music blasting while playing computer games.
An alternative is Foobar2000. I tried switching to foobar2000 before, but I was not satisfied with the Shuffle/Random feature. After some research, I gave up on it. It would simply keep playing the same songs over and over, not checking the played ones off. It was frustrating, so I went back to winamp. http://www.winamp.com http://www.foobar2000.org

Xplorer2 (File Explorer)
If you’re still using the defaut file “Explorer” that comes with windows, you’d be amazed how much more efficient it is to use a duel-panel file browser. Xplorer2 also supports breadcrumbs, and an arsenal of more advanced features some of us will love. http://www.zabkat.com
As for alternatives, I’ve tried a few, and nothing came close to beating Xplorer2. If you have any suggestions,  please use the comments as usual. As it stands, I love Xplorer2, and do not require  an alternative.  Free version  should be just fine for most of us.

That’s all for now. Except more advanced, in-depth solutions in the future.



  1. […] you want to go. But, just as shortcuts were invented to make this less painful with Explorer (or Xplorer2, which I must recommend), you can make “Aliases” in […]

  2. J.N said,

    I actually want to download Gaim (My Ubuntu laptop has it), and I am currently using Opera. However, I didn’t understand how you recommending Opera yet linked to FireFox, anyways that’s not a big deal.

    I also recommend Winamp to people but I have a very strange mind sometimes. Because Windows Media Player is already on Windows, sometimes I wonder why have two music players when you already have one. However, I wouldn’t recommend Windows Media Player, it acts very strange. Good post 🙂

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