Abiword is a great free word
processor. It's less than an 8 MB download, and includes Microsoft Word compatibility and a
spell checker. Great for an older computer that you don't want to buy Office
Autodesk offers a free program to
view and print CAD files (in DWF format); it's called Autodesk DWF Viewer.
is an amazing program that lets you zoom in on any spot of earth. It's free.
Some older computers may not be able to run the most recent version; this might
be because you're graphics card doesn't have enough memory, or you are using an
older version of Windows, like Windows 2000. You can try previous versions at
Lotus Symphony (office suite software) is now being offered as a free
Kludgets let you install Mac desktop widgets on a Windows or Linux PC.
Libre Office is a good free alternative to Microsoft Office. It's available
for Windows, Mac and Linux. It has evolved from Open Office.
Ubuntu Linux is a nice version of Linux. It's fairly intuitive for someone
who has only used Windows. The CD is bootable; you can run the entire operating
system, plus a browser and the LibreOffice office suite, off of the CD. It runs
pretty balky if you don't have lots of memory; it doesn't use your hard drive
for "caching" at all. But that way you can try it out. It also makes a great
emergency CD for a computer that won't start Windows correctly. If you
like it, you can install the whole package on a hard drive. You can burn an ISO
image of Ubuntu, or if that doesn't work for you, you can fill out the online form and
they will mail you a copy of the CD. There are variations, with different
graphical user interfaces at kubuntu.org,
xubuntu.org (the lightweight XFCE graphical
user interface (GUI) - good for older machines), and Mythbuntu (a media center version).
Now, there's a new version that's
easier to install; it install like a Windows program; at
Note: you can now buy computers
from Dell with Ubuntu; ubuntu.com/dell
got a 5 star Editor's Rating from download.com. You can use video chat with a
web cam on it.
- a nice, free FTP program.
Annoying messages from spammers
using Windows "Messenger Service" (this is different from an instant message
program), such as this example,
can be stopped with
great tool from Steve Gibson. (very small download; 22KB)
Clonezilla is a program to make an
exact copy (clone) of your hard drive. It's a free alternative to Norton Ghost.
DBAN is a good program to erase a hard drive before getting rid of a
Hard Disk Monitor checks the health of
your hard drive. If you can detect a failing hard drive before it fails,
that's a GOOD thing!
RadarSync is a great free
program to help you get the latest drivers and versions of software
loaded on your PC. It seems to pick up things that even Windows Update
and "check for driver update" features built into Windows. The current
version only identifies updates you need, but you have to pay to be
able to download the updates through RadarSync.
VMware Player lets you run
another operating system within Windows. The PC will be doing double duty,
running two operating systems, so things can slow down a lot. But it's a cool way to
try out software like the free Haiku operating
lets you view objects in the solar system and in space in 3D.
also has a mode that lets you view objects in space.
Energy savings for your PC:
or Local Cooling
may help you reduce the amount of electricity your computer uses.
bypasses your browser and lets you watch shows in it's own
software application. It has fairly high system
requirements (including 2 GB of memory), so be sure to check that out before you
lets you download TV clips with great quality. If you
can't get Planet Green
on your cable system, you can download some of their clips in Miro format. It
also lets you download YouTube videos to your hard drive. Versions are available
for Windows, Mac and Ubuntu Linux. It's open source.
Radio? Sure! is a good program to listen to free streaming radio stations fromall over the world via your internet connection.
Orbiter Space Flight Simulator is a very good game,
particularly for any parent that wants their child to avoid violent games. It's
a pretty realistic simulation of the Space Shuttle, in scenarios like landing or
docking with the International Space Station. There's some quirks; for instance,
at first, there's no sound. You have to download a separate package to get the
sound to work. You can download additional craft from
- free Sudoko (requires Java) (159KB)
now has a built in flight simulator. Just click on "Tools" then
"Enter Flight Simulator" on the menus. Try flying around the ice sheets
at the South Pole, or the just above sealevel Maldives islands, to get
a sense of how fragile these areas are.
(ver. 2) (4 stars) -
a nice chess game. You'll need screen resolution of 1024 X 768. Note: this fixes
a couple of bugs that were in the previous version.
Sokoban++ (ver. 1.5) (4 stars) This is a game where you push the
little brown balls into the green area with the yellow ball with the arrow on
it. If two balls are pushed together, they can't be pushed "headon", but one can
be pushed from the side. If you push a ball in a corner, you can't get it out (D'oh!).
There are 50 levels. (700 KB)
Software Inspector scans your system for vulnerabilities. The fix is often
as simple as downloading a more recent version of a program.
more security software here
Oldversion.com is a
great site to download old versions of Windows software, should you need it.