I try to use Free and Open Source Software wherever I can, for reasons of security, price and flexibility. Some of the software I use most often is:
- Firefox. The real strong point of the Firefox web browser for me is the range of add-ons which are available for it, such as:
- FireGPG, which allows you to perform encryption using GPG within the browser, which is useful if you're using webmail.
- Reminderfox, a very simple, but effective, calendar.
- Down Them All, a powerful download manager.
- Open Office, does everything that proprietary office suites do, but without the price tag.
- Linux Mint, probably the easiest GNU/Linux distribution for a beginner to use. I've found it to be more use friendly than Windows. It's also very easy to run alongside Windows, either from a CD or USB drive, or installed within Windows, so I'd definitely recommend giving it a go.
- Tor, which can be used to keep your internet browsing anonymous, by encrypting your browsing and routing it through a number of intermediaries so that no individual in the chain can link you and the destination. Given that ISPs in the UK are now obliged to retain records of their customers' browsing history, I suspect that the ability of Tor to obscure your browsing from your ISP will result in it being used more widely.
- Thunderbird, the e-mail application which partners the Firefox web browser. Like Firefox, one of its strengths is the availability of addons, which include:
- Enigmail, which enables the sending and receiving of encrypted e-mails.
- Pidgin, an instant messaging application, which can handle a wide range of protocols and can be extended using plug-ins such as:
- VLC, a video and audio player that can handle pretty much any file format you throw at it.
- TrueCrypt, file encryption software which allows you to encrypt whole drives, or create an encrypted file which you can use as a virtual disk. Excellent for making sure your private data stays private.