This is great free encoding and transcoding software for ripping DVDs and getting (almost) all of your favourite music and videos to work on your portable devices. The interface isn’t the most intuitive, and it requires ?that you have Firefox installed, ?but with patience it’s dead useful.
If you want the best from email it pays to look beyond ?your computer’s built-in client. Thunderbird deals with several accounts, has a customisable interface, a built-in RSS reader, ?an effective spam filter and a powerful search facility. Extensions allow further customisation too.
You can edit your docs ?online (try docs.google.com) but ?if you want to keep them local, this is the best free suite. It offers full Microsoft Office compatibility ?and powerful, intuitive programs including a word processor, spreadsheet, database creator ?and presentation tools. You’ll need to install the X11 protocol first.
This excellent video organiser and internet TV client brings all of your computer viewing together in one easy-to-handle interface. It’ll play pretty much any kind of video file, save YouTube and DailyMotion vids to your hard drive and is compatible with torrents and RSS feeds to deliver your vidcasts painlessly.
We love Firefox, but in our must-be-connected-at-all-times society it’s just edged out by Flock. Based on Firefox’s architecture, Flock incorporates ?an RSS reader, live feeds from Facebook and the like along with blogging tools to make sure you’re always in the loop, all accessed through an intuitive front-end.
Do you have too many instant messaging windows open on your desktop? Then you need Pidgin (or, if you’re on Mac, Adium). It unifies all of your IM clients – Google Talk, AIM, Yahoo, Microsoft Messenger, ICQ and so on – so you can chat across a number of platforms from one tidy chat window. How civilised.
A self-confessed Tron clone, Armagetron is a masterclass in simple brilliance. Lightcycle-style vehicles move around a retro fluorescent vector grid in straight lines with the intention of making others crash into the trails they create. The online multiplayer mode is as addictive as Maltesers.
Record, edit transform and mix audio with one of the greatest Freeware apps ever. Audacity can be used on one level as a simple cut-and-paste recorder, but has the power and precision to please those who want to get deeper. ?To export projects as MP3s you’ll need to install an extra plug-in.