Pidgin is the ultimate, free instant messaging tool. It provides you with one window through which you can simultaneously interact with different people, whichever instant messaging platform they’re using.
GnuCash provides a great, free alternative to paid-for accounting software. Designed for personal and small business use, it offers bank account, stock, income and expense tracking, in addition to double-entry accounting.
With its speedy searches, built-in RSS feeds, strong security and superb add-ons, Thunderbird has to be the best, free email application available. If you’re prepared to spend some time tailoring your email environment with add-ons, you’ll absolutely love it, but it’s probably not ideal for complete novices.
Windows users can consider PDFCreator a credible rival to Adobe Acrobat. Creating PDFs is as easy as printing, literally, as once installed, you can select PDFCreator as your printer, letting you create PDFs from practically any application.
According to Calibre, it’s the “one stop solution to all your e-book needs”. I’m inclined to agree. Besides letting you catalogue and manage your e-book collection, sorting, tagging and commenting on them as you please, you can download content from the internet and convert it into e-book form.
Music software like Cubase and Logic Pro can be incredibly expensive, which is why an increasing number of people are turning to Audacity, a free, cross-platform sound editor. Users can record and edit live audio; cut, copy, splice and mix sounds; and convert ageing tapes and records into digital format.
Handbrake rips/converts DVDs to MPEG-4 for playing back on your iPod or archiving. It doesn’t have the ability to decode DVDs, but can do so if you have VLC, which includes a DVD encoder, installed on your computer.
Freemind is a terrific mind-mapping tool, which lets you get all your thoughts down as quickly as possible with the use of icons, shapes and colors. Besides the ordinary nodes and links, you can add hyperlinks and even documents to your maps.