I ran across a lovely little app today called Ninite. It made me cry a little.
How often have you found yourself on a new, new-ish, or refurbished computer with none of your must-have software on it? It’s happened enough to me in the past several years to become something of a running annoyance. I don’t know how many computers I’ve built, but I know I’ve gone through at least three main computers in as many years. (I plan to stick with this one for a while, though. It likes me.)
Ninite lets you pick from a fairly comprehensive list of open-source software, freeware, and shareware, and then it gives you a custom installer which will fetch the latest versions for your computer (in x64 if need be) and install them to the default locations — no babysitting, and absolutely no bundled crapware. (I’ve mis-clicked or autopiloted myself into a couple of annoying toolbars in the past, despite a deep-seated and lasting loathing for most of them. I’m not the only one, right?) It’s pretty darned nifty.
Ninite doesn’t have all of the stuff I install — there’s no MediaMonkey, for instance, though Songbird has gotten good enough recently that I’ve considered switching. Firefox will need to be immediately upgraded with your favorite addons. And of course no computer of mine is complete without a version of Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup. But really, it’s very pleasingly complete.
So which of these, I cannot hear you asking, do I use? Well, seeing as how you’re so obviously interested, I will tell you in great detail. Because I feel like it. (For those of you who don’t care, this post is pretty much over for you unless you care what music I’m listening to.)
Starting from the top — browser of choice. I use Chrome quite a bit, but for now Firefox is on top. Chrome has a special place in my heart — it’s fast as blazes, for one thing — but it’s just not as customizeable as the Fox yet. That’s going to change in a hurry now that Chrome has opened it’s extensions gallery, and I’m enormously pleased to have Chrome on my laptop now that it’s been released for Linux. When running Portable Apps, Chrome is usually my go-to browser; its much faster and much more stable when running off my poor flash drive.
Pidgin is my messenger of choice. I do sorely miss the cute little Gmail chat emoticons, but Pidgin’s everything else makes up for it. I’ve poked Thunderbird a couple of times, but never seriously.
Current Music: Counting Crows, Accidentally In Love. I thought this was a Dixie Chicks song for the longest time. Also, I’m putting this in the middle just to annoy anyone who does care about what I’m listening to but not what apps I use. No reason. Just feeling contrary.
Media: Oh yes, VLC Media Player. This is like the second or third thing I install on a computer, right after Firefox and maybe some antivirus software. As awesome as VLC is for movies, though, I never use it for music — for that I prefer desperately need MediaMonkey or, failing that, Songbird. Songbird has great potential, but I don’t really feel it’s quite gotten there yet.
Imaging: The Gimp. I also mess with Inkscape enough that I’ll probably include it in any Ninite install, even though I do so little graphical work that I could probably make do with MS Paint indefinitely.
Documents: OpenOffice, Adobe, and maybe Foxit. I actually prefer not to use Adobe for PDFs — not only is it bloatware, but it’s been known to have some pretty impressive security holes. Sumatra PDF is usually my app of choice, but Foxit is a perfectly good alternative.
Security: Avast and Spybot. I love both of those. I’ve also started to mess with Malwarebytes, but I’m not yet very familiar with it.
Runtimes: Flash 10 (for other browsers, I will never need the IE version), JAVA, and .NET. This falls under the “yay for annoyances I’ll never have to deal with now” category, because I never notice these missing until I need them.
File Sharing: uTorrent. For Linux images, dontchaknow.
Other: I started using Dropbox about two days ago for backup purposes, and it’s pretty awesome. Steam annoys me a great deal, but I do love me some TF2, so I’ll install it on any machine I expect to do gaming on.
Utilities: Launchy and Revo. Revo is indispensible. (Do you know how many registry keys some programs leave behind? Upwards of four thousand, in the case of some HP printer software I took off a laptop the other day.) I just started using Launchy the other day. (I had a “hey let’s try out some software I’ve been eyeing forever” day) But you know what? Launchy’s pretty freakin’ cool.
Compression: 7-zip. I used to use Winrar, but it’s shareware and 7-zip is open source. And faster. And supports more formats. And doesn’t bloat my right-click menu as much.
Developer tools: I like Python, and I love Notepad++. And . . . what’s this? You mean I never have to dig through Sun’s website for the (right) JAVA SDK again? That alone makes Ninite worth it.