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Top 10 Most Useful Open Source / Free Software Programs

Buying software is so 1999. I mean seriously, who wants to buck up and spend upwards of $500 on an office suite when you have bills to pay and lattes to drink. Plus, with everyone’s exciting New Year’s resolutions in full swing, saving money may be even more appealing. Enter the world of free web-based software and open source software. This list is obviously not comprehensive, nor authoritative, however, these ten programs are the ones I found most useful during 2007.

Top Ten Free Open Source Software 2007

Mozilla Firefox

Mozilla Firefox is the greatest open-source browser available. Firefox offers users complete control over the browser featuring tabs, pop-up blocking, useful toolbars, and many themes. Firefox is W3C compliant which means developers will not have to slave to make sure CSS is rendering correctly like IE. In addition, the browser has thousands of extensions that will aid developers and SEOs alike.

Google Docs

Google Docs has made document creation and sharing simple through an easy-to-use web document interface. Google Docs offers users an alternative to Microsoft Office with tools for word processing, spreadsheets, and more recently presentations. Google Docs allows users to share documents with other users ensuring easy collaboration. For more info, check out the Google Docs Blog and WebWare’s Five Google Docs Hints.


Adium is a Mac-based application that allows users to connect to multiple instant messenger accounts at the same time while using a single application. It works with AOL, MSN, Google Talk and more. Looking for a close PC cousin? Try Pidgin.

Google Calendar

Google Calendar makes keeping track of important dates easy. The web-based software easily integrates with Gmail and all other Google products. Check out Lifehacker’s guide to using GCal and all the tricks that are possible.

Programmers Notepad

Programmer’s Notepad is a very easy to use HTML editor similar to Notepad. Unlike Notepad, however, PN is a text editor with several extra features such as syntax highlighting, quick search, docking tools, and code outlining. The program is very easy to use and a straightforward solution for SEO’s and developers alike.


Open source program Handbrake is an easy to use DVD to MPEG 4 ripper. This tool allows users to make backup copies of DVDs as well as import movies into iTunes or iPods. This isn’t exactly an “seo tool” but everyone needs to have some time to relax, right?


7-Zip is an easy to use file archiver to pack / unpack all types of files such as zip, tar, gzip, etc. 7-Zip is a much faster alternative to the zip programs installed on Windows XP and Vista.

Windows Live Writer

Windows Live Writer isn’t just another Microsoft program. Although I’ve already bashed the company twice in this post alone, I can’t say that there wasn’t any decent program to come out of the MS developer warehouse. Live Writer is a tool aimed at making blogging easier. It allows users to publish directly to most blogs like Blogger, Typepad, etc., in a very easy to use interface. The program allows users to preview their posts and compose entries while offline.


What need I say about Gmail, quite possibly the greatest email program in the world. For starters, Gmail offers users up to nearly 6GB of storage, tagging, email conversations, and more recently IMAP. Gmail easily integrates into programs like Mail and Thunderbird, as well as iPhones and other mobile devices. Plus Gmail continually strives to make improvements aimed at bettering the user’s experience. Web-based mail is here to stay.

Google Analytics

At this point it’s safe to assume Google is taking over the world since three of my ten faves all come from the search engine monster. But in any event, Google has gotten analytics right. Google Analytics is a free web-based program designed to improving your site’s marketing and results. The program features a very easy interface and provides web owners a variety of features ranging from search trends, site trends, geography reach, and much more. Every SEO ought to at least try out this program to see what it can do for you and your site. Check out the Official Analytics Blog for more info.

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