Must-have, essential software

#1
If you had to make a list of must-have, essential software that you cannot do without---or will not work without---what would your list include? Omit the normal things like an o.s., web browser, and office suite, since they are pretty much a "given" in a work environment.

Here's a list of 12 items of software that I feel that I cannot work without:

TCC : Take Command Console command interpreter
http://www.jpsoft.com

Altap Salamander : Norton Commander clone, dual-pane file manager
http://www.altap.cz/salam_en/

GNU Emacs : Advanced programmer's editor
http://ftp.gnu.org/gnu/emacs/windows/

TDE : Thomson-Davis Editor, console-mode editor
http://adoxa.110mb.com/tde/

Notepad++ : Advanced programmer's editor
http://www.notepad-plus-plus.org/

WinMerge : Compare/merge files or directories
http://www.winmerge.org

Cygwin : GNU/Linux look-and-feel under Windows
http://www.cygwin.com

GnuWin32 : Separate GNU utils work under TCC/CMD
http://gnuwin32.sourceforge.net

MiniTrue : Console-mode search/replace util
http://adoxa.110mb.com/minitrue/

ssed : Super sed, custom version of GNU sed
http://sed.sourceforge.net/grabbag/ssed/

PDF Creator : Print to PDF instead of paper
http://www.pdfforge.org

PuTTY : secure shell and telnet client
http://www.chiark.greenend.org.uk/~sgtatham/putty/

What would your list include?
 
Jan 19, 2011
573
8
Norman, OK
#2
#3
#7
What would your list include?
One thing I try to do is make everything I have portable so that I can use them at home, work, and ideally on a thumb drive at a job site (without installing or leaving anything behind). Since I've been working on PCs since the days of DOS 1.1, my list has changed a lot over the years, but it's amazing how many of the apps I started with in the 1980s are still in the toolkit, even if a lot of them have changed their names over time.

TCC : (nee 4DOS, 1988) Take Command Console command interpreter/scripting
http://www.jpsoft.com

Kedit: (1985) VM XEdit-based programmer's editor, with Unix features added
http://www.kedit.com

Total Commander: (Windows Commander, 1993) Norton-Commander shell, with lots of plugin (good as program launcher)
http://www.ghisler.com

Cygwin : Unix scripting tools
http://www.cygwin.com

Beyond Compare: Source code-aware file comparison

http://www.scootersoftware.com

PowerPro: (Stiletto, 1993) Keyboard and mouse macros/virtual desktop/menu system/scheduler/clipboard
http://powerpro.webeddie.com/

Unfortunately, PowerPro has portability issues (config changes go into locked binary files, and there are reported Windows 7 issues). So I've been using the following to replace PowerPro:

AutoHotKey: Keyboard and mouse macros
http://www.autohotkey.com

Dexpot: Multiple desktop handler
http://www.dexpot.de

ClipX: Clipboard manager
http://bluemars.org/clipx/

Since some of the above is commerical, I also use the following free alteratives, since they can be left at customer site. These alteratives aren't as powerful/feature rich, but they get the job done, if less elegantly.

For TCC: TCC/LE, obviously
http://www.jpsoft.com

For Kedit, Notepad++
http://www.notepad-plus-plus.org/

For Total Commander, FreeCommander
http://www.freecommander.com

For Dexpot, VirtuaWin
http://virtuawin.sourceforge.net

For Beyond Compare, KDiff
http://kdiff3.sourceforge.net
 
#8
What would your list include?
At one time, I also used Cygwin, but I find andLinux (http://www.andlinux.org/) even better.

PureText
http://www.stevemiller.net/puretext/
When I copy non-courier text from a web page, I just do a puretext /c from the TCC prompt, and the clipboard contents are formatted to plain text.

DOSBox with 4DOS 8.00
http://www.dosbox.com/ and http://www.4dos.info/4dvers/4dos800.zip
16-bit apps still run great in Windows 7 and XP, under DOSBox, with the bonus that they run full-screen, and no sign of Windows.

Joe
 
#9
A fair few of these have already been mentioned, but my essentials list would be:

TC/4NT obviously (I have various flavours spread over my machines, with v7 the most common as I have a five system license for it)
Kedit for Windows (I was surprised to see this on someone else's list - but as an IBM mainframe guy who still prefers z/VM to z/OS I've been using this ever since I first used a PC, under OS/2, DOS and Windows)
7zip (all purpose archive handler that deals with almost any format)
GSView/Ghostscript (I use CutePDF for printing to PDF on the work laptop, and many programs create PDFs directly these days, but I still find this useful)
Irfanview (will display pretty much any image format and has some simple editing tools built in too)
SysInternals Suite (too many potentially useful utilities here to go without)
WinDirStat (there are a number of different tools that I've used for identifying where disk space is used over the years, but this is my current favourite)
Foxit Reader (in preference to Adobe for reading PDFs)
Putty (not essential in a Windows only environment, but thankfully I don't work in those very often)

All of these are installed on every machine I have, even the work laptop where my employer tries to lock things down as much as possible, and only the first two are commercial software that cost real cash money
 
#10
I just want to add that I've seen several references to 7zip above and nobody seemed to mention what is probably its best and most important feature: It generally does a much better job of compression than does any zip program that I've encountered (i.e., the compressed files are usually smaller than the "equivalent" zip file by typically a very large margin; some time ago I took the time to make a fairly "formal" comparison between 7zip and zip for a wide range of files/file types, and 7zip almost always outperformed zip, and, again, typically by a very large margin - although I don't have those numbers readily available anymore - actually, I don't remember where I stored them - but if anybody is interested I can probably "dig them up") ; and I rather doubt that any zip program can come even close in the general case because of one of 7zip's primary "algorithmic" advantages: 7zip uses one "dictionary" for all files of a given type (extension; I've never really investigated whether one dictionary is shared among multiple, "similar", types - .txt and .btm, for example); whereas zip files have an individual dictionary for every item in the zip file, and the "dictionaries" for multiple files of any given type, particularly for such things as "versions" of a "document" of some kind, are very likely to be very similar and that is, in and of itself, an opportunity for much more compression. Since I am quite tight on the disk space on the internal drive of this machine (the C: partition is 98.64% full at this moment; the D: partition 97.74% full and it took me all of maybe 30 seconds at most to come up those figures due to the "powers" and versatility of TCC; although I do have a 2TB external drive connected through a USB port so it's quite slow), good compression is very important even in terms of the amount of time it takes to copy files to and from the external drive. However, 7zip does have one (possibly significant to some people) disadvantage - archiving often takes a lot longer than zip does for compressing files; but then this should be expected given its much better compression. However, the time it takes to "decompress" is in the same realm as zip is.
 
#12
As you mentioned, the reason 7z compresses a large fileset is because it creates fewer dictionaries, and the ones included are optimized for the original archive. This is excellent for distribution purposes or as a long-term backup. However, if the archive is used as a back-up for a set of files that change often, each time a single member of the archive is replaced with a newer version ("updated"), the quality of the dictionary becomes worse.

Back when PKZIP 2.04 was the best, and 1.44-MB 3.5-in diskette the primary software distribution medium, an IT book manufacturer built a single ZIP file containing the whole file hierarchy to be distributed, using PKZIP specifying NO COMPRESSION (essentially a single uncompressed archive with no dictionaries), and in the next step used PKZIP with MAXIMUM COMPRESSION to compress the archive. This resulted in a ZIP file that fit on a single diskette. Direct application if PKZIP to the file hierarchy had created a ZIP file which was much larger than a single diskette, even at the highest compression - as I (and probably many other curios purchasers) verified.
 

Charles Dye

Super Moderator
Staff member
May 20, 2008
3,556
46
Albuquerque, NM
prospero.unm.edu
#13
Back when PKZIP 2.04 was the best, and 1.44-MB 3.5-in diskette the primary software distribution medium, an IT book manufacturer built a single ZIP file containing the whole file hierarchy to be distributed, using PKZIP specifying NO COMPRESSION (essentially a single uncompressed archive with no dictionaries), and in the next step used PKZIP with MAXIMUM COMPRESSION to compress the archive. This resulted in a ZIP file that fit on a single diskette.
Undocumented DOS, Second Edition :->
 
#14
Back when PKZIP 2.04 was the best, and 1.44-MB 3.5-in diskette the primary software distribution medium, an IT book manufacturer built a single ZIP file containing the whole file hierarchy to be distributed, using PKZIP specifying NO COMPRESSION (essentially a single uncompressed archive with no dictionaries), and in the next step used PKZIP with MAXIMUM COMPRESSION to compress the archive. This resulted in a ZIP file that fit on a single diskette. Direct application if PKZIP to the file hierarchy had created a ZIP file which was much larger than a single diskette, even at the highest compression - as I (and probably many other curios purchasers) verified.
It's an implementation of the old *NIX saying... "TAR before GZ".
 
#15
Steve,

when you said:
However, if the archive is used as a back-up for a set of files that change often, each time a single member of the archive is replaced with a newer version ("updated"), the quality of the dictionary becomes worse.
You are, again of course, absolutely correct and I probably should have mentioned that.

And I was using the double-zip technique years ago before I discovered 7zip, and 7z almost always did a significantly better job than did double-zipping did. (Even ignoring the "dictionaries" issue, its compression algorithm(s) are clearly better than what zip's at least were.)

However, that is not at all an issue for me because, having been aware of that for a very long time, I long ago wrote a batch file that copies the existing 7z file to a (newly created) directory on my Z: drive (a RAM: disk), un-7zs it, copies the intended "new additions" to that directory and re-7z's everything in that directory, and copies the new 7z file back to the directory from which it came. Since my habit is to keep two copies of any existing archive (the one I just created and one "version" back), said procedure even names the new archive in the format "....V20yy-mm-dd.7z" and looks for (and deletes) any archives in the directory containing the archives beyond the now-immediately previous archive.) And yes, this does take a couple of minutes, but no, that is not a problem because I simply run it in a "background" window. And while what you suggest certainly may be somewhat better, I really doubt whether it's enough better to change what I've been doing for essentially many years by now. But thank you; it may help somebody else!

- Dan
 
#17
HooWinTail makes reading logfiles much easier, can't go without ...

http://www.hootech.com/WinTail/
Hmm. I use the log viewer (F3) included in Total Commander. It seems to do much the same thing (live file view, highlight keywords, coloured syntax, tabbed interface), and it's got a decent plugin architecture, so people have extended it.

Given that Total Commander is US $46 for the file manager with the tail utility, and the Hootech tail utility is $49 standalone, I'm wondering what the "killer feature" for this would be. I'm not being sarcastic, I'm just wondering what the compelling case for this is. I see that there's an email feature, to have it email out on events, which I can see being a feature, but I'm wondering how this becomes a "can't go without" utility.
 
Apr 20, 2011
21
0
#18
Hmm. I use the log viewer (F3) included in Total Commander.
If U R talking about the LogViewerPro TC plugin by Alexey Torgashin: yes its a great plugin. HooWinTail has some more features like Bookmarks, tracing the Windows debug channel (I know, there are free tools for this too) and marking the last line if WinTail lost input focus, but that is not the point. There is one point with Alexeys Plugin: He stated it is "Freeware for Home use". I'm not a 'Home User' and I respect the licence condition given by the developer. A licence of the plugin for office use in a company is $180 (http://www.uvviewsoft.com/logviewer/register.htm), so your comparison of the price tag does not fit for me.
 
#19
If U R talking about the LogViewerPro TC plugin by Alexey Torgashin: yes its a great plugin. HooWinTail has some more features like Bookmarks, tracing the Windows debug channel (I know, there are free tools for this too) and marking the last line if WinTail lost input focus, but that is not the point. There is one point with Alexeys Plugin: He stated it is "Freeware for Home use". I'm not a 'Home User' and I respect the licence condition given by the developer. A licence of the plugin for office use in a company is $180 (http://www.uvviewsoft.com/logviewer/register.htm), so your comparison of the price tag does not fit for me.
Actually, it looks like I have LogViewer plugin (http://crydev.com/lang-en/products/35-software/55-logviewer), not the same one. The one I'm using is free for person use, $10 for corporate, and it looks like I don't have it on my portable/work version after all (I thought it was in there, but I guess not).
 
Apr 20, 2011
21
0
#20
Hmm, didn't know this, but I think U can't compare this (moderate) plugin with the former two. The developer states that the file extension of the logfile must be .log (?) and the plugin displays only non-unicode encodings or in unicode - only Latin symbols. Really a no go for me.

So I keep my statement :-)

HooWinTail makes reading logfiles much easier, can't go without ...