This is a list of some of the software I find helpful and use often. Everything I list won't be Free or Open-source software, however, it is all software that I recommend. Feel free to add your own suggestions or experiences.
(I will update this list occasionally.)
An open-source version of BSD Unix. Excellent all-around. My first choice.
A Linux distribution. Easy on the user. Good support system. Good update system.
A Linux distribution. Well supported. I'm not a fan of RPMs, but they are widely available and used. A good baseline system for testing/compatibility.
A Linux-like environment for Windows. Works very well. Gives you most of the power/tools for working/developing on linux under Windows. This is a must-have. XFree86 works well, and has a root-less mode for seemlessly integrating X apps on the Windows desktop. A port of KDE
is also available and works very well.
A user-space local mounting system for remote files. Supports mounting via FTP and SSH! This is a must have! This completely eliminates the need for sftp and ftp clients.
Open implementations of SSL/SSH libraries/clients/servers. Friends don't let friends send their passwords cleartext! (i.e. via FTP)
* Mozilla Firebird
My preferred browser. At the very least use a browser that supports tabs! Also -- Why don't all window managers support tabs in every window by default?! Err.. maybe when I get some time I can work on that.
Includes WRITER, CALC, IMPRESS, DRAW and Database User Tools. Very good product. Has decent compatibility with MS products. Handles most users needs very well. Please don't pirate MS Office. Use this instead.
SSH Clients for Win32. Very useful for machines where CygWin is not installed. Small size. Open Source (MIT License). I keep this handy on my Windows utility disk.
Simulator for the HP16C RPN calculator (Windows or Palm versions) Good replacement for the default calculator app.
* The Gimp
GNU Image Manipulation Program. Lots of features. Not yet a replacement for Photoshop, very good for most things. A Windows Version
is also available.
Open Source image manipulation tools and libraries. A must have if you need to convert images or manipulate batches of images. Very good.
A very good (improved) version of the venerable VI text editor. When I was sixteen at my first big job programming simulations on a Sun Sparc using VI was a requirement -- and now after so many years, editing in anything else seems so very slow and uncomfortable in comparison. Even if you're an emacs user or someone who prefers fancy gui editors, some proficiency in VI will come in handy. Give it a try!