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Wednesday, 7 April 2010

The Free CD for Mac

I just gave a talk about FOSS and music and gave out copies of the Fossbox free software CD for mac. Here is the readme file that came with it, with download links. You can also find a bunch of cool free mac software from the website

Welcome to the Fossbox Free CD

The free CD gives you a taster of the free software options available for the Mac. In this document, you'll find a brief description of the software and links to instructions for installing it. You can find free tutorials and books to help you get the best from the software on the Fossbox website.

Office and project software

Open Office is a free alternative to MS Office. It's very similar and most people are able to get started and carry on as usual without any special training to use it. It has a word processor, a spreadsheet, presentation and data-base with wizards. Download it here.To get you started using Open Office you'll find tutorials here and some flash tutorials here.

If you find Open Office to be too slow, Neo Office is a mac-specific version of it that has fewer features but quite a bit more speed. You can download it here.

Skim is a PDF viewer that allows you to modify and annotate PDF files, for example, by filling in forms. Download it here.

Scribus is a free Desktop Publisher. Download it here. You'll find free Scribus video tutorials here


Thunderbird is a free email programme. Download it here. and follow the on-screen instructions. To get started using Thunderbird you will find illustrated tutorials here.

If you would like a calendar, this can be added to Thunderbird. Follow these illustrated instructions to add a calendar.

Browsing the internet

Although the Safari browser is included with OS X, there's an alternative browser called Firefox. Download it here.. It has more features and is more customisable.

Website editor

To help you make simple websites, Kompozer is a visual HTML editor with formatting buttons. Download it here.You'll find free Kompozer tutorials here

These tutorials are for a previous version of Kompozer called NVU but Kompozer is almost identical so you should be able to get started:

To upload website files to the internet, you need an FTP client so check out Filezilla. You can download it here.. (In order to install it, you may need to first install The Unarchiver utility. Click the link to download it.) Your ISP will be able to give you the login information you need to set up FileZilla – ask the people you rent your website space from.

Instant Messaging

Audium allows you to connect to multiple IM accounts, including Facebook, in a single app. Download it here.

File Sharing

Transmission is a Bit Torrent client. Download it here..


There are two graphics programmes included on the CD.

If you want to do serious photo-editing, you need the GIMP, a fully-featured graphics programme. Download it here. Gimp on OS X requires X Windows, which is included with your system CD or a free version can be downloaded here. Free GIMP tutorials here

Inkscape is vector drawing software., which also requires X Windows. Download it here. You'll find tutorials for Inkscape here

Note that Open Office also has a vector drawing application.


Multi-media player

VLC is a light and versatile movie player which opens more types of movies than Quicktime. Download it here.

Ripping DVDs

HandBrake is a DVD ripper. Download it here.

Video Editing

Processing is an open source programming language environment for people who want to program images, animation and interactions. Download it here..



Audacity is a light-weight sound editor. There is a stable version and a beta version. The beta has more and better features, but you will need to save early and often. If that worries you, get the stable version instead. Download the stable version here. or Download the beta version here.

Ardour is a a fully-featured Digital Audio Workstation with plug-in support that can be used for serious audio projects. You can download it here. They will ask you if you want to donate to the project. You can put whatever amount you wish in the box, including $0.

Ardour relies on a helper application called Jack, which is also useful in it's own right. Download Jack here.


Pd is a real-time graphical dataflow programming environment for audio, video and graphical processing. It is especially useful for rapid prototyping and can be used to write reactive music or the iPhone via the RjDj app. Download PD here.

SuperCollider is an environment and programming language for real time audio synthesis and algorithmic composition. It has a bit of a learning curve, however, it is extremely powerful and useful. Download it here.


steph said...

Danke! I've heard good things about Inkscape and tried it a bit, but didn't have the patience to learn it when trying to write a paper...that never ended up getting published because I had to go back and take more data. That reminds me to go play with it soon so I will know it well when I get to thesis-land.

It's not free, but it's relatively cheap and if you have to do lots of work with academic papers, the application "Papers" is really awesome, it's like ITunes for PDF's. I thought years ago that if it didn't exist, I should make it someday, but luckily someone beat me to it. Though if you use latex, bibdesk is good and I think it's free. Also, if you're like me and neurotic about your macbook being stolen, Undercover, also pretty cheap, is a neat program.

Ok, those aren't free, but they are useful :)

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