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More systems management and administration resources
Self-contained utilities can run from USB drive.

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 Discovering the PortableApps collection of Windows programs inspired me to keep an eye out for other well-maintained collections of free/open source software. Now I've come across, which puts several popular open source application packages on one CD image for easy distribution.

Most of these programs are known to administrators: the freeware suite, Mozilla Firefox, Thunderbird and the remote control program TightVNC. But several others might not be so familiar.

  • FileZilla, my FTP client of choice. It's already quite good and is about to enter a 3.0 revision.
  • Notepad2, a replacement for Notepad that offers the right mix of extra features without being bloated. My only gripe is the lack of a sorting feature, but the presence of functions such as syntax highlighting makes up for that.
  • PDFCreator, a printer driver that lets you create PDFs from any program that can print. The driver supports features much like those of many commercial PDF creation programs, including encryption.
  • Scribus, a desktop publishing program that supports professional features such as CMYK color, ICC color management and the PDF/X-3 ISO standard for PDFs.
  • 7-Zip, my compression tool of choice. It supports just about every compression format in existence and even opens .ISO files as if they were archives.
  • Nvu, a Web page/site editing and creation suite that's the closest thing to a freeware version of Frontpage so far. (To be honest, I prefer the Nvu-derived KompoZer. It's been revised more recently and is available as a standalone utility or as part of the PortableApps collection .)

The PortableApps CD also includes a collection of games (a.k.a. counter-productivity software), although installing them is scarcely mandatory. Note: The programs on OpenCD need to be installed before use; they don't run from the CD itself.

About the author: Serdar Yegulalp is editor of Windows Insight (formerly the Windows Power Users Newsletter), a blog site devoted to hints, tips, tricks and news for users and administrators of Windows NT, Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Server 2003 and Vista. He has more than 12 years of experience working with Windows, and contributes regularly to and other TechTarget sites.

This was last published in September 2007
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