Suggestions from your friends at Earth & Planetary Sciences Computing
There are billions of software packages out there, but these are our suggestions
- Mail Clients. See our E-Mail Page for more information.
- Operating Systems: Your Pick. We support Windows of all flavors, Macintosh OS X, Linux, Solaris or whatever. We do have the media for Windows 7 Enterprise or Professional, both 32 and 64 bit versions. We also have media for XP, 98SE and 2000 Professional if you need them for a virtual machine. Similarly we have the media for MacOS 10.4/10.5, and numerous distributions of Linux (including Ubuntu, of course).
- Office Suites: Microsoft Office We would prefer everyone used LibreOffice (or even OpenOffice), but unfortunately 98% of the folks in the world use the product from Microsoft. All registered university students can download a copy of the latest version of Office from their go.wustl.edu account. Department faculty and staff can download the latest version from mscampus.wustl.edu. To activate the faculty/staff version you must do extra steps on your computer, so contact me and I can help you out. Both sites require WUSTL Key authentication. Braver souls can try the free alternatives like LibreOffice for free as well. For word processing only, try AbiWord which runs on Windows, Mac and Linux and does not eat up all the resources of Word or LibreOffice's Writer.
- Browsers: Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome. Microsoft Internet Explorer still comes installed on all Windows machines, but why bother using it? Our top suggestions are the latest versions of Mozilla Firefox or Chrome. Apple's Safari runs fine now on a Mac and is another nice option. There are also many other browsers available on Linux.
- Communications: For remote terminal access we recommend people use a SSH client, either the free client from SSH.com, putty or my latest favorite MobaXterm. All are available here. For a Windows FTP clients there is the old standby WSFTP or the newer choice FileZilla (which supports SFTP), both of which are available for free here. Mac users can SSH from a terminal window and for FTP use Fetch which is free for educational use.
- Graphics: Adobe Illustrator and PhotoShop version CS6 was the last version for which we could purchase "perpetual" licenses, and now we cannot even purchase that anymore. So now you must either buy your own Adobe subscription or use old software. Those wanting to try out the open source alternatives should give Inkscape, Photoscape or the GIMP a try.
- Anti-Virus: Sophos Anti-Virus - The department has purchased a large number of licenses for departmental use. We have both Windows and Mac versions. The corporate version cannot be used for home use, but Sophos does have a free home version. You can also try other free anti-virus package for home like AVG, Avast!, Avira AntiVir, or even Microsoft Security Essentials. Sophos is not as big of a hog as the old Symantec Endpoint Protection we had used before, but it still will slow down older systems with limited RAM and processors. Try one of the free versions instead if you have anything with less than 1GB of RAM.
- Anti-Spyware: Note that Anti-Virus software has not been fully designed to stop the tons of nasty adware and spyware that is clogging up many Windows machines these days. There are several free cleaners that do a very good job of cleaning this junk off your machine. Since each misses some of them it is best to run all in Safe Mode one after the other and then reboot. The three tools are: Ad-Aware Free, SpyBot Search & Destroy, and Malwarebytes Anti-Malware
- Backup You really should backup your computer, since we do not do it for you! The safest and most secure place for backup is using the unlimited, encrypted online storage from box.wustl.edu. Use the Box Sync software to automatically synchronize directories on your local system to your Box account online, or just use your browser to upload and download specific files and folders.
- ArcGIS Due to a licensing agreement between the university and ESRI, any student, faculty or staff member can install ArcGIS on their computer for academic and research purposes. Visit the GIS web site or just bug Bill Winston for more information and to find out how to obtain the software.
More free utilities, patches and applications can be found at our free software site. For a very nice collection of the best of the best in Windows freeware, visit PricelessWare.org. Mac users should visit OpenSourceMac.org.
For commercial pricing, visit the Software Library site, or contact Chad Adams at En Pointe, 314-219-7251.
(Add .wustl.edu if e-mailing from off-campus!)