List of my favorite free software tools

[First published on 1’st of January 2008]

[Last update on 17th of June 2016]
[Last update on 29th of May 2013]

Operating system:


  • Oracle Enterprise Linux – replaced CentOS as my server OS of choice after Wim Coertas announced that updates are available to the public via Oracle yum repositories and not just to the paying customers. Another distro that I put recently (in 2016) on my radar is openSUSE Leap.
  • CentOS is my favorite Linux distribution for testing out Oracle for Linux. Why? Simply because it’s perfect binary clone of Red Hat Linux. As you might know Oracle has it’s own Red Hat clone, called Oracle Enterprise Linux – and this would be my preferred Linux distro for deploying production Oracle servers running on Linux. Overall I prefer Linux distributions based on Red Hat for the sake of simplicity of installing Oracle stuff. The only Linux distro I would never consider using it is SUSE (or any other software from Novell).
  • Ubuntu recently (as of August 2010) replaced Windows XP in my home office and become my OS of choice.
  • Fedora KDE spin is the OS of choice for my desktop and laptop (I could not bare any more with Unity UI interface — imho, it’s the most unproductive desktop UI at present.)
  • Linux Mint 17 (Cinnamon) is my new distro of choice for my main desktop and laptop. I had way too much freezes with Fedora (since >= FC 20 KDE). However, I didn’t completely abandon Fedora, I’m still using Fedora on one machine, but running Cinnamon spin instead of unstable KDE. I also like recently released LinuxMint 18 (in beta at the time of this writing) with Mate desktop.
  • PidoraUbuntu Mate and Raspbian are two Linux distributions for Raspberry Pi that I’m running on my RPI
  • Knoppix is my favorite “boot from CD” Linux distro.
  • OpenIndiana is an interesting project trying to provide Solaris 11 binary compatible OS. Kinda hard to explain really, but if you need a free enterprise class OS and if you’re already familiar with Solaris 11, then you should definitely check OpenIndiana!

Browser:


  • Firefox is my internet browser of choice since versions (0.x). I’m using it almost exclusively.
  • Chrome completely replaced Opera and is now my second browser of choice. I’m using Chrome whenever I need to download large files or open many pages on separate tabs as fast as possible.
  • Opera is the tool I use when I need to download those bulky Oracle zip files from OTN. Download capabilities built in Opera are much better than the one currently (v2) available in Firefox (I heard this will be enhanced in Firefox V3). Opera is also the preferred browser of our SAN vendor, so I’m using Opera to manage our SAN.

Mail – News client


  • Thunderbird is my current News reader. I’m also evaluating Lightning, a calendar add-on for Thunderbird. (Honestly, I think I’ll settle with Google applications for my personal e-mail and calendar!)
  • Blat is my command line SMTP mailer of choice.

FTP client:


  • FileZilla client is my preferred ftp client.

FTP server:


  • vsftpd is the first (and very likely the only ftp server that I would consider to setup public ftp server for myself or for the professional use). Perhaps the most stable and fast ftp server out there.

CMS – Content Management System


  • WordPress replaced Drupal (Plone) as my CMS of choice. Not because of Wodpress being any better than Drupal or Plone, but it certainly is easier to setup and manage.
  • Plone is considered one of the most powerful content management systems and is my long time favorite. Make no mistake, despite it’s innocent look it’s powerful system (with steep learning curve compared to other open source CMS’s) that need adequate server with enough CPU and RAM and administrator/developer who is willing to invest in learning Plone.
  • Drupal is a runner up. It’s much simpler than Plone, from both HW and administration point of the view, it’s much easier (cheaper) to find hosting provider. It’s the system that powers dbaportal.eu.

Remote Administration tools for Linux and Windows


  • OpenSSH for Linux and and an excellent OpenSSH package for Windows, CopSSH makes remote administration much safer exercise.
  • WinSCP is my SFTP/SCP client of choice for Windows
  • PuTTY is probably the most popular SSH client for Windows.
  • Tectia SSH client was another free version of SSH client for Windows (the last version that I could obtaint for free was 4.0.7) with important twist – it’s free for non-commercial use only, so it might not fill your bill.
  • RealVNC is available in both, free and commercial versions. Free edition fits all my needs on Windows and Linux.
  • rdesktop is the tool I use when I need to connect to Terminal Services from Linux box. It works remarkably well, considering it was developed without knowing RDP protocol internals, apart from wire sniffs.
  • PsTools are essential collection of command lines utilities to manage local or remote Windows machines.
  • NX Server is right now probably the best remote desktop access (Linux, Solaris) tool
  • Free NX is free GPL implementation of the NX Server
  • MobaXterm is light and portable X server for Windows
  • x2go is open source terminal server project
  • Xming the best known free X Server for Windows (personally, I replaced xming + putty combination with the MobaXterm)

Programming


  • Go is one of the coolest tool that I recently (mid 2012) added to my toolbox. Python remains my programming language of choice, but whenever I’ll need to deploy “virtual machine free” executable that runs at speed of C, it’ll be written in Go for sure.
  • Python is my favorite scripting language that allows me to solve my basic system/DBA related tasks easier than with any other scripting language that I know.
  • PyCharm is imho the best cross platform IDE for python developers. And with a good price tag.
  • PyWin extensions for Windows are a must have if you’re writing python scripts for Windows related tasks (win32api, services etc.).
  • cx_Oracle is another essential ad-on for python that allows python scripts to access and manipulate data on Oracle server.
  • Komodo Edit, a free IDE from ActiveState is my editor of choice when coding larger scripts that’re harder to debug using Python IDLE (part of Python standard distribution) or PythonWin (ships with PyWin extensions)
  • OpenEditor is another free editor installed on my workstation. Recommended.
  • Py2exe is a tool I use when I need to deliver my python program in executable form (exe) on Windows platform. It’s handy when you’re not allowed (or don’t want to) to install python interpreter on target machine(s).
  • Native Unix Utilities for Windows are the first thing I install on every Windows workstation that I use for my professional work. Text processing capabilities of Windows tools are a joke, compared to Unix, so if you want to use such Unix power tools as: sed, gawk, grep, cat, split, wc, tail, md5sum, etc. then get native win32 ports of those tools from address above.
  • Gawk – Windows binary of Gawk 4.x
  • md5deep md5, SHA-1, SHA-256, Tiger and Whirpool hashing tools for Windows
  • KDiff3 my GUI “diff” tool of choice for comparing files. Available for Linux/Windows/Mac OSX
  • Subversion Edge is my favorite SVN server for Linux and Windows
  • TortoiseSVN Windows shell extension for Subversion
  • Notepad++ is my editor of choice while working on Windows.

Security


  • KeePass for Windows and KeePassX for Linux protects my database of essential passwords.
  • TrueCrypt Veracrypt is my favorite disk encryption tool, it’s available for Windows and Linux. Essential protection for USB keys etc.
  • GnuPG and specifically GPG4Win is excellent tool when you need e-mail and file encryption. GPG4Win integrates nicely with Outlook.
  • Comodo Firewall replaced my long time favorite firewal – ZoneAlarm, and is now my personal firewall of choice.

Databases


  • OracleXE is by far the most sophisticated free RDBMS. If you can bare with it’s limitations (1GB SGA, 1 CPU, 4GB 11GB data store, etc.), look no further.
  • MySQL – apart for the fact that MySQL powers this site, I’m using MySQL for other purposes on our intranet. Despite my personal feeling that MySQL lacks features compared to PostgreSQL, which is in my opinion the best open source database, I’ll probably never make a transition from MySQL to PostgreSQL, due to popularity and availability of MySQL from hosting providers.
  • PostgreSQL 9 I’m truly impressed with latest PostgreSQL 9.x versions. It’s definitely the most advanced open source database that leaves MySQL far behind and beats even Oracle on some fronts. Unfortunately, PostgreSQL “Backup & Recovery” is still at Flintstones level…what a pity, because PostgreSQL otherwise rocks and could be serious treat to Oracle and MS SQL — but until pg_dump and pg_restore are called backup and restore tools, Elephant will not see my production data.

Oracle related tools


  • DDL Wizard is indispensable DDL extraction tool for Oracle. It works on “empty” export dumps. All you need to do is to run exp with rows=n parameter. Generated dump can then be parsed with DDL Wizard.
  • SQL Developer is the most powerful, freely available IDE for Oracle developers and DBA’s.
  • SQLTools is another free IDE available for several years now.
  • SQLTools++ is a fork of SQLTools with some enhancements. Both tools, original SQLTools and SQLTools++, are extremely lightweight if compared with Toad or SQL Developer, that’s why they’re ideal when you only need basic data querying capabilities and objects browsing.
  • SQLExp is simple command line utility for exporting data from Oracle to csv formated files.
  • ORION – “Oracle I/O Numbers calibration tool” simulates Oracle I/O workloads. An excellent tool for measuring storage subsystem performance capabilities.
  • ORASRP – Oracle Session Resource Profiler – an excellent free Oracle trace file profiler written by Egor Starostin. Binaries are available for Windows, Linux and Mac OS X.

PDF readers and writers


  • Foxit Reader for Windows is my reader of choice. I’m trying to avoid using official Adobe reader as much as possible and Foxit reader allows me to.
  • CutePDF is my favorite PDF writer tool.

Virtualization


  • VirtualBox – is imho the best free desktop virtualization technology. It’s hard to imagine not having Vbox.
  • KVM – I’m using it simply because it’s “there” (on Linux), it’s really convenient and rock solid virtualization technology.
  • VMWare ESXi – it would be unfair if I skipped a free offering from VMWare that I’m using at work for some personal testings.

Miscellaneous software


  • 7-ZIP File Archiver for Windows than can handle most modern compressed files, including unpacking RAR archives that I work most with. It’s light and stable with excellent command line version. It’s available for Windows/Linux/MacOS.
  • ImgBurn totally replaced Infrarecorder for all my CD/DVD burning activities, ISO image creation etc.
  • InfraRecorder is my favorite free CD/DVD burning software. A blessing if you’re sick of coping with bloated commercial alternatives, such as Nero in recent versions.
  • JkDefrag – free disk defragmenter for Windows (32bit & 64bit!). Simple to install (unzip) and with both GUI and command line support.
  • Job Scheduler – this is my new toy that I’m evaluating (as of April 2008). Job Scheduler features are impressive, considering it’s a product that is released under GPL license.
  • dd for Windows – nice port of dd command line tool for Windows. With this tool you can easily create files for Oracle ASM (of course, only for training purposes!).
  • grepWin – powerful regex search add-in for Windows Explorer.
  • Unison – is my favorite cross-platform file Synchronizer.
  • BitTorrent Sync is one of the best tools for file synchronization that I’m aware of. I’m using BT Sync privately and professionally.
  • Rawtherapee for Linux is the program that I’m using for processing RAW photos taken with my Canon DSLR.