Soft­ware Re­com­men­da­tions Free Soft­ware and Free­ware




Lecture

A fundamental and central introduction into computer security, privacy, software quality and further critical computer aspects:

Richard M. Stall­man Speech - Uni­ver­si­ty of San Francisco”, 60 minutes, at Google Vi­deo.

You can save this and other internet videos with Firefox extensions such as Video Down­load­Help­er, and you can view them with the free software VLC media player.






Modern Operating Systems for old Computers
Modern Free Software for old Hardware

In the world of free soft­ware, for many pur­poses, there is not only one application. Of­ten, sev­er­al al­ter­na­tives are of­fered. Among them are also very slim pro­grams which perform fast on old computers due to their modest resource requirements. Through a strict se­lec­tion of such light­weight li­bra­ries, win­dow man­ag­ers (com­par­i­son), and ap­pli­ca­tions, you get a per­for­mance op­ti­mized over­all sys­tem that cov­ers eve­ry­day tasks, a system that is of interest for many educational areas. Par­tic­u­lar­ly for fa­cil­i­ties who on­ly have low fi­nan­cial re­sources, but who nev­er­the­less want to get out the out­er­most of per­for­mance on old and very old hard­ware, with con­tem­po­rary, mod­ern and con­tin­u­ously main­tained soft­ware. Whole IT in­fra­struc­tures can be built up out of used hard­ware, serv­ers on in­tra­net lev­el in­clu­ded.

The mul­ti­tude of Li­nux dis­tri­bu­tions comes to be particularly through the specialization in application purposes and through focusing on professional branches. With regard to old hardware it means for you, that you can use the maximum performance of your computer. There are numerous gradations concerning the total consumption of computational power the GNU/Linux operating systems need. Choose the distribution which is most suitable for you, and subsequently, according to your demands and your taste, select your prefered lightweight ap­pli­ca­tions.


Combine old Computers with new Hardware

Collections of free, alternative device driver programs, for example the printer device driver collection Gu­ten­print, enable the parallel operation of modern peripheral devices (printers, scanners, ...) together with old computers. Internet usage is also possible. If the mainboard of an old computer should not have an integrated network card, you can buy a separate network card to make it ready for the Internet. For old laptops, USB-network-cards are avail­a­ble.

Generally, there are nearly all kinds of adapters available, in many directions. They enable you also the usage of modern storage mediums like, for example, memory card readers (SD cards), USB storage devices etc.


A great Variety of fast and lightweight Applications

With regard to the application selection, you can choose among many powerful alternatives which perform smoothly and fast on old computers. Instead of Firefox, you can use the free Chrome variant Chromium, for example, or other even more lightweight browsers, like Xombrero. Use ad blocking filters to stop unnecessary advertisement animations consuming a lot of com­pu­ta­tion­al power (extensions).

The e-mail reader Claws Mail (WP article) is an excellent lightweight alternative to Mozilla Thunderbird. Use primarily a local e-mail program (“Category: Free email software”), instead of computational power intensive web­mail, when working with an old computer or if you should have a slow internet connection. Thereby, you save as well computational power as also online time. Moreover, this kind of handling your electronic mail is, in contrast to webmail, the professional form of e-mail administration, for both mail protocols, for IMAP and for POP.

A great number of resource sparing free programs are also available for MS-Windows, so that you can use this operating system in an optimized form for older computers too, together with a self compiled selection of lightweight applications which run fluently and fast. However, Microsoft's supply of security updates for their operating systems ends after a certain period of time, whereas modern free lightweight operating systems for older hardware are continually maintained and updated, extra for old computers.

Advanced users can check which daemons resp. services are being started during the start up phase of their computer and deactivate those which they do not need.


Powerful Free Math Software is available for old Computers too

Nowadays, schools use powerful calculators. Notwithstanding this, it is of great ad­van­tage to know about the basic functions of a free computer algebra system, if you would like to verify the solutions of complex systems of equations with the help of the computer, within lessons, in the educational field, in studies, in the sciences, and gen­er­al­ly in the daily professional life. The Py­thon based Sa­ge includes an interface to a se­ries of long existing math software programs, what turns it into a powerful, u­ni­ver­sal­ly ap­pli­ca­ble computer algebra system. However, its resource requirements are not in­sig­nif­i­cant. Despite its platform independence, it probably will not run (performant enough) on very old computers.

On the contrary, SymPy is 100 % Py­thon based and therefore greatest possible platform independent. To­geth­er with Py­glet, it forms a modern maintained computer algebra system, which covers all elementary func­tions of the mathematics lessons. Thus, a performant, free of charge and free math software is world­wide available, also for very old computer systems and for financially weak educational institutions. In­for­ma­tion resources: Offical site to SymPy, documentation, Faq, WP article “SymPy”, website of Pyglet.

Familiarizing with the Python notation is generally advantageous. Py­thon (official site) is an easy learnable universal applicable script- and programming language, which enjoys a worldwide support in many pro­fes­sion­al fields. A great number of software programs offer Python interfaces and it can also be used on server side for functions of websites (form evaluation, search functions, and more).


Overviews

Xu­bun­tu, equipped with the desktop XFCE, and Lu­bun­tu with LXDE, are official Ubuntu derivatives. Ubun­tu operating systems have the highest degree of user comfort and au­to­ma­tion. Xubuntu is relatively resource sparing oriented, Lubuntu consumes considerably less computational pow­er than Xubuntu. As both operating systems are free of charge, you can try out one after another to find out, which one is the more suitable for you.

Image source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Crystal_Project_computer.png,
     Original image source: http://everaldo.com/crystal/?action=downloads,
     License: http://everaldo.com/crystal/?action=license

Lu­bun­tu information: Official site, WP article “Lubuntu”, ap­pli­ca­tions, Li­nux Ma­ga­zine article “Lubuntu: Floats Like a Butterfly, Stings Like a Bee”, OSnews article from March 01, 2011 “Lu­bun­tu: Finally, a lightweight Ubuntu!”.

The operating system Con­no­chaetOS is especially developed for very old computers. Currently, it still is in the Beta phase (stage of development before the release). The provided standard pro­grams comprise applications for basic computer tasks: word processing, spreadsheet, brows­er, e-mail client etc. See official screenshots and overviews).

Organizations like Free Geek for the North American region, and Linux4Afrika (www.​l​i​n​u​x​4​a​f​r​i​k​a.de) in Germany devote themself to support equal opportunity, using free software and used hardware.

Traditionally, free software has an excellent international language support, free operating sys­tems included.


Reference to www.xfce.org,  image source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Xfce_logo-footprint.svg.