Good OS X Software
Late in the evening of Tuesday, the thirteenth of December 2005, I had a castrophic failure of pretty much the entire foundation of my main PC. The cause of the failure is irrelevant but it meant I was without my most powerful and featureful machine for who knows how long while I replaced a fair chunk of hardware. My options for continuing to be capable of doing my job became my P4 laptop and my Mac Mini. Since the Mac had been sitting fairly idle on my desktop for about as long as I'd had it up until that point, I decided I'd see what the OS X world was like while my main PC was out of commission. However, the problem was: what were the OS X equivalents for all the tools and apps I was used to using on Windows 2000?
Well, this site served as a good place to start looking, and with a bit more Googling I have come up with this list of applications I've since been using to do my work and play. This list should be quite useful to other people coming from a Windows world and who are curious to see how the other 10% lives.
The free software list
All these programs are available for no cost.
- Instant messaging client supporting AIM, Jabber, MSN, YIM, ICQ, and more.
- About the only free and decent waveform editor I've found for OS X to date.
- An excellent native OS X browser based on the Mozilla Gecko rendering engine. Doesn't have the extensions support like Firefox does but it doesn't really need it.
- Chicken of the VNC
- A native OS X VNC client.
- A native OS X IRC client.
- A native OS X FTP client.
- A good native OS X Podcast grabber.
- The GIMP
- You can't go past The GIMP for image editing. This requires Apple's X11 server be installed.
- Pop-up notification daemon. Used by several programs featured here, like Cyberduck, Adium, Skype.
- Download manager. Not completely free but available as a shareware demo with a nag screen on startup.
- To anyone who has used any other OS, OS X has a rather peculiar mouse acceleration profile that makes fine movements very fine and large movements very large. The problem is, with the sensitivity setting I like, the fine movement kicks in too early and I end up over or under-shooting icons and buttons and other UI elements. This program disables the acceleration curve so that your cursor motion proportions are the same regardless of how much or little you move the mouse. You have to run this program on each login which can be annoying but them's the breaks until Apple give us the option to turn off the acceleration profile via some sort of System Preference.
- Puts some nice little status icons in your menu bar giving information about disk and network activity, processor load, and memory usage. Since the Mac Mini has absolutely no status indicators on its case, these are the next best thing.
- An OS X version of the Qemu PC simulator. Has a nice UI for managing your virtual machines.
- A nice browser built around Apple's WebKit API; the same one the default OS X browser, Safari, uses.
- You know Skype. Proprietary yet pretty good VoIP and IM client. The only issue for Mac Mini users is the Mini has no ability to record sound, so you will need to use a USB microphone if you wish to talk on voice calls.
- A nice graphical Subversion client for those of us developers who use Subversion for version control.
- A fantastic text editor. Everything I need when I'm not using Xcode for programming.
- A nice little BitTorrent client for OS X. Not very featureful but it does the job very well without much overhead.
- Your only real choice for playing media files which Quicktime doesn't handle, which is a lot of things.
The not-so-free list
Because not everything good is being given away...
- So far the only program I've absolutely had to buy for OS X. It lets you tweak the resolution and frequency options of your display so you can use modes that aren't normally supplied by OS X. Without registration you can't play with any resolution above 1024x768, so if you have an older monitor or you want to use some non-standard parameters for your display, you can use this program to play with them.
This list was last updated on Friday, 20 January 2006.