2006年01月17日

这是国外的一个网站写的文章,让我想起了SUN的免费策略。为什么软件应该免费?不妨看以下这篇文章。本来想翻译下来,但他已经有了。

原来的文章出处:

http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/shouldbefree.html

介绍

软件的存在不可避免地引起了有关它的使用应该如何决定的问题。举例来说,假设一个人拥有一个程序的一份拷贝,而他又遇到另一个想要拷贝的人,他们就有可能复制这个程序;那么这种做法的容许与否应该由谁来判断呢?参与其中的个人?还是被称作 “所有者” 的另一方?

典型的软件开发人员会以尽量增加开发人员的利润这个标准答案作为假设来考虑这些问题。 商业的统治力量使得政府采纳了上述标准和开发人员建议的答案:即软件都有一个所有者, 而这个所有者一般是一个参与其开发的公司。

而我却喜欢用一个与之不同的标准来考虑相同的问题:公众的成功和自由。

这个问题还不能被现有的法律所裁定 — 法律应遵守道德规范,而不该与之相反。 即使提出合理的答案以供参考,但现行的惯例仍不能解决这个问题。 唯一的办法是看看谁被帮助、谁被软件认可的所有者所伤害、为什么以及有多少。 换句话说,考虑到个人的自由和必要物资的生产, 我们应该从整体上以社会的利益而进行成本 – 利益分析。

在这篇文章中,我将叙述拥有所有者带来的影响,并指出结果是不利的。 我的结论是程序员有义务去鼓励他人共享、重分发、研究并改进我们编写的软件: 换句话说,就是要写 “自由” 软件(1)

软件所有者如何合理化他们的权力

那些从程序为财产的现有系统中获利的人提出了两个观点以支持他们拥有程序的声明: 感情上的论点和经济上的论点。

感情上的观点被说成这样: “我在这个程序中投入了汗水、热情和精力。 它因 而来,所以它是 我的 !”

这个观点并不需要郑重的反驳。这种依恋的感情被程序员接受,因为对他们有利; 但是它并不是不可避免的。举个例子, 细想同样的程序员是多么愿意把一切权力转让给一个大公司以获取薪水呀; 那种依恋的感情神秘地消逝了。与之相对,中世纪时期伟大的艺术家和工匠们, 谁又没有在自己的作品上署名呢。对於作品来说,艺术家的名字不那么重要。 重要的是工作完成了 — 而且满足了要求。这种观点盛行了几百年。

经济上的观点被说成这样: “我想变得富有(通常不准确地称为‘谋生’), 如果你不让我通过编程赚钱,那我就不编了。其余每个人都像我一样,所以没人再编程了。 然后你将因无程序可用而陷入困境。” 这种威胁通常含沙射影,似乎是聪明人提出的友好的建议一样。

稍后我会解释这种威胁不过是虚张声势罢了。首先我想提出一个毫无疑问的假设, 由这个假设以另一种方法表达这个观点会更加清楚。

这个表达以专利程序的社会效益与没有程序情况的对比开始,从整体出发, 得出专利程序的开发是有益的,应该加以鼓励的结论。然而这里的谬论在於仅仅对比了两种结果 — 专有软件和没有软件 — 并假设没有其他的可能。

软件系统有了版权,软件开发通常就和其所有者的存在有关, 他们可以控制该软件的使用。只要这个联系存在, 我们就经常要在专有软件和没有软件之间作出选择。然而,这个联系并非是固有或必然的; 而是专门的社会法律/政策作出的拥有所有者的决定造成的结果, 而这决定正是我们所质疑的。 将情形解释成只能在专利软件和没有软件两者中二选一的论点促使我们提出质疑。

反对拥有所有者的观点

即将提出的问题是, “软件的开发应该和限制它们使用的所有者联系在一起吗?”

为了解决这个问题,我们必须 独立地 判断这两种活动在社会上造成的影响: 开发软件的影响(不管它以何种方式发布),和限制它使用的影响 (假设软件已经开发完成了)。如果两者之中一个是有益的而另一个是有害的, 我们会较为明智地放弃有害的联系并只做有益的那个。

从另一个方面来看,如果限制已开发软件的发布从整体上对社会有害的话, 一个有道德的软件开发人员会拒绝这样做。

为了决定限制共享的影响,我们需要对限制(亦即,专有) 程序和与之相同但对每个人开放的程序对社会的价值加以对比。 这就意味著对比两个可能的世界。

这项分析也提出了一个简单的对立观点 — 有时称为 “给邻居一份程序拷贝的好处会被对拥有者所造成的伤害所抵消。” 这种观点假设利害在程度上是相等的。分析包括这些程度的之间对比, 结果显示了好处要大得多。

为阐明这个观点,让我们把它应用到另外一个领域:公路建设。

用通行费来为所有的公路建设筹集资金是可行的。这会牵扯到在街角处设立收费站。 这样的系统会给改善道路以极大的支持。使公路的使用者为公路付费也是它的一个优点。 然而,收费站也是顺利行驶的人造障碍物 — 是人造的, 因为它不是公路或汽车工作方式的结果。

对比免费公路和付费公路的可用性,我们发现(所有其他方面都相同) 无收费站的公路的建造和运行都很经济,使用起来也更安全、更有效。 (2) 在贫穷的国家,收费站或许使得许多公民用不起公路。 因而没有收费站的公路以较低的成本为社会提供更多的利益;对社会来说它们更可取。 因此,社会应该选择用其他方式而不是用收费站来筹集公路资金。 公路的使用是一旦建成,就应该免费使用。

当收费站的支持者 推荐这种方式来增加资金,他们曲解了可行的选择。 收费站的确可以增加资金,但他们也作了其他的事:实际上,他们贬低了公路。 付费公路不如免费公路好;如果这意味著要用收费公路代替免费公路的话, 那么给我们更多或者技术先进的公路也许不是进步。

当然,建造免费公路也需要资金,这是大众必须以某种方式支付的。然而, 这并不是暗示收费站存在的必然。无论哪一个都要花钱, 但我们可以从获得免费公路使我们的钱得到更多的价值。

我并不是说付费公路比没有公路还要糟。如果费用非常之高以至於没人使用公路 — 但对收费者来说这是不大可能的政策。然而,只要收费站造成明显的浪费和不便, 则最好以阻碍少的方式增加资金。

为把相同论点应用在软件开发上,我现在将证明–给有用的软件设 “收费站” 使社会付出了极大的代价:它使程序的建造和发行更昂贵, 使用上令人不满意,效率也不高。其次程序的建造应该以其他方式来鼓励。 然后我将继续解释用其他办法来鼓励和(实际上达到必要的程度)资助软件发展。

有障碍的软件带来的害处

细想有这么一个时刻,一个程序开发完成,而且所有开发款项都已付清; 现在社会必须在使它私有或允许自由共享与使用这二者之间选择其一。 假设该程序的存在和可用是一件令人想望的事情。(3)

对程序的发布和修改施加限制不能使它更容易使用。它们只会造成阻碍。 所以影响一定是负面的。但有多严重?是何种类型的呢?

这种阻碍所造成的实质上的危害有三个不同等级:

  • 更少的人使用该程序。

  • 没有使用者可以改写或修改该程序。

  • 其他开发人员不能从这个程序中学到东西,或者不能以它为基础进行新的开发。

每一级别在实质上的危害都伴随著一种心理的伤害。 这指的是人们从他们随后的感觉、态度和癖好当中得出的结论所造成的影响。 人们思考方式的这些变化对他们和同类公民之间的关系有深远的影响, 并造成实质上的后果。

这三种危害还浪费了程序可贡献的部分价值,但并不能使它们减小到零。 如果他们浪费了程序的所有价值, 那么编写程序的努力使得编写程序本身最大程度地伤害了社会。 按理来说通过销售赚钱的程序应该提供一些直接的物质利益。

然而,考虑到随之而来的心里伤害,私权软件的开发所造成的危害不可估量。

阻碍程序的使用

第一级危害妨碍了程序的简单使用。程序的一份拷贝那微不足道的成本近乎於零 (而且你自己做这个工作就可以支付该成本),所以在自由市场, 它的价格也应该近乎於零。而许可证费用明显遏制了程序的使用。 如果一个非常有用的程序是私权的,那么使用它的人会少得多。

显而易见,一个程序对社会全部的贡献因其归於所有者而降低了。每个潜在的用户, 面对著须付费才能使用,也许选择了付费,或者也许选择了放弃使用该程序。 当用户选择付费时,总数为零的资源在两个团体间转移。 但每当某人选择了放弃使用该程序,这害了那个人, 其他的人也得不到好处。负数和零的总和一定还是负数。

但是这并没有减少 开发 程序的工作量。结果, 在每小时被传递的用户满意的工作中,整体进度的效率降低了。

这反映了程序拷贝和汽车、椅子或三明治之间重大的区别。在科幻小说之外, 没有可以复制实物的机器。但是程序很容易复制; 任何人很容易就可以不费什么力气复制很多。这对实物来说不成立因为实物是被保护的: 每个新的复制品都一定是将原料用与制造第一个所用的相同的方法制造出来的。

对於实物来说,遏制它们的使用是有意义的, 因为买的东西少就可以减少制作它们所需的原料和工作。 的确,通常有一个起动成功,及一个贯串整个生产过程的开发成本。 但只要边际成本是重大的,则多分享一份开发成本不会造成性质上的不同。 而且不需要限制普通使用者的自由。

然而,对本来应该自由的东西加价是本质上的改变。 对软件发行的集中加价成了强有力的遏制因素。

进一步讲,现在实行的集中生产作为发送软件拷贝的方式来说是无效的。 这个系统牵扯到给磁盘或磁带加上多余的包装,大量地运往世界各地,以及为销售而储备。 这个成本是一项经营开支;事实上,这是拥有所有者带来的浪费之一。

破坏社会团结

假设你和你的邻居都发现运行一个特定的程序很有用。从道德上担心你的邻居, 你应该觉得对这件事的适当处理能使得你们两个人都可以使用这个程序。 一个只允许你们中的一个使用该程序而限制另一个人的建议会造成关系不和; 你和你的邻居都应发现它无法被接受。

签署一个典型的软件许可协议就意味著背叛了邻居: “我承诺阻止我的邻居使用此程序, 以便我自己能拥有一份拷贝。” 做出这样选择的人们带著内心的压力去判断, 降低了帮助他邻居的重要性 — 因此大众的心灵受到伤害。 这是一种阻止此程序的使用所造成的心理伤害并伴随著物质危害。

许多用户在不知不觉中认识到拒绝共享的错误, 所以他们决定不顾许可证和法律而任意地共享。 但他们经常因这样做而感到内疚。他们知道要成为好地邻居就要打破法律, 但他们仍然考虑到了法律的威慑力,所以他们的结论是要做一个好邻居 (他们就是)是件坏的或可耻的事。这也是一种心理伤害, 但他们可以藉由判断出这些许可证和法律是毫无道德力量的,从而摆脱它。

程序员也承受著精神伤害,因为他们知道许多用户将不被允许使用他们的作品。 这导致了一种愤世嫉俗和否认的态度。 也许一个程序员热情地叙述著一个他在技术上发现而令人兴奋的作品, 但当被问到, “我能使用吗?” ,他的头垂下来, 承认答案是否定的。为避免感到灰心丧气,他要么在大多数时候忽视这个事实, 要么为了使它的重要性减到最小而采取愤世嫉俗的观点。

从雷根时代开始,美国最大的缺乏不是技术创新,而是为公众利益共同工作的意愿。 以牺牲后者的代价换取对前者的支持是没必要的。

阻碍程序的自订

第二级实质上的危害是不能修改程序。 修改软件限制的放松是它胜过以往技术的伟大的优点。 但大多数的商业取得的软件不能修改,甚至在你购买以后还是不行。 可以做到的是使用或放弃, 就像一个黑盒子 — 就这么多。

一个你可以运行的程序由一系列含义模糊的数字组成。 没有人能够轻易地改变数字来使程序完成不同的工作, 甚至一个优秀的程序员也不行。

程序员通常编写程序的 “源码” ,它们是用诸如 Fortran 或 C 这样的编程语言写成的。 它用名字指定使用的数据和部分程序,用诸如‘+’表示加法, ‘-’表示减法这样的符号来代表操作。这样的设计帮助了程序员阅读并修改程序。 有一个在平面上计算两点间距离的程序;示例如下:

     float
     distance (p0, p1)
          struct point p0, p1;
     {
       float xdist = p1.x - p0.x;
       float ydist = p1.y - p0.y;
       return sqrt (xdist * xdist + ydist * ydist);
     }

在我通常使用的计算机上,相同程序的可执行形式如下:

     1314258944      -232267772      -231844864      1634862
     1411907592      -231844736      2159150         1420296208
     -234880989      -234879837      -234879966      -232295424
     1644167167      -3214848        1090581031      1962942495
     572518958       -803143692      1314803317

源码对程序的每个使用者来说都很有用(至少有可能)。 但大多数使用者不被允许拥有源码的拷贝。 通常私权程序的源码被它的所有者保密起来, 以免其他任何人从中学习。使用者得到的仅仅是计算机会执行的一串不可理解的数字。 这就是说只有程序的所有者才可以修改程序。

一次,一个朋友告诉我他曾经在一家银行作了六个月的程序员, 编写一个和某商业程序相似的程序。她相信,如果能得到那个商业程序的源码, 就很容易修改以满足他们的需要。这家银行愿意购买,但没有被允许 — 源码是保密的。 所以她不得不做了六个月的编写工作,该工作计入国民生产总值(GNP)中但实际上却是浪费。

麻省理工学院人工智慧实验室(AI lab) 在一九七七年左右收到了施乐公司赠送的一台图形印表机。 它由自由软件驱动,我们增加了许多方便的功能在其上。 例如,软件可以在印表结束后立即通知用户。 印表机出毛病的时候,诸如卡纸或缺纸,软件会及时通知所有排队等候印表的用户。 这些功能促进了平稳的操作。

后来施乐又给了人工智慧实验室一台更新更快的印表机,第一代雷射印表机。 驱动它的是私权软件,运行在一台分开的专用计算机上, 所以我们无法增加任何我们喜欢的功能了。 我们可以设法在任务被发送到专用的计算机时发送一个通知, 但不能在任务实际被印表了的时候(而延迟通常是相当大的)。 没办法知道任务何时完成;你只能去猜。 而且发生卡纸了也没人被通知,所以这台印表机经常无人修复达一小时之久。

人工智慧实验室的系统程序员有能力修复这个问题,可能和该程序的原始n作者一样可以。 施乐对修复不感兴趣,选择了阻止我们,所以我们被迫接受这些问题,永远得不到解决。

多数优秀的程序员曾经历过这种挫折。 银行可以担负得起从零做起写一个新程序来解决问题, 但一个典型的用户,无论有多高的技能,只能放弃。

放弃造成了心理伤害 — 对独立的精神。你不能重新布置来满足你的需要, 住在这样的房子里令人沮丧。这导致了放弃和泄气, 并可能蔓延开来影响一个人生活的其他方面。 这样想的人们也许不会快乐,而且工作做不好。

如果食谱也像软件一样被隐藏,想像一下将会发生什么。你可能说, “我怎么修改食谱才能不放盐?” ,厨师长会回答, “你怎么敢侮辱我的食谱, 我的智力和味觉的产物,试图擅自修改呢?你没有决断力改变我的食谱,按照正常去做。”

“但是我的医生不允许我吃盐!我该怎么办?你会为了我而不放盐吗?”

“我会很高兴去做;我的费用仅是五万美元。” 因为所有者有修改的专利权, 费用有些高了。 “然而,现在我没有时间。我忙於工作, 为海军设计一个饼干的新食谱。 大约两年后才可能有空。”

阻碍软件开发

实质危害的第三级影响了软件开发。软件开发过去常常是一个渐进的过程, 一个人要取得一个存在的程序而且重写一部分以增加新特性, 然后另一个人就会重写另一部分来增加另一个特性;在某些例子下, 这种形势持续了超过二十年。同时,这个程序的部分会成为 “可拆取的零件” 来构成另一个程序的开端。

所有者的存在阻止了这种发展,使得开发程序必须从零开始。 这也阻止了新的从业者从现有的程序中学习有用的技术,甚至只是想知道程序结构有多大。

所有者也阻碍了教育。我遇到过计算机科学方面的聪明学生, 他们从来没有见过大程序的源码。也许他们精通写小程序, 但如果他们不能看到别人是如何做的,那么就不能开始学习写大程序的不同技术。

在任何知识领域,一个人可以站到其他人的肩膀上来达到更高的高度。 但这在软件领域没有被广泛接受 — 你只能站在 你自己的公司 其他人的肩膀上。

相关的心理伤害影响了科学合作的精神, 而科学家们的合作过去常常是很强的甚至在他们两国开战时。 在这种精神下,因为美国海军陆战队的侵入, 日本海洋学家放弃了他们在太平洋一个小岛上的实验室, 小心保护研究成果,并留了一张字条要他们细心照顾。

利益的冲突损毁了可以避免的国际冲突。 现在许多领域的科学家们不在他们的论文中公布足够的东西以免其他人复制试验。 他们公布的内容仅使读者为他们能做的多少而赞叹。在计算机科学方面无疑也是这样, 所发布程序的源码通常保密。

如何限制共享是无关紧要的

我一直在讨论阻止人们人们复制、修改和编译对程序造成的影响。 我没有具体指出这种阻碍是如何实行的,因为这不影响结论。 无论是拷贝保护、版权、许可证、加密、只读内存条,还是硬体序列号, 只要它在阻止使用上 达到了目的 ,它就构成了危害。

用户们认为这些办法中的一些比其他更讨厌。 我觉得那些最遭恨的方法是那些达到了他们目的的。

软件应该是自由的

我已经显示了程序的所有制 — 限制修改和复制它的权力 — 是何等地碍事。 它的负面影响是广泛而重要的。随之而来的是社会不该有程序的所有者。

另一种理解方法是社会需要的是自由软件,而私权软件是糟糕的代用品。 鼓励代用品不是取得我们所需的合理方式。

Vaclav Havel 建议我们 “因为它有益而工作,而不是因为它有成功的机会。” 制作私权软件的商业公司有在它自己狭隘方面成功的机会,但这不是对社会有益的事。

人们为什么要开发软件

如果我们废除版权,作为鼓励人们开发软件的方法,开始的时候很少的软件会开发出来, 但那个软件会更有用。总体上使用者的满意会不会更少还不清楚;但如果是这样, 或者如果无论如何我们希望增加它,还有其他的办法鼓励开发, 正像除了收费站还有其他方法为道路筹集资金一样。在我谈论如何才能完成之前, 我想先问多少人为的鼓励是真正必须的。

编程是一种乐趣

有一些工程,除了为钱很少会开工;以公路建设为例。有一些学习和艺术的领域, 变富有的机会没有多少,人们因它们的魅力或因认识到它们对社会的价值而加入其中。 例子包含了数学逻辑、古典音乐和考古学;和劳工的政治组织。 人们竞争,与惨痛相比更多的是遗憾,为的是一些很少拨款的职位, 它们之中没有待遇丰厚的。如果他们能够担负的话,甚至用钱来换这个工作的机会。

如果开始提供致富的可能,这样的领域可以一下子发生自我改变。 当一个工人变得富有,其他人也要求相同的机会。 很快所有人也许都会要求对他们习於为了消遣而做的工作付大笔的钱。 两年过去了,每个和此领域相关的人都会嘲笑这种想法即, 没有巨额经济回报而去完成的工作。 他们会建议社会计划者确保这些回报是可得到的, 规定的特别利益、权力和这样做是必须的专利。

过去十年计算机编程领域发生了这种变化。十五年前,有关於 “计算机瘾” 的文章: 用户们都 “在线上” 而且有每周一百美元的习惯。人们经常为了太爱编程导致婚姻破裂, 这是众所周知的。而今天,除了为高额回报,否则没人会编程,也是众所周知的。 人们已经忘记了十五年前的东西。

当人们在某领域工作只是为了高额报酬这件事在某一给定时期是真的时, 则它不必保持真实。如果社会提供动力,变革的力量就会起相反的作用。 如果我们使巨大财富的可能性消失, 那么一段时间以后,当人们重新调整他们态度的时候, 他们会再一次地为了完成的喜悦而渴望在这个领域工作。

当我们意识到不是取决於给他们大笔钱的时候, “我们如何付钱给程序员?” 这就变成一个更为简单的问题了。糊口就更容易了。

为自由软件筹集资金

付钱给程序员的团体不必都成为软件机构。许多其他可以做这些事的团体已经存在。

硬体制造商发现有必要支持软件发展,即使他们不能控制软件的使用。 1970 年, 因为他们不考虑限制,所以许多软件都是自由的。今天, 他们日益增长的加入集团的意愿说明他们意识到了拥有软件对於他们来说并不是真的重要。

大学主持著许多软件工程。今天,他们经常出售成果,但在 1970 年代,他们不这样做。 如果不允许大学出售软件,那他们会开发自由软件吗? 这些工程可能被同样的管理合同和现在在支持私权软件开发者的经费支持。

大学研究员获得经费开发一个系统,开发到几乎完成,称作 “完成了” , 然后开一家公司,在那儿他们真的完成了工程并使之可用,当今这种现象很普遍。 有时他们宣称那个没完成的版本是 “自由的” ;如果他们毫无道德, 他们会从大学获得专有许可证。这不是秘密;每个牵扯到的人都广泛承认。 然而如果研究人员不遭受到这些东西的诱惑,他们仍然会在做他们的研究。

编写自由软件的程序员们可以通过出售与软件相关的服务来谋生。 我被雇佣把 GNU C compiler 移植到新硬体上去,并给 GNU Emacs 制作用户介面扩展。(一旦完成我就把这些改进公开给公众。) 我也讲课,从中可以赚点儿钱。

我这样工作但不是独自一人;现在有了一个成功的、 不断成长的团体,它不做其他任何工作。 其他一些公司也为 GNU 系统的自由软件提供商业支持。这是独立软件支持业的开端 — 一种能变得相当大的工业,如果自由软件盛行了的话。 它为用户提供对於私权软件一般不可接受的选择权,但除了财富。

新的团体诸如 自由软件基金会 也可以资助程序员。 基金会的大部分资金来自邮购磁带的用户们。磁带上的软件是自由的, 这就意味著每个用户都有复制和修改的自由,但尽管如此许多人还是花钱购买拷贝。 (回忆到 “自由软件” 代表自由,而不是价格。)一些已经拥有拷贝的用户又定购了磁带, 作为一种他们觉得是我们应得的贡献。基金会也收到计算机制造商为数颇大的捐款。

自由软件基金会是一个慈善团体,它的收入用於雇佣尽可能多的程序员。 如果要是开了公司,以相同的费用发行相同的自由软件, 那现在它的创始人会过上非常好的生活。

因为自由软件基金会是一个慈善团体,程序员们经常为基金会工作, 而赚取的钱是他们在其他地方工作的一半。他们这样做是因为我们没有官僚制度, 并且他们觉得满意,因为知道他们的作品会被不加以阻碍地使用。总的来说, 他们这样做因为编程是一种乐趣。此外,志愿者已经为我们写了许多有用的程序。 (最近技术作家都开始成了志愿者。)

编程与音乐和艺术一样,是所有领域里最迷人,这与前面所述是一致的。 我们不必担心没人愿意编程了。

使用者应感激开发者什么?

软件的用户感到有道德上的义务去做点贡献来支持它,这个动机很好。 自由软件的开发者为用户们的活动作出了贡献,从长远利益来说, 用户们给他们资助让他们继续发展,这是公平的。

然而,这不适用於私权软件的开发者,因为阻挠应受到惩罚而非奖赏。

於是我们得到一个矛盾的结论:有用软件的开发者有资格得到用户们的支持, 但任何试图将这个道德上的义务变为需求的企图却破坏了义务的出发点。 开发者要么应得到报酬,要么可以请求,但不可兼而有之。

我相信,面对这样的矛盾,一个有道德的开发人员必须有所行动以便获得报酬, 但也应该请求用户们给予自愿的捐助。最终,用户们将学会毫无强迫地支持开发人员, 就像他们支持公众广播电台和电视台那样。

软件生产力是什么?

如果软件是自由的,仍然有程序员,但也许更少。这对社会有害吗?

不一定。今天发达国家的农民人数比 1900 年少,但我们认为这并没给社会带来危害, 因为少数的人比起过去的许多人给消费者提供了更多的食物。我们称其为改进的生产力。 自由软件会需要少得多的程序员来满足这个需要,由於以下几个方面增长的软件生产力:

  • 开发完成的程序被广泛使用。

  • 不须从头做起而修改现有程序即可自订的能力。

  • 程序员的教育水平更高。

  • 避免了重复的开发工作。

因为这样会导致雇佣较少的程序员,那些反对合作的人实际上是在反对增加生产力。 然而这些人们通常还接受软件业需要增加生产力这一广为信任的信条。这怎么解释呢?

“软件生产力” 可以代表两个不同的东西: 一切软件开发的总体生产力或单独某个工程的生产力。 总体生产力是社会需要提高的,而最最直接的方法莫过於清除会降低生产力、 反对合作的人为障碍。但 “软件生产力” 领域的研究人员局限於此术语的第二项 、有限的、字面的含义,即开发需要艰难的技术进步。

竞争是必然吗?

人们试图竞争,超过他们在社会上的竞争对手,这是必然的吗?也许是吧。 但竞争本身不是坏事;有害的事情是 斗争

有许多竞争的方法。竞争包括试图完成更多,比别人做得更好。有个例子, 过去在编程天才之间存在竞争 — 比谁能让计算机做最令人惊奇的事情, 比谁能编出最短最快的程序来完成任务。这种竞争可以使大家受益, 只要 保持这种光明正大的精神即可。

有帮助的竞争是一种足以激励人们努力付出的竞争。 一些人争著要成为游遍世界各国的第一人;一些甚至不惜用金钱来做。 但他们没有贿赂船长来使他们的对手搁浅在无人居住的岛屿上。 他们愿意让最优秀的人获胜。

当竞争者开始互相阻止而不是使他们自身进步的时候,竞争就变成战争了 — 此时 “让最优秀的人获胜” 就让位於 “让我赢,不管是否是最优秀的。” 私权软件是有害的, 并非因为它是一种竞争形式,而是因为它是与社会公民为敌的战争形式。

商业竞争不一定就是战争。例如,两家杂货店相互竞争, 全部的努力就是要改善他们自己的经营, 而不是阴谋挫败对方。但这证明商业道德的特殊保证; 相反,没有硝烟的商业战争却几乎不留余地。不是所有的商业领域都享有这个特徵。 保留能使大家进步的信息就是一种战争的形式。

商业意识没有使人们做好准备来抵御为竞争而战争的诱惑。 某些形式的战争已经被反信任法所禁止,广告法就是这样, 还有很多,但行政部门却创造了其他没有被专门禁止的战争形式, 而不是把这归纳为普遍拒绝战争的原则。社会资源被浪费在相当於经济派系的内战上。

“你为什么不去俄罗斯”

在美国,除了放任自由的极端形式,其他任何的拥护者都经常听到这样的指责。 例如,高度反对国家健康保健系统的支持者,就像在所有自由世界的其他工业国家一样。 高度反对公众支持艺术的拥护者,在世界发达国家也一样。 在美国这种公民有义务对公众做贡献的思想就被看成是共产主义。 但这些想法是多么相似呀?

苏联实行的共产主义是一个对所有活动实行严密的中央控制的体系,据说是为了共同利益, 但实际上是为了共产主义团体成员。在那里严格保护印刷机,以防非法的印刷。

美国的软件版权体系对程序的发布实行了中心控制,并且用 自动复制保护机制 来保护复制设备以防非法复制。

与之相反,我正在为建立一个人们可以自由决定自己行为的体系而工作; 特别是,自由地帮助邻居,自由地改变和改善他们的日常生活用具。 是一个建立在志愿合作和权力下放之上的体系。

因此,如果我们要从与俄共产主义相似的角度出发来判断的话, 软件所有者就是共产主义者。

前提的问题

在这篇文章中,我假设了软件的用户们并非不如作者重要,甚至是作者的雇主。 换句话说,当我们判断哪个行动步骤最好的时候,他们的利益和需要的分量是平等的。

这个假设并不是普遍认同的。许多人坚持认为作者的雇主基本上比其他任何人都更重要。 例如,他们说拥有软件所有者的目的是给作者的雇主他应得的利益 — 无论这些如何影响了公众。

证明这些假设正确与否是毫无用处的。证明需要共同的假设。 所以大多数我必须说的话仅仅是讲给同意我所用假设, 或者至少对他们的结果感兴趣的人的。 对於那些认为所有者比其他任何人更重要的人来说,这篇文章简直是不切题的。

但为什么大量的美国人接受了把某些人提高到比任何其他人都重要的地位上这个假设呢? 部分原因是一个信条即这个假设是美国社会传统法律的一部分。 一些人认为怀疑这个假设就是挑战社会基础。

对这些人来说,重要的是知道这个假设不是我们法律传统的一部分。从来都不是。

因此,宪法规定版权的目的是 “促进科学和有用艺术的进步。” 最高法院详细解释了这一点,在‘Fox Film vs. Doyal’的案件中宣布 “美国的唯一利益和商议【版权】的根本目的在於大众从作者的劳动中剥夺的普遍利益。”

我们不需要同意宪法或最高法院。(有一度,他们都宽容了奴隶制。) 所以他们的立场并没有证明所有者至上的假设是不正确的。但我希望, 大家意识到这是一种根本的右翼假设而不是传统认识到的假设,这会削弱他们的吸引力。

结论

我们愿意想像我们的社会鼓励帮助你们的邻居;但每次我们都因阻挠而奖励了某些人, 或者对他们以这种方式获得的财富崇敬无比,我们发出了错误的信息。

软件保留是一种为了个人所得而忽视社会繁荣的普遍意愿。 从Ronald Reagan 到 Jim Bakker ,从 Ivan Boesky 到 Exxon , 从破产的银行到破产的学校都可以找到这种忽视的痕迹。 我们可以用无家可归的人口和罪犯的数量来衡量。这种反社会的精神自给自足, 因为我们看到的其他人不帮助我们的事越多,帮助他们就越无意义。 因此我们的社会就会衰退成混乱战争的地方。

如果我们不想生活在激烈战争之中,那么我们就必须改变态度。 我们必须开始发出这样的信息即一个好公民应该在适当的时候互相合作, 而不是从其他人那儿得到成功。我希望自由软件运动会有助於此:至少在一个地区, 我们将用一个更为有效的,鼓励并且运行在志愿合作上的系统来取代混乱的局面。

脚注

  1. “free software” 里面 “free” 这个词表示自由而不是价格;购买自由软件拷贝的花费也许为零,或者很少,或者(很少有这种情况)非常多。
  2. 污染和交通阻塞的问题不会改变这个结论。如果我们希望使行驶更昂贵来阻止普遍的行驶,那么用收费站来实现是不利的,因为这会导致污染和阻塞。向汽油徵税会好得多。同样,通过限制最高速度来实现提高安全性的愿望也是不切题的;对於任意给定的速度限制,免费公路避免了停顿和延迟从而加快了平均速度。
  3. 有人可能把特殊计算机程序看作不该得到的有害事物,就像 Lotus Marketplace 的个人信息数据库一样,因公众的反对而从销售中撤出。我说的大部分话都不适用於这种情况,但有一种争论,说在这个领域有一个所有者就可以使这种程序不大可能得到,这没什么道理。如果一个程序的作用被认为是破坏性的,就像一个人希望的那样,所有者是不会让它 完全 得不到的。
2006年01月12日

What's So Bad About Microsoft? 

 by Timothy Macinta, KMFMS.com

We’re proud to feature this article by Timothy Macinta and invite you to visit his informative website,
KMFMS.com, for more information about Microsoft’s unsavory practices, and to learn about the alternatives. And you certainly can’t pass up a T-shirt or mousepad featuring the drool-inducing artwork of Brute!, the artist for KMFDM.

地址:

http://fuckmicrosoft.com/content/whatsbad.shtml

事实上,我是微软的忠实用户,我使用电脑离不开微软。而这个网站,从题目来看:fuckmicrosoft.,就是关于维软批评的网站。

当然,我们允许不同的声音。

2006年01月10日

Colorize Black and White photos

只要三步

Click on the images for larger versions.

Step 1: Load the black and white photo

Step 2: Add markings

Step 3: Let the software colorize the image

http://www.recolored.com/

1  Best Free Web Browser  Updated October 20, 2005
Internet Explorer is a good browser but it has become such a target for malicious exploits that it is now a major security risk. Quite separately, the browser itself is now looking dated with most alternative products offering tabbed browsing and other productivity enhancements. There are several excellent alternatives but Mozilla Firefox is the stand-out pick. It’s safer than Internet Explorer, so safe in fact that many users have reported no spyware infections since they started using the product. It’s also browses faster than Internet Explorer and is stable and reliable as well. It loads a little slower than IE but once running, it zips along at lightning speed. With tabbed browsing and more free extensions than you could ever want, it offers a major upgrade in your browsing experience.  Unlike IE, it’s also standards compliant. The 600+ free extensions available are a huge plus, allowing you to totally customize your browsing experience. Firefox is now my everyday browser though occasionally I have to fire up IE to browse a site designed around IE’s non-standard features. If you don’t like Firefox then you should check out Opera. It’s always been a great browser but until recently was only available as shareware or in advertising-supported versions. Now though, it’s free. There’s much to like about Opera but I do miss all those Firefox extensions.
http://www.mozilla.org/products/firefox/
  (4.7MB)
http://www.techsupportalert.com/firefox.htm
<= Free Firefox migration guide

http://www.opera.com/
(3.7MB)

Best Free Anti-Virus Software  
There are two equal recommendations in this category. First there is AVG Antivirus 7.0 Free Edition. This product [1] has been continuously refined since it was first released in 1991 and now offers very impressive protection capabilities. Additionally, it’s relatively small, light on resources, has regular automatic updates and handles email scanning. There is a free and a pro version, the only difference being that the free version has a few non-critical features disabled and has no direct technical support. Even so, it’s an impressive package and offers the financially challenged a real alternative to the major anti-virus suites. Equally impressive is the free Avast! scanner [2] though its funky media player style interface is not to everyone’s taste. Avast! also required periodic re-registration while AVG does not. A possible third option is AntiVir [3]. It offers slightly better detection rates than either AVG or Avast! but the lack of email scanning  precludes general recommendation. However it’s the perfect choice as a second on-demand scanner. If you use it in this role, make sure you disable its resident virus guard during installation to prevent it interfering with your main AV scanner.
[1] http://free.grisoft.com  

[2] http://www.avast.com  (5MB)
[3] http://www.free-av.com  (6.8MB)
[4] http://www.techsupportalert.com/free-vs-paid-av.htm <= review of the effectiveness of free security software

3  Best Free Adware/Spyware/Scumware Remover
My top recommendation is Microsoft’s Antispyware program [1] which is currently available as a free beta to users of Windows 2000 and later. The Microsoft program is based on the Giant Antispyware product that Microsoft purchased late in 2004. I used Giant for some time and found it to offer outstanding detection and real time protection against the current plague of scumware products. The only minus being that it uses a fair slab of processing power and that could can slow down older PCs. The free Microsoft version is very similar to the previous commercial Giant version. I just hope Microsoft doesn’t mess around too much with this excellent product however Microsoft’s track record in this area has not been good. It’s something I’ll be keeping a close eye on; so far, so good. Microsoft has announced that the product will remain free even when out of beta so, subject to my previous reservations, it’s a good long term choice. For Windows 9x and ME users I suggest two free products: Ad-Aware SE V1.6 [2] and SpyBot Search and Destroy V1.4 [3]. Both work well together and between them you’ll get excellent protection. If you have a relatively fast PC, I suggest you turn on the TeaTimer option when you install SpyBot. It will give you reasonable active protection but at the cost of eating up some of your processing power. The active protection offered by TeaTimer is not as comprehensive as the Microsoft product but Internet Explorer users can augment it by using SpywareBlaster (see next item) 
[1] http://www.microsoft.com/athome/security/spyware/software/default.mspx ( 6.4MB)
[2] http://www.lavasoftusa.com/software/adaware/  (1.7MB)
[3] http://www.safer-networking.org/en/index.html (4.6MB)

4  Best Free Browser Protection Utility  Updated October 20, 2005
There’s a scumware  plague at the moment. All it takes is a visit to a pushy web site or a loaded shareware install and next minute your Internet Explorer homepage has been changed, your default search setting altered, unwanted ads pop up on your screen and worse.  You can help protect Internet Explorer against these attacks by using SpywareBlaster [1].  It’s is not a system scanner rather it is monitor that’s designed to prevent an initial infection. It provides active protection for Internet Explorer users against thousands of malevolent products that use ActiveX based exploits and offers defenses against hostile sites and unwanted cookies as well. SpywareBlaster can be used with Firefox but there’s not much point as Firefox doesn’t need to be protected against ActiveX exploits. SpywareBlaster is free but the automatic update service costs $9.95 annually. A companion program to SpywareBlaster is SpywareGuard [2]. It is also a protective program that checks programs before they are run for malware behavior and also does some signature checking as well. However of late SpywareGuard seems to have been rather neglected with no new updates for more than a year so I can only give it a qualified recommendation. SpywareBlaster though, is a terrific product and a must-have for Internet Explorer users who also use the free version of Ad-Aware. If you are using Microsoft Antispyware, Ad-Aware Pro or other anti-spyware utility with a real-time monitor, you don’t really need it.
[1] http://www.javacoolsoftware.com/spywareblaster.html (2.2MB)
[2] http://www.javacoolsoftware.com/spywareguard.html  (1.96MB)

5  Best Free Firewall  Updated November 18, 2005
No other single product class seems to cause as much angst to average users in their installation and day-to-day use as Firewalls. That’s why my choice for "best" goes to Kerio Personal Firewall [1], the product that seems to cause the fewest problems for users yet manages first rate protection as well. However it looks like Kerio will be discontinuing this product by the end of 2005 so hop in and get a copy while it is still available. The latest free version (V6) of the ZoneAlarm firewall [2] comes in a a good second choice though there have been considerable teething problems with the new version. Also the current free ZoneAlarm has become a true bare bones version of that company’s class-leading commercial firewall. Such is life. More adventurous users and the technically inclined may however wish to consider Sygate [3]. It offers more control and more information but is not the easiest to setup and use. You had better grab it by the 30th of November as Symantec, the new owner of Sygate,  has announced the product will be discontinued by that date. Even more difficult to install than Sygate is the NetVeda Safety.Net firewall [4]. However its performance is quite outstanding and it offers application control and content filtering as well. This highly capable product deserves to be better known and experienced users should definitely put it on their short list. Note: The free and paid versions of Kerio and Sygate are the same. If you don’t buy the product some advanced features are automatically turned off after 30 days.
[1] http://www.kerio.com/kpf_home.html (7.3MB)
[2] http://www.zonelabs.com/store/content/company/products/znalm/freeDownload.jsp  (9.0MB)
[3] http://smb.sygate.com/products/spf/summary_spf.htm (8.8MB)
[4] http://www.netveda.com/consumer/safetynet.htm (6.3MB)

6  Best Free Trojan Scanner/Trojan Remover 
Ewido is the best of a new crop of anti-Trojan programs. On my recent tests over at www.anti-trojan-software-reviews.com it emerged as was one of the few products that could reliably detect polymorphic and process injecting Trojans that were totally missed by anti-virus products like Norton and AVG. Unfortunately the free version of Ewido doesn’t have a memory monitor and this omission significantly  reduces the level of active protection provided. However the on-demand scanner is excellent. I recommend that all average PC users who don’t have an anti-trojan scanner download Ewido and scan their PCs weekly. I suspect you may be surprised at what you will find. Ewido is also pretty good at removing some spyware infections so bear that in mind next time you encounter a spyware product you can’t remove with normal anti-spyware products like Ad-Aware. Note that Ewido only works with Windows 2000 and later so Win 9X users should consider the free version of a2 (a-squared) anti-trojan as an alternative. It’s not quite as effective as Ewido but is still an excellent product.  High risk PC users such as P2P file sharers and frequenters of hack sites, should however consider the industrial strength protection of Trojan Hunter or the full version of Ewido both of which offer the active protection they need. Note: The free version of Ewido is actually the same as the paid version but after 14 days the active protection (i.e. memory monitor) becomes non-functional.
http://www.ewido.net/en/  (2.2MB)
http://www.anti-trojan-software-reviews.com/review-ewido.htm <= review of Ewido

7  Best Free Rootkit Scanner/Remover Updated November 18, 2005
Rootkits are a special kind of software tool used to hide trojans, viruses and other malware from your anti-virus scanner and other security products. Unfortunately, they are extremely effective which means that some of you reading this will be infected even though you believe your PC to be totally clean. Thankfully there is a new class of  security product now available called rootkit detectors that use specialized techniques to detect these dangerous intruders.  Most of these detectors require quite a bit of technical skill to interpret the results but one of the simplest to use and most effective is also free. It’s called BlackLight [1] and is currently available as a free beta from F-Secure until the 1st of January 2006. I suggest everyone download this product and scan their PC. The chances of you being infected are small but for five minutes work it’s not worth taking the risk. 
BlackLight will detect most rootkits missed by AV scanners but can still be fooled by state-of-the-art rootkits like some of the custom versions of Hacker Defender. To detect this and a few other insidious rootkits, you need heavier artillery. Currently the biggest gun in the rootkit detection war is a free Chinese product called IceSword. It will reveal just about everything running on your PC. Usage, however, requires considerable technical skill together with the patience to work out the program. It was originally only documented in Chinese but an English version [2] has now appeared. In the hands of an skilled user, its an amazing tool.  The reality is that at the present time full protection against rootkits requires the use of multiple products. For details see my article on rootkits below [3].
[1] http://www.f-secure.com/blacklight/cure.shtml Windows 2000 and later, 911KB.
[2] http://www.xfocus.net/tools/200509/IceSword_en1.12.rar
<= slow Chinese site, 565KB
[3] http://www.techsupportalert.com/rootkits.htm <= How to deal with the threat of rootkits

8  Best Free Intrusion Prevention and Detection Utility for Home Use
These days all users face a real risk of malicious programs secretly installing themselves on your computer. Anti-virus and anti-spyware products dramatically reduce the chance of infection but you can enhance your protection further by installing an additional layer of defense with an intrusion detection program. For advanced users Prevx is a stand out recommendation. It’s so good I made it my Free Product of the Year for 2004. However it’s talkative nature and sometimes cryptic messages make it only suitable for experienced users. For other users (but not beginners) I recommend the free version of WinPatrol. Like Prevx it provides a vital "last ditch" defense layer by telling you when a product is trying to change any of the critical settings on your PC such as the registry and auto-start areas. WinPatrol simply throws up a dialog asking whether you want to allow the change or not. Of course being warned is useless unless you have some idea how to respond to the warning. That’s why neither Prevx nor WinPatrol is suited to inexperienced users. If you are a beginner you should seriously consider the $29.95 Plus version of WinPatrol which provides lots of guidance to help you make sense of any warning messages. As a bonus it offers better protection as well.
http://www.prevx.com/prevxhome.asp (7.5MB)
http://www.winpatrol.com/
(880KB)
http://www.techsupportalert.com/intrusion-detection.htm
<= Brief survey of IDS software

9 Best Free Anonymous Surfing Service
There are lots of reasons folks have for wanting to surf anonymously, ranging from simple paranoia to possibly being murdered by a malevolent foreign government. Whatever the reasons, commercial services that offer anonymity are doing real well. However one of the best services JAP, is totally free. In fact JAP is perhaps a little too good. That’s why the German Police insisted in 2004 that a backdoor be put into the product to allow interception of child pornographers. This was done but subsequently removed as a result of court action by JAP. An alternative to JAP is another system called Tor. It not only allows anonymous browsing but anonymous email, IM, and IRC chat as well. Given the US Navy origin of Tor, the suspicion arises that this system may indeed have a permanent backdoor. However the source code is now publicly available so that suspicion can be set aside. Whatever, both JAP and Tor offer a level of secrecy that is better than many commercial systems. However expect your surfing to slow down as you’ll be relayed through a chain of servers. You’ll also need to change your browser settings to work through a proxy. Note: the latest V5 release of JAP now allows Tor users to use JAP as a software access point.
http://anon.inf.tu-dresden.de/index_en.html
http://tor.eff.org/

10  Best Free Software Suite Updated November 18, 2005
The Open CD site [1] offers for free a wonderful collection of just about every application software product you need to run a PC including the latest version of OpenOffice. Many of these freebies substitute admirably for expensive commercial products. There is Abi Word as an alternative for MS Word, OpenOffice for MS Office XP, Thunderbird for Outlook, The Gimp for Adobe Photoshop, 7-zip for WinZip and many more. If you then add to this collection some of the other utilities from my "46 Best-ever Utilities" collection you will have all the software you’ll ever need without spending a cent. Note: All of the Open CD utilities can be downloaded for free as a CD ISO image. If you have a slow connection you can purchase the CD for a as little as $1.99. In addition to the Windows versions,  the CD also contains the same collection of programs implemented under a  version of Linux called Ubuntu that can be booted and run directly from the CD. That way you not only get to try all these great programs you can try Linux as well, without interfering in any way with your current Windows installation. Update: the folks at Ubuntu [2] are now giving away free CDs containing the latest version of Ubuntu Linux together with most of the programs on the Open CD. They will send you the full Ubuntu installation CDs plus a live CD where you can run Ubuntu directly from the CD. You can order as many CDs as you want and you don’t even have to pay the mailing costs! When you get your CDs read this this simple introduction to Linux [3] before starting.
[1] http://theopencd.org
[2] http://www.ubuntu.com/download/support/documentation/faq/shipit/
[3] http://www.paulstamatiou.com/2005/10/24/how-to-ubuntu-linux-for-novices/

 


(Sponsored Links)

The Best Windows Backup Software
We are in the process of updating all the backup reviews at our site but I can tell you right now that the top product has blitzed the field for a second year in row. In fact, it’s improved so much that it’s now a one horse race for our "editor’s choice." The updated review of the top product is now online. If you have been looking for a backup program, this is the one.
http://www.backup-software-reviews.com/

The Best Spyware Detector
If you use Ad-Aware or SpyBot you will be surprised just how more effectively SpySweeper detects and protects your PC from Adware, Spyware, Trojans and other malicious products. That’s why it yet again won the prized "Editor’s Choice" award from PC Magazine. "Webroot’s Spy Sweeper 4.5 is the most powerful antispyware tool we’ve seen yet". – PC Magazine, October 31, 2005.  Try the free evaluation copy and see for yourself, you may be surprsied what it finds on your PC.
http://www.webroot.com/wb/products/spysweeper/index.php?rc=1132

The Best Remote Access Software
Our reviewer had given this product category away as "too slow, tool clumsy and too unreliable" but after reviewing this product he’s changed his mind; "… at long last a remote access solution that actually works!  Quite frankly we agree with him, it’s an impressive product.  Read the full review here:
http://www.pcsupportadvisor.com/best_remote_access_software.htm

The Best Spam Blocker for Dummies
Most spam filters require you to be a computer expert. Our Editor has found two spam filters for average users that will remove the spam from your email and yet are simple to use.
http://www.techsupportalert.com/best-antispam.htm

The Best Anti-trojan Scanner
Most users are not aware that their anti-virus scanner can only provide a moderate level of protection against trojan programs that try and take control of your PC. To really protect your computer, you need a dedicated anti-trojan program. Our editor’s have reviewed every major product on the market and have concluded that two scanners stand head and shoulders above the other contenders.
http://www.anti-trojan-software-reviews.com

11  Best Free File Manager
Windows Explorer is fine for simple file management activities but when you have some serious work to do, you need a two pane file manager. I use Directory Opus which is without doubt the best product in this class but costs $59.  Recently I discovered xplorer².  It offers a good part of the functionality of Directory Opus and is totally free. As a bonus, its user interface is very similar to Windows Explorer, so most users will find this tool easy to learn and use.(575KB)
http://www.netez.com/xplorer2/x2lite.htm

12 Best Free Email Client Updated October 20, 2005
Thunderbird is a free open source POP and IMAP email client developed by Mozilla.org, the same folks who brought you Firefox. Feature-wise it sits somewhere between Outlook Express and Outlook which means that it offers an upgrade to Express users and a downgrade to those who use the more advanced PIM features of Outlook. All Outlook Express users should seriously consider switching. You’ll be rewarded with a more advanced product including built- in spam filtering, built-in RSS reader, better security, message color coding, fast email search and the ability to view your mail in conversational threads. On top of that, the product is more secure than OE and unlike the latter, is still being actively developed.  The transition is made easier by the fact that Thunderbird looks and works similar to OE.  Tools within Thunderbird also allow you to easily import OE account settings and stored email. Outlook users who aren’t reliant on calendaring, Microsoft Exchange or Outlook plug-ins should also consider switching. Thunderbird email files can be indexed by the Google, Yahoo!  and Copernic desktop search programs.
http://www.mozilla.org/products/thunderbird
http://www.nidelven-it.no/articles/introduction_to_thunderbird

13 Best Free Web Mail Accessory
Two suggestions: the first is a nifty free product called YPOPs! (formerly YahooPops!) that allows you to collect your Yahoo webmail from within your POP email client such as Outlook, Thunderbird or Eudora. I use it on multiple Yahoo accounts and it works wonderfully. The second suggestion is an Open Source utility called MrPostman. It’s a much more flexible product than YPOPs! and will download HotMail, Lycos, Yahoo and several other webmail services into your POP email client. It can also give you access to email accounts on MS Exchange 5.5. If you only use Yahoo webmail, go with YPOPs! as MrPostman is a more complex program
and can need a bit of fiddling to work correctly. You’ll find a couple of links below that will help you. Note that  MrPostman requires the Java Runtime Environment to be installed on your PC.
http://yahoopops.sourceforge.net/   (1.3MB)
http://mrpostman.sourceforge.net/
  (1.5MB)
http://2mod2.com/mohot/   <= Installing Mr Postman
http://sourceforge.net/forum/?group_id=68124   <= MrPostman forum

14 Best Free Clipboard Replacement Utility 
The regular clipboard in Windows has limitations – one item at a time and no retention after logging off. Clipboard replacement utilities provide the ability to hold multiple items and store them for future use, even after logging off. There are many free clipboard replacement utilities available, including CLCL,
Clipboard Magic, Clipboard Recorder, Clippy 2001, Ditto, DzSoft Paste & Save, and Yankee Clipper III. While none of these have the very extensive set of features of the class-leading shareware product ClipMate 6 ($29.95), they all offer the basic clipboard replacement features that 95% of us really want and
need. If you just need a basic clipboard replacement utility, look no further than Clipboard Recorder [1]. It will store up to 99 items that can be easily selected and pasted from the popup history list by pressing the shortcut key (Ctrl-Alt-V by default). It supports a variety of formats (text, RTF, HTML, CSV, Bitmap, etc.) and has the ability to transfer copied items between computers. In addition, it is a very small program and uses very little resources. Clipboard Recorder is what the regular clipboard in Windows should have been! However, if you need advanced features such as the ability to support additional item types, create groups of items, search previous items, and synchronize clipboards across multiple computers, then I would recommend trying Ditto [2]. In addition to its extended feature set, its user interface is very clean, easy to use, and has many configurable options that you can configure to meet your needs. Note that Ditto requires DAO to be installed [3].
[1] http://www.lw-works.com/  Windows 98 and later, 382 KB
[2] http://ditto-cp.sourceforge.net/  Windows 95 and later, 422KB
[3] http://ditto-cp.sourceforge.net/dao_setup.exe  .3MB

15  Best Free HTML Editor
This is one of my most requested items but up until now I’ve not been able to give any product my hearty endorsement. There have been any number of contenders: Amaya for example, impressed with its standards compliance but was incomplete while Selida looked slick but had too many bugs. Finally a worthy contender has arrived on the scene in the form of the Open Source Nvu. In reality Nvu is nothing new but rather a reworking of the old Netscape Composer. Composer was always a solid product and the revamp has lifted the product into another class. Here is an HTML editor and site manager that’s easy enough for beginners to use but powerful enough to build large sites. It’s closer in concept to Microsoft’s FrontPage more than any other product but unlike FrontPage it, thankfully, produces standards compliant code. Its easy-to-use WYSIWYG editor will delight HTML newbies while HTML honchos can simply click a tab to switch to code view. Multiple tabs can be kept open to allow simultaneous editing and there is excellent support for forms, tables and templates. An internal spell-checker is included. CSS is handled through the CaScadeS editor from Mozilla Composer. Nvu also has the handy ability to call W3C’s HTML validator from within the product. It’s also extensible via XUL. Nvu can upload files to your site via FTP and has some basic site management features but this is not its strength. Overall it’s an impressive product; no, it’s not a replacement for DreamWeaver but those looking for a competent, free HTML editor that’s easy to use need look no further. Free Open Source, Windows 98 and later plus Linux, 6.57MB
http://www.nvu.com/

16 Best Free Spam Filter for the Average User
This is a difficult category as ordinary users need products that are easy to use and frankly, most free spam filters are way too complex to set up and use. The best products in this class are in fact, shareware not free. That said, MailWasher is for most folks, the best free option. MailWasher is an email preview utility that allows you to check your email on your mail server before you download it to your PC. The advantage of this approach is that you can kill unwanted messages including spam, viruses and large attachments before they get anywhere near your computer. MailWasher flags for you any messages containing possible spam and viruses for you to quickly check.  It’s a simple idea but quite effective and one which average users find easy to understand. The last free version of MailWasher [2] before it went commercial is still floating around the web. It lacks many of the advanced spam detection features of the current commercial version but is still quite effective.  Alternatively, try XTerminator [3] which works much the same way as MailWasher and is totally free. I must say though, I prefer MailWasher’s user interface 
[1] http://www.mailwasher.net ( 3.05MB)
[2] http://www.321download.com/LastFreeware/page2.html#Mailwasher (1.57MB)
[3] http://www.artplus.hr/adapps/eng/xterminator.htm  (1.87MB)
[4] http://www.techsupportalert.com/best-antispam.htm
  <=brief review of the best spam blockers         

17 Best Free Spam Filter for Experienced Users  
There are many different spam filters available employing lots of different techniques. In my experience "learning" spam filters that use the Bayesian statistical approach out-perform most other types of filters I’ve tried. Not only are they better at detecting spam they are also less liable to classify your real mail as spam. This effectiveness takes a little time to develop as the filter has to be trained to recognize your spam from your normal mail.  It takes a week or so before results start becoming accurate and best results may take a month or more.  POPFile, a free, open source spam filter,  was one of the first Bayesian filters and is still one of the best. It works as a proxy mail server so that means that it can be used with any POP email client. Setup is reasonably straightforward for experienced users but beginners may be better off with Mailwasher. If you use Outlook there are several excellent free Bayesian spam filters available including SpamBayes and K9. Both are simple to install though, like all statistical filters, they need to go through a training phase before they reach full effectiveness.
http://popfile.sourceforge.net/old_index.html (4.3MB)

http://spambayes.sourceforge.net/  (3.6MB)
http://www.keir.net/k9.html (113KB)

18 Best Free Popup Stopper
The need for popup stopper utilities has fallen away in recent months as many browsers such as Firefox now have this function built in. If you need a separate popup stopper and have good PC skills I suggest you try The Proxomitron. It operates by filtering and transforming all your Web pages on the fly. As a result you can not only stop pop-ups but pop-unders, ads, flash animations, status bar scrollers and just about anything else. Besides, next time you are asked what pop-up stopper you use, you can answer; "why, I use The Proxomitron" and how cool is that. The first link below is to version 4.5, the last and final version of this superb utility. The following two links offer useful setup and usage tips. Note:  For Novice PC users I suggest you try the Google toolbar rather than The Proxomitron. It’s free as well and has  an excellent popup filter built in. It’s nowhere near as flexible as as The Proxomitron,  but it requires no setup. As a bonus it also makes Google searches easier.
http://computercops.biz/files/ProxN45.exe
http://accs-net.com/smallfish/prox.htm
http://www.sankey.ws/proxomitron.html
http://toolbar.google.com/

19 Best Free Desktop Search Utility  Updated October 20, 2005
In early 2004 there were no contenders for this title. Today we have a wealth of choices. In a close race I would have to say the Free Desktop Search from Yahoo! comes out in front because of the clear way it presents search results. It’s powered by the well established X1 local search engine and can index the contents of 300 different file types including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, PDF, Outlook, Outlook Express, HTML, text, ZIP and Adobe PhotoShop though at the moment it will only handle email files from Outlook, Outlook Express and Thunderbird. It will index html files but can’t index your web browsing history. If the  later is important to you, you may want to look at Version 2 of Google desktop search. It not only will search your web history but offers an Outlook toolbar, integrated Gmail search and a novel desktop sidebar that allows personalized search, news, weather, photos and more. The Sidebar also includes a quite effective application launcher.  Some folks love the Sidebar others, me included,  find it intrusive. Unfortunately though, to run either the Yahoo! or Google DTS you’ll need Windows 2000 or later. If you are stuck with earlier version of Windows then try the free Copernic Desktop Search. It offers many of the key features as the others though the presentation of search results is not quite as elegant as Yahoo! DTS.
http://desktop.yahoo.com
http://desktop.google.com
(1.4MB)
http://www.copernic.com/en/products/desktop-search/download.html
(2.3MB)

20 Best Free Digital Image Viewer Updated November 18, 2005
Three good choices here. First there’s the classic IrfanView. Irfan [1] is a first class product but one for which I have mixed feelings. That’s why it’s been in and out of my "46 Best Freeware" list several times. It’s an amazingly capable product but it just doesn’t work the way I want it to. Other users though, just love it. A product I feel more comfortable with is XNView [2]. Like Irfan it is very versatile; it can read and display nearly 400 types of graphic files and convert any of these to over 50 formats. It displays pictures very quickly and these may be viewed full screen, as slideshows or thumbnails. It’s quite capable at processing images, too; you can adjust brightness, color, apply filters or effects, crop photos, re-size, convert format and more. These operations can also be carried out from a batch file, which makes it ideal for converting large digital photos to smaller sizes for the web or emailing. It supports drop and drag, has many plug-ins, is available in 44 languages and has full cross-platform support including Mac. XNView has a lot of similarities with IrfanView, so many in fact,  that it comes perilously close to plagiarism. Put positively, one may say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery however the developer of IrfanView must feel more than a little miffed. XNView is free for non-commercial use, all Windows versions plus many other platforms. The standard version for Windows is 3.3MB but I suggest you download the complete version with all plug-ins which weighs in at 6.8MB. My third choice and personal favorite is FastStone Image Viewer [3]. This is a speed demon with a zippiness in displaying images that’s reminiscent of the old ACDSee before it suffered feature bloat. It supports all major graphic formats and popular digital camera RAW formats as well. It’s also got good basic image editing facilities, a great slide show and a very cute interface. Much to like here. Free for personal use, Windows 98 and later.
[1] http://www.irfanview.com/ (874KB)
[2] http://perso.wanadoo.fr/pierre.g/xnview/endownloadwin32.html (3.3MB)
[3] http://www.faststone.org (3.0MB)

21 Best Free Digital Image Editor  Updated October, 2005
I use to recommend The Gimp but after dozens of letters from newbies who couldn’t manage to install it or work out the idiosyncratic user interface, I’ve decided to confine that recommendation to more experienced users. If that’s you and you patient enough to learn the product’s sometimes quaint ways then you have no need to consider anything else. If you are used to Photoshop you might like to look at GIMPShop, which changes the user interface of GIMP to something more familiar though frankly, I prefer the original.  For other less experienced users I have two recommendations: First there is Paint.net, an amazingly sophisticated piece of work from computer science students at Washington State University. It’s not quite as powerful as The Gimp but a lot easier to use and install. It’s also getting better; the new V2.5 continues this product’s impressive development record. It is however only for Windows 2000 and later and you’ll need Microsoft’s bulky .NET framework installed on your PC. My second choice is PhotoPlus 6.0 from a company called Serif. It’s an impressive piece of work; again it installs easily and it’s loaded with features including layer support. In fact, it looks and feels like a "lite" version of Adobe PhotoShop except that it is relatively easy to use. I say "relatively" because graphics editing is by its nature, not simple.  Both Paint.net and PhotoPlus are outstanding free products. Which is the best?  Easy, the answer  is …  your call ;>)
http://www.gimp.org/windows/ (7.07MB)
http://www.gimpshop.net/  (7.4MB)
http://www.eecs.wsu.edu/paint.net/ (1.1MB)
http://www.freeserifsoftware.com/software/PhotoPlus/default.asp (19.4MB)

22 Best Free Digital Photo Organizer
It’s rare for me to be utterly wowed by a product but this one certainly did it. When you first run Picasa it offers to scan your whole hard drive (or designated locations) for photos and videos. Scanning is surprisingly quick and when finished you’ll have all your shots neatly organized into folders on a time line basis. Now you can view you shots one at a time, in slideshow or traversing the time line. The editing features are limited compared to professional image editors yet they provide you with every function amateur photographers need including one click red eye reduction. Similarly adding labels to photos is a cinch while a simple but effective star rating system allows you to flag favorite snaps. Individual folders can also be password protected. Facilities are provided to import your images from your camera in multiple formats including RAW. You can send photos to your choice of web printing service, cut a CD, print to a local printer or share with others via your own blog or instant messaging. Simply sensational. Windows 98 or later, 300MHz Pentium with 128MB memory or better, 3.2MB.
http://www.picasa.com/

23 Best Free Notepad Replacement  Updated 20th October, 2005
There are lots of text editors and Notepad replacements. Some of these aspire to be programming editors while others try to be word processors.  What I love about EditPad is that, unlike the others, it concentrates on simply being a better plain text editor and in that role, it succeeds brilliantly.  It has a Notepad-like interface combined with tabbed document windows, the ability to open as many documents as you like, no file size limitations and unlimited un-do capability. If however you are looking for something that will also serve as a programming editor you might like to check out Notepad++. It’s not only great for programming but can be used as a Notepad replacement as well. It also supports plug-ins, themes and has multi-language support. Note that I’m not saying that Notepad++ is the best programming editor available, that’s too controversial a category even for me ;>)
http://www.editpadlite.com/editpadlite.html
(973KB)
http://notepad-plus.sourceforge.net/uk/site.htm
(807KB)

24 The Best File Archiver/Zip Utility  Updated October 20, 2005
I checked out six utilities: QuickZip, ICEOWS, IZArc, TUGZip, ZipGenius and 7-Zip. The product that impressed me the most was the Open Source program 7-Zip. It was the only product in the group that could unpack a multi-part RAR volume embedded in a ZIP archive and the only product to give a meaningful error message when an attempt was made to unpack a 256bit encrypted WinZip archive. My only reservation is that it handles fewer archive types than some of the other products; it only supports 7z, ZIP, CAB, RAR, ARJ, GZIP, BZIP2, Z, TAR, CPIO, RPM and DEB . If that’s really important to you than I’d recommend IZArc. It can read nearly 50 archive types including media formats like ISO, BIN and IMG and can write (and convert) to 12. You couldn’t go wrong with either product. 7-Zip is a little more robust while IZArc is a little more flexible. If you already use WinZip you’ll find either 7-Zip or IZArc make excellent companion products. They can can read just about all the major archive formats WinZip can’t, including the widely used RAR.
http://www.izarc.org/download.html Windows 9x and later, 3.1MB
http://www.7-zip.org/ Windows 9x and later, 1.05MB

25 Best Free Hotkey Utility  Updated November 18, 2005
PS Hot Launch VVL [1] is a free utility that allows you to define your own hotkeys so that a single key press can launch an application, insert commonly used text, change your volume, or just about anything else.  Hotkeycontrol works on all versions of Windows and is an excellent performer even on slow machines.  A second alternative is the qliner’s free Open Source "hotkeys" utility [2]. It’s strength is its wide support for international keyboard layouts plus a handy reminder key that flashes up your current hotkey assignments. On the minus side, it’s not quite as flexible as PS Hot Launch and it’s only available for Windows XP. A final option is not really a hotkey utility at all but achieves the same result by using "magic words." SlickRun [3] places a tiny text box on your screen and when you type specially assigned words into the box, it will launch a program, go to a web site or whatever. For example if you type "mail" it can launch your mail reader. Type in "46" and it can take you to the web page of the "46 Best-ever Freeware Utilities." Of course, it’s up to you to define these magic words and you can have as many as you want. It all works very neatly with some really nice touches like auto-complete for your magic words which means you only have to type in two or three letters and SlickRun will complete the rest. Nice too, is an eyedropper tool that allows you to identify a program you want to "hotkey" just by clicking in its application window. There’s also a built-in note jotter and a calendar date display. It requires Win 98 or later.
[1] http://www.pssoftlab.com/pshl_info.phtml (743KB)
[2] http://qliner.com/hotkeys/
(804KB
[3] http://www.bayden.com/SlickRun/ (168KB)

26 Best Free Registry Cleaner Updated November 18, 2005
To keep the registries on my PCs in top running order I use the the registry cleaner "SystemRegistry" in the  Fix-It Utilities though many folks swear by the Registry Cleaner in jv16 PowerTools. Both of these are commercial products though you can still find the last free version of jv16 [1] on the web. In my mind the best registry cleaner is one which reliably fixes problem entries but doesn’t itself cause problems in the process. The products most likely to possess these qualities are those that are conservative in operation and confine their cleaning to removing definite and unambiguous errors. I say this because I have seen as many problems created by registry cleaners as problems solved. This view flies in the face of many who consider, for whatever reason, that the best registry cleaner is the one that finds the most problems. To me such products can be dangerous and not worth owning. That said, my recommendation is Toni Helenius’  free EasyCleaner. It’s a good reliable, conservative performer that will fix all major problem without creating problems of its own  As a bonus, it will also detect duplicate files and help you clean up temp files to make more disk space.  Remember though, as with every Registry cleaner,  to back up your Windows Registry before use. (2.64MB)
[1] http://www.321download.com/LastFreeware/
[2]
http://personal.inet.fi/business/toniarts/ecleane.htm                                                                               

27 Best Free BitTorrent Client  Updated November 18, 2005
It’s amazing how quickly BitTorrent has become one of the major download formats. With good reason, too: it’s fast, equitable and efficient. If you haven’t yet installed a BitTorrent client on your PC, you should as there are some great free clients available. I recommend the Open Source program Azureus. It’s beautifully implemented, well supported and, being Java based, is available for multiple platforms. It also features an embedded tracker so you can host your own torrents and DHT (Distributed Hash Table) which distributes indexing responsibility across multiple clients rather than relying on a single web-based tracker. With BitTorrent sites coming and going regularly DHT is definitely a plus.  One downside with Azureus is that the Java code will eat up your CPU cycles so you need a reasonably fast PC. Those with older machines should check out BitTornado. It’s also cross platform and is fast and highly configurable as well. Both products are adware and spyware free. An interesting new contender is μTorrent which comes in at a tiny 105KB. It’s fast, lean on resources, easy to use and requires no installation. It support trackerless downloads, , multiple simultaneous downloads and UPnP. An impressive achievement for such a tiny package.
http://azureus.sourceforge.net/ (6.4MB)
http://bittornado.com/ (3.3MB)
http://www.utorrent.com/ (105KB)

28 The Best Free FTP Client
I used WS_FTP Pro as my principal FTP client for years. What started out as simple and effective product gradually with each new version became more feature-bloated and less effective for routine tasks. With the release of Version 9 it was clear to me that the product had totally lost its way so I started looking for an alternative. After trying seven different FTP clients I decided that the best for me was the Open Source utility FileZilla. It uses a simple layout based on a two pane interface that looks a bit like the early versions of WS_FTP. But this simplicity is deceptive, it is actually a quite powerful product There’s a full featured site manager, firewall and proxy support, SSL and Kerberos GSS security, restart, drop and drag and a lot more. The only significant feature that’s missing is site-to-site transfer but that’s of no importance to me. What is of importance is that FileZilla is fast, totally reliable, secure and and very easy to use. There’s also a free FileZilla FTP server which I haven’t used but I hear that it’s just as good as the client. (4.5MB)
http://filezilla.sourceforge.net/

29 Best Free Bookmark Cleaner
AM-DeadLink scans your bookmark file for dead links or duplicate links. When I tried it on my huge favorites file I discovered 17% of my links were dead. I’ve now got a much leaner set of favorites and the comfort of knowing that the links actually work. (546KB)                                                   
http://aignes.com/press/deadlink140.htm

30 Best Free Folder Synchronization Utility New! Added October 20, 2005
This is getting scary. First I recommend Microsoft Antispyware as the best free spyware scanner and now I’m going to recommend another Microsoft product as the best in this category. Well, equal best. It’s called SyncToy v1.0 for Windows XP [1]  and, as the name implies, is only for XP – SP2. This program is more than a syncing program; it can copy, move, rename, and delete files between any number of folders and even computers. The program operates on the principal of pre-defined folder pairs. You define and name these pairs and then when you want to perform a sync or other task, you recall one of these pairs and carry out the operation. Syncing can be in either direction and covers all options from complete sync to updating newer files only. The handling of files with changed file names is exceptional as is the backup of overwritten files. Overall, pretty well everything you ever wanted in a sync utility. Also highly recommended is 2brightspark’s SyncBack. It works for Windows 98 and later and has a number of  features that SyncToy lacks such as the ability to back up using FTP.  It’s now a shareware product but the last freeware version is still available from a number of sites including the second link below.
[1] http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyId=E0FC1154-C975-4814-9649-
CCE41AF06EB7&displaylang=en  (844KB)
[2] http://www.snapfiles.com/get/SyncBack.html (1.9MB)

31 Best Free Screen Capture Utility 
Two recommendations here: The first is PrintScreen. It does exactly what I want, in the way I want and furthermore avoids the trap of providing lots of useless and confusing features. It’s the little things that count like making the hot key PrtSc so I don’t have to remember it, and automatically sequentially naming the output files for multiple screen shots. A second recommendation is Screen Hunter. It’s a commercial product but the "lite" free version is excellent, offering more features than Gadwin at the cost of a little added complexity. Both products work with Win 98 and later.
http://www.gadwin.com/printscreen/?prnscr   (976KB)
http://www.wisdom-soft.com/products/screenhunter.htm
  (381KB)

32 Best Free Search Toolbar
Search toolbars allow users to do web searches without having to go first to the home page of a search engine. This really saves a lot of time. In the last year search toolbars have become a hotly competed product class and as result, users now have an excellent choice. The "best" in terms of features is probably Yahoo’s Toolbar whose features include anti-spyware capabilities as well as popup blocking. It’s for Internet Explorer but they are currently offering a beta version for Firefox. My only beef with the Yahoo product is that I prefer to use Google for my web searches rather than Yahoo and that’s why I use the Google Toolbar which also offers popup blocking though no anti-spyware features. On the other hand it includes a useful web form spell-checker and a few other goodies not found in the Yahoo product. Google also offers a full Firefox version as well as the standard IE version. Some folks still like Dave’s Quick Search Bar because it gives access to multiple search engines. Another advantage is that it resides in your task bar rather than your browser so it’s easily accessible from any application. Other Dave’s features include a dictionary, thesaurus, calculator and a lot of customizability.
http://toolbar.yahoo.com/ie
(3MB)
http://www.dqsd.net/  (327KB)
http://toolbar.google.com/deskbar/ (447KB)

33 Best Free Download Manager Updated November 18, 2005
For some time I’ve been recommending Star Downloader but the freeware version has been effectively frozen at version 1.44 with future enhancements restricted to the shareware version. It is however, still a fine choice. After trying half a dozen other products, I’ve settled on "Free Downloader" as my new selection. It’s fast, stable and integrates well into both Internet Explorer and Firefox though the later will require the installation of the free FlashGot extension. With "Free Downloader" there is no embedded adware or nag screen and after using it for a couple of weeks, I’ve decided that it’s actually just as good as Star Downloader with the advantage that it’s still being actively developed. (1.31MB).
http://www.freedownloadmanager.org/download.htm

34 Best Free Web Site Ripper
HTTrack is one impressive product: it’s easy to use, has an excellent user interface, offers every feature you could want, is blindingly fast and free of any adware as well.  If you like to download web sites so that you can "browse them offline", this is the product to get. ( 3.23MB)
http://www.httrack.com/

35 Best Free Download/Upload Meter Updated November 18, 2005
NetMeter [1] shows upload and download speeds, along with cumulative weekly and monthly volumes and projected values. The program reminds me in many ways of Hagel’s excellent $20 shareware product "DU Meter."
 It’s freeware and works with all Windows versions. In essence, everything you really need for nix. A good second choice if you have the Microsoft .NET package already installed on your PC is BitMeter II from Codebox Software [2] . It’s a little more feature rich than NetMeter but uses a tad more of your PCs resources to deliver those features.
[1] http://readerror.gmxhome.de/ (601KB)

[2] http://codebox.no-ip.net/controller?page=bitmeter2  (806KB)

36 Best Free TCP Settings Tweaker
Whether you use a modem or broadband, you’ll get a faster connection if you tweak your connection’s TCP parameters. Among the most important of these is MaxMTU which, in simple terms, needs to be set to the largest value possible without your data being broken up into smaller chunks en-route. Most techies determine MaxMTU by trial and error pinging using different packet sizes but it’s a tedious procedure and definitely not for beginners. TCPOptimizer from SpeedGuide.net is a free utility that will do the job for you automatically. Furthermore, it will use this value to advise you on your other TCP settings and then apply these values at the press of the button. There are commercial programs that will do much the same thing but TCPOptimizer does it just as well and is totally free. The only minus is the lack of in-program help. However you’ll find a useful FAQ at the SpeedGuide site. (225KB)
http://www.speedguide.net/downloads.php
http://www.speedguide.net/faq_in.php?category=100

37 Best Free File Cleaner
I’ve tried quite a few commercial products designed to clean unused, temporary and unnecessary files off your hard disk but must say that the free utility "Empty Temp Folders" [1] ranks with the best. It takes a few minutes to set up but after that, just press a button to recover many megabytes of disk space. An equally attractive alternative is CCleaner [2]. It’s a tad easier to use though not quite as effective in removing temporary files. Its default settings are also quite aggressive so check the options carefully before running for the first time. Both products may be used together for maximum cleaning. Between them you may be surprise how much disk space you will free up.
[1] http://www.danish-shareware.dk/soft/emptemp (667KB)
[2] http://www.ccleaner.com/ (403KB)

38 Best Free Resource Meter Updated November 18 2005
This is cute. TinyResMeter is an itsy-bitsy system monitor. Unlike many other monitors, it doesn’t consume a lot of CPU utilization in order to tell you your CPU utilization. In addition to CPU usage, you can optionally monitor cache, RAM, page file and swap file usage, running processes and threads, disk space utilization and a number of other parameters as well. Also built-in, is a screen grabber that saves the current screen to disk when you press PrintScreen. How the author fits all this into 92KB beats me. A new version is on the way offering even more functionality. If you are like something a little fancier than TinyResMeter then check out StatBar. It’s got more features than you could ever want though but at the cost of a higher resource overhead needed to run the program. Nice product though and easy to try out as the program doesn’t require installation.
http://perso.accelance.net/~pesoft/trm/us_trm.html  (92KB)
http://www.statbar.nl/
(1.65MB)

39 Best Free Sticky Notes Utility   Updated November 18 2005
Some people hate these programs others swear they can’t work effectively without them. I used to be in the first category but with so many things on my plate these days, I’m slowly being converted.  The function that I find really useful is the reminder that pops up at a designated time and date. I use it for simple things like "put up the latest issue on the web site." ATnotes is a neat implementation that features configurable alarms, resizable windows, variable fonts and a host of other useful features. The product is remarkably similar to the class-leading commercial sticky notes utility called, TurboNotes, a case perhaps of imitation being the sincerest form of flattery. NOTE: As of the 30th of May 2005, development work has ceased and the author’s site pulled down. However someone has built a mirror of the author’s site [1] where you can read about ATnotes and download the final version. You can also download ATNotes from the a number of other sites including the second link below. If you want an alternative that is still being developed try StickyPad.  Some folks actually prefer it to ATnotes and I must admit the interface is very slick but I find the alarm function to be rather inflexible. It cannot for example handle recurring events such as birthdays. If you want that functionality you are better of with another sticky note program called "Stickies" from Zhorn Software. It’s not quite as svelte as the other two programs I’ve mentioned but it’s very effective in operation
[1] http://atnotes.free.fr/news.html (723KB)
[2] http://www.pcworld.com/downloads/file_description/0,fid,17660,00.asp
[3] http://www.greeneclipsesoftware.com/stickypad.html (550KB)
[4] http://www.zhornsoftware.co.uk/stickies/ (596KB)

40 Best Free Secure Erase Utility  Updated November 18 2005
Eraser [1] is a free, GNU license utility that will securely erase files, folders or even whole disks from any Windows or DOS PC. Eraser overwrites data area with selectable random data patterns and also wipes data in the paging file, Internet cache, temporary files, Internet cookies, unused disk space and a number of other places where data can secretly lurk.  It handles FAT16, FAT32 and NTFS partitions as well.  Erasing files with high security will always be a difficult and time consuming task and can never offer absolute 100% safety. However Eraser makes the task about as easy as it be, with a security level beyond most conceivable requirements. Another rather different alternative is Darik’s Boot and Nuke  [2]. Its an Open Source program that’s used to construct a floppy disk or CD that will automatically wipe the all hard drives of any PC booted from the disk.  It’s great for bulk disk cleaning of PCs and is useful too as an emergency tool for quickly removing sensitive information.  However this power makes it a dangerous tool in the hands of beginners.
[1] http://sourceforge.net/projects/eraser  (2.8MB)
[2] http://dban.sourceforge.net/ (1.6MB)

41 Best Free Registry Editor
I’ve used the full version of Resplendent Registry Editor for years and have never had any reason to look for an alternative. Recently a subscriber asked me what was the best free registry editor and that made me realize I’ve never looked at that particular product category. The first product I checked out was Registrar Lite, the free version of Resplendent Registry Editor and I’d have to say it’s an impressive freebie. To start with, it works totally reliably – an essential feature for any registry editor. On top of that, the user interface is simple, the functionality excellent and, perhaps most importantly, it has a really fast search. I did, however, miss a "search and delete" option – that’s unfortunately only available on the full product. That said, it leaves Regedit for dead. If you know a better free registry editor, drop me an email. (2.0MB).
http://www.resplendence.com/reglite

42 Best Free Process Viewer
PrcView has long been my personal choice but Process Explorer has pushed it aside. The reason? A better display setup coupled with more features and even more information. Process Explorer uses two vertical panes. The top contains all active processes while the second shows either all the handles opened by a selected process or, optimally, a list of DLLs and memory mapped files. A very handy search feature allows you to work backwards from named DLLs or handles to the owning process. A gem. Freeware, 230KB. 
http://www.sysinternals.com/ntw2k/freeware/procexp.shtml

43 Best Free PC Inventory Tool Updated November 18, 2005
The freeware utility AIDA32 was the best system inventorying tool ever, regardless of price.  It documented just about every aspect of your hardware and software configuration as well as checking networks and providing memory benchmarks. However the developer announced in March 2004 that the free product had been frozen. Development work shifted to a commercial organization called Lavalys and AIDA32 was re-launched as Everest. Lavalys now provides a commercial "professional" version of Everest as well as a free home version [1]. The free version is not as full featured as the old AIDA32 but it is still impressive. You can however still find the old AIDA32 at the second link below[2]. If you  only need to inventory a single PC then you should also check out Belarc Advisor [3]. It’s free for non commercial use and while not quite as thorough as AIDA32, it has the advantage of being actively developed.
[1] http://www.lavalys.com/products.php?lang=en (4.0MB)
[2] http://www.soft32.com/download_9181.html (5MB)
[3] http://www.belarc.com/free_download.html  (830KB)

44 Best Free Search and Replace Utility 
There are several contenders for this title but HandyFile’s excellent Find and Replace program is my favorite. It’s fast, has a simple but effective user interface and some nice features including support for regular expressions. It started life as a free product before going commercial however the free version is still floating around and can be downloaded from a number of sites including the one below. (361KB)
http://www.pcsupportadvisor.com/downloads/HFFRSetup.exe

45 Best Free Outliner Updated November 18, 2005
I’m not a great fan of outliners – my brain doesn’t work that way. Some folks however, swear by them and if that includes you, then you should check out Keynote, an Open Source freeware program that has a dedicated band of followers.  Its major design attribute is its ease of use. Words like "natural" and "seamless" come close to the mark but really don’t capture the essence of what is really a great design. What do you do with it? Well to quote the web site “KeyNote is used by screenwriters to draft screenplays, by medical doctors to keep patient databases, by developers to store source code snippets – and to everyone it serves as a place to put all the random pieces of information that have no particular structure of relationship to other data, and do not fit easily in task-specific applications such as word-processors, databases or spreadsheets.”  Unfortunately the program is no longer being developed but is totally usable in its current form. If you find that a turn-off you might like to consider NeoMem as an alternative. It’s another Open Source program but is not really a dedicated outliner rather more of a general purpose program that can be used as an outliner. It’s a kind of hybrid of a database and word processor that’s designed to allow you to organize, store, hyperlink and search information. That bland description totally under-sells the product.  It’s one of those programs that you really need to use in order to understand the potential. It works with all Windows versions so try it.
[1] http://www.tranglos.com/free/index.html (1.7MB)
[2] http://www.neomem.org/neomem.htm (640KB)

46 Best Free Rename Utility
If you want industrial strength file renaming there are two great choices: First there’s  Lupas Rename 2000. This is a small utility for Win 98 and later that globally renames all the files in a directory and its subdirectories. It can convert names to upper/lower case, change the case of the first letter, add text, left crop, right crop and just about anything else you can think of. And unlike DOS based utilities, it will work on hidden files as well. Add in a nice GUI interface, an undo feature, full preview of changes, MP3 tag renaming, support for regular expressions and the fact that it’s free and you have an outstanding product. The second and equally attractive option is Flexible Renamer. It’s quite similar to Lupas and choosing between them is not easy.  Lupas seems to me to be easier to use for simply renaming files while Flexible Renamer has the edge with tags. Flexible Renamer can also can bulk change file attributes while Lupas can’t. It also runs without installation, a definite plus. However if you only need a re-namer for re-labeling digital photos and MP3 files you might like instead to looked at a program called "THE Rename" (sic)." that’s better suited to these tasks. It’s freeware and works on all versions of Windows though usage is not very intuitive.   
[1] http://www.azheavymetal.com/~lupasrename/download.php   (742KB)
[2] http://hp.vector.co.jp/authors/VA014830/english/FlexRena/    (648KB)
[3] http://www.herve-thouzard.com/modules/wfsection/article.php?articleid=1 (2.8MB)