Step 1: Lets Start With the Small Stuff....... Paint.Net
Step 2: Lets See Photoshop......$999 AUGHHHHHHH Gimp Shop----Free Yay!
Step 3: Animate It--------Pivot Stickfigure Animator
Step 4: Ditch Ms Office and Get the Better Side of Life_________ OpenOffice
Step 5: Firefox
Get Firefox here
Step 6: Audacity
It also intelligently saves recordings in progress to the hard disk on the fly, so it is capable of continuously recording uninterrupted sound for as long as you have hard disk space- if you have a reasonably sized hard disk this is a large number of hours, so you can happily leave Audacity to record, say, a whole radio show.
Get Audacity here, debian packages are also available.
Step 7: Eclipse SDK
I started off writing Java programs in Notepad and compiling them at the command line, but for projects over a certain size this approach becomes impractical- this is where Eclipse steps in.
Get the Eclipse IDE here, debian packages are also available.
Step 8: Puppy Linux
Puppy Linux is a Linux live cd- throw it in your CD drive, turn your computer on, make sure the BIOS is set to check for bootable CDs and it will fire up. The entire operating system is 50MB in size, meaning it will also fit on a USB stick the size that you can get free from career fairs- this is worth doing as you can save files onto the remainder of the stick to use with Puppy if you don't want it to touch your hard disk.
It's pretty full featured- has a browser, email, instant messenging, basic office software (writer, spreadsheet), drawing programs, music and DVD player, CD burner and a lot of system administration tools for things like partitioning and formatting hard drives which make it very useful as a system rescue disk.
The programs are mostly chosen for their lightweight nature- rather than the latest Firefox it uses the very simple Dillo browser, for instance, with the result that it can run on even the oldest computers. I used Puppy to rejuvenate an elderly laptop (500MHz PIII, 64MB RAM, 4GB hard disk) that was too slow to run Windows ME properly and it ran like a dream with Puppy.
It isn't a panacea that will solve all your computing woes- the interface, while simple, is odd (single clicks on files or shortcuts open them and you can't change this), and like any Linux system it requires a little knowledge of how UNIX-like systems behave, but it is still remarkably easy to use. The newer versions include hardware detection so an average PC with standard components should autodetect without any problems.
But if you needed any more persuading that Puppy is worthwhile having...
Imagine you use Windows, and for some reason your installation gets damaged or corrupted in some way and won't boot up. Would you rather
a) use the Microsoft repair utility, hope that it can patch up whatever is wrong with your machine and hope that if that is possible, you will still have some of your files left at the end, and of course go to an internet cafe every time you want to check your emails
b) stick in a CD, boot into a fully-featured operating system with all the tools mentioned above that will let you recover your files, try to fix the problem yourself and let you be productive with your machine while your primary OS is down?
Download a Puppy Linux ISO here and check out the documentation and Wiki
Step 9: Inchman's Contribution
Two more applications that free, fast, small, and amazingly effective are irfanview and VLC player.
First, is irfanview.It's an image viewer software on steroids. Not only is it the only program you need to deal with images and even video, but it can do some great batch processing of files.
Here is the website:
With this software, you can quickly view and categorize image files. It's small, lightweight, and completely full featured. This software needs to be on every machine you work on.
Here are just a few of it features:
Multi language support
Paint option - to draw lines, circles, arrows, straighten image etc.
Slideshow (save slideshow as EXE/SCR or burn it to CD)
Show EXIF/IPTC/Comment text in Slideshow/Fullscreen etc.
Support for Adobe Photoshop Filters
Fast directory view (moving through directory)
Batch conversion (with image processing)
Effects (Sharpen, Blur, Adobe 8BF, Filter Factory, Filters Unlimited, etc.)
Extract icons from EXE/DLL/ICLs
Lossless JPG rotation
Some of its benefits are:
Only one EXE-File, no DLLs, no Shareware messages like "I Agree" or "Evaluation expired"
Plenty of add-ins!
No registry changes without user action/permission!
The second free application is VLC Player.
This is one of the most amazing video players I have ever seen. It handles just about every file type, fast and without delaying a codec each time.
VLC media player is a highly portable multimedia player supporting most audio and video formats (H.264, Ogg, DivX, MKV, TS, MPEG-2, mp3, MPEG-4, aac, ...) from files, physical media (DVDs, VCD, Audio-CD), TV capture cards and many network streaming protocols.
It can also convert media files, transcode and act as a streaming server over unicast or multicast and IPv4 or IPv6. It doesn't need any external codec, program or codec pack to work.