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Random thoughts on programming
14 Nov 2009

Setting up a New Computer

I recently upgraded to a new Core i7. Installing Windows Vista on a blank hand drive has given me a chance to think about my most commonly used software. I thought it may be interesting to make a list, and perhaps contrast again in a couple of years. Here it is, organized by roughly how I organize my start menu.


  • Blender - A great 3D modeling and rendering program. The learning curve is steep, but the interface is quite good once you're used to it.
  • Gimp - Image editing software. It's fairly easy to script in Scheme.

Math / Plotting

  • Gnuplot - Plotting software.
  • Graphviz - Graph visualization software. Useful for flow charts and other diagrams.
  • Maxima - Computer algebra system. Amazingly useful for anyone who uses math.


  • Ack - Text searching. It's quite a bit better than grep, like the URL says.
  • CMake - A decent cross platform build system. I use this with most of my C and C++ projects.
  • Dependency Walker - Windows tool for listing dependencies. Don't even think of publishing software with using this tool first. You're forgetting a DLL. Yes you are.
  • Doxygen - Source code documentation tool.
  • OllyDbg - 32-bit assembler level analyzing debugger.
  • Strawberry Perl - Perl for Windows.
  • TortoiseSVN - A nice subversion client for Windows. It integrates nicely with Windows Explorer.
  • Vim - A great text editor. I use this for everything. Typing in any other editor only breeds contempt and frustration. Seriously.
  • MinGW and MSYS - C and C++ compilers for Windows. MinGW is a port of GCC. MSYS is useful for compiling free software using the GNU build system.


  • 7-zip - Compression software. It can be ran from the command line, so I also use it to automate backups.
  • ImgBurn - CD/DVD burning. I'd sooner stab my eyes out than use some of the commercial software available for this task.
  • UltraMon - If you run dual (or more) monitors, you need this software. It's sad to think that Windows doesn't include these features out of the box. This is the only software on this list that isn't free.
  • QTTabBar - Adds tabs to Windows Explorer. Very useful. Unfortunately, it also seems a bit buggy from time to time. So there it is. Not too exciting.

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