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essential software

This is a list of all the standalone software and cloud based software I have used and have found useful over the years. It's all free and some of it is portable and can be run from a memory stick. If you find any useful software / sites, please let me know and I'll add them to the list. Also, if you find any of the details have changed, please let me know as well - I don't check this list very often.

Great software you can't do without
The classic binary game - I've only ever beaten it once.
7-Zip is a file archiver with a high compression ratio.
Enjoy watching, trying, and learning with this guide to algorithms.
Alice is an innovative block-based programming environment that makes it easy to create animations, build interactive narratives, or program simple games in 3D.
Altap Salamander is a fast and reliable two-panel file manager for Windows.
Program that makes easier the renaming of lots of files and folders by using specified settings.
The easiest way to create GUIs in Python.
Sound editor. For saving files as MP3, you also need to install the 'LAME encoder' (link in this list).
Write automated scripts for Windows. With this utility, you can write automated scripts for windows. It's quite tricky but very rewarding.
Used mainly for cropping PDF files.
Base Converter is a convenient tool which helps you convert numbers between bases from 2 to 36.
Bitty Data Logger will not magically obtain the data you want to chart. You must program the other device (e.g. micro:bit) correctly.
3D Graphics for free!
BlueJ is an integrated Java development environment specifically targeted at learning. Requires the Java Development Kit to be installed to work.
Educational software for visualising automata. Already portable.
Java based CPU simulator. Already portable - see installation notes.
Free ebook manager with advanced features.
The free space simulation that lets you explore our universe in three dimensions.
An innovative and powerful networking simulation tool used for practice, discovery and troubleshooting.
Mind mapping software. Free, extremely powerful and server-client based Knowledge Modelling Application. Registration is required for download but the software is free.
Alternative user interface designed for use by less dextrously able computer users.
The ultimate game engine for web and mobile.
Intelligent defragmentation of your hard drive to speed up performance and reduce wear and tear.
Free and powerful diagram editing software.
Software for visualisation of EBNF grammars. You can also generate grammars from your own language. I will provide you with a pascal grammar (initially!). The version you can download from the developer will not run on windows 7 so I have provided an amended version of the software to download from the resources box. Already portable.
Cross platform IDE for developing in lots of different languages, including Java. Eclipse requires the Java Runtime Environment to run and the Java Development Kit to be installed if you are developing in Java. Already portable - simply extract the downloaded ZIP file, copy to your desired directory and run 'eclipse.exe'.
Ext2Read is an explorer like utility for Windows machines to explore Linux ext2 / ext3 / ext4 file systems, commonly used on Linux systems and servers. Already portable.
Free powerful calculator involving RPN functions.
FTP Client and Server applications.
Free software to simulate flowcharts.
Free and open source implementation of Pascal programming language. Available as a standalone compiler and a old fashioned DOS programming environment.
Great, actively developed free mind mapping application.
Graphic Manipulation. The GNU Image Manipulation Program for photo retouching and advanced graphics work. A good replacement for Adobe Fireworks if you can't afford it (which most people can't).
A lightweight Integrated Development Environment (IDE). You will need to download the full windows installer (or whatever platform you are using) which includes the GTK2+ runtime environment. You also need to add information about the Python Interpreter to be able to use Geany effectively.
Metadata editor. If your photos have the wrong timestamp on them or you want to remove or add GPS data to them, use this very powerful EXIF data editor.
GPL Interpreter for PostScript language and for PDF generation. Required by Scribus.
The best browser? The portable version does have a few issues.
Very capable graphing calculator for windows.
A visual programming environment related to BlueJ which allows you to learn to program in Java. Requires the Java Development Kit to the installed to work.
Free, opensource screenshot utility. It allows you to take screenshots of the entire screen, windows and areas. Extremely useful and fast!
Haskell is a functional programming language which concentrates on provided ways of manipulating data using functions and does not take account of the state or position of the program. There is a 'portable' option in the installation.
HeidiSQL is a lightweight, windows based application for managing MySQL or MSSQL databases.
Fantastic panorama stitching program. If you take multiple photographs using your digital camera, make sure they overlap slightly and throw them into Hugin to create an amazing panorama photo. There are too many options in the program to talk about but creating a simple panorama is surprisingly easy.
Program little office workers to solve puzzles.
Free icon editor. Only the portable version is free so that's the link I've given.
ImgBurn is a lightweight CD / DVD / HD DVD / Blu-ray burning application that everyone should have in their toolkit!
An Open Source vector graphics editor, with capabilities similar to Illustrator, CorelDraw, or Xara X, using the W3C standard Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) file format.
Open source Python implementation which allows Python programmers access to the Windows .net framework. This installs only the native Iron Python interpreter. If you want to use an IDE, you can use Python Tools for Visual Studio (PVTS) to integrate Iron Python (or 'normal' Python) with a current installation of Microsoft Visual Studio (free or paid versions).
A free processor simulator. Already portable
Useful software for experimentation with formal languages, FSM, FSA, Turing machines etc. Only really useful for A Level Computing. I can provided a version of JFLAP which integrates with the PortableApps platform with this document. Already portable with JRE.
Known as the JDK, installing this allows you to develop applications in Java. It does not provide an IDE - you'll have to use Netbeans or Eclipse for that. Since Oracle own Netbeans, you can download a bundle from the link which will install the JDK and Netbeans at the same time.
Required to run any Java Applications. Does not allow you to develop java applications (using any third party applications or native java programming) - for this, you need to use the Java Development Kit (included with Netbeans).
Java based tools to model Finite State Machines, Turing machines and other cool stuff using a ladybird! Requires the JRE to work. The download page is in German but the English downloads are on the right (with an 'en' in the filename). The ones with an 'x' in the name don't have the solutions. I suggest you download Kara and TuringKara. I can provide a version of Kara and Turing Kara which integrates with Portable Apps in the resources. Already portable with the JRE.
General learning for the great good.
Programming environment similar to Hackerty Hack aimed at teaching younger people to code in Ruby programming language.
Game development. Kodu lets kids create games on the PC and XBox via a simple visual programming language. There is an online community which you can share your creations with as well as get help.
Krita is a professional FREE and open source painting program. It is made by artists that want to see affordable art tools for everyone.
Install this to enable Audacity to save MP3 files.
Really quite nice, modern, Delphi compatible, Pascal programming environment designed to allow you to create full windows applications. Produced by the same people that brought you Free Pascal.
Fully fledged and widely used free Office suite designed as a replacement for Microsoft Office. It does have it's quirks but is extremely powerful and will enable you to open, edit and create Office documents for nothing. Very useful! An alternative to this is Oracle Open Office - Libre Office is a 'fork' of this project.
Get coding in minutes (NOT FREE)
Free utility for modelling Logic Gates.
Free utility for logic gate and circuit modelling. Already portable if your have the JRE.
Another fantastic utility from Bullzip - this adds an option to the right click context menu which allows you to calculate the MD5 hash of any file. Often, software download sites provide a publisher MD5 hash - by comparing this published value to the hash of the actual download, you can tell if the file you have downloaded has been tampered with or not.
Create your own Android applications online using this free tool from MIT - they people that brought you Scratch. You need a Google Account to use this.
Open source alternative to MySQL written by original MySQL developers. This is now used by XAMPP.
Mathcast is an equation editor which allows you to produce complex mathematical equations to use in other documents, online or in presentations.
Free implementation of the ML functional programming language. You will need to follow the detailed manual installation instructions carefully.
Another leading browser provided by the Mozilla Foundation.
The world standard, freely installable SQL database management system.
Free UML Class Designer software which allows you to create UML diagrams with full Java and C# support.
Really useful network tool to scan local networks to discover IP addresses of computers. Lots of advanced functions available like WOL (wake on lan). Make sure you download from the link at the bottom of the page - there are lots of 'download' links which aren't for this product! Already portable.
Multifunctional Text Editor with syntax highlighting. Notepad++ is a free source code editor and Notepad replacement that supports several languages.
Numerical convertor.
Free and open source screen recording and streaming software
Visual traceroute tool. Free and open source Java application. The software depends on the installation of WinPCap (see below) - the Windows Packet Capture driver - and the JRE. Also, the graphics requirements are quite high so it may not work so well on lower powered devices.
Steganography Tool. Steganography is the science of hiding secret message inside another larger and harmless looking message. This free application will enable you to engage in secret communication with your friends. The application is a portable Java executable - you can either download the installer or the zip package from the sourceforge homepage. Look in the 'lib' folder and double click the .jar file.
Yet another browser! Opera is optimised for speed and relability.
Paint.net is free photo editing software for computers that run Windows. Make sure you use the Download link on the top right - the other ones are adverts.
Pencil is built for the purpose of providing a free and open-source GUI prototyping tool that people can easily install and use to create mockups in popular desktop platforms.
Photofiltre is a complete image retouching program.
Colour picker - allows you to find out the colour of any pixel on the screen. Great for graphic design. Already portable.
Probably banned in school but provides a lot of free, portable versions of some really useful software (and games!). The platform also provides a useful way of organising your files on your USB drive. There are loads of really useful applications available as part of the PortableApps suite - I've provided links to them if I can in the software descriptions. By definition, already portable!
A collection of software tools to allow secure communication, SFTP and creation of private and public keys. All tools are portable.
PyScripter is a cross platform development environment which picks up the installed Python programming interpreter automatically. This makes it easier to use but it does have a few quirks.
Python is a programming environment which allows you to work more quickly and easily. There are currently two versions of Python - 2.7.x and 3.4.x. There are differences between them - some functions are not cross compatible. You can run both versions on the same computer at the same time. Both installations will come with their own IDLE code editor.
RAPTOR is a flowchart-based programming environment, designed specifically to help students visualize their algorithms and avoid syntactic baggage. There are lots of documents on the webpage to help you learn to use the software.
Recover accidentally deleted files and folders
The Regex Coach is a graphical application for Windows which can be used to experiment with (Perl-compatible) regular expressions interactively.
Software library that implements a zero configuration, portable SQL database engine. Can't really provide an installation for this - it really needs to be run portably - that is the whole point. Download it and put it in the root of your USB drive. Already portable - that's the point.
Declarative / Logic Programming. SWI-Prolog offers a comprehensive free software Prolog environment
Create Micro:bit programs on your Samsung phone.
THE software to create games, animations and stories using a block based programming environment. The intention is that you use Scratch in the browser by visiting the Scratch website. However, you can download and offline version from the link.
Professional, free layout tool for producing professional publications. A bit like Microsoft Publisher.
Fantastic, free programming environment provided by Microsoft based on the Basic programming language of old.
SoftPerfect Network Scanner can ping computers, scan ports, discover shared folders and retrieve practically any information about network devices via WMI, SNMP, HTTP, SSH and PowerShell.
SoloLearn has the largest collection of FREE code learning content, from beginner to pro!
PC Profiler. Discover what's inside your computer.
High precision, powerful desktop calculator.
A full blown coding adventure game (NOT FREE)
Fantastic virtual planetarium. You are better off installing this because it's a bit slow of your flash drive.
The Wick Editor is a free, open-source tool for creating games, animations, and everything in-between!
VNC (Virtual Network Connection) software allows you to control other computers from yours. It's a bit like Remote Desktop Connection which is part of Windows but Tight VNC allows you to share control of a machine rather than just taking over it. There is a server which you install on the machine you wish to remote control and then you use the client on the machine doing the controlling.
Fantastic piece of software which allows you to easily create a bootable USB drive containing any one of a massive list of Linux distributions or other utilities. Already portable.
Start bringing your vision to life today with the Unity real-time 3D development platform.
A program designed to extract / unzip all kinds of archives and installers such as ZIP or RAR files, self-extracting EXE files, application installers etc.
This small application allows to create and simulate any Deterministic or Non-Deterministic Finite Automata (DFA or NFA) as well as Turing Machines (TM). Portable if your have the JRE installed.
Installs a 'virtual CD / DVD' drive which allows you to mount .iso and .img files and access them as if they were physical drives. Don't be tempted to download any of the other software from Slysoft however - I think they might be illegal to use in the UK ...
A free virtualisation platform for any platform which allows you to create and run 'virtual machines'. This means that you can experiment with different operating systems like Linux or BSD without having to remove your existing OS from your computer. Shares the physical resources of the host machine so your existing computer needs to be quite high specification or else it will slow down.
The Windows Packet Capture Library is a free, industry standard network packet capture library. It's unlikely you'll use this as it is but various other applications (like OpenVisualTraceroute and WireShark require this to be installed for them to work.
Portable Python platform with masses of libraries included out of the box. Already portable.
WinSCP is a secure file transfer application which supports Secure FTP and SCP (secure copy protocol) file transfers. It allows secure file transfer from a local to a remote computer.
Wireshark is the world's foremost network protocol analyzer. It lets you see what's happening on your network at a microscopic level.
Zenware writing interface. Already portable with some dependancies (see installation instructions).
XAMPP is an easy to install Apache distribution containing MySQL, PHP and Perl.
Free and quite quirky calculator. Already portable.
Barcode and QR code generator. Really useful these days for phones with barcode readers installed. Careful - doesn't work well with small displays (netbooks) since the buttons at the bottom of the window do not show (unless you hide the taskbar).
Great, free diagramming software with built in templates for flowcharts, UML diagrams etc. Choose the Download option and then download the 'Executable Jar' file rather than the installer. Already portable with the JRE.
Last modified: September 3rd, 2021