Friday, 17 March 2006, 8:36:32 EST

It has been a little over a year since I bought my PowerBook, my first Macintosh. One of the deciding factors in my purchase was the availability of free software; either Free Open Source Software (FOSS) or plain old freeware. The FOSS movement is still gaining ground in the Mac world. But those developers that haven't quite succumbed to the FOSS philosophy, are mostly offering the fruits of their labor as freeware. In fact, the free software movement is growing so much that there is a website, freemacware.com, dedicated to reviewing the best free software available on the Macintosh. Which brings me to the point of this post. Freemacware.com is having a contest regarding freeware and this is my entry. I am going to cover five of the programs they have listed, which I use regularly, if not on a daily basis. So, let's get started.

The first I want to cover is Coconut Battery. This is an awesome program which keeps track of your laptop's battery life. It reports the current battery charge, maximum battery charge, current battery capacity, and the original battery capacity along with a percentage left thereof. It also reports the number of load cycles the battery has gone through. All of this information can be saved and reviewed later. For example, my current battery capacity is 3430mAh out of an original 4400mAh; or, 77% of the original battery life. I intend to buy a new battery when I get to 50% original life and this program makes it very easy to determine when that will be.

Second, is Cyberduck. Cyberduck is an FTP/SFTP client with a builtin bookmark manager. I covered this program briefly in my Quicksilver write-up. I don't think I could get by on a Mac without Cyberduck. I do a lot of transferring via SFTP and Cyberduck makes this very easy with its full drag-n-drop support. One really awesome thing about Cyberduck is its integration with various freeware text editors, such as Smultron. This integration makes it super easy to edit remote documents "locally." Basically, you select the remote document you would like to edit, click the editor button in Cyberduck, edit the file like normal, and then save in place Cyberduck takes care of the rest.

Next up is Disk-Inventory-X. This is a port of a KDE program. With Disk-Inventory-X, you can quickly find the largest files and directories on your hard drive. This makes it super easy to reclaim disk space when you suddenly find you are out. The program is difficult to put into words. You just have to try it to understand it. Yes, there is a Windows port.

Another neat application is Paparazzi!. It's not a program I use a whole lot, but it is definitely handy to have around. Paparazzi! will take a "picture" of any given website (provided it isn't password protected). You can save specific regions of the site, e.g. the region you can see in a standard web browser viewport, or the whole thing. A good example of the latter option is this atrocity of a Covertte that I found on eBay a few months back.

And finally, the program I use almost all the time iTerm. The terminal emulator that comes with OS X is okay for the average user, but for anyone that spends a lot of time in a terminal session it sucks. iTerm is a superb replacement. It supports full transparency, tabs, bookmarks, different terminal types, and more. Unless you are using xterm via X11, I don't know why you would be using anything other than this for terminal emulation. It just plain rocks.

There you have it. Five, okay seven, great examples of freeware on the Macintosh. There are many, many, more; these are just the few that I decided to pick. I tried to pick some that I thought might be overlooked and some that just have to be mentioned. If you can't find what you are looking for on freemacware.com, then http://osx.hyperjeff.net/Apps/ is a good place to start. There is also the DarwinPorts project if you need stuff like TeXmacs and Octave.

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