The Essential Software List

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Format: Title/Link: Brief Description


Network Utilities

AdvancedRemoteInfo - Great util! Learn everything about any computer on your network. List and kill remote processes, remote screenshots, even get an hardware inventory using its batch option. Free.

Angry IP Scanner - Useful for troubleshooting and port scanning

BeyondExecv2 - Free, tiny but very, very useful and powerful tool for the Windows network admin. Spawn processes (such as .exe's or batch files) on multiple remote machines simultaneously without having to install anything on the clients! Can also be used to shutdown and reboot machines.

Cyberdefender - Internet security suite (Windows) Including Antispam, Antivirus, Firewall, Antispyware.

CurrPorts - CurrPorts displays the list of all currently opened TCP/IP and UDP ports on your local computer, process info attached to the port, process path etc, very handy tool.

HP Procurve Visio Templates

HP Procurve Configurator - Great for finding the right switch for the job ;)

iTALC - Intelligent Teaching And Learning with Computers, by the same coder who brought you LMMS, allows teachers to remotely power on/off and restart, view, control, send messages to labs/classrooms of computers that have the iTALC client installed ala Netsupport. iTALC is GPL software which has both *nix/X11 and Windows client and server aspects.

LanView 3 - LanView is software developed by MST Software. Use this tool to monitor your network with added tools such as messaging, remote viewing and control, station management, scheduler and more. (unfortunatly LanView is no longer made or avalable so new users cannot obtain this product, but I will leave it on the list for those that have it already)

NetSetMan - Allows you to quickly and easily switch between multiple static/dynamic wired and wireless network settings.

NTttcp - Winsock-based port of the ttcp tool that measures networking performance in terms of bytes transferred per second and CPU cycles per byte. (Tutorial)

Specops GpUpdate - Add on for AD User & Computers that lets you start/shutdown/reboot computers and force remote GP updates.

The Dude Network Monitor - network monitor is a new application by MikroTik. It will automatically scan all devices within specified subnets, draw and layout a map of your networks, monitor services of your devices and alert you in case some service has problems.

UltraVNC - Now almost perfect. Just waiting for the fully integrated encryption...

VNC Neighbourhood - Scans the LAN for VNC servers. Very slick

WiFiFoFum - A brilliant WiFi Access Point locator for PocketPC

Wireshark (Formerly Ethereal) - Stunning network analyzer (sniffer). Much more usable and with more features than Windows' built-in Network Monitor

Packetyzer - Packet Analyzer like Wireshark but more polished and easier to use

SUS/WSUS - SUS was ace, it just worked. WSUS seems a bit more fussy, but I'm still getting used to it

Active Directory Utilities / Add-ons

ADmanager plus - ADmanager plus does a whole bunch of stuff that should be standard in AD such as modifying accounts in bulk. Commercial software with free trial version available.

ASSM - Assigned Software Sequence Manager - Change the order of installation of GP assigned software.

Energy Star EZ GPO - Control everyones power settings, including the logon screen

Group Policy Management Console - Well done Microsoft, you're getting the hang of it now..

Policy Maker Registry Extension - Need to make registry adjustments via GP? This is the freebie for you.

Policy Reporter - Fantastic utility for troubleshoot group policy problems. Easily enable full USERENV logging on local/remote PC, then load the log and analyse it. 10 out of 10.

Windows Server Utilities

Microsoft File Server Migration Toolkit 1.0 - Microsoft File Server Migration Toolkit 1.0 provides several tools that simplify the file server migration process and minimize the impact of file server migration on users.

Solarwinds Exchange Monitor

  • Quickly identify and troubleshoot Exchange server problems, preventing email delays and calendaring issues
  • Spot growing mail queues that can indicate bigger issues, like transport failures, Internet connection failures, and virus activity
  • Leverage out-of-the-box settings based on best practices to start monitoring Exchange immediately
  • Prevent performance issues before they impact users with built-in red, yellow, and green health indicators
  • Monitor critical server health indicators, including disk space, CPU utilization, and memory utilization, to ensure optimal hardware functionality
  • SolarWinds Exchange Monitor supports Microsoft Exchange Server 2000 and 2003.

Found By: ICTNUT

Spotlight on Windows - With its unique graphical view of the Windows OS internals, Spotlight on Windows empowers you to quickly identify and eliminate bottlenecks in the Windows environment. Displaying the real-time flow of data within your Windows OS, Spotlight enables you to quickly identify and resolve performance problems.

General Utilities

7zip - File archiver and extracter (Packing / unpacking: 7z, ZIP, GZIP, BZIP2 and TAR Unpacking only: RAR, CAB, ISO, ARJ, LZH, CHM, Z, CPIO, RPM, DEB and NSIS )

Agent Ransack - Excellent free replacement for Windows built in search. Supports conventional wildcards and regular expressions.

Aida32 (3.93) - I use a script to execute this once a day on every networked PC. The results are recorded on the server. Provides a simple harware & software audit

bartPE Clone of WinPE can even boot from USB stick if prodded. Comes as standard as a bootable CD. It get windows files from a windows XP CD. There are numerous plugin available including disk imaging utilities, Anti virus, chkdsk, PuTTY, VNC and nero.

Burn At Once - Quick and easy ISO image ripper/creator/burner

Colasoft Mac Scanner Colasoft MAC Scanner will display scan results in the list, including IP address, MAC address, Host Name and Manufacture. It will group all IP addresses according to MAC address if a MAC address is configured with multiple IP addresses. The scanned results can be exported into .txt file for future reference.

CsvEd - Useful CSV editor - I use it to manipulate CSV files of user info when bulk creating user accounts (I hate having to get up and work to a workstation with Excel on it!)

DaemonTools - Thankyou, thankyou, thanyou Mr DaemonTools whoever you are. No more shall we pay Avantis ridiculous prices for CD serving! Virtual CD drives (**Version 4 now out !**)

DaemonScript - Handy add-on for DaemonTools that enables shortcuts to be created which auto-map drives to ISO images

Dtaskmanager - Best task manager replacement ever. It has the ability to ctrl click multiple processes and kill them all at once which makes getting rid of those multi task viruses very easy.

DumpSec & CopyPwd - Rapid clever reports on file system security, users, groups, shares, registry security. CopyPwd dumps password hashes so they can be reimported to new servers. I find these tools easier than ADMT in many cases.

Duplicate File Finder - Find all those duplicate movies and pictures and other files taking up space on your Shared Areas. Searches can be filtered and exported to csv, html, rtf or text.

Edugeek's Admin's Admin Bar - I got fed up visiting PCs and either not having access to tools I use the most, or having them scattered in various locations. This was a chance to have them all in one place. I hope other admins - [ mainly school ones find the 'All In One Collection' handy for the day to day running of their network / networks ]

Entech Multires - Useful when a bit of software changes the screen resolution/refresh rate.

Filemon - Logs all filesystem access (with filters) so you can see which directories/files need opening up to let crappily made educational software run as a pupil.

Free Codec Pack - bundled codec

HP Bootable USB Disk Creator - Plus it doesn't //just// work with HP pen drives! Support PDF

Img Burn - Quick and easy ISO image ripper/creator/burner/verifier that works with vista 32 & 64

JDiskReport - Java utility to analyze disk space usage. Very slick.

K-Lite Codec Pack - Real Alternative and Quicktime Alternative together in one package (both of which are less processor-intensive than the official versions, and can run on lower spec hardware).

Office Viewers (Word2003/Excel2003) - Useful on servers to read .DOc and .XLS files

Openstages OpenStages is an interactive 3-D computer model of any theatre or performance space into which are placed the systems usually associated with performance; lights, sound, fly bars, revolves and trucks etc

PC Inspector File Recovery - Recover corrupt/deleted data from duff floppies, hard disks etc. for free

PopTray - Monitor all your old fashioned POP accounts from the handy tray based utility.

Process Explorer (SysInternals) - Much more useful than task manager

PSTOOLS - Very useful set of tools to do just about anything to remote machines.

PuTTY - An excellent telnet/secure-shell client (cross-platform)

QuickTime Alternative - Allows QuickTime media playback without QuickTime player.

Real Alternative - Allows Real media playback WITHOUT Real Player and plays DVDs in XP SP1 without installing horrid software.

Regmon - Logs all registry access (with filters) so you can see which keys need opening up to let crappily made educational software run as a pupil.

Robocopy (XP Resource Kit) - Ultimate (along with XXCOPY) command line copy utility. Copy files with permissions, synch folders and all that jazz

SetACL - Command line utility and ActiveX control for access control list modifications. Excellent!

Synergy - Synergy lets you easily share a single mouse and keyboard between multiple computers with different operating systems, each with its own display, without special hardware. It's intended for users with multiple computers on their desk since each system uses its own monitor(s).

The Attribute Changer - Fantastic utility to change lots of file attributes. Filters etc.

Treesize Pro - Ever wanted to find out who or what was using the most disk space on your servers? This software will scan the entire area you choose and report how big folders are and what file types are in there. Great for a quick scan of a user's area to find out if they really need more space, or to delete something they don't need!\\ The freeware version is called Treesize Free

Universal Extractor - Extract files from just about any source, including ISO, EXE, MSI. You name it!

Unlocker - Can't delete a file? Try this... Awesome!

UPHClean - Clean up after user logoff

USBdlm (drive letter manager) - Sort out the assignment of drive letters to those pesky USB drives.

WinDirStat - Windows "disk usage statistics viewer and cleanup tool" using a very clever method of visualizing file sizes. Good at finding big files tucked away in Windows's nooks and crannies!

Windows Installer CleanUp Utility Cleans up bad installs etc.

Screen Capture & Recording

CamStudio - Record your screen to AVI or Flash, with sound.

MWSnap - MWSnap is a small yet powerful Windows program for snapping (capturing) images from selected parts of the screen.

Wink - Record screen to Flash or Flash-EXE with annotations and/or sound. Usually produces smaller files than CamStudio.

Expression Encoder 4 Standard - Combines both a converter for video formats and a capture option allowing up to ten minutes of screen recording simultaniously capturing microphone and webcam input for annotation.

Installation Utilities / RIS / MSI

Apt - Automatically installs all the sofware you could ever want !

Clonezilla - Clonezilla is an open source disk imaging tool similar to ghost. Its got a clunky, retro interface but it creates images much faster, gives more options and I've personally found it more reliable than ghost. Also see drbl-live and PING (partimage is not ghost)

CreateurSFX - A handy little tool to auto create 7zip silent installers

DriverPacks - have collected together almost every driver and made it easy to make a remastered Windows install CD that sets up most all hardware automatically. Can also be used to upgrade existing installs. Perfect companion to nlite/ vlite.

FOG - Fog is a Linux-based, free and open source computer imaging solution for Windows XP and Vista that ties together a few open-source tools with a php-based web interface. Fog doesn't use any boot disks, or CDs; everything is done via TFTP and PXE. Also with fog many drivers are built into the kernel, so you don't really need to worry about drivers (unless there isn't a linux kernel module for it). Fog also supports putting an image that came from a computer with a 80GB partition onto a machine with a 40GB hard drive as long as the data is less than 40GB.

Fog also includes a graphical Windows service that is used to change the hostname of the PC, restart the computer if a task is created for it, and auto import hosts into the FOG database. The service also installs printers, and does simple snap-ins.

MakeMSI - MAKEMSI is a freeware tool which enables you to easily and reliably create low overhead "MSI" or "Windows Installer" based installers

NLite - Build your own custom OS disks/ISO images. Sliptream service packs and more...

Nullsoft Scriptable Install System - Handy if you have any software to distribute. Use this to create a self-extracting installer.

Office Resource Kits - Essential when deploying Office via GP that is...

Orca - Fairly simple app, but absolutely indespensible when working with MSIs. (unless you are posh and have WISE) ((To get ORCA.MSI, download & run PSDK-x86.exe. Do a custom install and de-select all components except Windows Installer SDK\Tools. This should install a minimum set of files (~61MB !) but with ORCA.MSI present in '%ProgramFiles%\Microsoft Platform SDK for Windows 2003 Server R2\Bin'. If you wish, make a copy of ORCA.MSI then un-install the Platform SDK.))

Orca - This is a link which is published on Aaron Stebner's WebLog. When tested, it produced the latest version of Orca (3.1.3790)

RBFG2 (Remote Boot Floppy Generator 2) - Not sure where I picked this up, but basically it builds RIS boot disks and supports a few extra NICs that the standard MS RBFG

SourceEdit - Great freeware editor for .VBS files

Windows Installer Command Line Builder - Free tool from Wise which builds those tricky MSIEXEC command lines.

Windows Installer Wrapper Wizard - Quickly wraps silent installs in simple MSI package


AutoIT 3 - If you can't package it, wrap it or script it, you can usually AutoIT (sorry!) - Amazing piece of software. Get the SCiTE editor package to go with it.

Blat - Send emails from a command line or, more importantly, a script. Also has a .dll version. (Public domain)

Joes Components - Makes scripting life a lot easier (INI files, decent registry access)

MS Scripting Tools - A whole manner of useful tools to help you write scripts for Windows

Take Command - Used to be called 4NT, which was the successor to 4DOS. TC is the perfect tool for those who are unhappy with the standard Windows cmd.exe shell. TC features persistent command history, tabs, better/more scripting language support, faster display and more.

Web / Internet

Aptana Studio - Based on Eclipse, Aptana is an open source, cross platform web 2.0 IDE that supports AJAX, Javascript, Rails, PHP, Python, AIR and more

Dansguardian Web Filtering - DansGuardian is a true web content filter. Powerful and Free!

downloadhelper - Free Firefox 3.x plug-in that makes it simple to download videos off YouTube, Google Video etc.

DownloadThemAll - DownThemAll lets you download all the links or images contained in a webpage and much more

FileZilla - Filezilla is a great, GPL cross platform FTP server and client solution

JAlbum - Generate web albums of photos. Many 'skins' available. Great for the school Intranet!

Kompozer - Kompozer is a great free cross platform WYSIWIG HTML editor. It is a bug-fixed version of NVU

Mozilla Firefox - Don't forget to download the 'Qute' theme and 'Tab Browser Preferneces' plugin

Thunderbird - Thunderbird is the Mozilla e-mail client and like Firefox it is made freely available for all major platforms under the same licenses.

Wamp Server - Apache, PHP5 and MySQL on Windows. An easy "Next/Next/Finish" method for installing a web server on a Windows PC

Operating Systems

antiX - antiX is a customised version of the popular Debian derivative Mepis. antiX is an installable 'live' CD (you can run it straight off the CD) that is designed to run well on older hardware (ie ~128MB RAM machines) and I have singled it out because it very importantly includes wicd on the CD. wicd is the best wifi and wired internet connection tool for non-Mandriva based Linux distros but is currently still missing from official Ubuntu and Debian repositories. Hence, if wifi is important to you and you don't fancy Mandriva then this could be your best bet.

Debian - Excellent Linux distro, ideal for servers when you need to run LAMP apps

Free BSD - Unix derived from BSD, the version of unix developed at the University of California, Berkeley.

Mandriva - Mandriva (and PCLinuxOS) features a unique control panel and set of desktop tools (such as its own excellent, unique wifi and bluetooth apps) not found in other Linux distributions. Mandriva makes an excellent choice for desktop Linux newcomers and is one of the best choices for those who want easy wifi setup and use.

Mint Linux - Mint is the most popular Ubuntu-based Linux variant, mainly because it comes with multimedia codecs pre-installed (MP3/DVD playback etc.) as well as some extra config tools not found in vanilla Ubuntu.

Solaris / OpenSolaris - Unix from Sun Microsystems.

Ubuntu - Based on the rock-solid Debian, Ubuntu includes the latest packages and is easier to install

VirtualBox - VirtualBox isn't actually an OS as such but what it is a free, fast, open source virtualisation platform that lets you run Windows under Linux, or Solaris under Windows or whatever combination or as many virtual machines and OS's as your machine can cope with. Perfect for running legacy DOS and Windows software under modern operating systems.


GraphCalc - Windows Graphing Calculator

GanttProject - Gantt chart based project scheduling and management tool

[1] - GeoGebra Page updated: June 9, 2010

Web Help Desk - Affordable and Intuitive web based help desk software, including: Incident Management - Asset Management - Two-way Email Integration - Knowledge Base - LDAP Synchronization - Reporting. Vendor Neutral service desk app: Mac OS X, Windows, Linux & Unix (Added By The Supplier)

Typing / Office Skills

TuxType - Educational typing tutor


AbiWord - Maybe you don't quite need all the bells and whistles of Word or OOo Writer but need something better than Wordpad? If so then Abiword is for you. Free and open source with Lin/Win versions available.

Calendar+ - Probably the most useful app for the PocketPC

Foxit PDF Reader - Fast and light-weight PDF file reader

Gnumeric - Widely regarded as the best open source spreadsheet bar none. Win/Lin versions available.

OpenOffice - Great alternative to Office or for when you simply can't afford to give loads of cash to MS. OOo writer is the most powerful free word processor but you might want to use the more powerful gnumeric instead of OOo calc for a spreadsheet. Note that OpenOffice can load some MS Works files that Office 2007 strangely cannot so its even worth installing if you already have office. OOo 3.0 and later can open and save Office 2000 compatible docs whilst being able to open but not save Office 2007 file formats.

Primo PDF (Free Version) - Virtual Printer that creates a PDF file of the print output.

StarOffice which is available free for education

LibreOffice - A fully-featured free office suite. A fork of OpenOffice (which is now owned by Sun/Oracle), LibreOffice is vendor independent.

Drawing / Painting

FreeMind - A GNU mind mapping application (*nix, Windows, Mac)

Dia - Dia is a GNU drawing package useful for network diagrams, flow charts, UML diagrams and more (*nix, Windows, Mac)

The Gimp - The GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP) is an opensource image editting application to rival PhotoShop (*nix, Windows, Mac)

Google SketchUp (free) - Google SketchUp (free) is an easy-to-learn 3D modeling program whose few simple tools enable you to create 3D models of houses, sheds, decks, home additions, woodworking projects – even space ships.

Inkscape - Open source vector graphics with SVG support

IrfanView - Excellent (free) light-weight graphics editor with support for just about every format but the Kitchen Sink. Includes batch conversion and executable slideshow generation.

Krita - Part of the Koffice suite, Krita is a hot contender for the best open source bitmap graphics app crown. It supports higher bit depths and colour spaces that GIMP does not. Version 2.x is available freely for *nix, Windows and OSX.

Paint.NET - Handy Windows Paint replacement.

Picture Resizer - An easy-to-use and free tool for batch resizing of JPG pictures and photos. Best tool I have found for batch command line processing of images.

QCAD - QCAD is an application for computer aided drafting in two dimensions (2d). QCAD works on Windows, Mac OS X and many Linux and Unix Systems. The source code of the QCAD community edition is released under the GPL

TuxPaint - Free paint program for ages 3-12


Ardour - Free, open source multitrack recording/ DAW in the vein of Pro-Tools. Available for Linux and OSX.

Audacity - Fabtastic open source audio editor (plus it's cross platform!)

avidemux - Avidemux is a basic video editor available for all three major platforms. It is largely based on the Windows only but also GPL'd Virtualdub.

Blender - Free open-source 3D modeling and animation software.

CDburnerXP - Best free optical disc burning tool for Windows. Requires .net.

DeVeDe - DeVeDe is a free tool available for both Linux and Windows that makes it simple to convert any video into a video DVD or (S)VCD disc.

Juice - Cross platform podcast receiver

KDEnlive - Linux users needing powerful video editing features should use Cinelerra currently but the future of free, easy, powerful AND (eventually) cross-platform video editing would seem to be in the hands of KDEnlive.

LMMS - Another very promising open source electronic music creation tool available for Windows and Linux but more similar to FruityLoops.

Media Converter SA Edition - Media Converter SA Edition is a free file converter which supports many file types. It has also an integrated video downloader to download videos from Youtube and co.

MuseScore - Up-and-coming open source, cross-platform music composition and notation software ala Sibelius/ Finale

Media Player Classic - MPC is a free windows media player. It has the simple interface of the Win98 media player and allows playing of DVDs without any additional codecs! (Just follow the gulverkli download link on the sourceforge page)

VLC - VLC is a free cross-platform media player. It supports a large number of multimedia formats, inc. DVD playback without the need for additional codecs

winff - WinFF is a free, open source cross platform front-end to ffmpeg that makes it simple to convert one or more videos of any format into any other format.

Desktop Publishing

Scribus - Open source desktop publishing


Celestia Cosmos-simulator - Really nice, and totally cross-platform. Educational? Probably. Fun? Usually. Pretty? Definitely :)

FlashEarth- Allows you to view aerial photographs of the Earth from a variety of providers in a web page, saves having to install Google Earth.

NASA World Wind- Like Google Earth but shows overlays of geographical events such as hurricane Katrina. Also includes the moon, Mars, Jupiter and Venus.