Originally this document was to document the large and growing complement of free software available. I tend to use lots of this software for personal projects and real work.

Non-free or other software may have crept into this page as its aegis has expanded. So be it.


NetBSD is the best Unix-like operating system; it continues the tradition of the BSD Unix Distributions.

Well, I stand corrected. As of release 4, it seems to me that NetBSD is starting to falter in the carrying on of the fine BSD tradition. Instead of keeping support for everything that people do, the reason people run BSD Unix, they are starting to scrap out their charge. I hope they reverse their decisions in this matter, but it may be that the erosion of the earlier "real core" NetBSD core developers have removed the drive and purpose from an otherwise most excellent BSD descendant.

Unix - Like

Unix - Like ... aka Linux

Linux just isn't unix. It is close, but they keep on doing non-unix things which make it a pain to deal with when you have a lot of unix boxes.

The way things are going, all the Linux distros will be owned by someone who wants to shut them down.

Languages and Compilers and Interpreters

Smalltalk and Variants


Hardware Support

Software for supporting some particular hardware platforms or standards.

Operating Systems

Minix was a pretty decent Unix variant. It is a shame the licensing on it went sour. Good example of why corporations should not be able to hold licenses over other people's software. Instead, this thing called Linux is floating around. It pretty much set software back many years. That, and the infamous ATT lawsuite against Berkeley and BSD Unix which stiffled development of real unix and put it in jepoardy for a number of years. Even now, BSD variants such as NetBSD still don't have the basic out of the box functionality that BSD 4.3 on a tape had. And the modern OSes all require far too much hardware resources to run. 4.3 could scream in 4 MB. Why can't NetBSD? And what about Mach 3.0? Really good ideas, better performance with an emulator on top of a micro-kernel than the monolithic kernel alone, and multi-os capabilities. Another loss.

There are also some other good OSes that are not main stream. KeyKOS is one of my favorites. EROS is a KeyKOS reimplementation in C++. I think KeyKOS has a lot of good ideas, but the programming model isn't the conventional one, therefore it isn't wildly popular. I, on the other hand, would love to have a machine that I could pull the plug on and instantly get all my sessions and work back after it restarts ... to where it was before!

OS & System Management Tools


Compatability Suites

Threads Packages and Wrappers

Debugging & Monitoring



Email and News

My Email and Spam Handling Notes and References


Mail Transport

Mail Clients & Accessories

Web Mail Clients


Spam Control


Analysis and Monitoring Tools


Source Code Control Systems

Terminal Emulators

Text Processing

I recently looked at this list and noticed that I didn't mention Troff and its descendants. Nor do I mention TeX. I personally use Troff for almost everything. I find that it and its associated processing tools are the most flexible and easy to use system available.

I think that TeX is a great idea, it is regularily constructed, and is well put together. That said, however, I find TeX and LaTex intolerable to use. It is just far too verbose for my tastes. Even worse, I tend to generate tables, either by hand or by script, rather frequently. The TeX table syntax is just horrid compared to tbl. Same can be said again and again with respect to graphs, pictures, equations and all sorts of other things that are easy to do with Troff, but a pain to do with TeX.

Troff & Company

troff is the original Unix typesetting language, used to, essentially, compile documents into something for a typesetter or other printing device. As troff grew long in the tooth, newer versions such as ditroff -- device independent troff came along. Then the GNU project introduced its own free version, groff.

There are other typesetting languages and tools, such as Knuth's TeX, and the newer XML/SGML based standards such as DocBook. I find that whenever I need to produce a document, either short or long, that troff or one of its descendants is my tool of choice. It makes diagrams, tables, equations, biblographies, graphs, pictures, embedded pictures, and a whole slew of things ... all with a minimum of typing.

Some accuse me of being a dinosaur for using Troff, and they are probably right. That being said, all of troff is smaller than Word or TeX, and I pind it just easier to use. However, it runs quite well on a 486/50 with 48MB of ram. You can't even boot Windows on that any more!

With all that, is there anything that isn't great about troff? Well, yes. If you want to convert "print" your document with its structure to a structured format such as SGML/XML/HTTP .. The document doesn't have the structure -- start marks but no end marks. Also, since you typically use a macro package with troff, you can create, essentially, a new typesetting language. Which has great power, LIBS. However, if you want trivial web pages from troff source, you need to do a bit more work.



Postscript and Rendering

Postscript is a programming language for rendering. It allows you to program a display or print device to produce what you want. Because it is a language you can do arbitrary things with it. Which is what makes it so great - instead of downloading an image of mathematical formula, why not just download the program of the formula and let the printer produce the result. Which is what makes it weird sometimes ... perhaps your supercomputer can render the image faster than the printer.

However a postscript program written for one device can run on another device. It can use all the facilities that are available there without needing an upgrade.

Encapsulated Postscript (EPS) is postscript that is carefully structured to not do bad state-changing things. Because of that, it can be embedded into other postscript documents. Which lets you combine tools at the printing level without a need for the tools to interact with each other.

Postscript has been used as an entire windowing systems, both in the Sun NeWS system, and also in the NeXT Display Postscript environment. It's expressiveness allowed really cool things to happen, instead of being constrained by the typical imaging environment.

Adobe created the PDF Portable Document Format, which is basically castrated postscript. It allows for document compression (tokenized postscript, already done by others). But it also has a dark side -- it takes the power away from the users of the document. Which brings it back to the level of any other proprietary locked-away tool.

Video Software


Both Lambda-DB and Predator use Shore as a Storage Engine!

Commercial Database Interfaces

Other DB Info

Editors and Accessories

Unfortunately I can't stand any emacs past emacs-20.7, which probably means emacs-21 and onward. There is so much garbage in the newer versions (highlighting which can't be disabled, funky menu boxes, etc) that is a nightmare to use instead of a useful tool. The other thing that goes wrong in newer versions is that text input to the shell is broken, and you don't get what you would expect. Progress is OK, but it shouldn't take usability and features away from a tool.

vi (real vi, not crap like vim) on the other hand is still quite a useful tool, people haven't managed to break it yet.

BSD Unix Hacks

Modifictions to BSD based operating systems or network code.

Security and Authentication




MUDs, MUCKs and other forms of Virtual Reality

Productivity Tools

Window Systems

X Window System

There is a bit of disagreement about the name of the X Window System It started as X10, then became X11, and then people started arguing about the name. Most people just refer to it as X Windows.

Diagnostic Tools

Benchmarks and Performance Indicators

I'm collecting URLs for a suite of good benchmarks. Unfortunately I can't seem to find definitive sources for the latest and greatest versions of these benchmarks.


Software for Apple Computers

OK, I've broken down and started keeping track of commericial software packages for platforms now. What is the world coming to :-)


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Last Modified: Sun May 7 09:39:22 CDT 2023
bolo (Josef Burger) <>