We use a lot of commercial software, such as REAPER, Photoshop and others in the studio and office. But we love free, open source software. These great applications are free and legal to download and share! Most have documentation on their web site and you can usually find video tutorials on You Tube.
Audio and Music
You can use any of these free, open source music applications with REAPER or any other DAW. I use these programs and have found the to be stable and useful.
Audacity will let you record and edit audio waves. It's fairly easy to use but powerful. Download at www.audacity.sourceforge.net. For all platforms.
MuseScore composition and notation software. It works better than the $100 software I was using! Many features and stable. Download at www.musescore.org. For all platforms.
Hydrogen is an easy to use drum editor. Several drum kits are available. Download at www.hydrogen-music.org. For all platforms, the Windows beta version works fine. It exports MIDI and can be used with Reaper.
Impro-Visor generates backing tracks and even lead lines. Download at www.cs.hmc.edu/~keller/jazz/improvisor. Make sure to check their Yahoo forum for songs and more. For all platforms (Java based).
LMMS Linux Multi Media Studio, Despite the name this open source looping software runs on both Windows and Linux. It runs on minimal hardware and is pretty cool! Download at http://lmms.sourceforge.net. For Windows and Linux. It does not export MIDI, which limits usefulness.
VLC Media Player will play virtually any audio or video file format, it's a must have application. Download at www.videolan.org/vlc. For all platforms.
Libre Office is a full featured office suite that can read and write Microsoft and other file formats. I have been using Libre Office and Open Office for several years and it's great! If includes Writer (a word processor), Calc (a spreadsheet), Impress (a Power Point like presentation application), Draw (a simple vector graphics program), and Base (a fairly complex database). I use Libre Office every day and it has never failed! Libre Office is a spin-off from Open Office, which is also available.
Download Libre Office at libreoffice.org. For all platforms.
Download Open Office at openoffice.org. For all platforms.
AbiWord is an Open Source word processor. If you only need word processing and not a complete suite, try AbiWord. Download from www.abisource.com. For all platforms.
Sunbird is an calendar and scheduling application. Get organized! Download from www.mozilla.org/projects/calendar/sunbird. For all platforms.
Need to design your CD cover? Try these free, open source graphics programs.
Gimp is a mature bit-map application. It's very powerful and complex. Download at www.gimp.org. For all platforms.
Inkscape is a full featured vector graphics creation program. The web site has tutorials and documentation. www.inkscape.org. For all platforms.
Paint.Net is another easier to use bit-map editor. Highly rated. www.getpaint.net. Available for Windows only. Not open source, but free.
Utility and Other Applications
7-Zip creates (packs) and extracts (unpacks) compressed, archived files. Download at www.7-zip.org. For Windows and Linux only.
Notepad++ is a text editor, a specialized word processor. I use it to write web sites and program source code. Download at www.notepad-plus.sourceforge.net. For Windows only. Linux users should try gEdit.