Free/Libre Open Source Software (FLOSS) allows you to make as many copies the programs as you need and distribute them as you please. This makes it portable. Any workflows or methods can be taken to different computers, different institutions or sent to friends in different countries without worries about expensive licences. For example, I use GRASS GIS instead of ArcMap, Python instead of Matlab, Zotero instead of Endnote. I also use some free (gratis) proprietary software such as Google Earth. While philosophically different to FLOSS software, for practical purposes the advantages are the same. In this post, I have divided the programs into different categories: Operating system, Maps and Geographic Information Systems, Data Processing and Plotting, Writing Journal Articles, Conference Presentations, Programming Tools, Images, Graphics and Photos, Videos and Media, Computer Administration Tools and Miscellaneous. I have also posted a short script that to automatically install most of this software onto a Linux machine, and I invite you to suggest any software that I may have missed in the comments. My current system runs a FLOSS operating system, GNU/Linux (shortened to Linux here). There are many websites about the advantages of switching to Linux and the high-profile organisations that have already done so. You definitely don’t need to be a geek to run it, but it can help to have one around to set it up in the first place. My main reason to run Linux is the command line interface (CLI), which can be used to carry out tasks very quickly and precisely. It has the HUGE advantage that once you know the commands to do what you need, you can write them in a script and repeat the task 1000 times with very little extra effort. This makes it very powerful. It feels like your computer is working for you and most of my workflows now take advantage of this. Of all the different Linux flavours, I chose Linux Mint 14 XFCE. It is based on the popular Ubuntu distribution so it has a wide range of software available in easily-installed packages and there are lots of helpful tutorials for it online. The latest versions of Ubuntu have a tablet-style interface, I prefer the way that Mint sets things up for the desktop. You could also try Xubuntu or Linux Mint Cinnamon instead as both are the same under the hood. Each comes as a LiveCD, so you try them out without altering your system. The names of the Ubuntu software packages for each program are given below so that you can install them easily from the Software Centre or via the command line. Windows and Mac versions exist for most and can be found with a quick Google search. The following script will install most of the above software onto a freshly-installed Ubuntu 12.10 machine. First ensure that the ‘universe’, ‘multiverse’ and ‘partner’ repositories are enabled in the Software Centre. Source.