- Mozilla Firefox – The alternative web browser that started the slow decline of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer and one of the most popular web browsers available. Thousands of add-on extensions make Firefox one of the most versatile and customizable browsers available today. It is also multi-platform, available for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android (but NOT iOS as of the initial posting of this page), and can be configured so that all of your installed versions automatically synchronize with each other. Mozilla Firefox is my first browser of choice on any Internet-capable device.
- Google Chrome – Google Chrome (also known as Chromium for Linux operating systems) is a slick, fast web browser that definitely gives Mozilla Firefox a run for its money. To be honest, there is very little that Chrome can’t do that Firefox can, or vice versa. Choosing one over the other generally comes down to nothing more than personal preferences. Like Firefox, Chrome has thousands of add-on extensions that increase its versatility. It is available on multiple platforms, including Apple’s iOS. Quite a few users, myself included, keep both Firefox and Chrome installed simultaneously on their systems.
- Opera – Opera is an alternative web browser that has been around for much longer than either Chrome or Firefox, but just never quite achieved the same popularity. Still, it is a good web browser with many of the same features and capabilities. Unlike Firefox and Chrome, Opera is a full “Internet Suite,” and incorporates both an e-mail client and an IRC chat client in addition to the standard browser. Opera Dragonfly, a powerful web developer package, is also included. I sometimes recommend Opera to Internet “power users,” especially web developers and administrators.
- Sea Monkey – Most people have never heard of this browser, which is sad, because its origins date back to the earliest days of the Internet, even before Internet Explorer came on the scene. Most people, however, would recognize its appearance, which is directly taken from its predecessor, Netscape Navigator. After Netscape’s acquisition by America Online in 1999, Netscape began a slow but steady decline in popularity and market share, until it was completely killed off by Time Warner in 2003, and pretty much ceased to be relevant to the Internet community by 2008. However, the project was supported by the Mozilla Foundation under the name “the SeaMonkey Council,” to avoid confusion between it and Mozilla’s flagship applications of Firefox and Thunderbird. I mention SeaMonkey in this list because, Like Opera, it is an “Internet Suite,” containing SeaMonkey Navigator (the web browser), SeaMonkey Mail and Newsgroups (an e-mail/news client), ChatZilla (an IRC chat client), and my favorite part, SeaMonkey Composer (an HTML visual editor). SeaMonkey is not my first recommendation for clients, but it has its niche uses.
- Mozilla Thunderbird – Hands down and without a doubt the best e-mail client available today, for both personal and corporate use. Thunderbird allows for multiple e-mail accounts using various e-mail protocols on different servers. It is highly customizable, and just like it’s older cousin, Firefox, it has thousands of add-on extensions that both increase its versatility and allow for users to personalize it to suit their tastes. Thunderbird is one of the easiest e-mail clients to transfer from computer to computer, even across different operating systems, by simply copying the Mail folder. Sadly, however, Thunderbird is not yet available for mobile platforms.
- Evolution – For those die-hard Microsoft Outlook fans who simply cannot live their lives or do their jobs without Outlook on their computer, there is hope. Evolution is the Free Open Source Software alternative to Microsoft Outlook, and combines the appearance and functionality of Outlook with the cross-platform convenience and zero cost of Mozilla Thunderbird. Personally, I think Mozilla Thunderbird is more versatile. However, for those who want the Microsoft Outlook experience immediately after installation without having to install any add-ons or extensions, Evolution is for you.
- Pidgin – This cross-platform instant messenger client allows users of all the major IM providers to combine all of their accounts into one application, free of advertising. Pidgin currently supports AIM, Bonjour, Gadu-Gadu, Google Talk, Groupwise, ICQ, IRC, MSN, MXit, MySpaceIM, SILC, SIMPLE, Sametime, XMPP, Yahoo, and Zephyr. And did I mention no ads?