Which XP add-ons do I need?
August 19, 2005 4:22 PM   Subscribe

I have to do a new XP install...

Sadly, MS doesn't supply a fully usable system, so I'll need to drop in some add-ons. The plan is to do a full install, connect and install all upgrades, then install the add-ons.

I'll be adding Zonealarm, Quick Time, Firefox, Flash, Winzip, and Acrobat Reader. What have I forgotten?
posted by Marky to Computers & Internet (20 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
What's the purpose of this machine? I'm not really sure what you're asking.
posted by knave at 4:29 PM on August 19, 2005

Well, lets see.
  • CD and|or DVD burning software.
  • iTune, winamp or whatever you prefer.
  • mplayer, vlc or video player of choice.
  • Ad-Aware SE and Spybot-S&D
  • Shockwave
  • Word processor if needed.
  • instant messenger clients.
Thats about all the obvious ones. Generally I compile a CD with the installers to useful applications. They go stale fast but it's handy to have around, just in case.
posted by cm at 4:32 PM on August 19, 2005

Install Windows XP and its updates. When there's something you need or want later, install it then. Otherwise, why bother?
posted by grouse at 4:40 PM on August 19, 2005

Grouse has a very good point. There is no reason to install software that will see limited or no use at all. Grab one old fashioned pencil, and one old fashioned piece of paper and make a list of the common tasks that the computer will be used for.

After determining your needs, you can move forward to meet those needs.
posted by PROD_TPSL at 4:49 PM on August 19, 2005

Real Alternative is good to have if you want to avoid the nasty RealPlayer. As a bonus, it comes with Media Player Classic, which allows you to keep Windows Media Player in a cool, dark place.
posted by nikzhowz at 4:51 PM on August 19, 2005

I always end up installing IrfanView pretty soon after a re-install of Windows.
posted by nixxon at 5:17 PM on August 19, 2005

I'd install some antivirus very early on. At present I'm using Norton but it's a hog so next time probably will use AVG, which I've heard good things about.
posted by anadem at 5:51 PM on August 19, 2005

You may want to install zone alarm before connecting it to the internet(s) (burn a cd of it), THEN do the security updates. There have been reports of people getting their machines cracked within a few minutes of hooking it up to the internet. Having a working firewall when you connect will avoid this risk.
posted by entropy at 6:16 PM on August 19, 2005

Foxit Reader is a good free alternative to that Adobe (Acrobat) Reader monster. It's much faster and smaller. I'm a big fan of this one.
posted by horseblind at 6:23 PM on August 19, 2005

Skip Ad-Aware and just get Microsoft's Anti-Spyware.
posted by skallas at 6:24 PM on August 19, 2005

I prefer IZarc to winzip myself.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:55 PM on August 19, 2005

Here's my reinstall list (I do enough that I wrote basically everything down one time, so I don't forget stuff and have to take time later). A lot of this stuff is reasonably specific to what I do, but you may get ideas/etc.

- Service packs and all security updates (I like using the individual executables instead of the Windows Update program, but ymmv)
- AOL 5.2
- Burst (BitTorrent)
- Cisco VPN (very useful)
- PowerDVD
- Maxima (symbolic math - free & useful)
- .NET framework (the new one)
- MS Office 2000
- Firefox
- Nero
- QT
- Real Alternative
- Winamp + Skin
- Shoutcast Server/Winamp Plugin
- Vim
- SFU (kind of like cygwin, but more integrated with Windows)
- WinRAR
- WinSCP (ditch ftp, please)
- Photoshop
- Acrobat (looking for an alt - liked the Foxit link)
- The Bat (Email)
- Messenger 6.2
- Shockwave, Flash, the Java VM
- All the other apps/games/programming tools I use

I don't use a virus scanner. I use WIPFW (a Windows port of FreeBSD's ipfw), but I'm thinking about ditching it the next time around... it really doesn't catch much that gets through the router.
posted by devilsbrigade at 7:10 PM on August 19, 2005

Do you have a router? Put your machine behind a router with a built-in firewall, can be had for less than $40, before you do this. It will hide your machine, which has yet to get all the required security updates, from most malicious worms. Having a wireless router is also a great thing if you don't already have one. I would leave it behind the router even after the updates have been installed, but then it becomes less critical. There are some studies that have shown that an unprotected machine is compromised in 15 minutes or so, much less time than it takes to install all of the MS patches from a new operating system install.
posted by caddis at 8:33 PM on August 19, 2005

I add Java to that list, along with HiJack This, Adaware and Spybot. Might as well be ready, right? ;)
posted by Lynsey at 9:43 PM on August 19, 2005

I guess I'm confused: the tone of the question seems to suggest stuff you need that's essential to make it "fully usable." XP has a built-in firewall, zip file handling, media player, and web browser.

There's still stuff missing that might be pretty important: a PDF reader, possibly Flash (can't remember if it's included). I'd consider an SSH client like PuTTY essential. But is this just a "my favorite utilities/replacement programs" thread? Seems like I've seen those before. Anymore, it's hard to argue that something's missing in the same way that the old Macintosh didn't have a built-in browser, ftp, or web client.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 10:14 PM on August 19, 2005

I like 7-Zip as a free replacement for WinZip. I usually install that, a non-IE browser, gAIM, and PuTTY as the basics. Everything else comes as I need it.
posted by odinsdream at 10:14 PM on August 19, 2005

Thanks for all the suggestions, they're a big help.

I knew about installing Zonealarm before connecting, but I zoned...

Besides this new machine (for Mom), I wanted to put together a CD or USB key I can bring with me the next time I need to go to a friends house where they only have dial-up.
posted by Marky at 10:14 PM on August 19, 2005

Note that 7-Zip is also capable of opening RARs and plenty of other compressed files. In fact, I'm not sure there is one that it doesn't support, which is nice. Did I mention it's free?

Though, you do have to open it once after you install it, then go in the Options menu and associate the program with all the various extensions. Why? Because the programmer isn't an asshole who wants to take over your associations automatically.
posted by odinsdream at 10:16 PM on August 19, 2005

If you're only intending to use QuickTime to watch QT stuff, try QuickTime Alternative instead. Like RealAlternative, it allows you to watch QT stuff, but without adding all the extra crap on your PC that both RealTime and QT love to do.
posted by essexjan at 11:59 PM on August 19, 2005

There have been reports of people getting their machines cracked within a few minutes of hooking it up to the internet.

i'd love to see those. I've left a win2k machine on a static ip with NO ADMINISTRATOR PASSWORD and it took something like 2 months for it to get hit by a worm. It's good to have a firewall, but i'd cast doubt on it being much of a factor within a 30 minute window of being connected. Plus a firewall doesn't stop you from installing spyware or doing other stupid shit, which is what I suspect these folks are getting "cracked" by.

that said, if you're running through a router from your DSL/Cable modem, you probably already have basic firewalling installed.

essential usage for me on XP:

stretch out the quicklaunch and put firefox and trillian on it, and before getting those, I'll usually throw on WinRar (which I use instead of winzip). After that, it's pretty much install as needed. If I need an app I'll find the best one I can get and use it. Oh, Winamp and VLC are also installed shortly after I get started.
posted by fishfucker at 9:21 AM on August 20, 2005

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