Best FLOSS programs for Windows

Writing and Drawing

Writing and Drawing



LibreOffice is a comprehensive office software suite and a good replacement for Microsoft Office and its Word, Excel and PowerPoint applications. LibreOffice includes quality productivity tools for word processing, spreadsheets and presentation slides. In addition, it can be used to draw posters and build everyday databases.

LibreOffice saves your documents in Open Document standard compliant files, which ensures your computer can open them even after decades. LibreOffice can read and write documents created in various other programs – including Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint files.

LibreOffice consists of the following applications, which compliment each other seamlessly:

The free and open LibreOffice is suitable for both private and business use. It's used more and more in schools and in government offices. Its web site includes guides, templates and extensions, which help in creating professional documents.

Instructions for installing LibreOffice

Even though the LibreOffice software can be installed as it is, we recommend installing it together with the Java runtime as follows:

  1. Install the Java runtime. It is not required, but the step-by-step guide functionality (wizards) of the LibreOffice software requires it.
  2. Install LibreOffice.



GIMP (for GNU Image Manipulation Program) is meant for editing digital images, designing and producing graphics for web pages, converting images from one file format to another, and even authoring complex high-resolution works for print. GIMP offers numerous professional features and tools.

GIMP has numerous features, which means it can feel overwhelming to use at first. We recommend turning to manuals and reading tutorials, which are available in abundance on the web site of GIMP.



Inkscape is an easy to use program for drawing vector graphics, which you can use to draw images diagrams and other graphics for your slide shows, for example. With Inkscape you can also convert a pencil drawing scanned from paper into a sharp and infinitely scalable vector graphic, which you can continue to color and edit according to your need.

In Inkscape, all drawing is based on vectors, which enables you to always return back in your work to fix the location and form of the shapes or the size and font of the text. Most importantly, your result is always sharp, as vector graphics can be scaled without loss of image quality.

Inkscape saves the vector graphics in the open SVG file format. Inkscape supports the various features of the SVG recommendation including shapes, paths, text, line styles, cloning, alpha shading, transformations, gradients, patterns and groups. In addition, Inkscape supports Creative Commons metadata, editing of path nodes, layers, complex path operations, raster image tracing, text on paths, flowing text, raw XML editing, and much more!

Inkscape can open and save images also in JPEG, PNG and TIFF formats, as well as various vector-based formats.


Inkscape by FLOSS Manuals is included on VALO-CD.



Scribus is a professional layout and publishing application, which you can use to create all kinds of materials for print – from brochures to magazines and bulletins. Scribus has also been used to layout books. Scribus produces PDF files ready for print and is suitable for authoring PDF forms. Scribus is a serious libre contender for Adobe InDesign and QuarkXPress software.

Beneath the modern and userfriendly interface, Scribus contains the features needed for professional results, such as CMYK colors, separations and ICC color profiles. Scribus also supports OpenType fonts and Unicode text.

Note! To function, Scribus requires the so-called GDI+ library, which is shipped with Windows XP. If your Windows version turns out to not include this library, you can download it from a Microsoft site. In addition, to process EPS files, the operating system has to have the Ghostscript library installed.



Dia is a general-purpose diagramming software. It is designed to draw entity relationship diagrams, UML diagrams, flowcharts, network diagrams, and many others. It is a light alternative to Microsoft Visio.

Dia can save charts as XML and other file formats, such as Visio VDX, EPS, SVG, XFIG, WMF and PNG. You can print multiple page charts and use custom shapes.



Mozilla Firefox


The Firefox web browser allows you to move on the Internet faster, safer and more efficiently. Major features of the browser include the blocking of pop-up windows, tabs and a customizable appearance. You don't like the order of the navigation buttons in the browser? Right mouse click on the navigation toolbar, choose "Edit", and you can drag the buttons wherever you want!

One of the best reasons to start using Firefox is the safety it brings. One of the objectives of the browser development is to make browsing safe and thus keep the computer clean of malware. In addition, Firefox has a comprehensive array of settings and tools for privacy protection, which help you to keep your privacy on the Internet. In these days of virus, Trojan and phishing attacks, Firefox is the safest alternative.

After installation, you can easily bring your favorites and saved passwords from other browsers such as Internet Explorer, so you don't have to start all over from scratch.


Firefox by FLOSS Manuals is included on VALO-CD.

Install add-ons

The functionality of Firefox can be extended easily with thousands of add-ons. These Firefox extensions can, for example, hide the advertisements on web pages for you, and let you download videos you see on the web. Extensions designed for web developers can show you how the web pages are made. Some extensions let you further alter the appearance of the browser to suit your whims.

When you have installed Firefox, you may click the following links to install any of the Firefox add-ons that are included on VALO-CD:

Option to block advertisements
Option to block Flash animations
Option to block Javascript codes

Mozilla Thunderbird


Thunderbird is a modern email application with an intelligent junk mail filter, a spellchecker, a wide variety of themes and an adapting appearance. In addition, Thunderbird has support for IMAP and POP, ability to write HTML email, quick search, address book, advanced message filtering, address completion, import tools and the ability to manage multiple independent email accounts and news groups.

Security is a central theme in Thunderbird. The intelligent junk mail filter of Thunderbird analyses your email and recognises message that are probably junk mail. Junk mail can be configured to be deleted automatically or just moved to another message folder. The filter is adaptive and it gains accuracy unattended based on your address book and your correspondence.

Further, Thunderbird meets the security requirements of corporations and associations with features such as S/MIME, electronic signatures, message encryption and support for certificates and security devices.

Thunderbird also supports a wide variety of add-ons. Thunderbird extensions add new features and configure the appearance to suit you better.

Are you worried about information security? After you have installed Thunderbird, you can choose to install the Enigmail encryption plugin that is included on VALO-CD.

To install Enigmail, choose from the menu Tools item Add-ons. Drag the following files to Add-ons: programs\gpg4win-2.1.0.exe and programs\thunderbird\enigmail-1.3.5-sm+tb-windows.xpi.


Thunderbird by FLOSS Manuals is included on VALO-CD.



Pidgin is an easy to use internet messenger that allows you to connect to multiple chat networks at the same time. It allows you to connect to your friends in chat applications like MSN Live Messenger and Google Talk with only one client. After setting up your accounts you only need to be connected to Pidgin to reach your contacts.

Pidgin connects to MSN Live Messenger, AIM, ICQ, Yahoo!, Google Talk, Jabber and IRC amongst others.



WinSCP is a client for FTP and SFTP file transfer. Its main function is the safe copying of files between a local and a remote computer using a secure connection. WinSCP supports an SSH password, keyboard-interactive, public key and Kerberos (GSS) authentication. Features include all common operations with files and it supports Secure Shell (SSH) and SFTP protocols as well as most of the older SCP protocols.



Vuze (formerly Azureus) is a client for BitTorrent protocol and it is suitable for beginners as well as advanced users. Features include multiple torrent downloads, possibility to limit upload and download speeds and a resume function. There is a fair amount of plug-ins to extend Vuze's features.

BitTorrent protocol is a connection created for file transfers without specified servers and it is meant to transfer large files shared amongst the users in such a manner that the sender does not need to pay for expensive bandwidth. More information on BitTorrent can be found in Wikipedia.

Notice that you need to have Java installed in the Windows environment for BitTorrent to work fully.





Stellarium brings a planetarium to your computer. It shows a realistic 3D sky just as it can be seen with bare eyes, a telescope or binoculars. As a matter of fact, Stellarium may show the sky even better than your telescope, as it is not affected by bad weather or the light pollution of cities.

Hint! Begin the use of Stellarium by choosing your location on the map (or by entering your coordinates). After this, Stellarium shows you a realistic and accurate view of the local night sky.

Tux Paint


TuxPaint is a drawing program suitable for children ages 3 – 12. It is simple and fun to use, has fun sound effects and an encouraging tutorial to guide kids in using the program.

Tux Paint provides a drawing canvas and a number of useful drawing tools, coloring-book-style images, backgrounds and templates. It also has parental control features. More stamps can be installed by with the Tux Paint Stamp package.



VLC media player


VLC is a general media player that reproduces all the most commonly used sound and video file formats. Despite this, the user interface of VLC is very clear and easy to use. VLC can also show subtitles related to video files and play DVD movies. In addition, VLC can record media in various file formats as well as receive sound and video transmissions on the Internet.

VLC is a free and open alternative to most proprietary media players. When you use it, you don't normally have to install other separate programs to reproduce various media formats.


VLC by FLOSS Manuals is included on VALO-CD.



Audacity® is an audio editor for recording, editing and mixing sound and music. It allows you to edit a soundtrack with cut & paste functions and save files in suitable formats (like wav, ogg, mp3 and AIFF) including the program's own project format. It includes a full complement of basic effects such as reverb, delay, and compression.

Audacity® has a built-in amplitude envelope editor, a customizable spectrogram mode, and a frequency analysis window for audio analysis applications. Built-in effects include bass boost, wah-wah and noise removal, the program also supports VST plug-in effects.

Audacity® software is copyright © 1999-2011 Audacity Team.


Audacity by FLOSS Manuals is included on VALO-CD.



MuseScore is a free cross-platform WYSIWYG music notation program that offers a cost-effective alternative to commercial & proprietary software such as Sibelius or Finale. You can print beautifully engraved sheet music or save it as PDF, MIDI or MusicXML file. Notes are entered on a "virtual note sheet" on a unlimited number of staves with keyboard, mouse, or MIDI keyboard. The score can then be played thanks to the embedded synthesizer.


MuseScore manual is available online or as a PDF file.





7-Zip is a program for packing and unpacking compressed files.

7-Zip can unpack and pack all the following archive formats: 7zip, zip, cab, rar, arj, gzip, bzip2 as well as cpio, rpm and deb. 7-Zip is able to compress zip ja gzip archives even 2–10 % more efficiently than the comparable programs PKZIP and WinZip. Program's native archive format 7zip can make a file fit in space even 45 % smaller than the traditional zip archive format. 7-Zip has a remarkable amount of settings that can be used to affect packing speed and efficiency. The user interface of the program aims to be similar to that of the Windows Explorer, thus making it easy to use.

We don't recommend the use of RAR archives, as the RAR unpacking part of 7-Zip is not free and open software. More specific licensing information can be found on the web site of the program as well as in its source code.



Evince is a light PDF reader application that launches quickly. Evince has all the expected features of a PDF reader and supports PDF form files as well, which is why Evince is included by default in all of the most popular Linux distributions. Evince is not just a PDF reader, but a document viewer that supports multiple formats like PDF, PostScript, djvu and xps. If you consider Adobe Acrobat Reader slow to start, the quick Evince is the free alternative just for you!



PDF (Portable Document Format) is an electronic publication standard for representing documents in a manner that is independent of the original application software, hardware, and operating system used to create those documents. PDFCreator allows you to create PDF files from any installed Windows program.

After installing PDFCreator, open the document you want to convert to PDF, and select Print from the File menu and choose PDFCreator from the available printers. Name the file and click Print.

Optionally you can add metadata to the file, such as the date, title or creator. You can also adjust the file size by changing the image resolution or embedded fonts, and you can add password protection to the file.

Notice You need to have the .net framework version 1.1 installed in the Windows environment to use all the features of the application.



If you have a writable CD/DVD player in your computer, you can burn CD's and DVD's with InfraRecorder. The program is an excellent choice for creating a backup or more copies of the VALO-CD for distribution.



KeePass is a storage for all your different passwords. You can create a secure database where all your user names and passwords are kept safely. In the future all you need to remember is the password for the database.



Notepad++ is a text editor designed for programming. It has syntax highlighting for numerous programming and markup languages, which makes designing HTML and CSS style pages easier. It is an excellent free and open alternative for Windows Notepad.

Notepad++ has built-in syntax highlighting for the following programming languages amongst others: ASP, Ada, ASCII art, Assembly, AutoIt, BAT, C, C#, C++, Caml, CSS, doxygen, FORTRAN, HTML, Haskell, Java, JavaScript, KiXtart, Lisp, Lua, makefile, Matlab, Objective-C, Pascal, Perl, PHP, PostScript, Python, Ruby, Scheme, Unix Shell Script, Smalltalk, SQL, Tcl, TeX, Verilog, VHDL, VB/VBScript, and XML.

Notepad++ also allows users to define their own languages. The user can create syntax folding keywords, comment keywords and operators in addition to the syntax highlighting keywords.



TrueCrypt enables you to encrypt you hard disk or to create either real or virtual encrypted hard disk partitions. With TrueCrypt, the encryption is automatic, real-time and transparent - you can keep using the files in an encrypted area just as before.



Firefox by FLOSS Manuals

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A guide created by FLOSS Manuals on the use of the Firefox web browser.

Thunderbird by FLOSS Manuals

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A guide created by FLOSS Manuals on the use of the Thunderbird email client.

OpenOffice by FLOSS Manuals

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A guide created by FLOSS Manuals on the use of the OpenOffice (now LibreOffice) suite.

Inkscape by FLOSS Manuals

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A guide created by FLOSS Manuals on the use of the Inkscape vector drawing application.

VLC by FLOSS Manuals

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A guide created by FLOSS Manuals on the use of the VLC media player.

Audacity by FLOSS Manuals

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A guide created by FLOSS Manuals on the use of the Audacity audio editor.

Additional information

Additional information


The objective of the VALO-CD project is to advance the global information technological and economic progress by offering free software for use by as many people as possible worldwide.

At the same time we want to inform consumers, decision makers and technology providers about the advantages of free software.

What is VALO?

VALO-CD was originally available only in Finnish. VALO is the Finnish abbreviation for FOSS. FOSS means Free Open Source Software. In Finnish this is Vapaat ja Avoimen Lähdekoodin Ohjelmat or VALO. The Finnish word valo also means light, so there is a message of enlightenment.

Latest version

You can download the latest version of VALO-CD from

In order to keep our server from overloading and to increase the distribution speed we offer only a BitTorrent download option. To use it you need a BitTorrent client program. If you don't have one, install Vuze from

Torrents can also be downloaded in the browser, in case you don't want to install a separate client program. The browser based torrent download uses a Java applet provided by the service.

Burn the disc image on to a disc

After you have downloaded the disc image, you can burn it on a disc using for example InfraRecorder, which is also available from Install it and choose from the menu Functions < Burn disc image.

Choose the .iso file and click OK. The default settings in the burn dialog are fine, so continue by pressing just OK.

Remember to insert an empty disc in the disc tray before starting the burn process.


You can participate in the creation of VALO-CD in a freely editable collaborative wiki. You can also discuss with other VALO-CD contributors on our mailing list or chat with us on the IRC channel #VALO-CD on the Freenode IRC network.

It is possible to translate the VALO-CD to your language or to create a special version of VALO-CD. Please contact the VALO-CD community with your new ideas!

FLOSS Manuals included on the CD are written collaboratively on the website. You can update the manuals, write a new manual or translate a manual to your own language.

You can participate in the development of the open source software on the VALO-CD by going to the web pages of the software projects. Remember there are other ways of participating besides coding. One of the important things is to translate the interface of the software into your local language. You can find information about the localization of software on the pages of the different software development projects.

Contact us!

The development of VALO-CD is coordinated by Seravo, a Finnish company specializing in open source development and Linux support.

You can contact Seravo by:

GSM:   +358 44 566 2204
Mail:  Seravo Oy
       Finlaysoninkuja 8
       FI-33210 Tampere


FOSS (Free and Open Source Software) have been published with a license that guarantees the users with the rights to use, copy and modify software freely – as opposed to conventional proprietary software whose licenses limit the rights of the users. As the source code of the programs is available, anyone can modify the programs. Enhanced versions can be passed along as well according to the licensing terms.

From the point of view of an ordinary user, FOSS means independence from a specific software producer. In FOSS one doesn't pay a license fee but according to a service rendered to the customer which guarantees that software businesses invest a larger share of their revenues in the development of software.

According to the Free Software Foundation the user of free software has to have four freedoms:

FOSS stops dangerous monopolies from forming and enables fair, primarily quality-based competition between software products. Characteristic in FOSS is also the use of free standards and file formats, which promotes interoperability and cooperation between software.

"The development model of FOSS produces excellent programs for an open information society. Oppose a closed, user-restricting information society – prefer FLOSS!"

The greatest and best-known example of FOSS is the Linux operating system. However, this disc doesn't contain it but exclusively programs meant to be used on Windows. Meanwhile, most of the programs on VALO-CD are not dependent on the operating system and thus have Linux versions as well. Using the programs of this disc makes it easier to transition to Linux later, as most of the programs will have become familiar from the Windows side.

Free programs?

FOSS programs can be sold for sure, but as it is not allowed to restrict their distribution, the programs are free in practise. Other consequences of the FOSS development model include:

Vendor independence
FOSS licenses enable getting support and repair services for the software from any party.
Open development work
FOSS projects work in an open manner: they publish information on their project pages about development ideas for the software and test versions of the software in development. Participation is open as well, as the development teams are happy to accept new members who have demonstrated their skills via their work.
Public bug database
Problems are not hidden but listed in a public bug database. Anyone can report in the database an imperfection they found or help solving a problem.
Public version control
The source code is most commonly kept in a version control system, where anyone can follow precisely who has done what changes to which files. A knowledgeable person can also fix bugs and submit change data files to the project developers for acceptance.
Freedom of choice
Should collaboration with some software project not work for one reason or another, anyone can at any time create a new branch of the software and develop it according to their preferences. Software development is fast because the code from other projects can be easily utilised in one's own project. This model promotes birth of new FOSS software and the users have the real freedom to choose the best software from their point of view from a really wide variety.
Standard conformance
It's typical of FOSS to follow common standards whenever it makes any sense. This way the programs are widely compatible with other software. FOSS projects don't intend to gain or maintain a dominant position in the market but the primary intent is to develop good software that serves its users well.
Security and overall quality
As the work is public and the primary purpose is to serve users (the developers are usually users themselves), nobody has the interest to make anything else but secure and quality code. Because the code is public, the security is based on good architectural solutions as opposed to secrecy.

Even FOSS isn't an end-all

Even though the FOSS software production model is better than the closed models, one has to remember that it isn't perfect either. In the end, each software reflects on its developers and thus the quality of software varies.

Practise has however shown that in the long term the evolutionary software development method of FOSS produces the best software.

Try for yourself!

Start by trying out the programs on this disc and by getting to know the communities and corporations behind them.

More information

The easiest place to find more information on FOSS worldwide is the Free & Open Source Software Portal by UNESCO.

Restricted software

Even if a program can be downloaded for free, it's not necessarily freely distributable.

Some programs on VALO-CD require the programs listed below to function. The programs here are not free software so we haven't included them on this disc. To attain full compatiblity, we suggest you download the following, unless you already have them installed on your computer:

proprietary 01.pngproprietary 02.png

There is a FOSS-based version of the Java runtime environment OpenJDK, but there is no easily installable version of it available for Windows for now.


If you want to enjoy the advantages of FOSS in full, you should switch the operating system of your computer to some Linux distribution which is completely free.

Because of free source code, many different corporations and communities publish their own version of Linux – all these versions are fundamentally similar and the differences are usually just in the selection of software and the appearance. These versions are called Linux distributions.

The most well-known of these Linux distributions is Ubuntu. From the web site of Ubuntu:

"Ubuntu is a community and Linux-based operating system, which works perfectly on laptops, desktops as well as servers. It includes all the necessary software – a web browser, office software, instant messengers and much more."

Ubuntu itself is available in multiple flavors which include Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Edubuntu and Xubuntu; this introduction only discusses the first two.

What is the difference between Ubuntu and Kubuntu? They are both essentially similar, but Kubuntu uses KDE as its graphical user interface while the normal Ubuntu uses GNOME.

Kubuntu is popular among those who switch from Microsoft Windows to Linux, as KDE resembles Windows in many ways. However, Ubuntu is at the moment more popular among other users, because it is regarded easier to use. Whichever you choose, you'll have the same operating system beneath the surface and you can install other graphical environments in the same system later.

When you want to see how Ubuntu works on your computer, you can download a live CD of Ubuntu or Kubuntu. After you've downloaded and burned the disc, insert the disc in your disc drive and restart the computer. Linux will start on your computer and you'll be able to examine it. When you're finished, you can remove the disc from the drive and restart again, and your computer will be exactly as it was before inserting the disc – without a trace of Linux and without any changes to your hard drive and operating system.

When you decide to install Ubuntu or Kubuntu permanently, you can choose whether to install it over the current Microsoft Windows installation or next to it in a so-called "dual-boot". With dual-boot you get to choose to start the computer with Windows or with Linux each time you turn on the computer – although when you install Linux you don't need anything else!

More information: Ubuntu, Kubuntu