#1. What is all the free software (The Geek Mom) has installed on her computer?
#2. Is there a free operating system I can get so I don't have to buy windows?
#3. How do I backup all of my files onto an external hard drive?
#1. What is all of the free software that The Geek Mom has on her computer?
I have a few pieces of free software on my computer that are pretty geeky. I like them simply because they are free and better than Microsoft products that come with your computer. Some of them are always on my computer, and others get added when I feel like I need them.
#1. Crap Cleaner - the crap cleaning tool that tunes your PC
#2. Comodo Firewall - free firewall program
#3. Avast Antivirus - free antivirus program
#4. PSPad - awesome free text editor that knows every programming language known to man
#5. Open Office - free office software to replace Microsoft Office
#6. Picasa2 - photo organizer, editor, and uploader
#7. Ultimate Defrag - a great defragmenting program/better than windows built in one
#8. Mozilla Firefox - internet browser
#9. Tortoise SVN - a program that lets my brother in law share files with me off his computer or server at his house. Mainly used for colaborating on projects where you share files.
#10. Klite Codec pack - all of the audio and video codecs you need to watch and listen to files
#11. Usually I have Divx media player installed - just haven't needed it yet
#12. AutoGordianKnot - a program that lets you encode video to a compressed xvid file
#13. Screenshot captor - a program that enhances your screenshots and lets you edit and manipulate them
#14. UTorrent - A bit torrent client for downloading movies, music (in large collections), and such
#15. Frostwire - The program I use when I want to download individual files
#16. Sometimes I use Deamon Tools, but I haven't needed that in awhile. It rips virtual copies of CD's and lets you mount them on a virtual drive. Great for playing games when you don't want to be bothered to load the CD in your CD rom.
I am sure their may be a few more programs that I am not thinking of at the moment, but that list should suffice.
#2. Is there a free operating system (GUI) I can install so I don't have to buy Windows?
Yes. You can install Ubuntu for free. Its a Linux based operating system which means it has a couple limitations that you don't get when using Windows, but if you aren't worried about playing games or installing some Microsoft software, Ubuntu is a GREAT free operating system. Some of the new ASUS laptops (the Eee PC) are coming out of the factory with Ubuntu installed. I personally haven't used it yet, but my brother in law seems to like it a lot. I have extra copies of Windows, but I may try Ubuntu next time I wipe my harddrive clean. If Ubuntu had the abbility to play PC games, I would totally convert.
There is a rumor that Google is developing an operating system, as well as Intel. I would bet that Google's operating system would be free, if it really comes out. So far, its only rumored.
#3. How do I back up my files onto an external hard drive?
I simply copy my files over to the external hard drive using the COPY and PASTE commands. Usually, an external hard drive comes with software that you can install, (or that is automatically installed on the hard drive itself), that will backup your computer files for you so you don't have to make any effort. Sometimes its a button you have to push.
If you really want to have a secure and flawless way to backup all of your files, you can use a RAID setup in your computer, but thats much more complex to setup than plugging in an external hard drive.
Sorry I don't have a better answer to this question. I did find one cool tool though. I recently found a tool that will let you upload your files to GMAIL for storage. It uses the extra storage space (up to 4GB) in your GMAIL account. You can download the utility here, or install it as a Mozilla Firefox add-on here.