Notes from a Linguistic Mystic

###This post is now ridiculously out of date, but kept around for archival purposes. Enjoy!###

Hiya everybody. Ever since my recent conversion/unconversion, I’ve been especially mindful of the different software available on OS X. Well, here’s my guide to the best of the best, the software that I can’t (or don’t want to) live without. For today, the free stuff!

Free or Open-Source Software for OS X:

Adium X (

Free and Open Source, this is the best IM client for OSX, period. Unlike iChat, it supports AIM, Jabber, Yahoo, MSN, and even more services you’ve never heard of, and the interface is much nicer. A gem of the Open Source Mac community.

The Charis SIL Font

A free, beautiful, and complete International Phonetic Alphabet (and more) font. Good stuff.

Firefox 2.0 (

It might not be the fastest browser available, or the most OSX-like, but it’s still my pick. Combine it with extensions like CookieCuller, AdBlock Plus, and DownThemAll, and you’ve got a great, vastly compatible browser.

Freemind (

A good piece of mind mapping software. It takes some getting used to, but once you do, you’re golden.

IPA-SIL Keyboard Layout for OSX (;_id=ipa-sil_keyboard)

A free keyboard layout for OSX that allows you to type in the International Phonetic Alphabet. Very good stuff.

iStumbler (

Software for finding open wireless networks. Not that you’d ever do that.

MplayerOSX (

Mplayer is a great piece of software on Linux, and the OSX port isn’t bad either. It’s necessary for playing most .avi files and some exotic Mpeg files. Not perfect, but free and necessary. Pair it with VLC and Flip4Mac to be able to open damned near any movies you come across. Make sure to use Version 1.0x as opposed to 2.x. These are two different versions of the software, and 1.x is far more recent and updated. It’s also universal.

NeoOffice (

Repeat after me: “I do not need Office for Mac”. This is great FOSS software, a port of that really takes advantage of OS X’s features. I’ve not had a copy of Office installed for at least 5 years, and I’ve never been happier.

Onyx (

Free, easy system maintenance software for OSX.

Praat (

Phonetics software, with a very functional OSX port. It’s even universal. A bit niche, but if you’re analyzing speech, there’s none better.

Tofu (

Sooner or later, everybody stumbles upon a 500 page plaintext document that they really want to read. Tofu is designed to do just that. It formats the text in a nice font of your choosing, on the “paper color” of your choosing, with single or multi-column display. It even replicates page turning. It’s a niche tool, but it does a great job of it. 2.0 (coming soon) will be universal.

TinkerTool (

Tinkertool lets you change little hidden preferences within OS X, some of which can be handy. Font size, finder prefs, etc. Ever wanted to have your dock in the lower right or lower left corner of your screen? This is the way to do it. Just don’t go crazy with it.

UnRarX (

This is a great little piece of software that opens RAR archives, and does it damned well. Support for multi-part files, password protected RAR’s, and lots of other little small things. Most importantly, though, it makes the overzealous and buggy Stuffit Expander even less necessary.

Vienna (

A FOSS RSS reader. RSS (Really simple syndication) is a way to let people watch your site, without visiting it manually. Vienna is a free reader for the RSS format, and is already a great piece of software that can only get better from here.


So, check out these programs if it sounds like you’ve got a need. If you’re looking for something else, check out OpenSourceMac. In a few days, I’ll post my list of commercial software that’s worth paying for on OS X. In the mean time, enjoy the free world, and have a good day!

Have a question, comment, or concern about this post? Contact me!