A laptop for a student – Part 2

Money what money

In Part 1, I mentioned some factors which we considered important when buying a laptop for college work. Now to install Vista and some software. As I already mentioned, my son’s Dell Inspiron 1545 came with Vista Home Premium and he’s entitled to a free upgrade to Windows 7 Premium in October, so with that in mind, we’ll probably do a fresh install when the new OS arrives. So I didn’t want to load up the machine at this stage, just install a suite of applications to see him through until Windows 7 arrived.

As I run Windows XP or Ubuntu on my machines, this was the first time I’d installed Vista so I was pleasantly surprised at how painless it was. In all, it took about 20 minutes to install the OS. Dell used to have a reputation for installing a fair amount of trialware and junk along with the OS – don’t think they’re as bad as they were, but anyway, the first thing I downloaded and installed was PC Decrapifier to remove all the applications and trialware we just didn’t need. Here’s a list of the stuff it can remove. Having removed the trialware security suite, I then added the free antivirus program which has served me well over the years, AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition 8.5 and the spyware remover SUPERAntiSpyware Free Edition. Adobe Reader came installed so I removed that and added my favourite pdf reader, Foxit Reader.

List of apps we installed

Firefox: my favourite browser

Firefox Plug-ins: Adblock Plus, All-in-One Sidebar, LastPass (this one’s absolutely essential)

SpeedyFox: to clean Firefox’s SQLite databases and help prevent it slowing down

CCleaner: an essential utility for PC maintenance

Recuva: to recover accidentally deleted files

Revo Uninstaller: for completely uninstalling apps

Skype: so we can keep in touch

PC Wizard 2009: for PC information

CD Burner XP: to burn CDs and DVDs

FastStone Image Viewer: for managing and quick editing of photos

Serif PagePlus: DTP app; the link is to the free version of this commercial app

Rainlendar: a nice desktop calendar with reminders and a to-do list

Microsoft Office: this is the only commercial software in the list; for a free office suite, OpenOffice is excellent

Change Caps Lock to Shift Key: remap the annoying Caps Lock key to a Shift key

The only additional things were to set up a GMail account for him and place a small batch file on the desktop for one-click backup of everything in the Documents folder to a USB stick and impress on him the importance of using it. I’m still looking into laptop security/theft apps such as LocatePC, Prey or LaptopLock and will update this post when we decide on one.

Finally, I thought for completeness, I’d throw in a couple of links to some excellent posts on web apps and services for students I’d bookmarked on Delicious:

Notely Helps Students Get Organized Online

The Ultimate Student Resource List

Best Web Applications and Resources for College Students

Back to School: 15 Essential Web Tools for Students

So which applications would you put on a student’s PC? What about web apps and services? Drop a comment below.

Image credit: stuartpilbrow

2 Responses

  1. Phil Says:

    Left my son at uni with MY laptop on Saturday, decided we’d by a new one after Oct 22nd. Just thought I’d comment and give a pointer to http://www.software4students.co.uk – £35 for a full-blown MS Offfice for students is amazing!! (NB it’s not the normal student version without Outlook)

  2. Vaibhav Says:

    Very nice post with all the useful tools and collection. In case if your kid uses Skydrive ( which comes with 25gb free storage) , you can even try installing Gladinet. Its too good for its price.


Leave a Comment

Please note: Comment moderation is enabled and may delay your comment. There is no need to resubmit your comment. Please do not use keywords in the Name field. Comments must relate to the post topic. This website is here to help people, not for advertising purposes.

Please complete puzzle and then submit your comment *
Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.

` `