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