Freebie Friday – Lifehacker’s Best Downloads for 2010 for Mac, Windows and Linux

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We’ve hit the end of another week, and we’re only a week away from the end of the year. It’s a time that many of us take stock of the previous year, and Lifehacker are no exception. They’ve recently posted three roundup articles listing the most popular free downloads of 2010.

I’m a big fan of Lifehacker—I flick through each article in Google Reader every morning, and often find something interesting. It’s also one of those blogs where you can learn as much from the comments as you do from the article.

I also love freebies—free software, free downloads, free anything. Here are three lists of the free downloads Lifehacker believe were the most popular for 2010, measured by the traffic the relevant articles received:

Lifehacker’s Most Popular Free Mac Downloads of 2010

Although I’ve been surrounded by Macs since 1990, I only started using them personally about a year ago. I’d been a content Linux user since 2003 (and Windows user before that), and the family have  been nagging me for years to give Mac OS a fair go. Well, the nagging worked, and I agreed to use it as my primary operating system for two years. So over the last twelve months I’ve tried all sorts of Mac apps, including lots of freebies. I’m a little surprised at Lifehacker’s list!

They include some of my favorite cross-platform, open-source programs in the list: VLC and VirtualBox. I’m not familiar with Perian, but it seems to be a QuickTime plugin with similar capabilities to VLC. WineBottler brings the open-source Wine to Mac so you can run many Windows apps Microsoft-free.

A few media-related apps made the list: Kylo, a TV-optimized web browser; MakeMKV for ripping DVDs and Blue-Rays, and MediaRover for syncing iTunes libraries. I’ll have to try that one. Are there any opinions out there about the best way to keep iTunes in sync on iMac and MacBook?

Other Mac apps/utilities include Hyperdock, the gorgeous GTD app Wunderlist, SecondBar for dual monitor setups, and the excellent Finder plugin TotalFinder (which as far as I know is no longer free). The cloud makes an appearance with CloudApp, which makes sharing files over the Net trivial.

I’m surprised at how many phone-related apps are in the list: iPhone Explorer turns your iPhone into a external disk drive, DoubleTwist adds wireless sync to Android, Android Notifier makes notifications growl on your desktop, and PwnageTool for jailbreaking iPhones.

Lifehacker’s Most Popular Free Windows Downloads of 2010

I spent quite a few years in a former life exploring Windows freeware. I was curious to see how much things have changed since then. While there are quite a few apps I haven’t heard of before, many are old favorites.

Predictably, quite a few apps on the list aim to fix Windows: Soluto aims to speed it up, LookInMyPC helps you troubleshoot, CCleaner cleans the crap, Steam Mover and Disk Space Fan free up space, and Ei.cfg removes some product key headaches. One app takes a different approach to fixing Windows: the Snow Transformation Pack makes it look like Mac OS X!

A few of the apps will keep open source fans happy: ZeuApp downloads 82 open source apps, and MultiBootISOs makes it easy to book multiple OSs.

There are some media-related apps: FlashHacker plays Flash videos full screen, uTorrent downloads your media (and other) files faster, and a video converter and editor called Freemake.

Others include: Google Map Buddy, ToneCheck warns you when your emails sound agro, HTC Home brings HTC’s weather widget to your desktop, Pale Moon (a “faster Firefox”)

Lifehacker’s Most Popular Linux Downloads and Posts of 2010

The Linux landscape changes faster than any other operating system. I still run Linux on a few machines, but I wonder what I’ve missed out on in the last year of spending most of my time in Mac OS.

By most methods of measurement, Ubuntu remains the most popular Linux distro. Lifehacker feature it prominently in their list, with screenshot tours, lists of improvements, and Ubuntu wallpaper. Other distros that get a look in include light-weight Arch, gorgeous Gaia, and the beginner-friendly Mint.

Popular concepts that are covered include the all-important command line, and the art of dual booting (including an article on rEFIt for easier dual booting on a Mac, and tips about how to share your data across foreign partitions).

Other articles include how to make Linux look like Mac OS X (which seems like a popular hobby for many non-Mac users), virtualization with VirtualBox, how to turn a Pogoplug into a full-featured Linux web server, and how to control your PC with a remote.

Are you surprised with Lifehacker’s results? Did they miss your favorite free download for 2010? Tell us about it in the comments.