Applications, Packages and Licensing

This section is intended to provide information and help on some of the applications and packages that are widely available across the Physics Department. Many are available free of charge or at reduced cost through University or Departmental site licences. Details of licences can be found on each application's page.

Software Licensing

It is the responsibility of individual members of the Department to ensure that all software in use is covered by an appropriate licence. Installing or using unlicensed software will be treated as a serious offence.

Site Licences

A wide variety of software is available free of charge, or at low cost, through OUCS , CHEST and other site licence deals details of which may be found in OUCS Site Licensing and the OUCS Shop. In addition to the OUCS / CHEST agreements, the Physics Department has purchased licenses for some packages. We will try to coordinate requests for licences for software that is in widespread use around Physics. Please send requests to IT Support.

Obtaining Site-Licensed Software

Many packages may be installed using Physics Self Service.

Windows: most free of charge software is installed by default on the standard desktop and laptop clones. For all other software please contact IT Support who will remotely install the software on the appropriate machines and arrange for any necessary licence to be purchased.

Unix: contact the administrator of the machine directly.

Mac: contact the administrator of the system directly.

Personal and self-managed computers: We have copies of the installation CD's or DVD's for most packages available for loan. Contact IT Support for details.

Instructions: there are some instructions on obtaining kits from the local kits server.

Applications and Packages

In the descriptions we have deliberately made no distinction between one Operating System and another - Linux , MS Windows or Mac - as we encourage all users to become familiar with applications on various platforms so that they can choose the best tool for the task in hand.

Office Suites

Microsoft Office remains our preferred Office Suite. Users without access to a Windows desktop will find Open Office an excellent choice.

The basic applications contained in Microsoft Office are: Outlook, Word, PowerPoint, Excel and Access.

MS Windows and all the MS Office applications will normally be preinstalled on departmental systems. Users wanting to have MS Windows or MS Office on personal systems should obtain Work at Home licences and kits from OUCS .

Desktop Publishing and Scientific Document Preparation

For the preparation of scientific documents, particularly those containing many equations, Latex is likely to give the best results. However, LaTeX is complex software with a steep learning curve and for simple documents it's often much quicker to use Microsoft Word with the MathType and EndNote plugins, which will also give a very high quality of output. Posters, Brochures, Leaflets and other complex documents are normally easiest to produce using InDesign.

Design, Graphics, Drawing, Illustrating and Photo Editing

Programming and Software Development

Integrated Development Environments

  • Visual Studio.    Visual Studio will normally be preinstalled on departmental systems. Users wanting to have Visual Studio on personal systems should obtain Work at Home licences and kits from OUCS .
  • NetBeans

Compilers, Languages and Libraries

Laboratory Tools

Web Browsing

For security reasons, we strongly recommend using Mozilla FireFox in preference to Internet Explorer


There are many email clients available. We strongly recommend using Outlook, except for users without access to a Windows desktop when Mozilla ThunderBird is a good choice. See also the section on The Exchange Service.

Outlook is part of MS Office and is normally already installed on departmental systems. Users wanting to have MS Office on personal systems should obtain Work at Home licences and kits from OUCS .

Mathematical and Data Analysis Tools


Cross-Platform Environments


  • Sophos   (Requires Physics login)