Compilers

Back in college (Colombia), having access to powerful software was really difficult. If you plugged a usb drive into any pc running windows in campus you'd get a virus, and buying software was an expensive dream. The best alternative is switching to software libre. You get plenty of versatile programs, but at the cost of learning how to program in many languages. Sometimes it's frustrating, especially when dealing with wifi and other accessories.

Anyway, at this point I'm feeling temptation by the dark side to try intel libraries, math kernel library (mkl), for example. It seems faster than other free libraries.  It's interesting this mkl is available to you at no cost... if you are a student, researcher, or open source developer. These libraries are compatible with libre gnu compilers. But some folks might think, "I should keep everything under intel's control". If you're a student you can download their ifort and icc, $0. But researchers must purchase it for only $700. Apparently, you could get a 50% discount...