Freeware favorites Songbird and the GIMP updated in the waning days of 2009, offering mostly minor changes that fans of those programs will appreciate.

Songbird 1.4.3 introduces a new 'feather.' (Credit: Screenshot by Seth Rosenblatt/CNET)

Songbird updated to version 1.4.3 for Windows, Mac, and Linux. The new version can rip music from audio CDs directly into the main Songbird library and introduces a new default feather, called Purple Rain. Feathers are Songbird-speak for skins or themes. Although an add-on is still required, the latest version also supports several Mass Storage Class portable device syncing.

Originally, the update was to v1.4.1, but two late "feather"-related bugs forced the subsequent version bumps. In a blog post, Songbird assures users that 1.4.3 is safe and stable to use. Songbird still lacks full Windows 7 support, which, along with video playback support, isn't expected until version 1.5.

The GIMP version 2.6.8 for Windows, Mac, and Linux offers no new features, instead fixing several performance and functionality bugs. Although this release is fairly minor, the upcoming version 2.8.0 is expected to contain interface and feature changes. The full changelog for version 2.6.8 can be read here.