This question includes a good list of sources where an individual might collect malware samples for analysis.
I'd like to get a large number of public, non-malicious programs for the purpose of comparing various attributes to malware samples.
I have explored the following options:
Scraping executables from arbitrary websites with a bot. Such a bot would be rather difficult to write, not to mention being unethical, and requiring strategies to deal with anti-bot measures such as CloudFlare.
Using C:\Windows as a source. I spent some time looking at some Windows files. They were abundant, but all seem to perform extremely specialized functions and I have doubts about how well they would represent legitimate programs in the real world
Finding and downloading programs manually. This would be extremely slow and tedious, and also ineffective to get large numbers of such programs.
I suppose what would be ideal for my situation is a sort of program dump, but I'm not aware of any that exist.
As someone unaffiliated with any organisation, is there an effective way of getting a large number of public normal programs for the purpose of comparing their features to a set of malicious programs?