In this post, we won’t be looking at just any software, though. We’ll focus on open source software.
In particular, we’ll look at what it is and go ahead to list some of the best open software examples in the world.
Let’s jump in.
In simple terms, open source software refers to computer software released under a license that allows users to inspect, alter, and even distribute the application and its source code to other people and for any purpose.
The source code is that part of the application that most users can’t see. It’s what programmers can manipulate and change the way the program works.
The opposite of open source software is closed or proprietary software, which is an application in which only the original authors can legally inspect, copy, and modify the software. Adobe Photoshop and Microsoft Office are prime examples of proprietary software.
- More control: Well, first, open source software gives you more control by letting you examine the source code to ensure it doesn’t do anything you don’t expect. You can also change parts of the code if you want.
- Security: Anyone can access the code and spot any omissions or errors that the initial authors overlooked. Programmers can quickly fix and update the software.
- Stability: The code undergoes constant improvement and upgrades, making it stable to run long-term projects.
- Affordability: Open source software solutions are cost-effective, with most being free. Why? Because the organization doesn’t need to hire special programmers to keep updating or modifying the code.
- Community: Often, open source programs attract a community of people that produce, use, test, review, and ultimately make the software better.
GIMP is an image editor that’s compatible with GNU/Linux, Sun OpenSolaris, Windows, and macOS. Whether you’re a photographer, scientist, illustrator, or graphic designer, you can use this application to complete your job.
GIMP features numerous third-party plugins and customization options that you can use to boost productivity.
This open source application provides you with top-notch tools needed for image manipulation. You can retouch, restore, and let your creativity loose.
As an artist, GIMP gives you the flexibility and power to convert images into unique creations. In the hands of a graphic designer, GIMP helps in creating icons, making graphical design elements as well as art for mockups and graphic design elements.
The program integrates with many other programming languages, such as Perl, Python, Scheme, and more. The outcome is extensive customization as depicted through the numerous plugins and scripts made by the community.
GIMP is free, meaning you’re free to use the app for any purpose and distribute it.
Most digital artists run to Krita for digital painting and 2D animation.
Krita is a free, C++-written open source program for digital painting, animation, and illustration. It accommodates both professionals and beginners.
Windows, MacOS, and Linux operating systems accommodate Krita.
Krita’s capabilities include modifying HDR photographs, editing photos, layer color mixing, reflecting, and smoothing.
This software supports OpenGL; combining OpenGL features with Krita’s improves the performance for better mirroring, rotation, and rapid zooming. It has many features, such as drawing assistants, layer management, HDR painting, full-color management, and more.
As a beginner, you don’t have to worry about how to use Krita, as it contains useful documentation and a community forum to guide you through so you can learn to use this app.
The app has a simple and intuitive interface that beginners won’t feel overwhelmed navigating around.
Since Krita is layering it allows you to make drawings of your choice as background in other drawings.
Find out what other tools you can use in place of Krita.
Blender is another free and open source three-dimensional computer graphics program that supports the entire 3D pipeline. The 3D pipeline includes animation, rendering, modeling, video editing, simulation, rigging, compositing, and motion tracking.
So, whether you’re a modeler, animator, 3D printing enthusiast, or game developer, Blender has got you covered.
Blender’s interface is user-friendly such that advanced and novice users can customize the layout. You can split the viewport or customize it with python scripting. The interface offers crisp text, doesn’t have disruptive popups, and is consistent on all platforms.
The grease pencil feature lets you explore story art and the two-dimensional concept design through the 3D viewport. To push the story art boundaries, you’ll have access to fantastic tools like colors and layers for stroke and fill, onion skinning for full animation support, and sculpt brush strokes.
More importantly, Blender has a huge community with hundreds of contributors worldwide.
Inkscape is a free, open source design application suitable for illustrators, graphic designers, web designers, and any user interested in creating vector imagery.
It comes with a powerful text tool, flexible drawing tools, spiro and bezier curves, and broad file formatting compatibility.
Inkscape runs on Windows, Linux, and macOS architecture.
The tool has several popular features that make it appealing to the design community. First, there’s the object creation, which comprises drawing tools (pen, pencil, and calligraphy tools), shape tools, text tools, clones, and embedded bitmaps.
Next is the object manipulation feature that you can use to carry out transformations, grouping objects, Z-order operations, alignment, and distribution.
The file and stroke feature consists of a color picker tool, color selector, a gradient editor, copy/paste style, pattern fills, path markers, and dashed strokes.
Inkscape also features text support rendering and path operations. It supports file formats like SVG, PNG, PDF, sk1, DXF, EPS, OpenDocument Drawing, and more.
VLC or VideoLAN Client is a multimedia app created by VideoLAN Project. The VLC app plays discs, files, devices, webcams, and streams. VLC has been a popular option in the industry for decades.
If you’re looking for a video or audio player without any ads, spyware, or user tracking, VLC would do.
The media player supports multiple formats, including MPEG-1/, MPEG-4 ASP, MPEG-4 AVG, WMV 3, Cinepak, MP3, MIDI, DV Audio, Real Video, DVD, USF, OGM, DVB, and more.
The app undergoes constant upgrading with the latest and advanced features, such as the 360-degree support for VR headsets and the capability to stream to various devices, such as Chromecast.
VLC Media Player runs on macOS, Windows, Android, iOS, and Linux. When I’m playing a movie on this app and realize it doesn’t have subtitles, I can get a subtitles file from third-party sources and add it to the movie.
The playback feature is also one of my favorites. You can use the application to stream media locally or online.
The free, open source software is a multi-track track audio recorder and editor. It features many effects that you can apply to audio so it appeals more to the ears.
The app is versatile such that you can use it to edit recordings, conversations, or create music. Audacity is compatible with Windows, macOS, and GNU/Linux.
In terms of sound quality, the app supports 24-bit, 16-bit, and 32-bit. The sample formats and rates are converted via high-quality dithering and resampling. Besides, Audacity has the ability to record live audio via a mixer or microphone. It can also digitize your recordings from different audio.
The import/export feature lets you edit, import, or combine sound files. You can also export the files in diverse file formats, and that includes exporting multiple files simultaneously.
The application also features easy editing with copy, cut, delete, paste, redo, and undo. Plus, you can use the keyboard to fully manipulate tracks and selections; a huge variety of keyboard shortcuts would help.
What’s more, Audacity supports LV2, VST, LADSPA, Nyquist, and Audio Unit effect plugins. You can modify the Nyquist effects in a text editor. Even better, you can write your own plugin.
Explore more Audacity-like tools.
Open Source Programming Software
Python is a scripting programming language that developers use, which is why it’s among the best open source software among developers. It has various uses, such as creating video games, mobile apps, web apps, and more.
Python is one of my preferred programming languages because it has a super easy syntax, with a lower learning curve, it’s versatile in its applications, and has a huge collection of libraries. Lastly, it’s free to use.
Whether you’re a beginner or experienced with other languages, you’ll find Python easy to learn. The platform has several guides to help beginners learn how to write programs with Python.
Their community hosts conferences and workshops and collaborates on codes to help everyone understand the language. You can also check out their documentation in case you’re stuck.
Python has a massive and growing ecosystem consisting of various open source packages and libraries. Some of the popular Python libraries include Requests, Numpy, Pandas, SciPy, Gradio, TensorFlow, Theano, Matplotlib, Keras, Statsmodels, PyTorch, and more.
PHP (hypertext preprocessor) is a free scripting language commonly used to develop interactive and dynamic websites. The impressive part is that you can embed it into HTML, making it possible to add functionality to various web pages without using external data files.
One of the reasons behind the popularity of PHP is that it’s easy to learn and use. Even if you lack web development knowledge and experience, you can create a web page in a short time with a single PHP file. Both the syntax and command functions are simple to learn, which means the entry barriers to learning this language are fewer compared to other languages.
A major benefit of PHP is that it’s an independent platform that works with most operating systems, such as Windows, macOS, and Linux. It also supports most browsers. Besides, the language supports all major servers, which makes deployment on various systems and platforms a walkover.
It’s also fast and secure, making it a preference for creating company websites. Community support is available to help fix bugs and other vulnerabilities.
Basically, Ruby on Rails makes building modern web applications effortless and fun. The features developers find most appealing about Ruby on Rails are its elegance and compactness. Its design allows it to support agile development, making it a flexible and productive application for development teams.
Most programming languages like HTML, SQL, CSS, and HTML don’t often cover both the front end and back end. But Ruby on Rails encompasses both ends, allowing developers to build complete web applications.
The language is based on MVC (Model, View, and Controller) architecture that enables it to separate codes of various functions. It’s also based on the active record library that allows developers to create the database interaction queries.
Ruby on Rails uses the “convention over configuration” concept, which means it assigns values automatically with no intervention from the user.
You can use the simple testing tool to test the application before launching it and ensure it functions effectively.
Examples of the websites running on Ruby include GitHub, Basecamp, Airbnb, Crunchbase, Cafepress, and Apartable.
10. Mozilla Firefox
Firefox is a popular web browser developed by the Mozilla Foundation and released in 2002. It’s compatible with Windows, Android, Linux, and iOS. It features an intelligent address bar and a simple user interface.
For most Linux distributions, Firefox is the default browser. When Google Chrome was launched, Mozilla Firefox lost some of its users. But recently, Mozilla transformed the browser and it’s now Chrome’s toughest competitor.
Mozilla Firefox is one of the most secure web browsers. It comes with malware and phishing protection to protect your device from dangerous websites. You’ll receive a warning if the site you’re about to visit is insecure.
The browser has thousands of extensions that you can install to improve and customize your browsing experience. I also use this browser to watch videos online because of its fast graphics acceleration.
Like most open source applications, Mozilla Firefox is free.
11. Brave Browser
Brave Software developed this open source browser. Like Chrome, Brave is based on the Chromium code, and it’s designed to run on Windows, macOS, and Linux.
This browser protects your privacy and secures your device when browsing. It does this by blocking website trackers and ads. Brave also features a built-in form autofill, password manager, and the ability to enable ‘do not track’ when browsing.
I prefer this browser because it’s compatible with most of the Chrome extensions meaning I can customize the browser for a better browsing experience.
The fact that Brave blocks ads and trackers means that it loads faster than other browsers, which is why I prefer it for video streaming.
Interestingly, Brave lets you use Tor in the browser, which hides your browsing history and masks your location from the websites you visit. Simply put, the browser encrypts your connections to enhance anonymity.
Zimbra is an open source email and application tool trusted by hundreds of millions of users in at least 140 countries. It works with Linux, Windows, CentOS 4, and RHEL4 operating systems.
More than 200,000 businesses all over the world use Zimbra because it offers privacy, security, accessibility, compatibility, and flexibility.
Through features like Zimbra Chat, your team can communicate on the go. On the other hand, Zimbra Desktop, Zimba Drive, and the Zimbra Web Client provide simple ways to collaborate, share, and store all kinds of files.
Service providers depend on Zimbra for safe emailing, text calendars, video conferencing, and cloud storage. Government and educational institutions have turned to this software as well.
Zimbra Network Edition is secure to use with email, as it provides security features, such as authentication, digital signatures, message integrity, privacy, and encryption.
The good thing about Zimbra is that its collaboration is fully-fledged and provides a support service for their open source users.
Companies can use the free open source edition or consider upgrading to the Zimbra network edition that comes with a free trial and has features like mobile sync.
The file transfer protocol application is a free and open source program for transferring computer files from a server to a client. It runs on Windows, macOS, Linux, and more.
It’s easy to use and available in several languages. You can use FileZilla to resume and transfer files as large as 4GB and above.
FileZilla is a fast and reliable application that supports FTP, SFTP, and FTPS. It also features a transfer queue and powerful site manager along with a tabbed interface.
When transferring files through this application, I can filter files by their names and even edit them remotely.
The other interesting features are drag and drop support, IPv6 support, and remote file search.
This open source platform is designed for distributing large files and data over the internet. The lightweight software lets you download many files at once.
You can download more than one torrent during which you can allocate more bandwidth to a particular torrent so it downloads faster.
BitTorrent allows me to set my preferred download/upload speed limits, which frees up network resources for other useful tasks. But this doesn’t mean the downloads will be slow; I can quickly check the health of my torrent’s swarm before and during the download.
The scheduler within the software makes things even easier. You can specify those times of the day you’d like to send or download your favorite files.
In terms of pricing, BitTorrent is free to use. However, it has premium plans as well: the Ad-Free plan costs $4.95 per year, the Pro (popular) plan costs $19.95 per year, and the Pro+VPN plan costs $69.95 per year.
7-Zip is an open source file archiver. Its source code mainly uses the GNU LGPL license; only a small part of the code uses the BSD 3- CLAUSE License. Archiving data promotes quick access, prevents data loss, and reduces storage space.
7-Zip is a free application that works well with Windows, macOS, Linux, BSD, and ReactOS. The tool supports numerous formats in packing and unpacking only. Some of these formats are; 7z, XZ, GZIP, TAR, AR ARJ, and CAB.
It goes with extension .exe which occupies a manageable space. 7-Zip also gives a compression ratio between 2-10% with ZIP and GZIP format.
7-Zip has strong encryption in 7z and ZIP formats of AES-260 and this improves 7z self-extracting capability to a very strong one.
I love the fact that it is delocalized in 87 languages making it usable over a wide range.
Linux is one of the world’s open source projects. It’s a free operating system that was created as MINIX operating system’s free alternative.
If you have used Windows, iOS, or macOS, you’ll find Linux similar to these apps. In other words, it has a video editor, photo editor, word processor, and other features.
So, who uses Linux? Well, you already use the software directly on your device or indirectly when browsing the internet. That’s because most of the web pages you visit online are generated from Linux-powered servers.
Both individuals and companies use Linux because it’s flexible, secure, and has an excellent community.
While many distributions are available, most of the older and popular distributions are ideal for beginners, as they have bigger user communities to answer questions, especially if you get stuck and or are unable to figure something out.
Apache OpenOffice is an open source software suite for spreadsheets, presentations, word processing, and others.
The software runs on Windows, GNU/Linux, and MacOS (x86-64 only) and is available in many languages.
This software is available free of charge, and all your data in this software is stored in the international open standard format, making it possible to read and write files in other office packages.
Apache OpenOffice is Microsoft Office’s great alternative in terms of working with spreadsheets, text documents, and presentations offline. The app provides nearly all the features that Microsoft Office has, but won’t cost you at all.
The software is easy to use. For example, with one complete process, I can report bugs, ask for new features, or even upgrade the software.
This software allows you to make pdf files for documents you want to manage even when you are out of the office. You can also exchange files with other office applications, such as Microsoft Word.
MySQL is a relational database management system (RDBMS). Applications delivered by this software can be put to scale and chances are the performance will be high.
You can download MySQL for free and use it with Linux, Windows, and Unix operating systems.
You can use this database by installing a server or even a desktop. It’s used together with scripted languages, such as PHP.
The software can be used in data warehousing and website creation. It’s also a vital component in the LAMP stack made of Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP.
When you settle on MySQL for commercial uses you have a chance to explore other editions to meet your business requirements.
Companies such as ITALTEL and F5 use this software in their daily operations.
MySQL also allows you to store single entry information of an inventory of online available products.
The plugins in MySQL allow for embedding of its applications. The plugins include Daemon plugins and storage engine plugins.
WordPress is a popularly used free, open source content management system (CMS). It uses a MySQL database and is written in PHP. Initially, WordPress was majorly a blogging platform, but its use has evolved such that it now powers 39.5% of the internet.
What I like about WordPress is that it handles both the frontend and backend of websites. You can use this platform to create corporate websites, blogs, e-learning sites, eCommerce stores, portfolio websites, and more.
WordPress is easy to customize, thanks to the thousands of plugins and themes it supports. The best part? Most of these themes are already responsive and SEO-optimized.
WordPress is user-friendly and learning to use it isn’t difficult at all. You only need to watch a couple of YouTube videos and you’re good to go.
Check out some of the best Wordpress alternatives.
When working with a variety of websites, you can’t always remember the passwords for each unless you use one password for all the websites. But that exposes them to the risk of being accessed by anyone who gets access to your password. That’s where KeePass comes in.
This open source software is popular for its ability to manage passwords in a more secure way. It does this by generating a database where you can keep all your passwords. This database is locked using a master key.
Having one master key leaves you with the responsibility to remember only one password. The database is encrypted with one of the strongest algorithms namely, AES-260, Twofish, and ChaCha20.
The component of the master key password is hashed with SHA- 256, a one-way hash function that is secure with no known attacks. When loading the inner XML formats passwords are encrypted using a session key.
KeePass works well on Windows 8/ 9/ 10, BSD, Linux, and macOS.
This password management system has security-enabled password edits that keep intruders from accessing these controls.
Even with all these great features, I can access it without paying a penny
These are just a few examples of open source software. But one thing is clear: most open source applications are free, but that doesn’t mean they’re inferior. On the contrary, they have exceptional features than some of their premium alternatives.
I hope you’ll find a powerful open source application to help with your specific tasks. In turn, you’ll save on costs and be more productive.
Tom loves to write on technology, e-commerce & internet marketing. I started my first e-commerce company in college, designing and selling t-shirts for my campus bar crawl using print-on-demand. Having successfully established multiple 6 & 7-figure e-commerce businesses (in women’s fashion and hiking gear), I think I can share a tip or 2 to help you succeed.