The world is changing, so is the world of (paid) software. Hehe; don’t get me wrong here, the days of paid software is fading away slowly but surely. We have hi-end Operating Systems like Elementary OS and hi-end Application Software like Mozilla Firefox. Giants like Microsoft and Oracle have been advocating the use of proprietary software, but since the last decade, there has been a significant uprise in contributions to the Free & Open Source community. According to Wikipedia, “The benefits of using FOSS can include decreased software costs, increased security and stability, protecting privacy, education, and giving users more control over their own hardware.” The book “The Cathedral and the Bazaar” by Eric S. Raymond lays down the history of the foundations of the FOSS Movement. “Homesteading the Noosphere” is an essay by Eric S. Raymond about the social workings of open-source software development.
Let us see what the best Free & Open Source Softwares are available and if they really do suite our needs. Here is a list of the best from the lot:
1. Linux OS : Unix-like Operating System the has a plethora of flavours and distributions to choose from. Arch Linux, CentOS, Debian, Fedora, Gentoo Linux, Solus, Manjaro, Linux Mint, Bodhi Linux, Elementary OS, Mageia, openSUSE and Ubuntu are the hot favourites. Kali Linux is the market leader in ethical hacking, digital forensics and penetration testing.
2. BSD OS : Berkeley Software Distribution is a Unix-based Operating System. The most famous flavours available in the market are Dragonfly BSD, FreeNAS, Ghost BSD, Junos, Open BSD, Free BSD, Sell OS, Orbit OS and TrueOS. Sell and Orbis were actually developed to be incorporated as the official OS of the Play Stations (PS3 and PS4).
3. Desktop Environments : Users of most of the Linux or Linux-based OS can make use of Environments like CDE, KDE, Enlightenment, Cinnamon, LXDE, Mate, Xfce and GNOME.
4. Mozilla Firefox : A free Web Browser. The Mozilla Foundation has recently given a massive transformation to Firefox, making it surge ahead of Chrome in the war of browsers. The best part of Firefox (according to me) is the Greasemonkey userscript manager.
5. VLC : VLC is a free and open-source, portable and cross-platform media player and streaming media server developed by the VideoLAN project. VLC is available for almost all desktop operating systems and mobile platforms.
6. Celestia : A giant leap in FOSS timeline comes with this 3D astronomy program created by Chris Laurel, allowing users to virtually travel through an extensive universe, modelled after reality, at any speed, in any direction, and at any time in history. Recent add-ons are literally mind-blowing.
7. GIMP : GNU Image Manipulation Program used for image retouching and editing, free-form drawing, converting between different image formats, and more specialized tasks is a close substitute for the celebrated Adobe Photoshop.
8. LibreOffice : This is a software package that is not only a fantastic substitute for Microsoft Office but is also a very likeable project to me. LibreOffice supports the file formats of most other major office suites, including Microsoft Office.
9. 7zip : A feature-rich FOSS file archiver. Better than WinRAR.
10. TunnelBear : This is a free VPN. TunnelBear makes it easy to protect your identity online and access region-blocked content. Just flick the switch, select an international proxy, and all your online activity will be re-routed. Yo!
11. UNetbootin : UNetbootin allows you to create bootable Live USB drives for Ubuntu, Fedora, and other Linux distributions without burning a CD. The application is cross-platform and is available for Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X. You can either let UNetbootin download one of the many distributions supported out-of-the-box for you, or supply your own Linux .iso file. (You can make a copy of your bootable Windows too. Yes.) Not only can UNetbootin create a bootable Live USB drive, but it also can be used to load various system utilities like Parted Magic, Super Grub Disk, Backtrack, FreeDOS and Kaspersky Rescue Disk.
12. VirtualBox : Certainly not a substitute for VMWARE, but surely is a marvellous piece of software in the FOSS category. This is a hypervisor capable of running virtual OS inside an OS. I often use VirtualBox to test newly released Linux and BSD distros. VBox is available for Linux, Windows, BSD, Solaris and macOS. VirtualBox is a miracle in every sense. I can trade my best pair of jeans for VirtualBox. Any day. (Oh, I love you VBox.)
13. TrueCrypt : TrueCrypt enables you to convert a memory stick into a strongly encrypted data storage device. I personally use it to keep some of my most personal data off of my laptop and strongly secured.
14. Tor Browser : A badass browser that hides your identity over the internet.
15. FileZilla : Based on the File Transfer Protocol, this software is a masterpiece in the FTP world. I know a few projects (kicked off by software giants like Sun and Microsoft) that got totally uprooted the day we hugged FileZilla as the default FTP boy.
16. Mozilla Thunderbird : Yet another beautifully crafted software form the Mozilla Foundation. This is a very effective cross-platform email client, news client, RSS and chat client. The beauty of Thunderbird lies in providing enterprise and government-grade security features such as TLS/SSL connections to IMAP and SMTP servers.
17. KeePass : I personally use KeePass as my trusted password manager. This is a perfect substitute to Zoho, Dashlane, Keeper, LastPass, RoboForm and True Key. KeePass can import from over 30 other most commonly used password managers. Nice, na?
18. Freemake V-Down : Not only does this application grab videos from all the most popular hosting sites, including YouTube and Vimeo, it also converts and saves them in the right format for your playback. Freemake Video Downloader has a userbase of over 100 million users worldwide. (Well, WHAT!?)
19. Lightworks : Free video editor for everyone. Some of the features include realtime effects, advanced multicam editing, second monitor output, ability to import a wide range of file types, export to Vimeo (H.264/MPEG-4) up to 720p HD and export to YouTube (H.264/MPEG-4) up to 720p HD.
20. Eclipse : Eclipse Classic is the most recent release from the Eclipse top-level project. It contains what you need to build applications based on Eclipse technology, including integrated development environments IDE, and rich client applications using the Eclipse Rich Client Platform RCP.
21. GNU Cash : GnuCash is an accounting program that implements a double-entry bookkeeping system. Budgeting, Portfolios and SQL support puts this application into a lot of demand.
22. Blender : If you are into game development, video editing, or 3D modeling, I am sure you must have already heard about this tool. If you are considering any of these activities either as a hobby or a career change and haven’t heard about Blender, it is definitely time to check it out.
23. Sysinternals : A majestic bundle of small applications by Windows developers. Windows Sysinternals is a part of the Microsoft TechNet website which offers technical resources and utilities to manage, diagnose, troubleshoot, and monitor a Microsoft Windows environment.
24. Audacity : A very popular digital audio editor and recording software application.
25. AVAST FREE : Last but not the least; Avast Free Antivirus is an efficient and comprehensive antivirus program. It is one of the most popular antivirus programs available. Thanks to the reliable and trustworthy brand that Avast have created. The key features that continue to make Avast Free Antivirus so popular are the easy UI, optimized scanning options and continuously updated database of virus definitions. I strongly recommend this to save your PC/Android device on any given day. (A few of my friends don’t like AVAST. I give them Avira Free, the second best, but not far behind AVAST).
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