These are the best open-source software for Windows, Mac, and Linux operating systems.
First things first, what is open-source software? It can be any software that the developer chooses to release the source code for free. That means every software with an open-source license can be downloaded, used, and even modified by anyone around the world for free.
Let’s take a walk down memory lane. The open-source movement started in the late 1990s at the height of the software development philosophy. The movement created a positive impact in the world.
In perspective, an estimated 96% of all web servers across the world are running in an open-source operating system, like Linux.
On the other hand, open-source doesn’t necessarily mean they’re free. The majority of companies tend to release their software for free, but they maintain full copyright ownership of the source-codes.
Successful open-source initiatives are built through the efforts of multiple collaborators who unselfishly given their time and talent to create something entirely free. This accessible development poses a great advantage.
Open-source software is considered more secure because it has already gone through scrutiny from thousands of users across the globe. That means bugs were already reported and addressed.
People tend to add some cool stuff to open-source platforms. This translates to becoming on par, if not better than the paid programs. You’ll notice that the software you’re about to see comes with rich features and highly customizable.
The open-source alternative to the popular Microsoft Word
OS: Linux, Windows, and Mac
- Full set of office apps
- Microsoft file support
- Offers a wide variety of templates
- Not cloud-based
LibreOffice is essentially a free version of the world-popular office productivity suite, Microsoft Office 365. It comes with full support for documents, databases, spreadsheets, diagrams, presentations, and mathematical formulas.
Some users even argue that LibreOffice has more features than Microsoft Office 365. If you’re having doubts, LibreOffice has a dedicated developer community that keeps on adding new features and upgrades.
The latest update on LibreOffice comes with a QR code generator tool that lets you create mobile-friendly links. However, the closest open-source alternative to LibreOffice is Open Office. The reason for this is the fact that LibreOffice managed to preserve Microsoft Office’s file formats.
This means that the document previously made with Microsoft Office will not get screwed up when you modify it with LibreOffice. However, the biggest downside to this tool is it doesn’t come with cloud features. Meaning, online editing can be tricky.
VLC Media Player
The open-source media player that can play almost anything
OS: iOS, Android, macOS, Windows
- Runs smoothly even with old hardware
- Capable of playing almost any media
- Enhanced playback
- Complicated menu system
VLC or Video LAN media player is an open-source application that is a product of a development group called the VideoLAN project. It’s a lightweight media player that has become an industry leader for several years. It’s not so hard to see why.
The open-source application is capable of handling almost every audio and video format without the need to search for extra codecs. Moreover, VLC allows you to stream podcasts and online radio stations.
However, VLC’s greatest feature lies with its playback control. You can adjust almost anything about how you want your media displayed. This ranges from hardware optimization and adding subtitles from third-party sources.
Just like every open-source software, VLC is getting constant feature upgrades now and then. The most recent addition is its ability to stream with other devices like Chromecasts and 360-degree video support for VR headsets.
The powerful open-source application for editing photos and images
OS: Linux, Windows, Mac
- Perfectly customizable features
- Includes layers, masks, and filters
- Comes with advanced editing tools
- Can be confusing for beginners
GIMP is a beloved software by Linux users. That goes back from when it was first released in 1996. From then, it became one of the most popular and well-maintained open-source software available.
Do you want to know how good GIMP is? To put it into perspective, this software is almost as close to Adobe Photoshop in terms of power and flexibility. It comes with built-in support for layers, filters, and even automatic photo enhancements.
Moreover, it comes with easy-to-make new graphic design elements and downloadable plug-ins to take your editing to another level. Additionally, these constant updates are created by the GIMP open-source community.
Just like Adobe Photoshop, learning GIMP requires dedication. Likewise, the deeper your understanding with the software, the more you’ll appreciate its highly customizable interface and GPU hardware acceleration.
Efficient open-source software for advanced video editing
- HDMI support for preview and capture
- Supports hundreds of codecs
- Advanced effects
- Can be tricky to learn
Shortcut is a free open-source video editing tool. However, it’s not your average free-software. It demonstrates the power of what a dedicated development community is capable of doing if given the time.
While Shortcut’s early version was kind of simple, the recent upgrades got some really serious docks, an intuitive timeline, and interesting new features. How good is this software?
It’s just considered on par with Adobe Premiere Pro. Thanks to its non-destructive audio and video editing support, compiling and using effects will never compromise the quality. It’s also capable of handling color keying as well as grading operations. Of course, it can do the basic stuff like trimming and clip splicing.
Probably the most interesting feature of Shortcut is its ability to work seamlessly with almost all audio, video, and even image media. That’s mainly because of its FFmpeg feature. It’s an open-source video framework that’s built-in with the platform.
The open-source browser
OS: Linux, iOS, Android, macOS, Windows
- Disable trackers instantly
- Support Chrome extensions
- Comes with a built-in adblocker
- Promotes its ads
Brave is built on top of Google’s open-source Chromium project. This application is an open-source web browser that is designed to keep your online activity private. Thanks to its automatic disabling website trackers and AdBlock capabilities.
Another interesting thing! This open-source web browser comes with a TOR function. Perhaps the biggest advantage of using Brave is the fact that you can access most of Google Chrome’s extensions.
Brave promises a better and faster browsing experience than the normal Chrome browser. Because it isn’t considered Chrome’s resource hog on the regular Chrome package, this browser allows a performance boost every time it loads a webpage.
This open-source browser grants Brave Rewards. This allows you to see certain ads, and you can receive a Basic Attention Token in the form of cryptocurrency. On the other hand, many Brave users are hopeful that Brave will one day change the way advertising is done online.
The powerful open-source audio editor for music and podcast
OS: Linux, Windows, macOS
- Direct streaming support
- Works with most audio files
- Expandable plugins
- Unavailable mobile app
After nearly two decades since its launch, this open-source software remains one of the highly-used applications. Audacity works well with Windows, macOS, and Linux operating systems.
After installing the software, you’ll be able to see everything you need to edit, record, or enhance your audio files. Audacity is a competent program, thanks to its extensive developer community.
Likewise, you can use the platform’s library made up of third-party extensions to allow you to add any feature you need that aren’t included in the default package. This allows you to work easier with adding sound effects and auto-tune the tracks.
Don’t get overwhelmed with Audacity’s interface if you’re a beginner. You’ll discover soon enough that these professional-grade tools are easy to use as you learn the ropes. It’s for this reason that this platform remains the go-to application for music editors and podcast creators.
The open-source software password generator and credential storage
- Two-factor authentication
- Very basic features
- Doesn’t have cloud support
While there are several decent password management platforms, KeePass still proves itself thanks to its simple set up and an extensive set of features. Likewise, it is equipped with the industry-standard AES encryption with two-factor authentication to keep your account details safe and secure.
Thanks to its portability, KeePass deserves a place in this list. While this platform can be installed on Windows, Linux, and macOS, for added protection, you can store both the database and the program in a flash drive.
If that isn’t enough, there’s an extensive selection of plug-ins for this platform. This is very handy when you sync your KeePass credentials with your cloud storage on your browser.
The excellent open-source software for email management
OS: macOS, Linux, Windows
- Puts all your messages in one inbox
- Links calendar events
- Efficient interface
- No cloud support
If you’re familiar with Microsoft Outlook, then you’re familiar with the benefits of checking various email inboxes in a single place. Moreover, this is the primary purpose of Mozilla Thunderbird. For starters, Thunderbird is an open-source email client developed by Mozilla.
You’ve probably heard about it thanks to its famous project Firefox. In the same token, this software comes with plenty of features to help you manage your email efficiently and easily. It allows you to link emailed events thanks to its built-in calendar.
Just as important, you can check the news through its RSS reader. On the other hand, if you need to send someone a bigger file, the platform will allow you to upload in a separate server and sending you a link in your inbox.
The open-source FTP client that’s super easy to use
OS: Linux, Windows, macOS
- Lets you resume discarded connections
- Intuitive interface
- Allows remote file editing
- Obsolete design
Filezilla is an open-source free file transfer protocol (FTP), client. It allows you to remotely manage server file systems. That means if you have your website, you’ve probably experienced the frustration of FTP operations.
However, with Filezilla, you’re granted a pleasant and consistent FTP experience that you can’t get from default FTP applications. Whenever you’re experiencing trouble getting access to your website’s server, Filezilla comes with a network configuration wizard.
If you’re a first-time user, the user-interface might look a little bit intimidating. However, once you learn the ropes, it’s very easy to use. On the left-hand panel is where the local file system is located.
On the right panel is the file system of the server. Here’s why it’s easy to use. You only need to drag and drop the file you need to move.
The open-source operating system
- Highly accessible
- Offers great features
- Top-tier security
- Wide choice of distros
This list will never be complete if there’s no open-source operating system in it. Let me give you a brief background. Linux was released in 1991. As time goes on, it slowly transformed into diverse distros with different variations that ranges from Chrome OS and Ubuntu.
It also came in the server stack solutions similar to LAMP. In the past, Linux was only run by a few coders because of the complexity of the installation. This is how difficult Linux systems were running in the past.
Thanks to the initiative of the developers creating a conscious effort to make this operating system into a very easy-to-use platform. Fast-forward today, Linux is very easy to use and can even serve as an extra OS.