20 Most Popular Open Source Software Ever

May 19, 2013 · 168 comments

by Tom Walker

20 Most Popular Open Source Software Ever

20 Most Popular Open Source Software Ever These days, you can quite easily buy a brand-spanking-new computer and install all the software you need for free, using applications offered under the Open Software License. You can get a free image editor, a free sound editor, a free word processor, media player, file archiver, PDF creator… the list goes on and on and on. While some of these free apps do not offer quite the same level of polished functionality as their commercial rivals, others far exceed the capabilities of everything else on the market. Below, we take a close look at the cream of the crop: 20 invaluable and indispensable open source applications that you really should be using, if you’re not already. The vast majority of them are cross-platform and absolutely 100% free! You’re bound to find several that are perfectly suited to your needs.



1. WordPress


WordPress is the world’s most popular blogging platform, used by a staggering 202 million websites. As simple or as complex as you want it to be, WordPress is supported by a wide array of plugins which can be used to transform a standard blog into anything you could possibly desire. Besides blogs, WordPress can be used as a straightforward content management system to power anything from online shops using WordPress e-commerce themes, online magazine using a WordPress magazine theme to portfolios using WordPress portfolio themes, WordPress gallery themes are great for photographers and designers showcasing their creations in an online portfolio.

2. Magento


Magento, used by 30,000 merchants, including Samsung, Nespresso and The North Face, is the world’s fastest growing e-commerce platform. Magento Community Edition is offered for free under the Open Software License. The Enterprise Edition, for which you have to pay, offers features like multi-store capability, store credits and gift cards, out-of-the-box.

3. Mozilla Firefox


Firefox currently accounts for 24.43% of the recorded usage share of web browsers, but this figure is on the rise. Already the browser of choice for most web professionals, Firefox’s popularity is growing thanks to its vast selection of third party add-ons, which let users tailor their browsing environment down to the finest detail.

4. Mozilla Thunderbird


With its speedy searches, built-in RSS feeds, strong security and superb add-ons, Thunderbird has to be the best, free email application available. If you’re prepared to spend some time tailoring your email environment with add-ons, you’ll absolutely love it, but it’s probably not ideal for complete novices.

5. FileZilla


FileZilla is a hugely successful, cross-platform FTP client. It’s also available as a server, for Windows only. Created in January 2001 by Tim Klosse as a class project, FileZilla has gone on to become the 5th most popular download of all time from SourceForge.net.

6. GnuCash


GnuCash provides a great, free alternative to paid-for accounting software. Designed for personal and small business use, it offers bank account, stock, income and expense tracking, in addition to double-entry accounting.

7. Audacity


Music software like Cubase and Logic Pro can be incredibly expensive, which is why an increasing number of people are turning to Audacity, a free, cross-platform sound editor. Users can record and edit live audio; cut, copy, splice and mix sounds; and convert ageing tapes and records into digital format.



Just like sound editors, industry standard image editing software is prohibitively expensive for a lot of people, but GIMP provides a free alternative. It performs every major function you could desire, except for, vitally, CMYK separation functionality necessary for prepress work.

9. OpenOffice


With the ability to create text documents, spreadsheets, presentations and databases, OpenOffice is an accomplished rival to Microsoft Office, which clearly influenced OpenOffice’s design. Microsoft Office users will feel completely at home and find that OpenOffice performs just as well, if not better.

10. VLC


At last count, VLC media player had been downloaded 300 million times. Unlike some paid-for alternatives, VLC supports practically every audio/video codec and file format. The most recent VLC release also offers live recording of streaming video, frame-by-frame advancement and superb speed controls.

11. Handbrake


Handbrake rips/converts DVDs to MPEG-4 for playing back on your iPod or archiving. It doesn’t have the ability to decode DVDs, but can do so if you have VLC, which includes a DVD encoder, installed on your computer.

12. Pidgin


Pidgin is the ultimate, free instant messaging tool. It provides you with one window through which you can simultaneously interact with different people, whichever instant messaging platform they’re using.

13. Freemind


Freemind is a terrific mind-mapping tool, which lets you get all your thoughts down as quickly as possible with the use of icons, shapes and colors. Besides the ordinary nodes and links, you can add hyperlinks and even documents to your maps.

14. Notepad++


Reliable, customizable, intuitive and free, Notepad++ is the most popular Windows-based CSS editor around. It offers everything: syntax highlighting; folding and auto-completion for CSS, C, C++, C#, Java, JavaScript, SQL, HTML, XML and PHP; multi-file viewing; tabbed editing; zoom in/out; and bookmarks.

15. 7-Zip


7-Zip is an extremely popular file archiver for Windows, which, although free, outperforms Winzip. It can unpack the vast majority of archive formats and can create TAR and GZ archives, commonly used on Unix and Linux systems, as well as its own 7z format, which easily outshrinks ZIP files.

16. Blender


Blender is a 3D content creation suite which can be used for everything from modeling to skinning, particle simulation, animating and texturing. Unlike some other free apps in this list, Blender has not been designed to “imitate” other 3D graphics software, which means it takes a bit of getting used to, but once you’ve familiarized yourself with all the shortcuts, you’ll be hooked.

17. PDFCreator


Windows users can consider PDFCreator a credible rival to Adobe Acrobat. Creating PDFs is as easy as printing, literally, as once installed, you can select PDFCreator as your printer, letting you create PDFs from practically any application.

18. Calibre


According to Calibre, it’s the “one stop solution to all your e-book needs”. I’m inclined to agree. Besides letting you catalogue and manage your e-book collection, sorting, tagging and commenting on them as you please, you can download content from the internet and convert it into e-book form.

19. TrueCrypt


TrueCrypt really is the best free encryption program around for anyone worried about their security. It offers 11 algorithms for encrypting your files, as well as a comprehensive help manual, which gives advice on complex password creation, hidden volumes and erasing encryption giveaways.

20. Ubuntu


Named after an African philosophy of community, sharing and generosity, Ubuntu is a free operating system for Linux that’s quick and easy to use. Recent figures suggest that around 50% of Linux users have Ubuntu installed. With its focus on usability, Ubuntu comes with OpenOffice, Firefox Empathy, Pidgin, GIMP and other tools pre-installed.

Author : Tom Walker

Tom works at CartridgeSave.co.uk, a supplier of printer cartridges based in the UK. Click here to read more of his work.

{ 125 comments… read them below or add one }

Amit Saini Bakana August 15, 2013 at 8:24 am

Hello all,

This is a very nice information for everyone. My request to admin of this website add more information other most popular software.

Amit Saini Bakana


Guruswamy Basavaiah August 3, 2013 at 11:43 pm

Linux kernel is missed. It should have come as number 1.


Ashu July 5, 2013 at 12:40 pm

Very very interesting list of open source products. It is really helpful. Thank you so much !!!


carlos from puerto rico June 29, 2013 at 3:45 am

thx for that awsome list,i love this kind of list please do more :)
i m watching and downloading lol thx again.


GVK June 26, 2013 at 8:18 am

Thank you sir !!!


GVK June 26, 2013 at 8:15 am

Thank you !!!


Software development May 24, 2013 at 3:23 pm

Hi Tom very interesting list of open source software’s and tools. I just download most of them after viewing here and going to use them. They all software and tools are very helpful for my project. So thanks for this great post.


iLoveMage May 2, 2013 at 9:07 pm

Magento ecommerce solution has become the most demanding open source platform of today’s online retail store businesses since it provides a tremendous advantage. With Magento Ecommerce Platform, online store owners are being given the capability of handling multiple stores and facilitate a more systematized browsing of items for sale. Improved management of customer’s orders and having more developed promotional or advertising tools also becomes possible with Magento Ecommerce.


eNonymous February 28, 2013 at 4:50 am

You guys forgot joomla and phpbb

Those are great softwares :D


Lars February 28, 2013 at 10:30 pm

yes you are right, we could make a list of 100+ with great open source apps ;)


lifetime free February 10, 2013 at 4:32 pm

Good blog post. I definitely love this website. Continue the good work!


thorfenn December 21, 2012 at 2:50 pm

a good list,
but i m a little surprise about the choice of Calibre…

may be popular… but i haven t heard about it before reading you….

good job.


Salento November 24, 2012 at 2:26 pm

I didn’t know of PDFCreator for free…thx a lot for this list


Bhushan November 20, 2012 at 8:19 am

Thanks. It is really helpful and saved lot of time and energy.


Gyanesh November 9, 2012 at 6:47 pm

Joomla is another HUGE open source application.


mir ahmed brohi October 27, 2012 at 3:47 pm

i need an antivirus software plz help me


Chinoto Vokro October 29, 2012 at 8:25 pm

“ClamWin Free Antivirus” is a GPL licensed scanner, but doesn’t do active file checking. You can grab Clam Sentinel from http://clamsentinel.sourceforge.net/ which uses Clamwin to offer active file checking. I’ve never heard of Clam Sentinel until a few minutes ago, I’ve recommended AVG to anyone who wants active protection or people who don’t have safe habits (executing random files from untrusted sources).


soumyabrata roy October 18, 2012 at 9:39 pm

thanks for giving the list


stevens October 16, 2012 at 11:11 am

very useful


Enrique Pascalin September 15, 2012 at 5:29 am

Dear Tom Walker:

A little more than 2 years have passed since you wrote this note. But results should not have changed a lot since then taking into account that you used the word “EVER” at the headline of your article. So, for “20 Most Popular Open Source Software Ever”, I was a little bit impressed by your list since it lacks of research.

By “Popular” let us understand that means: “the greater amount of users of a given open source software”. And according to that definition, your list is greatly mistaken. A word of advice for an upgraded article:
1-Order the list, watching Wordpress at the top of this list can make anyone get sick. You can consult sourceforge and other sources to be accurate beyond YOUR KNOWLEDGE.
2-You must include many of this apps, as they have been downloaded the must since EVER or used the must since EVER:
-Linux (not ubuntu, not even Debian; Linux Kernel is the most important one)
Others: Wikipedia, Java(JRE/SDK), VLC Media Player, Firefox, eMule, Azureus, Ares, 7-zip, gimp, filezilla, open office, notepad++, joomla, apache, mysql, php, etc. And if you want to include some specialised categories like e-Commerce, you should put osCommerce instead of Magento (I use Magento but osCommerce is far more POPULAR).


kesitus August 21, 2012 at 6:09 am

Excellent write-up. I certainly appreciate this website. Keep writing!


Lisa June 12, 2012 at 7:41 pm

What about Joomla Drupal?


Bishal April 5, 2012 at 7:41 am

Nice article…


Reno Chiropractor March 21, 2012 at 11:18 pm

Use LibreOffice over OpenOffice – do some research, Libre will stay open and free while OpenOffice may not.


Annamalai Nagappan February 17, 2012 at 11:21 am

I agree with you,these softwares are equivalenet to windows software.Main advantage of using these softwares is that it is available free.


Manoj Kumar January 23, 2012 at 4:31 pm

these are the good rarest list of software.


Peikom January 15, 2012 at 5:52 pm

No X-cart in the list?


odra November 20, 2011 at 4:36 pm

The line “Ubuntu is a free operating system for Linux” doesn’t make sense. I bet you meant:

Ubuntu is a a free linux operating system.


Estiak Ahamed November 13, 2011 at 5:58 pm

Nice open source software collection. These software are really very helpful for all types of net user.


Reiki in Edinburgh October 8, 2011 at 3:21 am

Great post and excellent list. Don’t agree with all inclusions but still an interesting read


magento October 5, 2011 at 11:18 am

magento? it’s not that popular you know!

where’s chrome?


John September 6, 2011 at 3:43 pm

Would only agree with you if this is only what you use and in no particular order. Firefox vs Wordpress?? haha


Roger Farebrass August 6, 2011 at 10:31 pm

I’ve got to say that the most impressive piece of open source software in your list HAS to be Wordpress – it has truly opened up blogging to the masses.


Jonathan May 26, 2011 at 7:30 am

Great article. I use almost every piece of software here except Handbrake…checking it out now. Thanks


fjpoblam May 15, 2011 at 11:27 pm

You got’em pegged. (I only wish the Notepad++ fellow’d come out with a MacOSX version, since I converted from Windoze to MacOSX…)

You might consider adding mention of LibreOffice to your OpenOffice description. Or maybe not. Political issue, off-topic.


amik May 10, 2011 at 8:12 am

Nice article… mostly.. and look up to me


HD41117 March 25, 2011 at 9:12 pm

This is certainly a good list of applications, however Magneto is the only one of the 20 listed in this post “offered under the Open Software License.” TrueCrypt uses its own TrueCrypt License Version 3.0 and the rest are licensed under various flavours of the GNU General Public License, making them Free Software, not Open Source. Information on why the distinction is important can be found here: http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/open-source-misses-the-point.html

List of applications and their licenses:
Wordpress – GNU GPLv2
Magneto – OSL3
Mozilla Firefox – MPL/GPL/LGPL
Mozilla Thunderbird – MPL/GPL/LGPL
Filezilla – GNU GPL
Audacity – GNU GPL
OpenOffice – GNU Lesser General Public License, v.3
Handbrake – GNU GPL
Pidgin – GNU GPL
Freemind – GNU GPL V2+
Notepad++ – GNU GPL
7-Zip – GNU LGPL + unRAR restrictions
Blender – GNU GPL
PDFCreator – GNU GPL
Calibre – GNU GPLv3
TrueCrypt – TrueCrypt License Version 3.0
Ubuntu – Mainly GNU GPL (includes some binary blobs)


Lars March 25, 2011 at 10:37 pm

Thanks a lot Kerrin!


Chinoto Vokro August 23, 2012 at 1:15 am

A quote from the page you linked “These are both mistaken, since the GNU GPL qualifies as an open source license and most of the open source licenses qualify as free software licenses.”
FSF’s definition of Free (ie Libre) Software is a subset of open source software. If you deny that, you are a fool.


FBML March 9, 2011 at 11:13 am

Openoffice and Freemind are new to me from this list and looks interesting. i will give them a try very soon. thanks


Alberto Dieago March 7, 2011 at 8:54 am

I dont use the other software. But using filezilla since 2006. It is really a best ftp program i have used. Most userfriendly


Tharindu January 3, 2011 at 9:20 am

You should try OrangeHRM also , Its the world most popular Open Source HR Management System


John December 28, 2010 at 11:46 pm

Here’s a similar, but dynamic, list of top open source applications (with ajax filtering capabilities).


Jaipal Yadav December 26, 2010 at 3:01 am

First I have to hats of for you, you buddy have a great knowledge for us thanks a lot. I just download most of them after viewing here and going to use them in may Projects and work of Animation and Visualization. Please be noted me about new soft. from open source and Industry news.
Thanks again buddy. ? Your opinion…


redazione December 25, 2010 at 6:32 pm

Great post + great collection.
Thank you!


vivek December 8, 2010 at 4:59 pm

open office is not in the list… i think it shoul also b included…


Suresh April 4, 2013 at 11:12 am

pls read again! We never change ;) lol…


Suresh April 4, 2013 at 11:12 am

no 9…


Pako December 5, 2010 at 7:42 pm

I’m sorry, but in some of your descriptions you keep pointing out that the main idea of using Open Software is because it’s free, but that’s not completely truth, nowadays, it’s very easy to find how to install no-legal versions of private programs, so I don’t think that’s a so important point. At least, not for myself, as:
Free software as a matter of liberty, not price.


Chinoto Vokro August 23, 2012 at 1:22 am

Free Software, as in FSF’s definition, isn’t necessarily free as in gratis, it can be sold for any amount, one example of this is MicroCenter. Same thing applies to Open Source Software since it is a superset of Free Software. Individual licenses of OSS (and possibly Free) could limit the ability to sell software, but not by default.


Richard Walker October 21, 2010 at 10:59 pm

P.S. Maybe Eclipse & Aptana should have a mention, they are not only good IDEs for developers but probably leading the race these days.


Eli Mitchell October 27, 2011 at 2:00 am

Then you have to mention Netbeans IDE too! :)


Alex February 24, 2013 at 1:31 am

Are you kidding me? Netbeans suck. I indent with tabs, and Netbeans hasn’t been able to do that for years, even when I specifically check off “indent with tabs” for all the languages it supports. Then there’s its horrible Swing GUI where they didn’t even bother to make the program-wide fonts uniform, and I have to specifically tell it to use Metal instead. On top of that it’s slow as hell


Robert April 25, 2013 at 11:06 am

Uh, let’s not get over excited, there are no open source IDE’s right now that come even close to Visual Studio.


Haden June 19, 2013 at 5:54 pm

I’m so sorry that you think Visual Studio is good. Maybe one day you’ll discover a better IDE, or maybe you’ll drop the IDE and just use VIM and a compiler.


Richard Walker October 21, 2010 at 10:56 pm

Yeah, good list, I use and depend on 10 of these – open source FTW.


Attorney Blair Couts October 9, 2010 at 7:25 pm

You are a very articulate writer. This is a good site.


Trinae A Ross September 16, 2010 at 12:54 am

Thank you for the extensive list. As an advocate for Linux, I was glad to see Ubuntu represented. These are all fine examples of quality software that doesn’t have to be expensive. It is important for users to support open source software and to let the developers know how important the software is in the daily life of the user.


Ron Peled September 15, 2010 at 7:18 pm

Yes. I think I use 7 of these pieces of open source software on a regular basis including Magento and Wordpress. Go open source!


Games Trick September 14, 2010 at 3:22 am

I am very interested in what you write. Because now my country, open source software is needed. Considering the number of software piracy


Wendell Goode February 19, 2012 at 3:47 am

You’ll find Linux (I use Ubuntu) to be far and away more secure than Windows, many if not most users run it without any malware apps at all. Don’t pay any attention to those rumors that say Linux is for geeks, I’ve been using it it since a newbie and I’m still not a geek. I find it far less arcane and user friendly than Windows. IMHO


Tinus Joubert February 20, 2012 at 9:03 am

My problem going over to Ubuntu is that I program in .NET using MS Visual Studio in Windows. With what can I re place it with in Ubuntu ??


adnbr March 8, 2012 at 11:37 am

Look into Mono.


Enrique Pascalin September 15, 2012 at 5:05 am

Going over Ubuntu and being a .NET developer is USELESS. Mono is a crappy effort from Miguel de Icaza (Mexican as myself) to port .NET into ux environments. The problems are:
-Always out of date.
-Not a slightly decent IDE if you are used to MS Visual Studio
-Not all libraries have been ported.
-.NET as a hole is a piece of inefficient crap

If you want to go for Ubuntu, here are my personal recomendations:
1-Don’t go to Ubuntu, modern Ubuntu distro’s suck. Try Debian, Mint or Fedora
2-Preserve your .NET development for Windows environments. But try the huge development world behind open source: C++, Perl, Php, Python, GTK, QT4, OpenGl, Shell, Ruby, etc… There is also a huge amount of IDE’s for Java. This languages and frameworks are all you need to build better apps than .NET ones.
3-Try Netbeans 7.x, Eclipse and Aptana; you can complile and create proyects for most modern proyects. (I create HTML5, J2EE, C++, Php, etc with Netbeans).
4-Try Mobile SDK’s. Android, Meego/Tizen, etc. run great on Linux and mobile apps is a great market.

Hope this may help


Zainab September 28, 2012 at 12:16 pm

you could use a virtual windows machine, or my personal choice I make dual boot PC with both Linux and Windows and keep Windows only for development needs while I use Linux as my main


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