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.

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