My 10 best open source software alternatives

I am a huge fan of open source software. Aside from this software being free the vast majority of the time, it is also often the case that these examples of software have been lovingly built by international communities and where commercial value and cost is not a factor, we often find that the only limitation to the quality of the product is the will of dedicated developers to continue contributing. This will and dedication is often limitless with many open source projects.

Here I list 10 of my favourite open source softwares and what they may serve as an alternative to.

10. VLC Media Player (media player)

VLC media player can open and play most forms of audio and video files without any flaws. This also incudes DVDs. It is a great cross-platform alternative to Windows Media Player, Quick Time and the MacOS DVD Player. The project has a long and active community of open source contributors which means the software is often updated.

Alternative to: Windows Media Player, Quick Time, DVD Player (on mac)

Potential savings: £

09. ClamXAV (antivirus software)

Antivirus software is necessary. No matter which operating system you use it can be liable to viruses and other malware. Yes, it is true that Windows users and those with particular internet habits are most at risk, however the risks are not only present in those cases. The downside is that antivirus software can be very expensive over time. It is worth paying this price for peace of mind. However free and regularly updated open source alternatives are there. The widest supported and best known is CLamXAV.

Alternative to: Any proprietary anti-virus software.

Potential savings: ££

08. LibreOffice (office suite)

Personally I tend to use Google Docs for any correspondence, presentation or spreadsheet stuff that I need to do. However for times when I cannot rely on an internet connection or I just want a local copy of a document, presentation or spreadsheet I am working on, I use LIbreOffice. It has equivalent applications to all contained in the Microsoft Office and Apple iWork application suites but is completely free for all users and open source, and also matches up better in terms of performance (in my opinion), and has compatibility with Microsoft Office formats.

Alternative to: Microsoft Office, Apple iWork Applications, Google Docs.

Potential savings: ££

07. Let’s Encrypt (SSL certificate encryption)

SSL certificates are often sold by domain name registrars and hosting providers. However it is possible to get SSL certificates entirely free through Let’s Encrypt. These certificates can also be renewed annually also for free. For your website’s security and SEO an in-date SSL certificate is essential. 

Alternative to: Any SSL certificate solutions sold by web hosting companies or other third parties.

Potential savings: £££

06. Firefox (web browser)

I would most definitely argue that Firefox is the best browser. It is lightweight, secure, has a wide range of available extensions and is available across multiple operating systems including Windows, MacOS and the majority of Linux flavours. On top of this it is also supported by a large open source community.

Alternative to: Safari or Internet Explorer.

Potential savings: n/a

05. GIMP (image editor)

Image editing software, in particular Photoshop, can be extremely expensive. I do believe that for designers this is a price they should pay and they should regard this cost as an investment in their toolset. However for the vast majority of people Photoshop is not worth the cost. As a developer I rarely need to use image editing software, and whenever I do it is only to prepare images for this blog by scaling them to a smaller size and cropping them to the correct dimensions. GIMP has many of the features that Adobe Photoshop has but is available at no cost to users and is supported by a large open source community.

Alternative to: Adobe Photoshop, Corel Draw, Microsoft Paint.

Potential savings: £££

04. Visual Studio Code (code/text editor)

There are many open source text or code editors available to users across any operating system. My favourite example however, and one which I use for my own coding, is Microsoft’s open source code editor named Visual Studio Code. This code editor is straight forward with a aesthetically pleasing user interface and an incredible selection of third party extensions available to add to your coding experience.

Alternative to: PyCharm, PHPStorm, TextEdit, Notepad.

Potential savings: £££

03. WordPress (CMS system/framework)

I started a large part of my early career in web development with WordPress almost a decade ago. This CMS is by far the most popular and for good reason. It has a very large, active, and tightly-knit community across the whole world in the shape of users, developers, designers, and other tech professionals. Despite its weaknesses in comparison to some other CMS systems and frameworks, I still believe WordPress is among the best because when used correctly and with great technical expertise WordPress is truly powerful, scalable and flexible. Recent trends in WordPress development have focused on headless CMS implementations and this proves the worth of WordPress as more than a plain CMS and more as a data repository among other uses.

Alternative to: Other open source CMS systems like Drupal, Joomla etc. Or an alternative to proprietary CMS systems like Episerver, Wix, Contentful.

Potential savings: £££

02. Laravel (MVC/PHP web framework)

Laravel was first released in 2011 by Taylor Otwell and was based on the similar Symfony framework. It is an open source PHP framework using MVC architecture, modern PHP Language standards, many built in functions and extensive third party libraries to provide a pleasurable development experience to build powerful web applications in PHP. Vue.js is also bundled with Laravel if one wishes to use a separate JS framework. It is the most popular PHP framework and for good reason. It is by far my absolute favourite web framework and my favourite platform for developing complex web applications.

Alternative to: Other open source PHP web frameworks such as Symfony, Cake PHP and Zend. Or as an alternative to the .NET framework.

Potential savings: £££

01. Ubuntu (operating system)

Windows and MacOS are still the largest desktop operating systems in terms of size of their user bases. I personally use Ubuntu for my desktop operating system and although it is in the minority as a desktop operating system, for web servers it is hugely popular along with other Linux distributions for this purpose. However even as a desktop operating system it is accessible for users with a low level of technical knowledge and users with a high level of expertise in using Linux. It is extrememly flexible and high performance and also enjoys an extremely large and active community across the whole world. Not only is Ubuntu my favourite open source software, it is also my favourite operating system.

Alternative to: Windows, MacOS, ChromeOS.

Potential savings: £££

Featured image from https://unsplash.com/photos/dAFk0IjztP0 (Yomex Owo)

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