Best Open Source Software: Essential Picks

Best open source softwareThe internet is packed full of software solutions. Open source software is software which source code you can find, view and modify. Since the code of OSS software is available to everyone the users can use programs with such licensing for free.

Open Source projects are usually completely free or incredibly inexpensive. Also, this type of software is usually universally accessible and has an excellent host of supporting documentation. In this guide, we look at five of the best open source software solutions available in various fields including media players and audio editors.

What is Open Source Software?

Open Source is a type of source code that is available to the public for free. It can be freely used, modified, and redistributed. Software created using this source code is released using the open-source model.

This model ensures that programs are released under an open-source license which generally means the source code is accessible for anyone. Open Source software promote collaboration and encourages developers to push boundaries as they can have direct access to the underlying software code. You can find a detailed article about Open Source Software via the official website.

The Five Best Open Source Software Programs

Now that you understand what open source is, we can look at some of the most popular programs using this source code. It is difficult to choose only five options as there is a large range of fantastic open source software available. Other notable programs include Thunderbird (A free email management solution) and KeePass (A password generator).

1. GIMP – Open source raster graphics editor

GIMP open source graphic editor

GIMP is one of the best-known open source software programs, and a top contender to Adobe Photoshop. This raster graphics program has an advanced set of tools and features that allow you to create superb raster graphics. It also has minimal photo editing tools so you can retouch images.

Using GIMP, you can create shapes, gradients, lines, and also use the detailed brush tools to produce beautiful artwork. Also, it has full layer management, and you can create complex images with great depth. This is a brilliant open source graphics editor and could be used to create web marketing media, web graphics, or even for basic photo retouching.

It is free to use and relatively easy to install. Also, GIMP has a large community and a huge array of supporting material such as tutorials, and plugins. If you don’t want to pay a monthly subscription for Photoshop, GIMP is a suitable alternative.

OS: Windows, Mac, Linux

Pros Cons
  • Easy to use open source software
  • Advanced raster graphics tools
  • Full layer editing
  • Advanced features could confuse new users

2. Audacity – best open source software for working with audio


Audacity is one of the best audio editors available. It also happens to be open source. It is used by millions and is free to use on Windows, MAC, and Linux devices. Even though it is a relatively old piece of software, it still has great utility for audio processing.

If you want to record audio, Audacity has a simple recording feature. You can record via multiple input devices including a mic and live streaming. Also, you can tweak your recording using multiple effects such as tempo, pitch, and speed. We previously listed Audacity as one of the best audio recorders and audio editors on our blog.

Alternatively, if you want to edit existing tracks and sound files, Audacity audio software provides an extensive set of tools. The learning curve is relatively simple, and Audacity also has a large community of developers and musicians that can lend a helping hand.

OS: Windows, Mac, Linux

Pros Cons
  • Advanced editing features for audio
  • Audio recording process
  • Multiple supported output extensions
  • The interface could be revamped as it looks dated

3. VLC Media Player – open source media player

VLC open source software

VLC Media Player is one of the most-used media players and a superb alternative to basic products like Windows Media Player. This open source software is available on multiple operating systems and you can use it to play a large range of media file types.

It also works with streaming media like online radio or podcasts. VLC also provides excellent control for media playback and has useful features like adding subtitles, video trim and others.

OS: Windows, Mac, Linux

Pros Cons
  • Can play practically any media file
  • Excellent playback controls
  • The menu system can be a little complex

4. LibreOffice – open source office software

LibreOffice open source office package

No list would be complete without LibreOffice. This open source package of programs is one of the best alternatives to the Microsoft Office suite and has a comparable set of features.

Using LibreOffice you can create documents, presentations, spreadsheets and more. Essentially it has rival features to programs like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. It is definitely one of the best free Microsoft Office alternatives. Also, the developers of LibreOffice are continually adding new features and updating the software.

OS: Windows, Mac, Linux

Pros Cons
  • Supports Microsoft Word files
  • A solid set of document tools
  • No cloud support

5. FileZilla – open source FTP client

FileZilla open source FTP client

Some of the best Open Source programs are FTP clients. FTP stands for file transfer protocol and it is a method by which you can transfer files and upload documents to web servers or a WordPress website.

FileZilla is one of the most popular FTP clients available and is incredibly easy to use thanks to the user friendly interface and the support of drag&drop mechanism. It has a simple interface that even beginners will understand. Also, you can manage your files easily and manage both local and remote folders. This open source software also supports bookmarking, files queue and speed limit controls, synchronization between directories and their comparison, remote files search and edit and other useful features.

OS: Windows, Mac, Linux

Pros Cons
  • Incredibly easy to use open source program
  • Streamlined interface
  • Some FileZilla downloads may contain adware

Widen Your Software Choices and Use Open Source Programs

We hope you have found this guide useful. As you can see, you don’t have to spend a fortune on software. There is an excellent range of open source software available that offers fantastic alternatives to popular creations from Microsoft and Apple, for example. Why not give some of these programs a try today and make use of the wide range of free open source software available? Even PDF software can be open source so you can use programs with open code not only for entertainment but for work and education as well.

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