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Free and Open Source Software Alternatives

Introduction

Before spending another cent on software, you should first consider freeware and open source alternatives. There are options for just about every software category, including antivirus, office and productivity suites, backup and recovery, and photo and video editing.

Of course, some freeware and open source software may not look the prettiest and have all the features of their commercial counterparts. However, most offerings are solid applications that can do all (or most) of the work for free. Plus it can help veer you away from using illegal pirated software that some might suggest.

Most free software is the “Free Edition” of a commercial product, called freeware or shareware. Some are free trials and/or have major limitations, but some aren’t terribly restrictive and just lack the more advanced features—this is what you should look for.

Open source software is another animal than freeware or shareware. It means the source code for the program is published and publicly available. Anyone can copy, modify and redistribute without paying royalties or fees.

Some open source projects are funded by companies while others rely on the community for the development and donations. The majority of open source software is for Linux and other Unix-like operating systems, but many popular programs support Windows too.

Both freeware (non-open source) and open source alternative are mentioned in this article.

  • army_ant7
    You forgot to mention Microsoft Security Essentials. It's worth mentioning because it's actually supported by Microsoft and it's free (as long as you have a genuine OS). :-D
    Reply
  • army_ant7
    LibreOffice would've probably been more welcome here than OpenOffice (because it's actually open source). :-)
    Reply
  • army_ant7
    I was wondering that to, but I'm really not familiar with Glary. It didn't even show up when I Googled for a free optimization utility before. I use CCleaner now though.

    Also, in the backup section, the Windows bacup tools aren't mentioned.
    Reply
  • army_ant7
    I'm glad to see that last line of this article. It's very refreshing to read it and know that there are actually people out there who care. :-)
    Reply
  • The author of this articles confuses open source and free software.
    try wikipedia for the definitions
    True most open source is free (not all opens source is free). In this article I see mostly closed source free software.
    Change the article title cause it is misleading (or change job)
    Reply
  • Three tools missing,

    Ccleaner.
    Libre Office.
    Microsoft Security essentials.
    Reply
  • ubercake
    Avast is a great product.
    Reply
  • egeier
    Yes Ccleaner, Libre Office, and Microsoft Security essentials are good options too. Just didn’t want this to be a laundry list of software. I wanted to give some details about each and couldn’t do multiple alternatives for each category.

    Only gripes I have about Microsoft Security Essentials is that it lacks sandboxing and password protection. But I do like they offer it to small businesses for free as well, on up to 10 PCs.

    Does CCleaner support batch uninstall? I love that in Glary Utilities. Also Glary offers the simple 1-Click Maintenance and seems to include a bit more additional tools than CCleaner: file shredder, undelete file recovery, file encryption, disk analysis, duplicate file finder, and file splitter and joiner.
    Reply
  • Tomsguiderachel
    nobody123456The author of this articles confuses open source and free software.try wikipedia for the definitionsTrue most open source is free (not all opens source is free). In this article I see mostly closed source free software. Change the article title cause it is misleading (or change job)Nobody--
    Thanks for your comment. Your point is a good one and we are looking in to a more appropriate descriptor for the applications discussed in this article. Some of these apps do not meet the criteria for the literal definition of "open source" which we would do well to adhere to. Keep an eye out for the headline change and our editor's update/correction.

    Luckily, we're glad to take your advice about the definition of open source, but not insecure enough to change careers on your suggestion that we do so.

    Thanks for reading.

    Rachel Rosmarin
    Managing Editor, Tom's Guide
    Reply
  • phate
    LibreOffice >>> OpenOffice

    http://arstechnica.com/open-source/news/2011/04/oracle-gives-up-on-ooo-after-community-forks-the-project.ars

    Open Office is dead.
    Reply