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The Best Open Source Alternatives to Your Favorite Software and Apps

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If you’re tired of using products from Microsoft, Google, or other big names in tech because you’re worried about privacy and security, then it may be time for you to switch to open-source. The most popular proprietary software and applications usually have open-source alternatives. 

Why open source?

Why should you consider using open-source software if your proprietary programs and apps work just fine? Open-source software is developed by the user community, and anyone can look at the code. If it’s a popular enough software, there are always people working on improvements, meaning you, as the user, always get the best version. Would you rather use software created by a few developers who don’t publish their code, or hundreds of developers who collaborate on a regular basis?

Open-source software has a few security advantages as well. More people working on it means that bugs are found and fixed more quickly. Many open-source software providers also don’t send your data to third parties and give you more control over how to use the software and handle your data.

Of course, open-source software has its downsides. Every open-source alternative to a proprietary software may not be the best choice for you, depending on your needs. If you don’t mind tinkering with your software and security is important to you, then open-source is likely the best choice for you.

Microsoft Office – LibreOffice

If you’ve ever used a computer then you’ve come across Microsoft’s suite of Office products: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Publisher, Access, etc. Microsoft Office products remain some of the most popular and widely used in the world, but if you’re ready for an open-source alternative, try LibreOffice. It includes a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation designer, diagram maker, database editor, and more.

Google Drive – Nextcloud

Google Drive’s collaborative, easy-to-use file sharing features make it a popular choice for many people. But Google has been heavily criticized over privacy concerns and selling data. An open-source alternative such as Nextcloud might be a better solution for you. Nextcloud is a self-hosted productivity platform that allows you to sync and store files, conduct calls and meetings over the web, and manage calendars, contacts, and mail. You control where you put your data, so you can be sure it’s more secure.

Google Chrome – Mozilla Firefox

Concerning criticism over privacy concerns, Google Chrome hasn’t fared much better than Drive. The release of Chrome’s tracking algorithm FLoC (Federated Learning of Cohorts) has many users worried about their privacy while browsing with Chrome. If you want to avoid Google’s creepy trackers, try the open-source web browser Firefox. Firefox has stronger default privacy settings in place than Chrome.

YouTube – PeerTube

YouTube, being owned by Google, raises privacy concerns for some. For an open-source alternative try PeerTube, a decentralized, federated video platform. Because of the peer-to-peer playback that allows users to share videos, PeerTube takes up less bandwidth and requires smaller hardware to operate than YouTube.

Grammarly – Language Tool

Grammarly is a helpful tool that makes grammar suggestions on anything you write. You can install it as an add-on in a word processor, or as an extension on a web browser. However, if you don’t like the idea of Grammarly’s servers holding onto your text, you might feel better using the open-source Language Tool. Language Tool is also a free grammar checker, and it works with more than 20 languages.

Windows Media Player – VLC

Instead of using Windows’ default media player, try VLC. You can use it across platforms to watch media files, DVDs, audio CDs, VCDs, and you can stream media with it. VLC will play practically anything on practically any device or platform. It’s available on desktop and mobile, including iOS and Android.

Slack – Mattermost

The instant messaging and collaborative communication app Slack is a popular choice for remote workplaces. If you and your team want an open-source messaging app instead, Mattermost is a self-hostable online chat service. It also lets you take full control of your data, so you can protect your company’s privacy.

Adobe Photoshop – GIMP

Adobe Photoshop is an industry leader in graphics and photo editing software, but it can be expensive. If you want a quality photo editing software that’s free and open-source, try GIMP. It has fewer features than Photoshop, but for most users, it’s more than adequate.

LastPass – Bitwarden

Password management is essential for today’s digital age, as you likely have dozens of accounts to keep track of. LastPass is a useful tool for keeping your passwords in one place, but it’s not open-source. Bitwarden is a good alternative, offering syncing across multiple devices. Unlike LastPass, Bitwarden requires an app or software download to use.

Windows – Linux

If you want to commit to going completely open-source, then try replacing your operating system with Linux. Linux is entirely free, open-source, and has thousands of distributions to choose from, so you can find the one that fits you perfectly. Some Linux distributions are even designed for former Windows users. A good starting point with Linux is Ubuntu, as it’s widely supported and easy to use.

Choosing open-source

As you can see, it’s not hard to find alternatives to your favorite software and applications, especially if they’re popular. An easy way to find alternatives is with the site alternativeto.net, which lets you search any program, software, or application for similar ones. You can see which software is open-source and proprietary, as well as free or paid. Good luck on your journey to open-source software!

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