The open source guide to the galaxy

The open source guide to the galaxy

Summary: Could your business be paying for a proprietary program when an open source alternative exists? Take a look at our guide as we count down the most popular open source products.


round-up Could your business be paying for a proprietary program when an open source alternative exists? Take a look at our guide as we count down the most popular open source products.

Much of the software suggested in this round-up came from, known colloquially as the open source "phone book". Alternatively, you might want to look at Wikipedia's Free Software Portal. If you need software, it's well worth a look.

Although this round-up lists a range of the popular open source applications, it's far from exhaustive, listing only a small sample of the vast array of free applications available. If you have your own favourite open source application, please let everyone know in talkback.

Recent times have seen a steady increase in open source adoption, with analyst firm Gartner predicting that all businesses will utilise some form of open source software by the end of 2009. Meanwhile, Toshiba has been offering OpenSolaris on its laptops, and the OLPC laptop program has come to Australia.

Office apps is an open-source office suite supported by Sun Microsystems. There is also a supported version known as StarOffice.
Download link

Lotus Symphony
Lotus Symphony is an office suite maintained by IBM. It is available for Windows, Linux and Mac OS X. It contains a word processor, a spreadsheet and a presentation program.
Download link

KOffice is an office suite developed for the KDE Linux desktop environment. It includes several office apps, plus a vector drawing program, an equation editor and project management software.
Download link


GIMP stands for GNU Image Manipulation Program, and it's a free image editing program. If you're looking into Photoshop but only use a fraction of its functions, GIMP may save you a lot of money.
Download link

Xpdf is an open-source PDF reader for a range of platforms including 32-bit Windows, Unix and Mac OS X.
Download link

Business applications

Pentaho is an open-source business intelligence application that includes functions such as reporting, analysis, dashboards, data mining and data integration.
Download link

Sound and video editing

Audacity is software for editing and recording sounds with a broad range of features. It's a handy way to digitalise recording from meetings and other events for long-term storage.
Download link

MPlayer is a video player that supports a massive array of platforms including Windows, Linux, OS X and even Solaris. It also supports a broad range of video codecs and formats.
Download link

Cinelerra is a video editing platform for Linux.
Download link


KeePass allows you to store all your passwords in a highly encrypted central repository and then access them all from a single master password. This is a Windows program.
Download link

Financial software

GnuCash is a small business financial and accounting software package that runs on a diverse range of platforms including Linux, Solaris, OS X and Windows.
Download link

Operating systems

Ubuntu is a popular Linux distribution with a focus on ease of use and installation. Versions of Ubuntu are named alphabetically after animals, with current stable version called Intrepid Ibex.
Download link

Fedora is the Linux distribution sponsored by Red Hat. It is reputed to be the distribution used by Linus Torvalds.
Download link

SUSE is a Linux distribution aimed at the enterprise, and supported by Novell.
Download link

Debian is a highly influential Linux distribution. It supports a vast range of computer architectures, but is not recommended for first time users.
Download link

Topics: Open Source, Linux, Microsoft, Software, Windows

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Some people Think If it is paid for it must be better.

    Some people think if it is free that there must be something wrong it.
    I knew someone who had a computer where the mouse did not work. He then bought a whole new operating system. And it was only the mouse that needed cleaning.
    He said "Oh I've got windows XP Professional instead of the home version. It must be better."
  • CMS Systems

    What about Drupal for CMS, far better than Joomla thats for sure. Can't leave Drupal out.
  • Open source vs. proprietary

    Open source is making giant steps forward, this can be only good. It is healthy competition that will also make proprietary software better. Windows 7 should be rally great if MS wants to keep software leadership after Vista failure and various open source developments. There is <a href="">interesting poll</a> about future of open source vs. proprietary software. Its results show (although number of votes is under 100, so maybe not representative enough) that people believe that open source is a philosophy that has much brighter future than commercial software.
  • Some people think because it's free, that it's free

    But then, maybe no one's paying them for their time!
  • Not being wildly successful <> failure

    I am using Vista 64 Ultimate very successfully, thank you very much!
  • VLC for video playback

    Video LAN media player - best for MPG and streaming playback
  • Vista is now a legacy platform, like Windows ME

    Vista may or may not finally be an OK platform, but that doesn't stop Microsoft's push to bury the platform ASAP, because it's a reminder that it's an industry failure. You are therefore using what is quickly becoming a legacy platform. In fact, it's a legacy platform that never took off, like Windows ME.