The open source guide to the galaxy

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

Pentaho is an open-source business intelligence application that includes functions such as reporting, analysis, dashboards, data mining and data integration.
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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.
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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.
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Cinelerra is a video editing platform for Linux.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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Fedora is the Linux distribution sponsored by Red Hat. It is reputed to be the distribution used by Linus Torvalds.
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SUSE is a Linux distribution aimed at the enterprise, and supported by Novell.
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Debian is a highly influential Linux distribution. It supports a vast range of computer architectures, but is not recommended for first time users.
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Operating systems continued

OpenBSD is a Unix-like operating system known for its very high security.
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OpenSolaris is a Unix operating system which by default uses the GNOME interface. It's supported by Sun Microsystems, who released the source code in 2005. It is commonly run on servers.
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Despite relative obscurity, FreeBSD is a prolific free operating system, with thousands of contributors worldwide. Many applications that run on Linux also run on FreeBSD.
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The smallest of the three large BSD projects, NetBSD is known for its portability and is often used on embedded systems.
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Browsers and email

Since its release, the golden child of the Mozilla Foundation has had phenomenal success. The current version of the browser, Firefox 3, topped 8 million downloads in the first 24 hours after launch.
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The sudden arrival of any new child from Google causes a stir, especially when you announce it with a comic book. This browser also matches the best of the web in speed tests.
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No, it's not a supersonic green rescue craft, it's a free email client from the Mozilla Foundation.
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Kmail is an email client for Linux that runs under the KDE desktop environment.
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Software needs to be adapted to its environment, and the Evolution is just that, an email client adapted for the GNOME Linux desktop environment.
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Instant messaging

Pidgin is a universal instant messaging client that interfaces with a range of other clients such as MSN, Yahoo, IRC, ICQ, QQ (which is very popular in China) and many, many more.
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Archive and storage

7-Zip is an archiving utility for Windows similar to WinZip, except it will never ask you to pay money for a full version.
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Clonezilla is cloning software for backup and recovery. Two versions are available, a single machine edition and a server edition.
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As the name suggests, FreeNAS is free network attacked storage (NAS) server software.
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WordPress is a popular platform for web publishing and blogging. WordPress also offers a free blogging service via
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MediaWiki is a wiki platform. It's also the technology that runs the seemingly omniscient Wikipedia.
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Joomla is a popular open source CMS with a diverse range of functions. Plus, you can also download extensions for additional functionality.
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Being part of a community allows you to borrow something you might need, like CRM software. A US-based company with around 150 employees, SugarCRM is a popular and broad application.
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Communications and networking

Wireshark is a network protocol analyser, which runs on Windows, Linux and OS X. Wireshark is popular and has a rich feature set.
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Snort is a network intrusion prevention system that will actively block or passively detect a range of threats. Snort is owned and maintained by Sourcefire.
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Netcat is a feature rich network and debugging tool. It runs from the command line.
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Kismet is a packet sniffer, and network detector for 802.11 wireless networks. Versions are available for Linux, OS X and Windows.
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Tcpdump is a packet sniffer that runs from the command line and is available for Windows and Mac OS X systems. For tips on using Tcpdump, check out the video from's sister site TechRepublic.
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Asterisk is a popular open source PBX and telephony platform. It's the basis for a diverse range of commercial PBX systems.
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Bugzilla is a bug tracking system designed to help you manage the software development process. It comes from the Mozilla Foundation.
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Wine allows Windows applications to be ported to Linux. Wine has gained popularity through its ability to port Photoshop onto the Linux platform, along with a range of other applications.
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SeaMonkey is an internet application suite from Mozilla. It contains a web browser, an email and news client and a HTML editor.
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FileZilla is an open source file transfer protocol (FTP) program from Mozilla. FileZilla is available in several languages.
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The Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM) is a visualisation system for the Linux kernel. It is maintained by Qumranet, which is now owned by open-source giant Red Hat.
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Finding its commercial implementation as Citrix XenServer, Xen is a long-standing open source hypervisor.
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All images credited to their respective owners.