Open Source Apps for Windows to Introduce Users to FOSS

August 5, 2009 by
Filed under: linux, opinion, windows 

There is an article on InfoWorld today listing the author's 10 favorite FOSS applications for Windows. One of the great things about Open Source is that someone can take that source code and compile it for another platform. These free programs are a great way to spread the word about the vast world of Free Open Source Software that is available to today's computer user. As users get accustomed to using these non-proprietary programs, it becomes much easier for them to make the transition to Linux.

InfoWorld's List

Here are the items that were on the list at InfoWorld.

  1. FileZilla FTP Client
  2. VirtualBox
  4. Mozilla Firefox
  6. Media Player Classic
  7. TrueCrypt
  8. PDFCreator
  9. 7-Zip
  10. ClamWin

My List

The above list is pretty good, but I thought some of the choices were a bit odd. I haven't used FileZilla, I just don't often have the need for an FTP client. If I were doing major web development, then maybe, but most hosting providers have a web based uploader that meets my needs. On the rare occasion that I do need FTP, there's always the good old command line interface.

Here's my version in no particular order.

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  1. VirtualBox - I use VirtualBox on Linux. It's great for trying out new distros or firing up Windows when I have the occasional need. This is a great way to introduce people to Linux through a virtual machine. You wouldn't believe the number of people I've run across who are afraid that a Linux Live CD is going to wipe out their hard drive. I guess years of malware bombardment have instilled in them a healthy level of fear. VirtualBox is as good or better than VMware, and it's free.
  2. AbiWord - is a great office suite, but I think I'll get few arguments that it's a pig on memory. It's just downright slow to start up. Although AbiWord does not provide the level of sophistication and features of OOo, it opens up in a snap and it provides what I typically need for word processing. Like OOo, it provides it's own PDF exporter, so no need for PDFCreator.
  3. Gnumeric - Similar to AbiWord, Gnumeric just opens up in a snap and provides the features I need in a spreadsheet program. It also includes the capability to export to PDF.
  4. Mozilla Firefox - What can I say, I use Firefox every day. It's much faster than IE (I know, Chrome and Safari kick the pants off of it) and the extensions available are just invaluable. The extensions are where Firefox really shines.
  5. GIMP - Admittedly, I've never used, but GIMP just outright kicks butt. I'm told that it's not on par with Photoshop, but it's capable of far more than I know how to do. I think many of the complaints about GIMP are from Photoshop users who don't like the fact that GIMP does things a bit differently. GIMP is an amazing program. What's more amazing is that it's free!
  6. VLC Media Player - I haven't used Media Player Classic, but one thing the author mentioned about it is also true about VLC. VLC will play just about any multimedia file you throw at it without the need to install additional codecs.
  7. TrueCrypt - I haven't used this. I use Cryptkeeper on Linux. As it's described on InfoWorld, TrueCrypt sounds like a good application and I'll have to check it out.
  8. BitPim - Want to create your own ringtones for your mobile phone? How about back up your contact list, or download the photos from your phone? BitPim works on both Linux and Windows and works with a large variety of mobile phones.
  9. 7-Zip - I totally agree on this one. I ran across 7-Zip on SourceForge a number of years ago. It turned out to be a great alternative to WinZip or WinRAR. 7-Zip is the program that taught me "when you're looking for a program that does ___, go to SourceForge."
  10. ClamWin - I haven't used this Windows version of ClamAV, but the Linux version of Clam AntiVirus has successfully cleaned up infected Windows hard drives for me when AVG for Linux failed.
  11. Deluge - This is a great BitTorrent client. Although the torrent scene is off the radar screen of typical users, this is one of the best ways to download a Linux distro to try; especially if you are trying to download it just after a new version has been released. Also, if you can wait a day to watch a missed TV show, then who needs a DVR when there's BitTorrent. The most popular shows are out in torrents only a few hours after they air. Deluge has a clean interface and supports stream encryption and block lists among other things. This one can give the proprietary ?Torrent a run for it's money.

So that's my list. These programs can be a great way to introduce your friends and family to Free Open Source Software. You may even get a few of them to switch to Linux eventually.

Don't see your favorite FOSS Windows program? Leave a comment.


One Response to “Open Source Apps for Windows to Introduce Users to FOSS”

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