15 Best Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) Programs for Linux

It is time to bring you the best 10 Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) programs I have come across during this year. Some of these programs may not be new in that they weren’t released for the first time in this year, but they are new to me and I have found them helpful.

[ You might also like: 25 Free Open Source Applications I Found This Year ]

That is why I would like to share a brief review in hopes you will find them useful as well.

1. Atom Editor

Without a doubt, this is my top #1 choice. Perhaps it is because I’m not only a system administrator but also a developer. When I found this Linux text editor developed by GitHub I was totally blown away by it.

Atom is easily extensible through extra packages that add new features and provide among other things smart code auto-completion for a wide variety of languages, FTP capabilities, and built-in browser preview.

Also, it allows you to work directly with Git and GitHub from its interface, which is highly customizable, by the way. Atom Editor comes with cross-platform editing, so you can code not only on Linux but also on Windows and macOS.

Atom Editor for Linux
Atom Editor for Linux

2. NextCloud

Described as “a safe home for all your data”, NextCloud was started as a separate project by one of their ownCloud’s first collaborators.

Although it raised a few sparks between him and the ownCloud community, NextCloud seems to be here to stay and compete with ownCloud as a private cloud solution to access and share your files, calendars, contacts, and office documents.

Using dozens of third-party apps available on the official App Store, you can equip your Nexcloud instance with new features and turn it into a powerful collaborative environment that cares with respect to your personal data.

Nextcloud
Nextcloud

3. Celestia

Because even system administrators and developers need a little distraction, you can use Celestia (a free 3D astronomy program) to navigate the universe.

Celestia serves as a 3D planetarium that seamlessly simulates various celestial objects whose position and movement are calculated accurately in real-time. It also comes with a large database of stars, galaxies, planets, asteroids, comets, and other celestial bodies.

As opposed to other planetarium software, Celestia allows you to travel throughout the solar system and the galaxy, not just the surface of the earth. To infinity and beyond!

Celestia - Explore Our Universe
Celestia – Explore Our Universe

4. FreeRDP

If your system administration tasks include managing Windows servers via Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP), FreeRDP is a tool that you will want to try out.

It is described by its developers as an RDP client for Windows Terminal Services. The project is hosted on GitHub and released under the Apache license, so you are welcome to collaborate with it if you wish.

FreeRDP - Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP)
FreeRDP – Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP)

5. Flyspray

Again, I may be a little biased on this one. If you are searching for a bug-tracking and project management solution, don’t look any further Flyspray, a web-based tool powered by Apache has exactly what you need. And don’t just take my word for it: even ArchLinux uses Flyspray for bug-tracking.

Flyspray is a lightweight bug-tracking system written in PHP that runs on any OS and focuses on a very intuitive design allowing you to handle multiple projects at once.

It supports MySQL or PostgreSQL as database servers and provides voting functionality, email notifications (requires a separate mail server to be installed and configured), and optional Single-Sign-On (SSO) using a Facebook or Google account.

Flyspray - Bug Tracking System
Flyspray – Bug Tracking System

6. GNUCash

If you have been using a spreadsheet to keep track of your personal, family, or business finances, it may be time to try a more suitable solution such as GNUCash.

This FOSS accounting software allows you to keep an eye on your bank accounts, expenses, and income and to create custom, complete reports with this data. Its user-friendly interface is a plus to the solid accounting principles GNUCash uses under the hood.

The official website includes an exhaustive FAQ section, the application Manual, and a Tutorial guide. With these materials, learning how to use GNUCash will be a play in the park. On top of that, you can subscribe to the mailing lists in case you need help or run into any problems with GNUCash.

Like many other open-source projects, GnuCash is entirely developed, maintained, and translated entirely by volunteers and enthusiasts.

GnuCash - Financial Accounting Software
GnuCash – Financial Accounting Software

7. LogicalDOC

Both available as Enterprise (paid) and Community editions, LogicalDOC is an award-winning, web-based Document Management System (DMS). As such, it aims to provide a high-quality method for sharing business documents and records in a low-cost and secure way.

Additionally, LogicalDOC allows you to control access to these resources via security roles, and to easily track changes through version control. LogicalDOC can be installed both on a single computer in standalone mode, on a dedicated server as a shared service, or as a Software as a Service (SaaS) solution.

LogicalDOC comes with features for content processing and information management that are more suitable for enterprises and businesses but it’s also great for personal use.

LogicalDoc Document Management System
LogicalDoc Document Management System

8. Blender

If you are into game development, video editing, or 3D modeling, I am sure you must have already heard about this tool. If you are considering any of these activities either as a hobby or a career change and haven’t heard about Blender, it is definitely time to check it out.

As a FOSS solution, it does not come short when compared to commercial tools. On top of it, Blender is cross-platform which means you can not only run it on Linux but also on macOS and Windows.

Among the standard Blender features, you can find rendering, 3D modeling, digital sculpting, video editing, and simulation tools.

Blender - 3D Creation Suite
Blender – 3D Creation Suite

9. DVDStyler

DVDStyler is a cross-platform, FOSS DVD authoring tool that allows you to create nice-looking and professional DVDs with your video and image files.

As such, DVDStyler allows you to create your own interactive menus or choose from the built-in ones, add subtitle and audio files, and use video files in different formats. Additionally, you can create photo slideshows and place graphic objects like buttons, text, images, and so on.

In addition, this awesome tool integrates with your DVD burner to burn the disk from within the same application.

DVDStyler - DVD Authoring Tool
DVDStyler – DVD Authoring Tool

10. OSQuery

As its name suggests, OSQuery provides access to real-time system information in the form of tables and events that can be queried using SQL-like syntax via an interactive query console.

With osquery, you can explore your system to perform intrusion detection, diagnose a problem, or just produce a report of its operation – all at your fingertips using a single tool.

If you have at least a basic understanding of SQL, getting details about the operating system using the built-in tables in OSQuery will be a piece of cake.

OSQuery runs flawlessly on Windows, macOS, CentOS, and all other Linux OS released since 2011 and requires no dependencies.

OSQuery - Shows Real-Time System Information
OSQuery – Shows Real-Time System Information

Need yet another reason to convince you to give OSQuery a try? It was developed and maintained by the folks at Facebook.

11. KeyPass

I have to deal with so many programs, websites, and services that I often forget my passwords. There is no doubt that this also happens to other Linux users, so here is the solution – KeePass. It’s a free open-source password manager that allows you to manage and keep your passwords in a secure way.

KeePass stores all of your passwords in a single database locked with a master key. That’s why you need to remember one single master key to access the database.

All passwords are encrypted using the most secure encryption algorithms. In fact, KeePass is compatible with the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES, Rijndael) and the Twofish algorithm.

Alternatively, KeePass allows you to use key files instead of master keys. You just need to always have the key file with you. For example, you can carry it on a floppy disk or USB stick.

KeePass Password Manager for Linux
KeePass Password Manager for Linux

12. PDF Mix Tool

I don’t often edit PDF files but when I do, I usually use PDF Mix Tool, which is a simple and lightweight open-source program that makes it possible to perform common PDF editing operations, such as file merging and page rotation.

Apart from that, you can also use PDF Mix Tool to generate booklets, delete and add pages to a PDF file, extract pages and even edit the PDF document information.

This tool is good for basic editing operations. If you need a more complex and powerful program, take a look at the best pdf editors for Linux.

PDF Mix Tool
PDF Mix Tool

13. Mailspring

When it comes to email management, one of my favorite tools is Mailspring, which is an open-source and cross-platform email client that allows you to create a single inbox for all your email accounts.

Mailspring is compatible with all popular email providers, including Gmail, Outlook, iCloud, Office 365, Yahoo!, etc., and supports IMAP/SMTP.

The Mailspring user interface is visually pleasing and there are a few beautiful themes. It also comes with a signature editor that allows you to create custom signatures, even with images and links to social media, which looks great.

Mailspring - Linux Email Client
Mailspring – Linux Email Client

14. OpenTodoList

If you work on several projects and have a lot of tasks to do at a time, you definitely need to try OpenTodoList, which is a simple note-taking application that allows you to stay organized.

With this tool, your information is organized in libraries. A library can contain to-do lists, notes, and images that are stored locally.

More importantly, you can synchronize your information with NextCloud, ownCloud, other WebDAV services, or any third-party synchronization tool of your choice. OpenTodoList lets you keep track of your tasks and enhance your productivity in a simple way.

OpenTodoList
OpenTodoList

15. ONLYOFFICE

Many Linux users have been lacking a decent Microsoft Office alternative for years. From my point of view, one of the best replacements for the MS Office suite is ONLYOFFICE, an open-source project that revolves around office software and productivity tools.

ONLYOFFICE offers a self-hosted office suite called Docs and a free desktop editor for Linux, Windows, and macOS. Both online and desktop editors are based on the same engine and allow you to create and collaborate on documents, presentations, spreadsheets, and fillable forms in real-time.

The ONLYOFFICE suite is fully compatible with DOCX, XLXS, and PPTX files and also makes it possible to open and view PDF and DjVu files. Conversion to DOCX is available, too.

ONLYOFFICE comes with integration apps for the most popular file-sharing and document management platforms, so you can embed the online editors to enable document editing and real-time co-authoring within Nextcloud, ownCloud, Moodle, WordPress, Seafile, etc.

ONLYOFFICE Docs
ONLYOFFICE Docs
Summary

In this article, I have shared a brief review of the top 15 FOSS programs I have come across during this year. Are there any other programs you would like us to review, or would like to suggest to be a part of a future article? Kindly let us know using the form below and we will be more than glad to take a look.

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35 thoughts on “15 Best Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) Programs for Linux”

  1. Can you please tell me more about this FOSS.

    My lecturer asked as to look into because people are now making millions of dollars out of FOSS.

    Tell me more about it, how i can join in FOSS.

    Thank you.

    Reply
  2. Though I am not expert in game designing. But I use Microsoft version of blender to play and make animations. It does not need 64-bit OS like unity and Unreal. That’s why blender is my favorite.

    Except this, nice post. Thanks for sharing. Few are new to me and I am going to try them.

    Reply
  3. Hello Mr. Canepa, and to all. It will be interesting to tell to others WHY, all of this foss programs are the best … With out any arguments about this topic … your list has no credibility .

    Reply
    • Hi – long time no talk! It’s good to hear from you again, now on this site.
      IMHO, I DID explain WHY I included this program on this list. If you don’t agree, please elaborate. Other readers don’t seem to agree with you.

      Reply
      • Hi, yes, long time ago…..

        You start with this “…it is time to bring you the best 10 Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) “. Ok now, for example, you say:

        “OSQuery provides access to real-time system information in the form of tables and events that can be queried using SQL-like syntax via an interactive query console”.

        So, OSQuery is the best FOSS (in this area) because of SQL-like and so on! There FOSS tools can not do the same ? The same observation about FreeRDP.

        “ownCloud as a private cloud solution to access and share your files, calendars and contacts”. Because of that is the best ? I think is not a valid argument, to be “the best”!

        “Other readers don’t seem to agree with you.” – this is not important if some of the readers are agree or not to me! Maybe they do not have time to wrote about my post, maybe they do not see what I can see, and so on. I see in many occasions, when a lot of people was wrong, and a few of them was on the right path … ;)

        Maybe, a title like “10 Useful/Interesting Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) Programs I Found in 2016” was better!

        Anyway, despite remarks, I do realize, that your FOSS list is at least interesting!

        Reply

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