In the computer field, most software is proprietary, which means that their designers jealously guard the code. Even if these programs are generally effective, there is an alternative: free and open-source software, which is based on a philosophy of sharing and collaboration within the community.
Much of this software is unfortunately ignored by the majority of the public. That is why we have collected in this folder a wide selection of these programs that can brilliantly replace, or even surpass, the proprietary versions installed on your computer. We hope that you will enjoy discovering and using them!
Surfing and security on the Web
Web browsing is essential and has become an integral part of our digital life. You may be surprised to learn that the most popular browsers are actually free software!
It is impossible to pass by this giant. Supported by the Mozilla Foundation, Firefox has acquired its letters of nobility in the free world for years. Launched in 2004, this browser has been able to face valor giants like Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge.
The udders of his success? Lightness, modularity, and performance. If this last point has often been criticized, regular updates and a new rendering engine have greatly improved things. The free browser is therefore a hell of a competitor, whether on PC or mobile.
Very complete, Firefox supports the latest web technologies such as HTML5 and cross-platform synchronization. But what we appreciate above all is its great modularity. The American browser indeed offers access to hundreds of extensions and themes that make it possible to customize it, whether it is its interface or its features.
Still a web browser? Indeed, but this one is definitely worth a visit. Brave was born in 2016, so he is relatively young. To be honest, quite a few of its features are still experimental. But it has nevertheless managed to conquer a large audience by betting everything on security and its downright atypical advertising management.
By default, Brave blocks all ads and other trackers that are often abusive. If this is rather a good thing for the user, it is less so for websites that only live on this income. The browser, therefore, proposes, with its Brave Rewards system, to let users choose how high they wish to remunerate the sites they deem worthy of interest.
Apart from that, operation of Brave is relatively classic. It is based on Chromium and therefore allows you to download many extensions while offering rather complete settings. Completely open source, this browser is really worth a look against the aging giants of the Net.
Developed in the 90s by a trio of computer engineers, Tor will not see the light of day until 2003. The browser is only the tip of the iceberg, Tor relies above all on its "onion routing" to pull its pin. This technology constitutes the heart of the browser which uses it to secure your end-to-end connection by passing it through different "nodes" scattered all over the world.
Let's face it: Tor is not the browser that you will want to use for all your searches. The connection speed will depend on the number of users connected to the network. For many, the slowness inherent in the technology used will make Tor a backup browser for the most sensitive activities.
This aspect aside, Tor is used like any browser and should not disappoint the regulars of Chrome, Brave, and other opera. Of course, it will be possible to dig into the settings to customize your security preferences, but the majority of users will do very well with the default configuration.
For Internet security, there is nothing better than having a different password for each account. But we can quickly lose the thread when they start to accumulate. The idea is then to use a password manager. In the world of free software, KeePass is a real reference.
This safe allows you to store and generate in a single file (secure AES-256 bits and Twofish) all your passwords. These can be linked to a web page, commented on, and even attached to an external file. The whole thing works in the form of a totally customizable tree structure.
Very light, KeePass does not even require installation. If necessary, it can therefore be stored on a USB stick and taken with you everywhere. In the end, you will only have one password to remember: that of this very good manager who will clearly simplify your life!
Multimedia in complete freedom
Enjoying your favorite movies and music is also possible thanks to free software. Indeed, the most popular multimedia programs in the world are often free, thus benefiting from wide support from the community.
VLC Media Player
Lover of movies, series, and music of all kinds, do not miss VLC. Under its austere aspect, this French reader launched more than 15 years ago is one of the most effective on the market. Created by Parisian students, it was able to stand out from the competition with a simple, but smart idea: natively embed the codecs necessary for playback. Thus, no more need to spend hours on the Net looking for the audio or video codec capable of playing this or that format!
Very light, VLC Media Player can therefore read movies and music, but also brilliantly manage subtitles. The small multimedia player, thanks to its free orientation, benefits from access to a plethora of extensions and skins produced by the community. What it does not offer natively, you will probably find on the web.
The icing on the cake is that VLC is cross-platform. So you can use it both on your PC and Mac, but also on your Android or iOS smartphone.
Clementine Music Player
Based on the excellent Amarok, Clementine is a music library reader and manager. Little greedy in resources, this free software is perfect for any owner of a large digital audio library or simply for lovers of good sound.
Don't be put off by its easy-to-use interface: Clementine is a complete software. In addition to managing your locally stored music, this player is able to connect to many more or less famous music services such as Spotify or SoundCloud. It even offers options to convert your music to the most famous formats or import songs from Google Drive.
Nothing resists him. Coupled with a tag and information editing software like MusicBrainz Picard, Clementine thus becomes indispensable in the daily life of any music lover who wishes to get rid of proprietary software. Our free player even offers a rather original option with remote control on Android smartphones. Ideal for controlling your music from the sofa!
It is possible to imagine a customizable media center according to your desires, offering a multitude of features while remaining simple to use, all while being free and open source. This software is called Kodi and is simply essential for multimedia lovers.
Kodi is a versatile tool for multimedia management. It allows you to easily classify any type of digital content, such as movies, series, music, and even photos. The software quickly retrieves information, subtitles, and cover images from the web. In addition, the extensive library of available extensions allows everyone to customize their experience according to their needs and desires.
The most recent versions of Kodi go even further by integrating the possibility of managing video game emulators as well as streaming services. In addition, the software is now available on mobile devices and Android TV, which makes it a must-have free tool for any user looking for a media center that is both efficient and easy to use.
Audio, photo, video: everything for creative people
If you are passionate about content creation, the world of free software has many options to feed your artistic fiber in multiple fields.
It is impossible to miss GIMP when looking for free and open-source graphic editing software. Gnu Image Manipulation Program (that's its real name) can certainly be off-putting at first with an interface that is austere and a little messy, to say the least...
But don't be fooled by the rough appearance of this app. It is a real little gold mine for both beginners and experienced users. From the simple removal of red eyes on a family photo to the creation of animated images, almost nothing resists him. All the tools necessary for retouching such as layers, brushes, or brushes are available in the complete GIMP interface.
If something is ever missing, a large library of extensions, called plugins, will delight graphic designers of all stripes. Thus, if Photoshop is out of your budget, GIMP will be a viable alternative on most points.
In the world of free software, Inkscape is the king of vector drawing. If it was not at the same level as the paid proprietary software, it still remained of excellent quality. Its open-source side ensures wide compatibility with many platforms: Windows, GNU /Linux, and macOS.
Designed to comply with the standard established by the W3C, Inkscape, therefore, allows you to work on SVG, XML, and CSS formats. Its complete interface remains affordable, even for novices. The tools are intended to be easy to use and numerous enough to perform most of the tasks that we expect from vector drawing software.
Inkscape also has the advantage of managing graphic tablets, which makes it possible to do calligraphy with touch pens. Proof of its success, this software is used for rendering maps from the OpenStreetMap free project. The Inkscape designers are also counting on a collaboration with Xara to improve their baby in the coming years and raise it to the level of the giants of the sector.
Let's leave aside graphic design to focus on the subtle art of audio. Once again, the free world is a real pool of quality software, but Audacity clearly stands out from the crowd. Launched in 2000, this software was until recently distributed under the GPLv2 license. Since its acquisition by the Muse Group, the software is no longer considered free, at least in the versions that will succeed the acquisition. Even if forks of the project like Tenacity are starting to emerge, their distribution as well as the installation process is quite complex for neophytes. There is no doubt, however, that we will talk about this again in the future.
Audacity is aimed at people who want to create and edit audio tracks. It allows, among other things, multitrack recording, the transformation of voices, or even their elimination from a song. The addition of extensions gives it even more possibilities and improves the management of the most widespread audio formats.
Like most open-source software, Audacity suffers from a slightly austere interface. However, it is multiplatform and will appeal to any audio lover who will take the time to invest a little to tame it. Once taken in hand, it proves to be as effective as the big commercial names in the sector, while being free and supported by a large community.
Images and audio, it's done. But what about the video? One of the best free and open-source solutions is Shotcut. It is a video editor that bets everything on the simplicity of handling. However, it does not forget to be effective, especially thanks to a wide choice of features such as video stabilization or inlay.
Launched in 2004 and distributed under the GPL license, Shotcut will be particularly suitable for beginners who want to add a little spice to their videos without worrying. The simple and functional interface allows you to add effects to the videos, but also to modify the soundtracks. Many formats and codecs are supported.
If it does not reach the quality of the largest commercial software, Shotcut is however a free software not to be missed. Its consumer orientation makes it ideal for beginners in video editing, whether you are on Windows, macOS, or GNU/Linux.
3D modeling and rendering software, Blender was not born free. But the closure of his publishing company will have allowed him to be reborn thanks to the librarian community. Since then, this excellent software has been supported by the Blender Foundation.
Let's be clear, Blender is not cut out for beginners. To rub it in, you'll have to roll up your sleeves. But the game is well worth the candle. This software is one of the most famous in the world of 3D creation. It was also used to create the famous Big Buck Bunny video. Modeling, animation, video editing: it's a real Swiss army knife. Blenders can even be used in the creation of video games!
What he does not know how to do natively, he is able to learn thanks to the many plug-ins available on the Web. Building on its success, Blender has been forked for several other open-source projects. You can download it on Windows as well as GNU/Linux or macOS.
Have you created your videos with Shotcut and mixed the audio tracks on Audacity? Now comes the last step: broadcasting on your favorite media. For this, there is nothing better than the free HandBrake software. It is a hyper-complete video converter compatible with Windows, GNU/Linux, and macOS.
You don't need to be an expert to use HandBrake. Its interface is intended for both beginners and connoisseurs of transcoding. The basic mode just requires you to choose the output format from a wide range of presets. The software then adapts to the rest. It's hard to make it simpler!
Of course, it is always possible to go further by manually choosing all the settings: codec, bitrate, resolution, and audio track... The options are very numerous and allow you to create custom videos for DVDs or other media. Updates remain quite rare, but nevertheless regular. In short, we can only recommend this very good free software to you.
The free at the service of the pros
So far, we have seen that free software can meet a wide variety of needs. However, what about productivity? Can they accompany you to work? The answer is yes!
Thunderbird is an open-source email client developed by Mozilla that offers users a variety of features to effectively manage their email accounts. It is available for several operating systems, including Windows, macOS, and Linux.
With Thunderbird, users can manage multiple email accounts and use useful functions such as message filters, customizable labels, and an integrated calendar. It also supports extensions and add-ons that can improve its functionality.
In addition, Thunderbird prioritizes the security and privacy of its users. It supports end-to-end encryption with the OpenPGP standard, which helps protect sensitive information, and it can detect and block phishing attempts automatically.
With the ever-increasing size of the data, it becomes necessary to be able to compress them in order to save a little disk space. 7-Zip is the ideal software for this task, but also for archiving files.
Based on an LGPL license, 7-Zip is not completely open source. Indeed, a small part of its code remains proprietary. However, it remains widely distributed on Windows and macOS, where it uses a graphical interface. A GNU/Linux version exists on the command line: p7zip. The archives created on these platforms are of course compatible with each other. They can also be used on other software such as WinRAR for example.
This handy little software supports many formats such as ZIP, 7z, RAR, TAR, or BZIP2. It is capable of performing very efficient compressions/decompressions as well as quality archiving. Even better, 7-Zip can protect your archives with encrypted passwords thanks to the AES-256-bit protocol.
Is it still necessary to present LibreOffice? If you don't want to use Microsoft's Word, Excel, and other PowerPoint tools, this free office suite has been the best alternative for years. It is a fork of OpenOffice which, unlike its ancestor, benefits from a very sustained development and regular updates.
The open-source office suite provides users with tools equivalent to those of Microsoft. So we find a spreadsheet, a word processor, and slideshow-type presentation software. If LibreOffice uses its own file format, it nevertheless remains compatible with those other proprietary solutions on the market. So you can edit a Word document without any problems thanks to LibreOffice Writer.
In the end, we can just blame the free office suite for a slightly outdated interface. But it's a low price to pay to take advantage of this very complete, free, and open-source software.
It is difficult to miss the sacrosanct PDF in the world of work. If Adobe is trying to push its Acrobat Reader DC software to the masses, it is difficult to resist the attraction of lighter, but equally effective free solutions. Among them, we will highlight SumatraPDF.
This reader goes to the simplest and does not bother with frills as heavy or unnecessary as we find elsewhere. The stated goal is to have very fast software to do a simple reading of PDF documents. Other formats are also supported such as EPUB, CBZ, or XPS. The interface is intended to be very reduced to get to the essentials.
If SumatraPDF does not allow annotating PDFs, it has the advantage of being able to be installed on a USB stick, which allows it to be used on any workstation. Free and open source, its only drawback is that it is not compatible with macOS and GNU/Linux.
A colleague's workstation has some problems. The problem is that it is located at the other end of the building. In this case, remote handling is required. For this, we have selected DWService, an open-source and practical software for remote maintenance on Windows, macOS, and GNU/Linux.
Just like TeamViewer, DWService allows you to establish a connection between two remote computers. The technician can thus take control of the mouse, see what is happening on the machine to be repaired and even transfer files between the two linked PCs. The advantage of DWService is that it does not require any local installation for the master PC, everything goes in the browser through the publisher's web app. The only installation to be done is on the machine to be controlled.
If its features are less advanced than those of TeamViewer, DWService will suffice for the vast majority of maintenance tasks. It can even be used on controllers like the Raspberry Pi, which makes it ideal for server maintenance.
Initially launched in 2007, ShareX adopted this name in 2012. Fusion of the ZScreen and ZUploader software, it allows not only to take screenshots but also to export them easily to other services. Of course, it is free and open source, its code being placed under the GPLv3 license.
ShareX is therefore used to capture images and videos in the entirety or just part of your screen. You can also create animated GIFs, all accessible with customizable keyboard shortcuts. Its simple interface, however, contains many tools such as an image generator, a QR code creator, and even an FTP client.
The captures made can be annotated, and receive watermarks, and some graphic effects. The software then allows you to share your creations on Imgur or Pastebin in a few clicks. In the end, we'll just regret that it won't be released on platforms other than Windows!
Here is open-source software that should attract developers and graphic designers. Pencil Project allows you to create models and prototypes of graphical interfaces. It integrates by default all the tools necessary for the realization of templates for Android and iOS: menus, dialogs, buttons, and so on.
The Pencil Project libraries also contain hundreds of geometric shapes that can be completed by the creations of the community. Let's not forget the clipart, which is also available by the thousands on the Web. All this makes it possible to create almost any interface and to export the whole in many formats: SVG, PDF, HTML, ODT, etc. It should be noted that it is also possible to make diagrams.
In addition to being easy to use, Pencil Project can be used as a Firefox extension. It is of course cross-platform, but unfortunately, its development seems to have stalled since 2017.
The great strength of this software nevertheless lies in its community. It provides web developers with many extensions that are easy to install within Brackets.
FreeMind is a mind-mapping software. Its purpose is to create mind maps in order to facilitate the formatting of ideas. This small open-source software is based on a free GPL license. It is developed in Java.
Its use is ideal for project management. After the first steps on the austere interface and not necessarily easy to use, FreeMind proves to be formidable. The software creates a starting node, then the user is free to add others, make links between them, and customize the set with various colors or shapes.
Once your mind mapping is complete, all that remains is to export your mind map in the image, PDF, or HTML format. If proprietary solutions don't appeal to you, FreeMind will be able to do it, as long as you pass the milestone of its outdated interface.
Whether in a family or professional setting, the expansion of the Internet has made it possible to facilitate communication with our peers. If we immediately think of Skype instant messaging, did you know that there are free solutions that are just as effective? Here are some of them.
The signal is a completely free secure instant messaging service and all its clients are open source. As a result of the merger of RedPhone and TextSecure in 2015, the service has benefited from unprecedented adoption following yet another scandal around the data collection of its competitor WhatsApp at the beginning of the year 2021.
As we explained, Signal inherits the functionalities of RedPhone and TextSecure, respectively an encrypted VoIP application and an encrypted instant messaging application. Regulars of WhatsApp, Telegram, and others will therefore be pleasantly surprised to find many features, including voice messages or group chats.
To continue to operate freely, the service relies on donations made to the Signal Foundation, which operates on the same model as other NGOs such as Wikimedia.
Briar is a messaging application designed to ensure secure communication by prioritizing the confidentiality and anonymity of users. It uses end-to-end encryption to ensure that only the intended recipient can access the messages. Briar is decentralized, which means that there is no central server storing the user's data and that the messages are sent by a peer-to-peer network. This makes it difficult for unauthorized parties to monitor or intercept communications.
One of the main features of Briar is that it can work without an internet connection. Users can communicate directly with each other via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, which is useful when Internet access is not available.
In addition to its security functions, Briar allows users to create hidden services that only people with specific keys can access. It also allows users to use Tor to hide their IP address.
Aimed at professionals as well as individuals, Element is an instant messaging software focused on security. Developed by the company New Vector Limited, this free software takes advantage of the Apache License 2.0 open-source license and relies on the Matrix protocol for its operation.
This messaging is reminiscent of Telegram with its security side. All communications are indeed end-to-end encrypted. It is also possible to host a chat server locally, which reinforces this protective aspect.
The functions that can be used on Element are more than complete: group discussions, channel management, photo and video sharing, and video conferencing... Multiplatform, this software makes it possible to bridge with other communication services such as Slack, Telegram, or IRC. In addition, you can use it both on its web interface and on a Windows, macOS, or GNU/Linux PC, without forgetting Android and iOS smartphones. The top!
For video conferencing, Jitsi is the top. Totally open source, this software relies on several modules to work, namely Jitsi Meet, Jitsi Desktop, and Jitsi Videobridge. The free software community then added other bricks to this excellent software to make it even more efficient. Of course, nothing obliges you to use all the existing modules, the base is largely self-sufficient.
Jitsi is based on the WebRTC protocol. It allows instant communications by text or audio/video. Even better, it is possible to make calls to phones thanks to the SIP protocol. Another nice feature allows you to share your screen with an interlocutor. Convenient for remote troubleshooting!
Just like Riot, Jitsi highlights the security of exchanges, offering robust encryption of communications with a single click. Its only flaw is finally its very austere interface which has not evolved over the years.
A free PC... and clean!
Regardless of the operating system you use, regular maintenance is essential. Among the many proprietary tools that scour the Web, there are small open-source nuggets that we present to you here.
You can forget about Windows tools and other proprietary software, BleachBit is THE all-in-one solution to maintain your PC. Distributed under the GPL license, it debuted on GNU/Linux before being exported to Windows and macOS.
This very light and easy-to-use utility allows, among other things, to erase unnecessary data, optimize disk space and improve computer performance. No need to be a computer pro to thoroughly clean your machine, BleachBit offers simple settings for beginners.
Cookies, cache, identifiers: all this private data lying around on the computer will be eliminated in a few minutes by the utility. It will also be able to optimize the free space of your disks. GNU/Linux machines benefit from additional options such as cleaning APT or erasing unnecessary languages. On the Windows side, BleachBit also manages the registry keys. It is therefore rather complete for those who wish to erase their digital traces and other sometimes too-curious cookies.
Gaming the controllers thoroughly!
To finish this file, it was impossible to miss the video games. Once again, the free world has great ideas that it would be a shame not to use on our machines.
Steam, Epic, Battle.Net, GOG, UPlay: who is not tired of launchers that keep multiplying? The cure exists, it's called PlayNite. Just like the Unique Ring of Sauron (yes, we have great references at Clubic), this launcher aims to group all the others in one and the same place.
The longest part is to connect your Steam and company accounts. PlayNite then takes care of the rest by grouping all the games saved on the other platforms within its interface. It's up to you to classify them, group them by genre, or even edit their metadata.
Although in English, the interface remains simple to use. The open side ensures the platform is a constant development. Fans of retro gaming are not forgotten, since they can also manage their ROMs as well as the associated emulators and BIOS. So here is free software to follow very closely!