These are full-featured cross-platform softwares, free as in beer and speech. Vivek Gite picks his best open source software of 2009.

#1: Inkscape ( Vector Graphics Editor )

Fig.01: Inkscape is used by artist/illustrator/designer as vector graphics editor

Inkscape is a vector graphics editor. It is similar to Illustrator, CorelDraw, and Xara X. This is perfect for object manipulation and styling objects. From the project home page:

Inkscape supports many advanced SVG features (markers, clones, alpha blending, etc.) and great care is taken in designing a streamlined interface. It is very easy to edit nodes, perform complex path operations, trace bitmaps and much more. We also aim to maintain a thriving user and developer community by using open, community-oriented development.

#2: 7-Zip ( Archiver )

Fig.02: 7-Zip is used as archiverFig.02: 7-Zip is used as archiver

7-Zip is a file archiver and open source software. No need to use winzip or anything else. It does everything for you without paying a single penny:

  1. Supports many formats:
    1. Packing / unpacking: 7z, ZIP, GZIP, BZIP2 and TAR
    2. Unpacking only: ARJ, CAB, CHM, CPIO, DEB, DMG, HFS, ISO, LZH, LZMA, MSI, NSIS, RAR, RPM, UDF, WIM, XAR and Z.
  2. Fast.
  3. Free and open source.
  4. High compression ratio.
  5. Works best with Windows operating systems.

Note: For Linux / UNIX desktop I prefer to use native tools such as zip/unzip, tar etc.

#3: VLC ( Media Player )

Fig.03: VLC is similar to QuickTime / Windows Media PlayersimilarFig.03: VLC is similar to QuickTime / Windows Media Player

Great media player which supports almost all formats (audio, video formats DVDs / VCDs, and various streaming protocols) and is stripped down to its most fundamental features (i.e. portable media player). A must have software for all anim and movie fans.

#4: VirtualBox ( Virtualization )

Fig.04: VirtualBox is used for virtualizationFig.04: VirtualBox is used for virtualization

Run Linux / MS-Windows or any other supported os directly without removing Windows, Linux, OpenSolaris or Macintosh (OS X) host operating systems. A professional class software that is freely available as Open Source Software under the terms of the GNU General Public License (GPL). I recommend this software to all users to try out Linux or learn Perl / Shell scripting using UNIX development environment. VirtualBox is similar to VMware workstation.

#5: Miro ( Internet TV )

Fig.05: Miro is used for Internet TV and as video playerFig.05: Miro is used for Internet TV and as video player

Miro is a free, open source, video player and podcast client. The official site described it as:

Torrents made easy, RSS made beautiful, with tons of gorgeous HD video.

I love Miro and I use it for Internet TV and video player which comes with a library of more than 6,000 Internet streams and podcasts.

#6: TrueCrypt ( Disk Encryption )

Fig:06: TrueCrypt is used for disk encryption (image credit official website)

Free open-source disk encryption (real-time on-the-fly encryption) software for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux (for Linux I prefer native disk encryption). From the wikipedia:

It can create a virtual encrypted disk within a file or a device-hosted encrypted volume on either an individual partition or an entire storage device. It supports Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X and Linux (using FUSE) and encrypted volumes can be made portable. The version for Windows Vista or XP can encrypt the boot partition or entire boot drive and has the ability to create and run a hidden encrypted operating system whose existence is deniable.

#7: Calibre ( eBook Converter and Reader )

Fig.07:  Calibre is used for: ebook converter / readerFig.07: Calibre is used for: ebook converter / reader

calibre is a free and open source e-book library management application. It supports the following features:

  1. It manages your e-book collection for you. It can sort the books in your library by: Title, Author, Date added, Date published, Size, Rating, Series, etc.
  2. Tags - a flexible system for categorizing your collection however you like
  3. Comments - a long form entry that you can use for book description, notes, reviews, etc.
  4. Search local ebooks or over the Internet using title/author or ISBN.
  5. E-book conversion
  6. Syncing to e-book reader devices
  7. Downloading news from the web and converting it into e-book form (e.g., NYT, TOI, ESPN etc).

Without this software Sony or Amazon ebook reader is virtually useless for non-ebook format pdf reading.

#8: GnuCash ( Financial Management )

Fig.08: GnuCash is used for financial management / accountingFig.08: GnuCash is used for financial management / accounting

GnuCash is personal and small-business financial-accounting software, freely licensed under the GNU GPL and available for GNU/Linux, BSD, Solaris, Mac OS X and Microsoft Windows. Personally I like it because of its rich functionality and easy of use. GnuCash is similar to Microsoft Money and it is used by accountant, small business/home user etc. Features:

  1. Double-entry bookkeeping
  2. Scheduled Transactions
  3. Mortgage and Loan Repayment Druid
  4. Small Business Accounting Features
  5. Transaction-Import Matching Support
  6. Multi-Currency Transaction Handling
  7. Stock/Mutual Fund Portfolios
  8. Online Stock and Mutual Fund Quotes

#9: GIMP ( Graphics / Simple Photo Editing )

Fig.09: GIMP quality photo retouching programFig.09: GIMP quality photo retouching program

I'm not a professional artist/illustrator/designer/web designer (read as Photoshop expert), but gimp is used for simple photo editing of my personal work such as photo retouching, image composition, simple effects, image authoring, and much more.

#10: Audacity ( Sound Editor / Recorder )

Fig.10: Audacity is used for audio / sound recorder & sound editorFig.10: Audacity is used for audio / sound recorder & sound editor

Audacity is a free all in one audio editor and recorder like GoldWave software. You can use Audacity to record live audio, convert tapes and records into digital recordings or CDs, and edit sound files or just create personal ringtons for mobile phones.


  • Firefox 3.x - nuff said!
  • Thunderbird 2.x - Another amazing software from the Mozilla with tons of plug-ins for email client.
  • OpenOffice - Great Microsoft Office replacement.
  • Pidgin - IM all your friends in one place.
  • MPlayer - Now supports most of the Bluray and HD-DVD codecs.
  • Nmap - The ultimate network exploration and security auditing tool.

My Favorite Software Of 2009:

VirtualBox - It is a life saver for sys admin and perfect free software loaded with tons of features. It offers great performance and stability, and supports a wide-variety of guest operating systems.

This is my personal FOSS desktop software list and it is not absolutely definitive, so if you've got your own software, share in the comments below.

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