A lot of this software is cross platform and it is working on Linux, Windows and Mac.

If you are looking for a specific tool or an ersatz tool, there are web sites that help you find open source alternatives to commercial and shareware software: . . .


PS: Why should you use open systems? Look here OPEN SOURCE & COMMONS.


there is a wide range of linux distributions / flavours. at distrowatch you can find an overview of the most popular ones. you can download them and test them in a virtual machine like virtual box or run them from a stick or a dvd.

  • familiar to mac users are: ubuntu, macpup (light). but you can modify most other distros to mac-löök-a-likes by installing the cairo-dock
  • familiar to win users are: linuxmint, xubuntu lubuntu ubuntustudio
  • there are a lot of ressource friendly distros for older vomputers, netbooks etc: puppy / macpup / crunchbang / elementary os / lxle
 Ubuntu Desktop 

Ubuntu Linux is one of the latest and most successful new linux distributions. Ubuntu is originally derived from the well-known Debian distribution, but has added a lot of new functionality. One of Ubuntu's main goals is to increase usability.

 Ubuntu Studio 

Ubuntu Studio is the most widely used multimedia orientated GNU/Linux distribution in the world. It comes preinstalled with a selection of the most common free multimedia applications available, and is configured for best performance for the Ubuntu Studio defined workflows: Audio, Graphics, Video, Photography and Publishing.

 Linux Mint

A distribution based on and compatible with Ubuntu, which is shipped with integrated proprietary or patented media codecs.

 Debian Linux

Debian is a very reliable operating system.


 PeaZip (Linux / Windows)

Pea Zip is a file manager and archiver for both Windows and Linux. It features an archive browser with history and search features to make navigating an archive faster and easier. The formats supported be Pea Zip? are for creation: 7Z, ARC, BZ 2?, GZ, *PAQ, PEA, QUAD/BALZ, TAR, UPX, ZIP. And for extraction: ACE, ARJ, CAB, DMG, ISO, LHA, RAR, UDF and many more file formats.

 7-Zip (Linux / Windows)

7-Zip is a file archiver with high compression ratio. It supports the following formats for packing/unpacking: 7z, ZIP, GZIP, BZIP 2? and TAR - and the following for unpacking only: RAR, CAB, ARJ, LZH, CHM, Z, CPIO, RPM and DEB. When using 7z format 7-Zip also support AES-256 encryption. With its windows style file manager and its integration into the Microsoft Windows shell - 7-Zip is a powerful competitor to both the commercial products on the market and the freeware ones. Also 7-Zip is available in 60 languages.

 Brasero (Linux)

Brasero is an application to burn CD/DVD for the Gnome Desktop. It is designed to be as simple as possible and has some unique features to enable users to create their discs easily and quickly.

 InfraRecorder (Windows)

Infra Recorder? is a free CD/DVD burning solution for Microsoft Windows. It offers a wide range of powerful features; all through an easy to use application interface and Windows Explorer integration.

 Burn (Mac)

Burn is a CD and DVD burning application. With Burn you can create audio, data and video disks in many different formats - burning iso images is also supported. Standard audio C Ds? as well as mp3 CD are easily created. Both VCD, SVCD, standard DVD and Div X? formats are supported so that you can burn all of these without any problems. Finally normal data disks for either backup or distribution can be created in up to five different formats to ensure compatibility across platforms.


 Mozilla Firefox (Linux / Windows / Mac)

Firefox is an advanced browser built with its roots in the old Netscape browser. Today Firefox offers tabbed browsing, live bookmarks, many search extensions and many other extensions and toolbars. The support for Firefox by commercial companies is growing - and this is clearly seen by the number of extension/ toolbars they develop.

 Thunderbird (Linux / Windows / Mac)

This full-featured open source email client provides an excellent open source alternative to all commercial email clients. Thunderbird has a wide list of features of which some are: support for POP and IMAP, built-in RSS support and spell checking. Thunderbird also has an integrated usenet news reader. More advanced features of Thunderbird include: Junk mail (spam) filtering and protection from phishing. And finally the user-interface is completely customizable.

 Pidgin (Linux / Windows / Mac)

Pidgin is an instant messenger (IM) application that cover multiple protocols - including (but not limited to) AIM, ICQ, MSN, IRC, Jabber, Novell Group Wise? Messenger and Lotus Sametime. These protocols can be used simultaneously to provide communication across the different networks. Additional features include file transfer, away messages and typing notification. A number of plug-ins are also available to enrich Pidgin's feature set. The Mac version is available through Fink.

 RetroShare (Linux / Windows / Mac)

Retro Share? is a Open Source cross-platform, Friend-2-Friend and secure decentralised communication platform. It lets you to securely chat and share files with your friends and family, using a web-of-trust to authenticate peers and Open SSL? to encrypt all communication. Retro Share? provides filesharing, chat, messages, forums and channels.


 VLC media player (Linux / Windows / Mac)

VLC media player plays all of the common media formats both video and audio - and plays you DV Ds? and todays popular Div X? and MPEG 4? movies. Most streaming media is support as well including Windows Media (wmv) and Quick Time?. Advanced features include playing media directly off ISO files and skinable GUI. VLC is also available as a firefox plug-in and as an Active X? component - making it simple to view any embedded video format through your web-browser.

 Clementine (Linux / Windows)

Clementine is a really great music player!

 Handbrake (Linux / Windows / Mac)

Hand Brake? is a tool for converting video from nearly any format to a selection of modern, widely supported codecs.

 WinFF (Linux / Windows / Mac)

Truly Free Video Converter, converts your videos quickly, easily, and all at once.


 LibreOffice (Linux / Windows / Mac)

Libre Office? is the power-packed free, libre and open source personal productivity suite for Windows, Macintosh and GNU/Linux developed by The Document Foundation. It gives you feature-rich applications for all your document production and data processing needs: Writer, Calc, Impress, Draw, Math and Base. It is designed to be compatible with other major office suites, including Microsoft Office, file compatibility with MS Office remains solid and overall. It is the default office suite in many Linux distributions.

 Apache OpenOffice (Linux / Windows / Mac)

Apache Open Office? is a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation, graphics, formula editor, and database management applications. It was formerly known as Open Office?.org. Like Libreoffice the default file format is the Opendocument Format (ODF), an ISO/IEC standard. It can also handle other file formats including those from Microsoft Office like .doc, .docx and .rtf.


 Gimp (Linux / Windows / Mac)

Gimp (GNU Image Manipulation Program) was started in 1995 and has since then grown to the status it has today. Gimp is a valid competitor to all of the commercial bitmap drawing programs on the market. Among its features you find: powerful painting tools, layers and channels support, multiple undo/redo, editable text layers. Gimp as a plug-in architecture and a scripting engine that allow easy extension of it's functionality. More than a 100 plug-ins and scripts are already available. Also Gimp imports files from Photoshop (psd) and can also read scalable vector graphics (svg) files.

 Gimpshop (Linux / Windows / Mac)

Photoshop-Look-A-Like of GIMP. This makes users who are already familiar with the layout of Photoshop feel right at home in this open source application. Not all features in Photoshop are available in Gimpshop.

 Inkscape (Linux / Windows / Mac)

Inkscape is professional quality vector graphics software, it is used by design professionals and hobbyists worldwide, for creating a wide variety of graphics such as illustrations, icons, logos, diagrams, maps and web graphics. Inkscape uses the W 3 C? open standard SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) as its native format, and is free and open-source software.

 Krita (Linux / Windows / Mac)

Krita is a FREE digital painting and illustration application, it offers CMYK support, HDR painting, perspective grids, dockers, filters, painting assistants, and many other features you would expect.

 Scribus  (Linux / Windows / Mac)

Scribus brings professional page layout with a combination of press-ready output and new approaches to page design. Underneath a modern and user-friendly interface, Scribus supports professional publishing features, such as color separations, CMYK and spot colors, ICC color management, and versatile PDF creation.

 Raw Therapee (Linux / Windows / Mac)

Image processing and editing, can read camera RAW files

 digiKam (Linux / Windows / Mac)

Digi Kam? is a multi-platform digital photo management system. It was inspired by real photographers who knew what they wanted to see, manage, enhance, edit, tag, organize and share.


 Blender (Linux / Windows / Mac)

Blender is a free 3D animation and modeling suite. It includes tools for modeling - fast subdivision surface and polygon tools, multi-resolution mesh sculpting, metaballs, NURBS, vector fonts, and curves; uv mapping; shaders and texturing - both paint based and node based; ik and fk animation tools with rigging, constraints, skinning, morph targets, drivers, deformers, and modifiers; simulation tools including hard bodies, soft body, cloth, and fluids; and particle systems including hair. Blender is well suited for character animation, effects, and content creation for games, movies, and flash or web animations, as well as for still renderings for such areas as illustration, architecture, and product design. It can also be used for video editing and compositing.

 K3-D (Linux / Windows / Mac)

K3-D is a 3D modeling and animation software. Configured for optimal visualization, its flexible plugins and versatile tools make it a real asset for artists. This software adapts to your platform to mimic the look and feel so it's comfortable to work with and meshes with the applications you are already familiar with. It is easy to learn and understand for beginners and powerful enough for professionals.


 FreeCAD (Linux / Windows / Mac)

Free-CAD is general purpose CAD (computer aided drawing) software that targets product design and mechanical engineering. It can be easily used for any engineering specialty, featuring tools that are modeled to function like Solid Works?, Solid Edge and Catia. Its main focus is dynamic simulation and analyzation.

 BRL-CAD (Linux / Windows / Mac)

BRL-CAD is an open source CAD system based around constructive solid geometry (csg) modeling. On top of all of it's modeling features, such as the interactive geometry editor, BRL-CAD offers parallel ray-tracing, path-tracing, image and signal processing tools. The ray-tracing process can even be distribution over a network of computers. When starting a new model determining an accurate unit of measurement ensures that your models will always have the correct proportions compared to real world objects. CSG is a fascinating way to work with 3d modeling and allows you to quickly build rough models and can be finalized later with all required details.


 Kdenlive (Linux / Mac)

Kdenlive is an intuitive and powerful multi-track video editor, including most recent video technologies. Kdenlive has multitrack editing with a timeline and unlimited number of video and audio tracks. *Tools to create, move, crop and delete video clips, audio clips, text clips and image clips. Configurable keyboard shortcuts and interface layouts. A wide range of effects and transitions.

 Openshot (linux)

Openshot Video Editor is a simple and powerful video editor. It takes your videos, photos, and music files and helps you create the film you have always dreamed of. Easily add sub-titles, transitions, and effects, and then export your film to DVD, You Tube?, Vimeo, Xbox 360, and many other common formats.

 Lightworks (Linux / Windows / Mac)

Lightworks is a professional Non-Linear Editing (NLE) software supporting resolutions up to 4K as well as video in SD and HD formats.


 Audacity (Linux / Windows / Mac)

Audacity is classic, it features multichannel recording, easy editing, effects or audio analysis. Effects includes changing pitch, equalization, compression and many other. Audacity also features noise removal that is capable of removing different kinds of constant noise from you audio files.

 Ardour (Linux / Mac)

Ardour is professional hard-disc recording and it meets all of your studio requirements: multi-channel recording, non-linear and non-destructive editing, mixer functionality and uses time code to sync to other devices. It also supports the LADSPA plug-ins for all kind of effects.

 REAPER  (Windows / Mac OS?) 

REAPER is digital audio workstation software: a complete multitrack audio and MIDI recording, editing, processing, mixing, and mastering environment.

 LMMS (Linux / Win / Mac)

LMMS (previously Linux Multi Media? Studio) is a free digital audio workstation. Music can be produced by synthesizing sounds, arranging samples, and playing on a MIDI keyboard by combining the features of a trackers, sequencers and synthesizers. It supports LADSPA, SF 2? files and VST plugins.

 Hydrogen (Linux / Win / Mac)

Hydrogen is an advanced drum machine, its main goal is to provide professional yet simple and intuitive pattern-based drum programming.

 LinuxSampler (Linux / Win / Mac)

Linux Sampler is a music sampler, aiming to provide a pure software audio sampler with professional grade features, comparable to both hardware and commercial Windows or Mac software samplers and to introduce new features not yet available by any other sampler.

 Rosegarden  (Linux / Windows) 

Rosegarden is a professional audio and MIDI sequencer, score editor, and general-purpose music composition and editing environment. Rosegarden is an easy-to-learn, attractive application, ideal for composers, musicians, music students, and small studio or home recording environments. (for linux) | (for windows)

 Traverso DAW  (Linux / Windows / Mac)

Traverso DAW is a cross-platform multitrack audio recording and audio editing suite with support for CD mastering and non-linear processing. Traverso offers a unique user interface using both the mouse and the keyboard together for precision and speed. Designed for scalability, Traverso DAW can be used by live musicians using a netbook. .

 Qtraktor (Linux)	

Qtractor is an Audio/MIDI multi-track sequencer, specially dedicated to the personal home-studio.

 Cecilia (Linux / Windows / Mac)

Cecilia is a graphic user interface for the sound synthesis and sound processing package Csound. Cecilia enables the user to build very quickly graphic interfaces with sliders and curves to control Csound instruments.

 Mixxx  (Linux / Windows / Mac)

Mixxx is an open source computer program for D Jing? music. The software is specifically suited to the style of mixing known as beatmatching, natively supports most common music file formats, and can be controlled with MIDI and HID controllers. 

Freesound is a collaborative database of Creative Commons Licensed sounds. Browse, download and share sounds.


 FileZilla (Linux / Windows / Mac) 

File Zilla ftp client. Like many of the commercial products File Zilla? has a drag and drop interface for transferring files that makes it easy for user familiar with the windows user interface to use ftp. Also it has the ability to resume both uploads and downloads.

 BlueGriffon (Linux / Windows / Mac) 

WYSIWYG Web Editor based on the rendering engine of Firefox. An intuitive application that provides Web authors (beginners or more advanced) with a simple User Interface allowing to create attractive Web sites without requiring extensive technical knowledge about Web Standards. Advanced users can always use the Source View to hard-code their page.

 Brackets  (Linux / Windows / Mac) 

Brackets is a modern open source text editor that makes it easy to design in the browser.