Best Open Source Alternatives to paid Applications

Are you wanting to switch from Windows to Linux and don't have your favorite applications in Linux? Try therse alternatives instead.

by Pete
Published: Updated: 9 minutes read

Since switching from Windows to Linux, I’ve quickly realised that the Linux community is part of a secret underground society known as the “Adjustment Bureau.” No, I’m not referring to the film, but rather to the fact that you’ll have to say goodbye to a lot of proprietary tools, many of which I’m sure we’ve spent years honing our skills on, in favor of proprietary alternatives that are available in Linux or that you’re looking for a FOSS alternative.

Let’s get into it

Here are the apps I switched to in Linux, with a big disclaimer: these work for me, but they may not work for you due to your own unique needs. I still boot into Windows because some applications I can’t get in Linux are there, and I simply don’t want to change, mainly for time reasons. This is not an exhaustive list, but rather just the start.

1
Graphics

2
Video

3
Gaming

I wrote a separate piece on Gaming under Linux. It’s a good read and more in-depth, take a look.

4
Productivity

5
Collaboration

  • Try this article on my experience with Webex under Linux
  • Microsoft Teams Desktop with Microsoft Teams Webapp

6
Messaging

  • Microsoft Outlook Desktop with Microsoft Outlook Webapp
  • Windows Mail App with Thunderbird (for all other email accounts)

7
Audio

8
Utilities

  • WinZIP/WinRAR with Ark
  • Balena Etcher with GNOME Disk Utility (Yes, I know there’s an AppImage for Etcher in Linux but my preference is Dolphin integration)
  • Microsoft OneDrive / Sharepoint Library Desktop Syncing with Rclone

Is lack of proprietary software a problem?

Yes and no. In general, it depends on the use case and the user’s skill level with a specific application. Many of the applications I’ve listed are easily substitutable for home, either because they’re a simple swap out or because my skill level and use case necessitate it.

If you’re a professional video editor, however, Kdenlive (or another FOSS) might not be enough, and you’ll need a copy of Adobe or Final Cut Pro (or whatever your flavor is).

Furthermore, web-only Microsoft Office versions aren’t always appropriate for power users; thus, a copy of Windows and O365 is required. LibreOffice is a fantastic product, but it is not a direct replacement for Microsoft Office for me. Others may not have a problem because they operate in alternative ecosystems already, such as GSuite, or have basic requirements, but the challenge for LibreOffice is that IT departments will either adopt GSuite or Microsoft Office.

Returning to my original point, a lack of well-known developers on Linux is a source of concern for me. If I had the choice between using Adobe Premiere Pro on Linux and Autodesk publishing Fusion360 on Linux, I’d take the latter. I’m not dismissing the amazing open source software available; they may work for you; there are just some alternatives I don’t have time to relearn. 

What if I have no choice but to use proprietary software?

Yup, and there’s probably a use-case in there or two for it. You have three choices:

  1. Is there a Linux version of the software you’re using? If so, go straight to GO and install it.
  2. Maybe try an alternative paid version. For example: Adobe Premiere Pro – why not learn DaVinci Resolve? (Kind of relates to point #1)
  3. Try run the application under WINE and see how far you get
  4. Return to Windows (or MAC if you’re so inclined)

In Summary

So, the majority of my time can be spent happily in Linux, and I can do most things without having to switch to my Windows partition. In some cases, alternative FOSS is superior to its Windows counterpart, which surprised me. Would I prefer a 1:1 in some cases? Absolutely, but for the most part, I can do what I need to do, be very productive, and get through my week using Linux.