50 Awesome Open Source Apps You’ve (Probably) Never Heard Of

Published on: October 25, 2010
Last Updated: October 25, 2010

50 Awesome Open Source Apps You’ve (Probably) Never Heard Of

Published on: October 25, 2010
Last Updated: October 25, 2010

Experts estimate that the number of open source apps available doubles every fourteen months.

Sourceforge alone has more than 260,000 projects, and with so many open source apps now available from so many different repositories, it can be hard to keep up.

For this list, we’ve highlighted some newer open source tools you might have missed. We also included some gems from obscure categories, like Mandelbulbs, gene sequencing, and knitting, to name just a few.

Other open source tools on the list are good projects that are overshadowed by older, better-known projects, and at least one is an old favorite that has a new name.

We hope you enjoy our list of open source apps you’ve (probably) never heard of. And if you’ve heard of some awesome apps that we haven’t, feel free to offer suggestions in the comments section below.

Resource Contents show


1.) Turnkey Linux

First launched in 2008, Turnkey provides pre-configured virtual appliances based on open source applications.

Their most recent offering is a backup and migration appliance, and they also offer LAMP stack, Drupal, Joomla, WordPress, File server, Ruby on Rails, and dozens of other appliances. Operating System: Linux.

Audio Tools

2.) Radio Downloader

If your favorite online radio station only offers streaming content, you can turn it into a podcast you can listen to any time with Radio Downloader.

It comes with built-in support for BBC content and a helpful “favourites” tab. Operating System: Windows.

3.) Pandora Radio Desktop App

You don’t have to upgrade to Pandora One in order to get a desktop app to listen to the free Pandora service.

This lightweight app minimizes to your system tray and removes banner ads. Operating System: Windows.

4.) KMid

Turn your PC into a karaoke player with this KDE app. It also plays Midi files and includes features like pitch control, a visual metronome and a piano player window. Operating System: Windows.


5.) Redo

Redo Backup and Recovery lets you re-boot from a CD or thumb drive, eliminating the need to re-install Windows if you get hit with malware.

Key features include bare-metal restore, deleted file recovery, drive reset and an easy-to-use GUI. Operating System: Windows, Linux.


6.) Scheme Maker

For crafty types, Scheme Maker takes photos or graphics and turns them into patterns for knitting or cross-stitching.

Hey, these may not be your favorite hobbies, but we bet you know someone who would get a kick out being able to put a picture of their favorite dog on a sweater. Operating System: Windows.

Desktop Enhancements

7.) DropIt

DropIt creates a floating icon on your desktop. When you “drop” files on the icon, it moves them to the folder you’ve previously specified.

It’s very handy for cleaning up your filesystem. Operating System: Windows.

8.) Sticker

Just released this month, Sticker is a Windows 7-compatible electronic post-it note app. Unlike some similar apps, it lets you put notes directly on the desktop as if they were icons. Operating System: Windows.

Developer Tools

9.) Sonar

In its first year of release, this Web-based platform for managing code quality quickly racked up 30,000 downloads.

Now in its second year, Sonar gets 4,000 downloads per month and is notable for its ease of use and excellent reporting tools. Operating System: OS Independent.

10.) Evolutility

With Evolutility, users can build custom Web apps in just minutes, without writing any C#, HTML, CSS, Javascript, or SQL.

If you have a database, this app can put it on the Web quickly and easily. Operating System: Windows.

11.) Game Editor

If you’re not really a programmer, but you think you have an idea for a game that might be the next big hit on the iPhone, this tool might help.

It’s a cross-platform game creator, and the site offers advice for those just starting out. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X, iOS, others.

Document Management

12.) LogicalDOC

Although it’s just two years old, LogicalDOC is a robust, enterprise-class document management system.

In addition to the free open source version, it’s also available in a commercial enterprise version, which comes with a free trial. Operating System: OS Independent.


13. Tomato Cart

This year-old shopping cart app has already accumuluated an impressive list of awards and enthusiastic reviews.

It offers both an attractive end-user interface and an intuitive administrative interface with many helpful reporting features. Operating System: Windows, Linux.


14. SecureFolders

As you might guess from the name, this app lets you secure your folders. It gives you the option of hiding, locking, and/or encrypting folders to keep them safe from prying eyes. Operating System: Windows, Linux.

15. SilentEye

This cross-platform steganography app makes it easy to hide—or find—messages encoded in graphics. It’s easy to use and gives users a lot of encryption and compression options. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.


16.) Mandelbulber

If you’re geeky enough to know what a Mandelbulb is, you might enjoy this app which renders 3D fractals. More information about the app can also be found on the FractalForums site. Operating System: Windows, Linux.


17.) 0 A.D. 

It’s still an alpha release, but 0 A.D. is already acquiring a good fan base and has been downloaded nearly 30,000 times.

It’s a historical, real-time strategy game where you build your civilization and battle against neighboring nations.

While the graphics are already quite nice, note that some features, like single-player mode, are still in development. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.

18.) M.A.R.S.

This self-described “ridiculous shooter” is still in the early stages of development, but offers some nice action and 2D space graphics.

It’s set in the year 3547, and puts the user in the role of a fighter desperately trying to save your peaceful planet from the Great War raging elsewhere in the universe. Operating System: Windows, Linux.

19.) MegaGlest

This app is a fork of popular Linux game Glest, which is no longer under active development. It updates and adds new features to the real-time strategy game where users control the warring armies of Tech and Magic. Operating System: Windows, Linux.

20.) irrflight_chung

If you get bored with flight simulators that only allow you to fly from one place to another, try this one that also gives you the option of shooting other planes and tanks.

In addition to flying a plane, you can also drive a tank or car across the landscape. Operating System: Windows.

Gene Sequencing

21. GenoCAD

Granted, this is something the average user will likely never download, but the Virginia Bioformatics Institute has made this gene sequencing software available through an open source license.

It’s helping make possible some cutting edge scientific research. Operating System: OS Independent.


22.) Pixelitor

Similar to Photoshop and the open source graphics program Gimp, Pixelitor lets users perform advanced editing of photos and graphics.

And because it’s Java-based, it works on multiple platforms. Operating System: OS Independent.

23.) Caesium

This helpful app compresses images up to 90 percent, making it easier to e-mail them or upload them to your favorite Web site.

It supports most common image formats, including JPG, PNG, GIF, BMP, and WMF. Operating System: Windows.

Health Care

24.) Medilig

Short for “Medical Life Guard,” Medilig gives health care providers an easy way to track patients’ health records.

It works with open-source databases and helps health care providers avoid the high cost of closed health information systems. Operating System: Windows, Linux.

Mind Mapping

25.) XMind

Similar to the better-known project FreeMind, XMind makes it very easy and intuitive to conduct brainstorming sessions and map the relationships between ideas.

It also includes handy export features which let you convert files to PDFs, Word documents or PowerPoint presentations. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.

Music Education

26.) Impro-Visor

This “Improvisation Advisor” helps aspiring jazz musicians learn to compose their own solos.

In addition to teaching students to understand improvisation, it can also improvise on its own or transcribe music. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.


27.) Wake On Lan

This helpful little app makes it easy to turn on or shut down Windows systems connected to your network.

It also includes a scheduling feature and can be run from the command line or a GUI. Operating System: Windows.

Novel Writing

28.) Storybook

Just the other day, I heard an interview with a novelist who wished he had a computer program to help him keep track of storylines and characters.

It’s not well known, but Storybook does just that for creative writers of all kinds. Operating System: OS Independent.

Office Productivity

29.) LibreOffice

LibreOffice is an old standby—OpenOffice.org—with a new name. Some of the leaders behind OpenOffice.org broke free from Oracle and created their own version of the well-known open source office productivity suite.

It’s still officially in beta, but it includes the capabilities of its predecessor, including compatibility with Microsoft Office. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.

Portable Applications

30.) winPenPack

Like the well-known PortableApps.com, winPenPack puts a whole bunch of great open source apps into one package that you can take with you on a thumb drive.

What’s particularly nice is that it comes in six different flavors—2GB, Essential, Game, School, Web and Personal—so that you can get apps that are tailored for your needs. Operating System: Windows.


31.) Impressive

If you want to make your presentations more, well, impressive, give this app a try.

It takes presentations you create with PowerPoint or other apps and lets you add more interesting transitions, use a handy overview screen, and spotlight or highlight text on the screen as you give your talk. Operating System: OS Independent.

Project Management

32.) Redmine

This Web-based project management tool issued its version 1.0 release earlier this year. It allows teams to track multiple projects, track progress with a Gantt chart and calendar, track time, and more.

It also integrates with the major source code managers, including Git, Subversion, Mercurial, Bazaar, etc. Operating System: OS Independent.

33.) Digaboard

Replace the old-fashioned whiteboard and sticky notes you’re using to track your agile development project with a Web-based version.

It makes it easy to plan projects, find bottlenecks and track progress. Operating System: OS Independent.

Property Management

34.) SpaceBooker

If you’re running a hotel, car rental company or a craft fair, SpaceBooker can help you keep track of reservations.

It works both on- and offline, and it gives you a number of different views, including a graphical map, so that you can see what’s reserved and what’s available for various dates. Operating System: Windows.


35.) Samurai

Find out how well your Web site will stand up to attack with this penetration testing framework.

It incorporates a number of well-known open source tools, including e Fierce domain scanner, Maltego, WebScarab, ratproxy, w3af, burp, BeEF, AJAXShell and many others. Operating System: Linux.

36.) No Autorun

Just like the name suggest, this app prevents any malware on a thumb drive from auto-running when you plug it into your system.

It also logs suspicious files so you can see the malware it’s blocked. Operating System: Windows.

37.) SourceAFIS

The “AFIS” in this app name stands for “Automated Fingerprint Identification System.” It works with a variety of fingerprint readers to authenticate users. Operating System: OS Independent.

Time Tracking

38.) timeEdition

If you need to keep track of the amount of time you spend on various projects, this minimalist app is for you.

With just a couple of clicks you can start and stop the timer and track work for various clients. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.

39.) Todomoo

This app is a cross between a to-do list and a time tracker. It makes it easy to track the time spent on projects, split tasks into sub-tasks, and track payment information. Operating System: Windows.


40.) ClipUpload

This application quickly uploads whatever is on your clipboard to the Internet with a single click.

You can use it with your own ftp server or with services like Imgur.com, Pastebin.com, and SendSpace.com. Operating System: Windows.

41.) Bulk File Manager

If you need to clean up a lot of duplicate files, this tool makes the job more manageable. It also offers options for secure file removal, bulk moving of files and bulk file re-naming. Operating System: Windows.

42.) FileKiller

Like the better known programs Eraser and DBAN, FileKiller “shreds” digital files so they cannot be recovered. This one’s claim to fame is it’s speed. Operating System: Windows.

43.) QTTabBar

QTTabBar enhances Windows Explorer with a helpful tabbed interface. It’s still technically an alpha release, but it’s stable with few bugs and thousands of users. Operating System: Windows.

44.) Explorer++

Like QTTabBar, Explorer++ offers a tabbed interface for Windows Explorer. Other key features include a preview window, keyboard shortcuts, file splitting and merging and more. Operating System: Windows.

45.) PcClean

Normally, the Windows maintenance tools that let you clean up your drives are scattered throughout the operating system.

This tool lets you access all those maintenance features from one place. Operating System: Windows.

46.) Clean Temporary Places

Having a lot of junk in your “Temp” files can really slow your system down. This little app cleans out all the temporary files located throughout your file system. Operating System: Windows.

47.) GodMode AllTaks

Also known as Windows Master Control Panel, the God Mode on Windows Vista and Windows 7 lets you perform a variety of systems administration tasks.

This tool let you use the “All Tasks” folder without going through the steps that are normally necessary. Operating System: Windows.

Video Tools

48.) Kaltura Community Edition

Kaltura is home to a number of video-related projects, including a player, editor, widgets, processing, and much more.

Their latest release is a Joomla extension that makes it easy to add video to your Joomla-based Web site. Operating System: OS Independent.

49.) Windows Essentials Codec Pack

Having trouble playing a video file you’ve downloaded from the Internet? This download gives you the tools you need to play 99 percent of files available, including a simple media player. Operating System: Windows.


50.) XWiki

XWiki combines an enterprise-grade wiki, a wiki manager (for those who have multiple wikis), a generic wiki platform and an RSS Reader.

It’s a second-generation wiki, meaning that it gives users the ability to create and deliver apps from within the wiki. Operating System: OS Independent.

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Written by Bobby

Bobby Lawson is a seasoned technology writer with over a decade of experience in the industry. He has written extensively on topics such as cybersecurity, cloud computing, and data analytics. His articles have been featured in several prominent publications, and he is known for his ability to distill complex technical concepts into easily digestible content.