Top Ten Open Source Applications

Blender screenshot.
For years I labored with Microsoft Windows while my son Steven had long since adopted Linux. Now that Ubuntu has won me over, I was curious as to what Steven’s choice in open source software would be. Recently I sent him this email:

What would be your top ten open source software picks? Not including the ones that are already pre-loaded on Ubuntu.

He responded with the names of ten software applications. I list them below in alphabetical order.


Amarok is the music player for Linux and Unix with an intuitive interface. Amarok makes playing the music you love easier than ever before — and looks good doing it. Amarok serves many functions rather than just playing music files. For example, Amarok can be used to organize a library of music into folders according to genre, artist, and album, can edit tags attached to most music formats, associate album art, attach lyrics, and automatically “score” music as it is played.


Blender is a 3D content creation suite, available for all major operating systems. It can be used for modeling, UV unwrapping, texturing, rigging, water simulations, skinning, animating, rendering, particle and other simulations, non-linear editing, compositing, and creating interactive 3D applications.


The Gnumeric spreadsheet is part of the GNOME desktop environment: a project to create a free, user friendly desktop environment. Gnumeric does not attempt to clone existing applications. However, Gnumeric can read files saved with other spreadsheets.


Gobby is a free collaborative editor supporting multiple documents in one session and a multi-user chat. It runs on Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, Linux and other Unix-like platforms.


With Hugin you can assemble a mosaic of photographs into a complete immersive panorama, stitch any series of overlapping pictures and much more. Stitching is accomplished by using several overlapping photos taken from the same location, and using control points to align and transform the photos so that they can be blended together to form a larger image.


Inkscape is a vector graphics editor, with capabilities similar to Illustrator, CorelDraw, or Xara X, using the W3C standard Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) file format. 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.


Liferea (Linux Feed Reader) is an aggregator for online news feeds. There are many other news readers available, but these others are not available for Linux or require many extra libraries to be installed. Liferea tries to fill this gap by creating a fast, easy to use, easy to install news aggregator for Gtk/Gnome.


Mplayer is a media player available for all major operating systems, including Linux and other Unix-like systems, Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X. MPlayer supports a wide variety of media formats. In addition to its wide range of supported formats MPlayer can also save all streamed content to a file. A companion program, MEncoder, can take an input stream or file and transcode it into several different output formats, optionally applying various transforms along the way.


OpenSSH is a program for logging into a remote machine and for executing commands on a remote machine. It provides secure encrypted communications between two untrusted hosts over an insecure network. X11 connections and arbitrary TCP/IP ports can also be forwarded over the secure channel.


Xmoto is a challenging 2D motocross platform game, where physics plays an all important role in the game play. You need to control your bike to its limits, if you want to have a chance to finish the most difficult challenges.
Rickety signature


  1. I have to add GIMP to the list. Great for photo editing. Eclipse for software devlopment. Include the Aptana plug-in if you want to debug your Javascript. I’m looking forward to trying Xmoto – thanks

  2. The Gimp is a definite addition to the list, I agree. Steven didn’t include it because it already comes pre-loaded on Ubuntu. Next time I will make a list of the pre-loaded apps. Yes, I’ve used Eclipse but I didn’t know about Aptana. Beware of Xmoto, it will drive you crazy.

  3. Busby Guys says

    Hello … Thanks for this post. Im just wondering theres nothing GUMP there ? Nice information.

  4. What do you mean by GUMP? Apache Gump? It looks like you have an interesting contest going on at your website. I’m not sure what it all means. Thanks for stopping by.

  5. first time i going through this article and i like it about the attachment of lyrics and as it goes on singing. i m really going to try this. thanks for the tips.

  6. Martiijn van Turnhout says

    Open source/ free software is just great, isn’t it?

    Here’s a list of things I use on a daily basis:

    – FileZilla. Nice piece of FTP software. Good and completely free.
    – Aptana. One of the best HTML, CSS & JS editors out there.
    – XAMPP Lite. Great local server for testing websites in a local environment.
    – ImgBurn. Even better than Nero, in my opinion. Much easier to use.
    – CCleaner. Cleans up your registry efficiently.
    – Microsoft Security Essentials. Good enough to take care of those nasty spyware and viruses.

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