What’s the most often-asked question we as a team get? “Sooo, I have this app that we bought to do ______, is there a Linux version of it?” Honestly, my first reaction is to ask the person if they have Googled for the answer, and most of the time they haven’t. I guess we’re so darned helpful and engaging that they ask us first!
Seriously, rather than just typing a few phrases into Google, what are the prime places to look for Alternative Applications, either running on Linux, or even Open Source alternatives on Windows? I posted a while ago about this, many more sites are available, and I have included the earlier post’s sites to save you time:
Linux App Finder – The site is well organized, the search function does it’s job well, and they have a nice grouping of categories that you can choose and peruse to find what you want. They offer multiple RSS feeds, including both New and Updated app feeds, very useful.
Freshmeat.net – Entertainingly named, this site has been around for a long time, and mostly focuses on finding Linux applications, not necessarily making it easy to find alternatives to Windows applications. I typically don’t do anything but search immediately for keywords that describe the Proprietary application I am trying to find. I typically find tens if not hundreds of projects that match my keywords, but often projects I find are very relevant. This site could benefit greatly from a few pre-built searches and a table view that lets you compare applications and the alternatives.
Osalt.com – A relative newcomer to the scene, it’s got a lot to offer. Well designed, it’s search function yields immediate results, including both Open Source and Commercial alternatives to the various applications. I particularly get a lot out of the Categories you can select from on the left margin, they thoughtfully list the most popular open/prop in each category. Don’t forget to check out the Top 10 lists and subscribe to the RSS feed, there’s often something new daily if not more frequently.
The Table of Equivalents – A massive table of alternatives , organized around the function, then listing Windows programs that accomplish the task, and the Linux/Open alternatives. Not as flexible as other searchable databases of alternatives, but since it’s all on one huge page, it’s easy to Ctrl-F search for an application and check the listed alternatives. An example of how this site was useful to me was replacing Total Commander, a program that emulates Norton Commander, there are 9 listed Linux alternatives, several of which were as good or better than TC. No RSS feeds, and the only news options are in Russian, so check back often for updates.
openSUSE.org/Education – This is the landing page for the Education initiatives for Novell’s education community, with a great and growing list of applications for server and desktop located here. Thanks to James Tremblay for this link.
The next few sites are not really Windows/Linux alternative options, but they do help you consume more Open Source on your Windows machines, kind of a Gateway Drug to being totally Open Source.
The OSSWIN CD – The Trinidad and Tobago Computer Society has put together a great Windows Open Source CD of goodies that you can grab the ISO for, burn and hand out to friends and associates to introduce them to OSS Windows alternatives. Constantly updated, with the latest version coming out a short while ago, popping it into a computer autoruns a very nicely designed html interface that lists that categories and software it contains and makes it very easy and pleasant to get the software installed.
Mohawkes Best of FOSS – With a theme that reminds me of the X Files, it’s a very large list of Free/Open Source programs that run on Windows, plus a few proprietary ones at the bottom that were apparently too good not to mention. The site is older and not updated, but it’s worth a look and maybe saving the page in a pdf for later reference.
Jason’s Free Useful Software List – Last and not least, is a list of free software, most of which is covered elsewhere.
I hope all this is helpful, if you have other sites that you like and want to recommend, leave a comment and I’ll update this posting as new sources become available.