Open Source Soft­ware That Can Part­ner with MS Win­dows

The open source world is filled with soft­ware that can be used along with the pro­pri­etary Win­dows op­er­at­ing sys­tem, with­out caus­ing any in­con­ve­nience. Here’s a se­lec­tion of soft­ware that is free, open source and com­pat­i­ble with MS Win­dows.

OpenSource For You - - Contents -

The ex­pres­sion ‘open source soft­ware’ refers to soft­ware that is avail­able free, and its source code has been made pub­licly avail­able for study, mod­i­fi­ca­tion and use on any sys­tem. Of­ten, the goal in re­leas­ing this source code is to en­able com­mu­nity col­lab­o­ra­tion in de­vel­op­ing this soft­ware in a more open, ef­fi­cient and rapid man­ner. De­pend­ing on the li­cence, open source soft­ware can have dif­fer­ent terms for un­re­stricted us­age.

Mi­crosoft Win­dows is rep­re­sen­ta­tive of a fam­ily of op­er­at­ing sys­tems re­leased over the years, each cater­ing to an in­dus­try, or cus­tomised to fit a sub­set of busi­ness and de­vel­op­ment pur­poses.

Mi­crosoft has long faced flak from the Linux com­mu­nity for keep­ing its op­er­at­ing sys­tem closed source, even as it man­ages to out­sell all Linux dis­tri­bu­tions, com­bined. Yet, Mi­crosoft has re­cently be­come a mem­ber of the Linux Foun­da­tion and main­tains a pres­ence on GitHub. It has upped its com­mit­ment to soft­ware devel­op­ers and the open source com­mu­nity with the re­cent and rapid re­lease of a lot of fea­tures, es­pe­cially the Win­dows Sub­sys­tem for Linux, which al­lows devel­op­ers to run the Linux com­mand line di­rectly in Win­dows with­out the over­head of a vir­tual ma­chine. Some pop­u­lar fea­tures of the new Win­dows re­lease in­clude in­creased con­trol over the task man­ager, an in­built pack­age man­ager, multi­desk­top sup­port, and so on.

Let us take a closer look at the var­i­ous cat­e­gories of open source soft­ware avail­able for use on Win­dows.

Web browsers

Fire­fox: A prod­uct cre­ated by the Mozilla Foun­da­tion, Fire­fox is an open source Web browser first re­leased in 2002. It is the de­fault browser on most Linux dis­tri­bu­tions but has a huge fol­low­ing on Win­dows ma­chines as well.

Chromium: The fa­ther of the mod­ern­day Chrome Web browser, Chromium is based on the orig­i­nal source code that Google then mod­i­fied to cre­ate Chrome. It has set it­self up as a se­ri­ous con­tender to Fire­fox, be­ing the de­fault Web browser on Linux sys­tems.

Com­mu­ni­ca­tion soft­ware

Pid­gin: A free and in­tu­itive multi­pro­to­col chat client used by hun­dreds of thou­sands of peo­ple, Pid­gin can

con­nect to AIM, Google Talk, ICQ, IRC, XMPP and other net­works con­cur­rently.

Email client

Thun­der­bird: De­vel­oped by Mozilla in 2004, Thun­der­bird is still one of the most pop­u­lar open source soft­ware chal­leng­ing Mi­crosoft Out­look to­day. It caters to the grow­ing de­mand for an email client for mod­ern users.

Pro­duc­tiv­ity and util­i­ties soft­ware

Li­breOf­fice: A pow­er­ful of­fice suite, Li­breOf­fice pro­vides an un­clut­tered and in­tu­itive user in­ter­face that serves to boost pro­duc­tiv­ity. The soft­ware kit in­cludes sev­eral ap­pli­ca­tions that make it one of the friendli­est and fastest­grow­ing of­fice suites in the free and open source com­mu­nity.

PuTTY: This is a free im­ple­men­ta­tion of SSH and Tel­net for Win­dows and UNIX plat­forms, along with an xterm ter­mi­nal emu­la­tor. It is writ­ten and main­tained pri­mar­ily by Si­mon Tatham.

7zip: This is a free and open source file­archiver—a soft­ware used to put groups of files into com­pressed fold­ers termed as ‘ar­chives’. Writ­ten by Igor Pavlov in 1999, it has a high com­pres­sion ra­tio, mak­ing it a very ef­fec­tive soft­ware.

File shar­ing soft­ware

FileZilla: Born as a class project of three stu­dents in 2001, this tame soft­ware has since evolved into a gi­gan­tic fullfea­tured file man­ager and file server. FileZilla of­fers pro­tected file shar­ing, which re­quires a user name and pass­word to ac­cess the shared data.

DC++: Tech­no­log­i­cal progress has given us the di­rect con­nect (DC) pro­to­col used for shar­ing files over the In­ter­net. The open source DC++ is the most pop­u­lar peer­to­peer file shar­ing client based on the di­rect con­nect pro­to­col.

Me­dia play­ers

VLC me­dia player: VLC is widely used as a me­dia player and stream­ing soft­ware. It is ca­pa­ble of play­ing files, discs, Web cams, de­vices and streams. It can even be used as a video down­loader.

Au­dac­ity: A free and open source au­dio ed­i­tor and recorder, Au­dac­ity al­lows users to record live au­dio, con­vert records and tapes to dig­i­tal for­mats, or mix pre­built dig­i­tal au­dio tracks.

GIMP: The brain­child of Spencer Kim­ball and Peter Mat­tis, the GNU Im­age Ma­nip­u­la­tion Pro­gram or GIMP serves as an open source graph­ics ed­i­tor, an al­ter­na­tive to Adobe Pho­to­shop. It can be used to cre­ate and up­date pho­tos or clip­art in var­i­ous im­age for­mats such as JPEG, PNG, TIFF, and so on.

Hy­per­vi­sors and em­u­la­tors

Vir­tu­al­Box: Vir­tu­al­Box is pro­fes­sional grade, open source vir­tu­al­i­sa­tion soft­ware. It is a gen­eral­pur­pose full vir­tu­aliser for x86 hard­ware, tar­geted at server, desk­top and em­bed­ded use.

Cyg­win: This is a large col­lec­tion of GNU and open source tools that pro­vide func­tion­al­ity sim­i­lar to a Linux dis­tri­bu­tion on Win­dows. Cyg­win pro­vides na­tive in­te­gra­tion of Win­dows­based ap­pli­ca­tions, data, and other sys­tem re­sources with ap­pli­ca­tions, soft­ware tools and data of the UNIX­like en­vi­ron­ment.

Fig­ure 1: Mi­crosoft Win­dows, an oft-per­ceived thorn in the side of open source pro­po­nents

Fig­ure 4: Hy­per­vi­sor and me­dia-based soft­ware for Win­dows

Fig­ure 2: Open source Web browsers and other tools

Fig­ure 3: Com­mu­ni­ca­tion and file shar­ing util­i­ties for devel­op­ers

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