Libre Recommendations

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Note: This section began as FOSS recommendations, but has grown beyond software into hardware and more general advice.

Avoid PRISM & Other Surveillance


  • Join our federated social network running on the excellent Friendica platform. We are able to communicate with other social networks while maintaining as much autonomy, privacy, and control over our data as we wish.
  • Learn more about our rationale for an alternative to surveillance networks like Facebook.
  • What's wrong with Facebook, anyway?
  • Registration is open to all humans and lolcats :D
  • Connections to Facebook will probably never work, for non-technical reasons. Foojbook isn't "just another Facebook-filler" and is instead an opportunity to expand your social sphere. We encourage Facebook users to join us and take the first step in a social identity outside of the Zuckerborg's control.

Privacy Features

  • Server-to-server military grade message encryption
  • All items controlled by access lists (individuals and groups - allow and deny)
  • Private conversation groups - on these pages all communications are restricted to group members - similar to Google+ "circles" or Diaspora "aspects"
  • Visual group editor to manage the members of private conversation groups
  • Individuals may belong to more than one group
  • Network 'email' provides 'one-to-one' private messaging to any Friendica or Diaspora member, even those on different sites
  • Anonymous profile viewing (any of your content and/or profile information) can be disabled
  • Publishing your profile to network directories (site and global) is individually controllable
  • Private profiles with controlled visibility. You can maintain completely different personality profiles visible only to specific people.
  • Optionally "expire" old content after a certain period of time. The content is also removed from all other Friendica servers which might be holding a copy.
  • Location and other private information embedded in uploaded photos from cell phones is stripped
  • Download your personal data. It all belongs to you.

More Features

Free Software


Operating Systems


  • It's not just a Windows and Mac world. Mac vs. PC is a marketing illusion, and Apple doesn't respect our freedom.
  • Many of the programs listed below are developed on GNU/Linux, and then ported to Windows. As such, they're likely to work better on GNU/Linux. See the GNU/Linux options below if you'd like to try out a new and exciting operating system, and get out of the Mac vs. PC rut.
  • Due to a malfunction in Diggity's reality distortion field, most of the individual apps listed below are for Windows. That awful proprietary OS is still widely installed, so it can be a starting point for FOSS users.
  • Suggestions for Mac OSX programs are welcome, and this list will also grow to include phone/tablet platforms.
  • Suggestions for software without Windows or Mac builds should have an accompanying note. GNU/Linux users generally don't need to search around the Web and download individual packages/tarballs/binaries, since modern distributions have package management systems.


Recommended Distros

If you would like to try a libre, gratis, and freedom-respecting (i.e. non-spying) operating system, please take a look at:


GNU/Linux Pre-Installed

  • To buy a computer that has GNU/Linux pre-installed, take a look at the long list of vendors at Linux Preloaded.
  • For the most comprehensive database on compatible hardware, check out H-Node.

"Live" DVD/USB

Running Windows Apps in GNU/Linux

Tor logo1.png
Privacy & Anonymity

  • TAILS: The Amnesiac Incognito Live System is a live GNU/Linux distribution. It will boot without leaving any traces on your hard drives, like any other GNU/Linux LiveDVD/USB. However, it also sends all network traffic through Tor for anonymity and has a suite of encryption tools pre-installed.
  • Whonix: Designed to run in virtual machines, using software such as VirtualBox. Read more about this approach before trying.
  • See our section on Web Browsers for private browsing options.


Libre Graphics Magazine

Photo Editors

  • GIMP: Edits photos and creates raster graphics, as well as plugins for animation. Replaces Adobe Photoshop, Microsoft Photo Editor.
  • Paint.NET: A popular alternative. Requires an updated version of the .NET framework (i.e. an up-to-date version of Windows).
  • Pinta: Simple multi-platform photo editor. Like Paint.NET but with a more basic interface.
  • Xara Xtreme: Photo and graphic editor.
  • LightZone: Manages photo collections and does basic editing, supports RAW.
  • Raw Therapee: Advanced photo collection management.
  • darktable: Photography workflow management and RAW editor.



  • Synfig: 2-D animation studio. Replaces Adobe Flash.



Office & Publishing

  • LibreOffice: Successor to Replaces Microsoft Office, Microsoft Works.
  • Scribus: Editor for complex layouts, such as those for print publishing. Replaces Quark Xpress, Adobe InDesign, Microsoft Publisher.
  • PDFedit: Manipulate and edit PDF files. Replaces Adobe Acrobat.
  • Formulate Pro: Edit and annotate PDF documents.
  • LyX: Modern, cross-platform LaTeX editor.
  • Texmaker: Another graphical LaTeX editor for many platforms.
  • WinEdt: Another LaTeX editor.
  • Winefish: Editor for experienced LaTeX users, based on Bluefish.


Web Browsers

Built for Privacy & Anonymity

  • Tor Browser Bundle: Anonymous Web browsing. Your communications are bounced around the Tor anonymity network.
  • Pirate Browser: A browser by TPB that bundles Tor, Firefox Portable, Foxy Proxy, and some custom configs that allows you to circumvent censorship that certain countries impose on their citizens (e.g. Iran, North Korea, United Kingdom, The Netherlands, Belgium, Finland, Denmark, Italy, Ireland).

Browser Tips

E-mail & Calendar


  • Private e-mail and calendar requires a privacy-respecting host. Lavabit and Silent Mail have closed down, and there aren't many options for third-party providers left. Consider the option (although you have to be invited to get an account) or paying for a service like MyKolab (it's recommended by pj at groklaw). If you're going to host your own e-mail, there are a lot of options and you may want to install Kolab yourself.

IM & Chat

  • Pidgin: Instant Messaging client for (almost) all chat protocols, including IRC. Replaces AIM, Google Talk, Facebook Messenger, ICQ.
  • SIP Video/Voice Calls: Jitsi and Ekiga are two choices to replace Skype and other VoIP clients.
  • XChat: Allows you to join multiple IRC channels, chat one-on-one, and transfer files.
  • Bitmessage: Private messaging software based on Bitcoin, intended for e-mail-like communication but with much more potential.
  • BitTorrent Chat: Chat privately using decentralized hash tables and keys over Bittorrent.
  • Tox: A secure messaging replacement for Skype, still in testing.
  • QuickMSG: A text message app for Android that uses PGP-encrypted e-mail with IMAP/SMTP instead of SMS. It's like sending an e-mail with Enigmail, but it looks like SMS instead.

File Transfer & Sharing

Bad Peers

Code & Text Editors

  • Notepad++: Feature-rich text editor. Great for code editing. Replaces Notepad.
  • Smultron: Multi-document text editor for Mac OSX. Replaces TextEdit.
  • BlueGriffon: Graphical, "WYSIWYG" website editor. Successor to KompoZer. Replaces Macromedia/Adobe Dreamweaver.
    • plugins: FireFTP: for uploading edited files to a Web server.
    • EPUB Edition: For editing ePub books.
  • Amaya: Another great WYSIWYG website editor, hosted by the W3C.
  • Bluefish: Code editor that tries to be lean and clean, with tons of options. Not really a WYSIWYG editor, as it focuses on text output.
  • Eclipse: The Eclipse IDE, originally geared toward Java, the language it's written in, but supports editing in almost any language.
    • PHPeclipse and Aptana: Eclipse plugins which also have stand-alone installers. Complex code editors, for those who are approaching websites as Web applications and have a strong programming background.


Audio Editors

  • Ardour: Advanced Digital Audio Workstation, with tons of options and plugins. Replaces Fruity Loops.
  • Audacity: Waveform editor, for editing WAV files and other audio directly. Replaces SoundForge and Adobe Audition.
  • Giada: Loop machine, drum machine, sequencer, live sampler. Replaces SoundForge and Adobe Audition.
  • Mixxx: DJ mixer, playlist, beat matcher, and beat juggler, with many input options.
  • Jokosher: Multi-track audio editor with instrumental inputs.
  • Rosegarden: MIDI sequencer, score editor, music composition studio.
  • xwax: Play digital audio files as if they were on vinyl turntables, including scratch effects and other DJ sounds.
  • WavShop: Bit-perfect WAV sound editor, which only edits the portion of the sound file that needs to change.

Audio Programming

  • SuperCollider: Real-time audio synthesis and algorithmic composition. Basically, you program music.
  • SoX: Command-line sound processing.

Video Editors

  • AviDemux: Advanced video editor.
  • Jahshaka: Media management and playback, compositing, editing and effects application.
  • CamStudio: "Screencasting" screen recorder program.
  • OpenShot: Simple video editor. Replaces Windows Movie Maker, iMovie.
  • KdenLive: Mult-track video editor.
  • avisynth: Single-track GUI for video editing.
  • VLC Movie Creator: From the folks who brought us VLC Media Player. Replaces Windows Movie Maker, iMovie.

Animated GIFs

See our tutorial on creating high-quality GIFs.

Digital Forensics

  • Forevid: Video forensics software developed and used by Finland's National Bureau of Investigation.


Media Players

  • Clementine: Feature-rich audio player. Replaces iTunes, WinAmp.
  • NightingGale: Audio player, successor to Songbird. Replaces iTunes.
  • VLC Media Player: The penultimate audio/video player. Replaces Windows Media Player, QuickTime.
  • Jukes: Jukebox-like music player.
  • Jajuk: Another player based around the jukebox concept.
  • Bluemindo: Very simple music player, like Amarok without the plugins.
  • Aqualung: Audio player with seamless playback, no space between files.

Media Centers

  • MythTV: Software digital video recorder (DVR/PVR). Replaces Windows Media Center, TiVo.
    • Mythbuntu: GNU/Linux distro featuring MythTV for easy install.
  • XBMC: Full-featured media center designed to turn any computer into a DVR/PVR device. Replaces Windows Media Center, TiVo.
    • OpenELEC: GNU/Linux distro featuring XMBC that "turns a blank PC into a media machine in less than 15 minutes."


3D Modeling & CAD

  • Blender: 3D graphics suite for modeling, animation, rendering, and more.
  • QCAD: Full-featured CAD software that reads DWG and has a CAM plugin. Replaces AutoCAD.
  • FreeCAD: Free software CAD suite.
  • Sweet Home 3D: Architectural design tool. Helps you place your furniture on a house 2D plan, with a 3D preview.
  • BRL-CAD: Modeling system with raytracing, geometric analysis, and more.

Beer & Wine Brewing

  • BrewTarget: Reads and writes recipes in BeerXML, automatically calculates color, bitterness, etc. Replaces BeerSmith.
  • QBrew: Calculate the gravity, color and bitterness of your recipe as you add in grains, extracts, adjuncts and hops.
  • Brewnix: Beer brewing software for Unix-like systems (last updated 2002).

Astronomy & Stargazing

  • Celestia: 3D real-time space simulator used by NASA, with a model of our solar system and plugins for other systems, planets, and stars.
  • Stellarium: Planetarium for your desktop, with real-time sky maps.
  • Kstars: Another great planetarium application.


  • PeaZIP: Archiving and unarchiving utility. Replaces WinZip, WinRAR, and many others.
  • 7-zip: Classic and simple archiver/unarchiver.
  • PDFtk: PDF Toolkit. Allows for complex manipulation of PDF files.
  • VirtualBox: Run virtual machines inside your operating system (e.g. for testing).
  • CC PDF Converter: Convert document into PDF files, while embedding a Creative Commons license.
  • HTTrack: Website copier, mirrors websites.
  • Xournal: Annotate and highlight PDFs and text files.


  • Clam Sentinel: Adds a real-time scanner to ClamWin, *highly-recommended addition*.
  • WinPooch: Aggressively detects filesystem modifications, to guard against trojans and malware.
  • Moon Secure Antivirus: A complete antivirus suite for Windows, with real-time scanner and firewall.
  • BleachBit: Frees cache, delete cookies, clears Internet history, shreds temporary files, etc.

Plugins & Viewers

  • Evince: PDF viewer. Replaces Adobe Reader.
  • OpenJDK: Java plugin. *Usually* less targeted than the Sun/Oracle Java JRE/JVM but please read up before installing (Java is a common attack vector).


Formats & DRM

Free eBooks

Candidates for Inclusion

  • Place candidates here whose status as free/open-source software has been unverified (or the programs have mixed codebases).
  • These programs may not fit the free software definition (libre), or are only freeware (gratis).



  • We know it can be difficult to find freedom-respecting hardware, and usually we have to "hack what we've got". The list of hardware that is FOSS-compatible is increasing, however.
  • To buy a computer that has GNU/Linux pre-installed, take a look at the long list of vendors at Linux Preloaded.
  • For the most comprehensive database on compatible hardware, check out H-Node.

Router Firmware

Recommended Web Hosts

This is a list of Web hosts for LAMP servers. These hosts make it easy to run WordPress, MediaWiki, and other free software Content Management Systems (CMS).

Keep in mind, when you take out a hosting account you are signing up for space and a service on a company's computer, somewhere "out there" on the Web. You should read through the Web host's privacy policy, terms of service, and any other agreements before you sign up. Get Libre runs on DreamHost.

Local Web Hosting

These Apache-based options will install a Web server on your local machine.

Turnkey Linux offers services such as e-mail and chat which are guaranteed to be safe and private. Their services are designed specifically for activists. You have to request an account for most of their services, but it's worth the wait if you're an organizer (or just value your privacy!). Recommend services:

Communication Security