Paying for software can get very expensive. Open source software is the way that the software industry seems to be leaning. Therefore, I have put together a list of free, open source programs for Mac OS X users that I feel you will find very helpful. I also think that any one of these programs is probably a great replacement for the current software you are using. I have every one of these programs installed on my Mac and I really enjoy each one. Every Mac user should try each of these applications out at least once. I really feel that they are all “must haves” and they will make your life much easier and better.
1. Firefox – This is the obvious #1 choice. The Firefox browser is fiercely taking over the internet and will hopefully in the future take over IE as the most used browser on the internet. Safari is a solid choice for OS X users, but Firefox offers so much more. If you are all about extensions, themes, and getting the most out of your browser, Firefox is for you (although if you didn’t know about it by now, maybe it isn’t for you). The current Firefox theme doesn’t flow too well with the Aqua UI of OS X, but they are working on the issue. You can find Mac based themes for the browser though if you don’t really like the main Firefox 2.0 theme. This is thee “must have” open source app.
2. VLC – This is the “Mac Daddy” of all video players. We all know that Quicktime doesn’t fair too well with some of the up-and-coming video file formats, but VLC can handle just about anything. Plus, it’s free! And I’m not kidding when I say it will play pretty much anything. It even plays FLV files that you download from sites such as YouTube. And yes, it will also play your DVD’s. It is a must have for any Mac user (or any OS user for that matter).
3. Vienna – Don’t want to pay around $20 for a nice desktop based RSS reader? That’s OK, there is always Vienna. Vienna is an open-source, freeware RSS/Atom reader. It has a very sleek and simple UI, a built in browser, folder groups, uses smart folders, and has just about any feature you could ever need in an RSS reader. RSS is the “new thing” on the internet and this is a must have for keeping yourself up to date on the latest news around the web.
4. Transmission – Transmission is a free, lightweight, cross-platform BitTorrent client. It features a simple, intuitive interface on top on an efficient, cross-platform back-end. It’s an open source project run by the same developer that created Mac DVD, the popular Mac ripping program. A cool feature of Transmission is that it allows you to see your current upload and download speeds right your dock on top of its icon. Transmission is my favorite torrent program because it is so lightweight yet it packs a lot of nice features and has very fast speeds.
5. Adium – Adium is an excellent instant messaging replacement for iChat. I personally still use iChat but Adium packs a powerful punch in the features category. It can be fun to switch off between the two, as they both have their positives and negatives. Adium has many great addons and plugins and has the ability to connect to many popular protocols such as AIM, MSN, Jabber, GTalk, ICQ, and many more.
6. Handbrake – HandBrake is a GPL’d multiplatform, multithreaded DVD to MPEG-4 ripper/converter. HandBrake was originally available on the BeOS, but now has been ported over to MacOS X and to GNU/Linux. It is the easiest DVD converter I have ever used. Just pop in a DVD and click a few button and your video will be in the format that you choose. You can even choose iPod format.
7. Burn – Burn is as simple as its name. It is a free burning application that can handle Data, Audio, Video, Image, Open Source, and more disks. Put simply, it is a must have if you want to burn a variety of files on your Mac.
8. Seashore – Seashore is an open source image editor for Cocoa. It features gradients, textures and anti-aliasing for both text and brush strokes. It supports multiple layers and alpha channel editing. It is based around the GIMP’s technology and uses the same native file format. However, GIMP requires X11. This programs rivals Photoshop in features.
9. Cyberduck – Cyberduck is an open source FTP and SFTP (SSH Secure File Transfer) browser licenced under the GPL with an easy to use interface, integration with external editors and support for many Mac OS X system technologies such as Spotlight, Bonjour, the Keychain and AppleScript. If you need to do FTP work, this application is the one for you.
10. Smultron – This application ties in with Cyberduck for great text and html editing. It is the best open-source text editor that I have found so far. Some of its features are line numbers, support for syntax coloring for many different languages, functions list, support for text encodings, snippets, a toolbar, a status bar, HTML preview, split window, multi-document find and replace with regular expressions, possibility to show invisible characters, tabs, authenticated open and saves, command-line utility, .Mac synchronisation, full screen editing and running commands from within Smultron.
11. NeoOffice – NeoOffice is a fully-featured set of office applications (including word processing, spreadsheet, presentation, and drawing programs) for Mac OS X. Based on the OpenOffice.org office suite, NeoOffice has integrated dozens of native Mac features and can import, edit, and exchange files with other popular office programs such as Microsoft Office. Unlike the Mac OS X release of OpenOffice.org, NeoOffice does not require the X11 windowing system.
12. CenterStage – Turn your Mac into a media center. CenterStage is the Media Center Application that allows you to use the digital content stored on your Apple Macintosh computer & play it in a more comfortable environment such as your living room using any standard Televison set.
13. FreeMind – FreeMind is a premier free mind-mapping software written in Java. It is a very revolutionary application for note taking and outlining. It is a must try.
14. Juice – Want to listen to internet audio programs but can’t when they are scheduled? This program lets you create your own custom online audio anytime, anywhere. If you want to listen to podcasts, this program is for you. Juice is the premier podcast receiver, allowing users to capture and listen to podcasts anytime, anywhere.
15. Colloquy – Traditionally, chat clients on the Mac have been anything but glamorous. Colloquy is an advanced IRC & SILC client which aims to fill this void. By adhering to Mac OS X interface conventions, Colloquy has the look and feel of a quality Mac application.
Camino – Camino is a Mozilla based Mac browser.
Thunderbird – Thunderbird delivers. Enjoy safe, fast, and easy email, with intelligent spam filters, quick message search, and customizable views. Brought to you by Mozilla, Thunderbird makes email better.
Enjoy the programs. They are all awesome.