Feel Like Google Rules the World? Try These Open Source Alternatives
In a day and age when Google serves 25 percent of North American Internet traffic, it seems impossible to completely divorce yourself from the growing technology giant. Google is currently bigger than Facebook, Netflix, and Instagram combined.
But why consider getting off Google? Despite the incredible suite of products and services Google provides at low or zero cost, their record of privacy and product lifespan is inconsistent and troublesome.
The extent to which Google allows or provides access to private user’s data to the U.S. government is unknown; however, there is no doubt that Google collects and uses private user’s data for their own advertising, product development, and revenue programs. This — and the ever-present sponsored ads — is the actual “cost” of using Google’s products.
Also, as seen with the recent shutdown of Google Reader, any product is at risk of being terminated — often with little notice. According to a recent study at gwern.net, 35 percent of Google products and services are shut down. This is more than a third of the entire Google product line over the years.
If you are interested in moving a little or entirely away from the Googleopoly there are alternatives to every Google product — some commercial software and some open-source software (OSS). Open-source software has its source code available and licensed in which the copyright holder provides the rights to study, change, and distribute the software at no cost to anyone and for any purpose.
The following is a list of open source software available to download, distribute, or revise for free. But be advised, some OSS may require advanced technical knowledge to install and operate properly.
- Drupal: Drupal is an open-source content management platform powering millions of websites and applications.
- Joomla!: A free and open-source content management system (CMS) for publishing content on the World Wide Web and intranets.
- WordPress: The largest self-hosted blogging tool in the world, WordPress is an open-source project with hundreds of contributors all over the world.
- AWStats: Free real-time logfile analyzer to get advanced statistics.
- Piwik: Piwik is the leading open-source web analytics platform.
- Firefox: The leading free, non-profit web browser available for the desktop and mobile devices.
- Notepad++: Notepad++ is a free source code editor and Notepad replacement for the MS Windows environment.
- OpenOffice: Apache OpenOffice is the leading open-source office software suite for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics, databases and more.
- ownCloud: ownCloud gives you universal access to your files through a web interface or WebDAV. It also provides a platform to easily view & sync your contacts, calendars and bookmarks across all your devices.
- SparkleShare: Self-hosted, instant, secure file sync to remotely host files and folders.
- Roundcube: A browser-based multilingual IMAP client with an application-like user interface.
- Thunderbird: Thunderbird is a free, open-source email application that’s loaded with great features.
- F-Droid: The F-Droid Repository is an easily-installable catalogue of FOSS (Free and Open Source Software) applications for the Android platform.
- Firefox Marketplace: An open environment in the world of apps for Android and Firefox OS devices.
- Disaspora*: The community-run, distributed social network.
- pump.io: An open-source stream server that does most of what people really want from a social network.
- OpenStreetMap: OpenStreetMap is a free worldwide map. The data is free to download and use under an open license.
- DuckDuckGo: DuckDuckGo isn’t technically open source, but it is the search engine that does not collect or share your personal information.
- OpenSearchServer: OpenSearchServer is an open-source search engine and crawler software based on the best open source technologies.
- YaCy: A free decentralized web search engine that anyone can use to build a search portal for their intranet or to help search the public internet.
- Adium: An instant messaging application for Mac OS X that can connect to AIM, MSN, Jabber, Yahoo, and more.
- Jabber: Jabber is the original open instant messaging (IM) technology, invented in 1998. A free IM service is run by volunteers at Jabber.org.
- Ekiga: An open-source softphone, video conferencing and instant messenger application over the Internet.
- digiKam: An advanced digital photo management application for Linux, Windows, and Mac-OSX.
- GIMP: GIMP is an image manipulation program for such tasks as photo retouching, image composition and image authoring.
- HandBrake: HandBrake is a tool for converting video from nearly any format to a selection of modern, widely supported codecs.
- VLC Media Player: VLC is a free and open source cross-platform multimedia player and framework that plays most multimedia files as well as DVD, Audio CD, VCD, and various streaming protocols.
If you have another great OSS product or service to replace a Google product, please leave it in the comments.