40 Open Source Programs That You've Probably Not Heard Of

After a recent post on a forum, extolling the virtues of a number of  free Open Source program, I made mention that they were always the same problems being mentioned – OpenOffice, ClamWin, Audacity, etc. SourceForge alone holds over 150,000 Open Source projects, let alone those at Google Code, etc.

So, I was set a challenge – find some Open Source software that most people won’t have come across.

Ok, that was the plan. Now, the limitations (self set). Nothing too technical, nor niche. No games (otherwise I could just easily provide a vast list of them). Oh, and they have to be Windows applications – no Linux, Mac, PHP scripts, etc.

I thought plunging into my Firefox bookmarks would yeald many but, sadly, most were either games or too technical for this list. Or I’ve covered them elsewhere in my blog. So, a number I’ve had to scourer SourceForge for (oh, I wish their search facility was better). And some goodies I’ve come up with too – here’s my 40 (in no particular order)…

A desktop based EPG. It’s German in origin but includes UK channels. I’ve only had a brief play with it so far, but I’ve been impressed.

This is something I’ve been using for years. Now, adding gain to MP3s (i.e. bringing them all up to a similar volume) is something built into many media players and burning products. However, MP3Gain is a standalone product designed to do this one task. And well.

DVDStyler is a DVD authoring program for the creation of professional-looking DVDs. It allows not only burning of video files on DVD that can be played practically on any standalone DVD player, but also creation of own-designed DVD menus.

Yes, it’s another browser! Based on WebKit (like Chrome and Safari), it’s fast and available on a number of platforms. However, the fact that is has recently “elbowed out” Konqueror as the browser of choice in Kubuntu, has made news.

An excellent WYSIWYG musical score editor. It’s packed full of features, including importing of data and has a built in sequencer and synth.

Another simple idea, done well. SmillaEnlarger will magnify images in high quality. Useful for “blowing up” part of a photo. And it will go on a USB key as well.

A file encryption tool that integrates directly into Windows Explorer. Simply right click on a file and you can quickly and easily encrypt it, with password protection (or without, for simple sending via email).

If you’ve used Linux any time recently, you’ll probably have come across its virtual desktop environment, where you can easily switch between multiple desktops via an icon in the toolbar. Well, WindowsPager provides a similar facility. It’s not perfect, however, and I spotted a problem with Command Prompt windows, but it’s worth a try – as with most of these products, it’s still being worked on.

Synkron is a relatively powerful folder synchronisation tool. How you use it, well, is up to you – for something as simple as synchronising a USB key to your PC, or as a quick backup tool.

I said I’ve avoid anything too technical and, well, this isn’t. It’s just powerful. But if you’re a keen photographer, you’ll love this. It’s a photo stitcher (which can allow you, for example, to make panoramic images) which is a bit more manual that many (but, hence, it’s power).

PeaZip is an excellent compression program, like WinZip and 7-Zip. It also has file encrytion facilities and a portable version is available. Of course, 7-Zip is also Open Source, but PeaZip does, at least, offer an alternative.

Scribus is a desktop publishing tool, similar to Microsoft Publisher. It has an easy to use interface but Scribus also supports professional publishing features, such as CMYK color, separations, Spot Colors, ICC color management and versatile PDF creation.

This is an application launcher which allows organizing your shortcuts and folders into a convenient dock. It supports plugins and skins, so is completely configurable to your own taste.

Storybook is novel writing software for novelists, authors and creative writers. It will help you to keep an overview of multiple plot-lines, records characters and locations and will generally assist you in structuring your book.

InfraRecorder is free CD/DVD burning software. It offers a wide range of powerful features, all through an easy to use  interface and Windows Explorer integration. A portable version is also available.

BonkEnc is a free audio converter and CD ripper which integrates various popular formats and encoders. It currently supports MP3, MP4/M4A, Ogg Vorbis, FLAC, AAC and Bonk files.

RedNotebook is a graphical diary and journal helping you keep track of notes and thoughts. It includes a calendar navigation, customizable templates, export functionality and word clouds. You can also format, tag and search your entries.

Gminder is a simple, but effective, desktop version of Google Calendar. It waits in your system tray and alerts you when you have an upcoming Google Calendar event. GMinder supports multiple calendars and allows you to configure how you want to be alerted. Since it downloads your events, it works offline and enables you to preview your agenda of events. New events can be added to your Google Calendars using a Quick Add feature.

This is an excellent webcam application that takes still images from your camera at timed intervals and puts them on your web site with FTP. You can add effects like text messages, time stamps and an overlay image.

PopTray is a full-featured, customizable, e-mail notifier which works with POP3 accounts but also has plugins for Hotmail, Gmail, etc. It includes spam management and will handle multiple accounts.

Got an eBook? calibre includes library management, format conversion, news feeds to eBook conversion, as well as an eBook reader sync feature and an integrated eBook viewer.

Process Hacker
Process Hacker is a feature-packed tool for manipulating processes and services on your computer. Think of it as being like the Task Manager that appears when you press CTRL/ALT/DEL but a lot more detailed.

JavaRa is a simple tool that does a simple job: it removes old and redundant versions of Java.

Make use of Twitter in other ways – send commands to your PC, allowing you to shutdown, log off, transfer files, etc.

Xmind is brainstorming and mind mapping software. You can even embed results in your blog.

A fabulous idea – when your lock your desktop, MonitorES will automatically put your monitor into standby and, optionally, pause any media players, mute sound and change your Instant Messaging status’.

Sweet Home 3D
This is a free interior design application that helps you place your furniture on a house 2D plan, with a 3D preview

Bored of your folders? With a quick right click, iColorFolder will allow you to change their colour – useful for grouping together. You can also change your default folder icons with a selection of “skins”.

Data Crow
Weird name, but useful application. Data Crow is media cataloguing software – audio, software, book, film and photo collections.

This is another “simple but handy” utility. It adds a system tray icon which, once clicked (or you can press a hotkey combination), will “super maximise” the current window – that is, it will resize so the title bar is actually above the screen boundaries, thus saving those extra pixels that you don’t want to waste. A great utility for Netbook owners, in particular.

This application makes it easy to download tagged pictures from Facebook. It only takes a few clicks!

Cache My Work
CacheMyWork is a handy utility that enables you to reboot Windows without losing your place in your work. It builds a checklist of currently open applications, and will restart the apps you’ve selected the next time you logon to the computer.

SheepDog is useful whenever you have an application or window that you can’t access because it is located off your visible screen – when activated, SheepDog will re-position the offscreen windows back onto your main screen.

Vanity Remover
This application removes all sub-folders (and the folder itself) where vanity is found. In other words: Recursively checks for and deletes empty folders. Simple as that.

HKTunes (formerly iHK) allows you to control iTunes using global hotkeys. For example, you could change the track and music volume while playing a game. It has a tray menu and a GUI to let you select hotkeys.

Synergy+ lets you easily share a single mouse and keyboard between multiple computers with different operating systems, without special hardware. All you need is a LAN connection. It’s intended for users with multiple computers, where each system uses its own display. It’s a little like having a 2nd or a 3rd desktop…

Desktop Google Reader
Desktop Google Reader is a desktop client to Google’s popular RSS aggregator services. It is focused on on the most important things you do with Google Reader – read, mark as read and star items. In addition and in combination with the notification system Snarl it gives you nice popup notifications on your newly arriving news feed items.

ZScreen is a screen capture program that allows you to upload screenshots, pictures, text & files and put the URL in your clipboard in a single keystroke.

Rainmeter is a desktop customization platform. Through Rainmeter, you can enhance your Windows computer at home or work with skins: handy, compact applets which float freely on your desktop, much like Windows Sidebar gagdgets, or dashboard widgets for the Mac.

Clipman is an extension of the standard clipboard shipped with Windows. You can store all the items copied in a list or send them back at the clipboard. If you want, you can also edit the images in the list.

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