100 Open Source Replacements for Audio and Video Tools

Open source applications make it easy to create, listen to and view digital audio and video content.
Posted November 20, 2013

Cynthia Harvey

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These days, digital music and videos are more popular than ever. According to a Pew Report released just last month, "54 percent of internet users have posted original photos or videos to websites." Another study found that 78 percent of adult Internet users download or watch videos. Music industry group IFPI has reported that 62 percent of Internet users legally listen to or download digital music, and the industry made $5.6 billion off digital music in 2012. That's a 9 percent increase from the year before, and it accounts for 34 percent of all record industry revenues.

In addition, mobile devices are playing a growing role in the consumption and creation of audio and video content: 48 percent of all cell phone owners and 80 percent of those ages 18-29 use their devices to listen to music, and more than half of smartphone and tablet owners use their devices to view videos.

The open source community has kept pace with this trend with a wide range of tools for the creation and consumption of audio/video content. And an increasing number are now available on smartphones and tablets. This year, we've updated our list of open source software that can replace commercial closed-source applications, adding some new titles and eliminating some that are no longer available.

As always, please let us know if we missed any good open source audio/video tools that should be on our list. And note that we use the word "replaces" very generally—the open source tools don't have exactly the same features as the commercial equivalents, but they do perform the same functions.


1. Blender

Replaces: AutoDesk Maya

Suitable for professional use, Blender is a 3D animation suite that offers modeling, rigging, animation, simulation, rendering, compositing and motion tracking, video editing and game creation capabilities. It also features a customizable interface, and it can import and export from a wide variety of file formats. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.

2. Art of Illusion

Replaces: AutoDesk Maya

Art of Illusion isn't quite as polished as Blender, but its developers claim the latest version (released September 2013) "is both stable and powerful enough to be used for serious, high-end animation work." Impressive examples of artwork created with the tool can be found in the website's online art gallery Operating System: OS Independent.

3. K-3D

Replaces: AutoDesk Maya

A good option for amateur artists, K-3D boasts an easy-to-use interface and extensive documentation. According to the project website, it "excels at polygonal modeling, and includes basic tools for NURBS, patches, curves and animation." Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.

4. Pencil

Replaces: ToonBoom Software

If you prefer traditional 2D cartoons to the fancy 3D stuff, Pencil might be right for you. It's not meant as an alternative to professional vector graphics tool like Flash; instead, it's aimed at those who enjoy playing around with 2D animation as a hobby. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.

5. Synfig Studio

Replaces: ToonBoom Software

Unlike Pencil, Synfig Studio does strive to meet the needs of professionals, billing itself as an "industrial-strength solution for creating film-quality animation." It helps users save time and money by eliminating the need to animate content on a frame-by-frame basis. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.

Audio Players

6. Amarok

Replaces: iTunes

This full-featured music player integrates with a wide variety of Web audio services. The latest release adds an updated interface, a new visualization tool, smooth fade-out when pausing music, enhanced MusicBrainz tagging and improved power management. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X, iOS.

7. Clementine

Replaces: iTunes

A fork of Amarok, Clementine boasts a fast and easy-to-use interface. It plays audio CDs, locally stored music, streaming Internet radio and podcasts. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X, Android.

8. Aqualung

Replaces: iTunes

Aqualung's claim to fame is gapless playback, in other words, no awkward pauses between adjacent tracks. It supports most audio formats and plays CDs. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.


Replaces: iTunes

This Java-based music player and manager displays complete information—including lyrics—for the song currently playing. It's a good option for users with particularly large music collections. Operating System: OS Independent.

10. Audacious

Replaces: iTunes

Audacious is very light on system resources, making it possible to play music and do intensive computing tasks without sacrificing performance. The interface is basic and very easy to use. Operating System: Windows, Linux.

11. Jajuk

Replaces: iTunes

Popular with reviewers, Jajuk makes it easy to sort, search and view large audio libraries. It combines an intuitive interface with advanced features, making it suitable for both light users and power users. Operating System: OS Independent.

12. Jukes

Replaces: iTunes

Designed for DJs and "serious music lovers," Jukes began life as a Windows application called "Put Up Your Jukes." It's since been re-written and released for multiple platforms, but it hasn't been updated in a while. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.

13. Rhythmbox

Replaces: Windows Media Player, iTunes

Inspired by iTunes, Rhythmbox is a music management system designed for the Gnome desktop. Key features include easy search and sort, visualizations, Internet radio, CD playing and burning, playlists and more. Operating System: Linux.

14. CoolPlayer

Replaces: Windows Media Player

Designed to be super fast, CoolPlayer is extremely light on system resources. It doesn't have all the advanced music management features in many other applications, but it does play most audio formats. Operating System: Windows.

15. Bluemindo

Replaces: Windows Media Player

Bluemindo "aims to provide a very simple audio player." It's customizable, Web-oriented and available in multiple languages. Operating System: Linux.

16. Decibel

Replaces: Windows Media Player

Similar to Bluemindo, Decibel is a simple audio player without other features like content tags and CD burning. Its modular structure makes it easy to disable any unwanted features to free up resources. Operating System: Linux.

17. Zinf

Replaces: Windows Media Player

Zinf offers a simple audio player with powerful capabilities. It supports a wide variety of file formats, and a number of different interface themes are available. Operating System: Windows, Linux.

18. Moosic

Replaces: iTunes

This music player caters to those who prefer to operate from the command line and does not have a GUI. It's a client-server application that plays most common audio formats. Operating System: Linux/Unix.

19. DeaDBeeF

Replaces: Windows Media Player, RealPlayer, QuickTime

Named for a magic number used in debugging, DeaDBeeF aims to be the "ultimate music player for GNU/Linux." It also now comes in an Android version. Operating System: Linux, Unix, Android.

20. Qmmp

Replaces: Windows Media Player, RealPlayer, QuickTime

This simple, skinnable audio player supports dozens of audio formats. Its name stands for "Qt-based multimedia player." Operating System: Windows, Linux

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Tags: open source, Linux, video, open source tools, free software, audio

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