75 Popular Open Source Desktop Downloads

Included are favorites in multimedia, productivity tools, screensavers, office apps, games, emulators and more. (Try "Tux and Barrels," in which you're a Linux penguin trying to defeat Bill Gates, who is throwing Windows CDs at you.)
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Tired of your boring screensavers? Need a game that allows you to survive the boring hours before quitting time? Wish your PC looked more like the terminals in the Matrix?

Or maybe you’re more business-minded: do you need an open-source solution for ERP? Project management? Bookkeeping? CRM?

If you answered “yes” to any of those questions, keep reading. These 75 noteworthy projects – each deserving of your love and affection – will help you do everything from creating desktop widgets to avoiding repetitive-stress injuries to visualizing distant, exotic landscapes. Or at least dreaming of life beyond your cubicle…

Scan the whole list, or jump right to a category:

Desktop Helpers / Business Applications / Multimedia / Visualization and Viewers

Windows Managers / User Interfaces / Screensavers / Office Applications

Operating Systems / System Shells / Productivity / Collaboration

Emulators / Internet

Miscellaneous Tools / Games and Entertainment (including Tux and Barrels)


Desktop Helpers

1. Launchy

This nifty utility replaces the Windows start menu, desktop icons, and even the file manager. Launchy indexes the programs in your start menu and lets you launch documents, project files, folders, and bookmarks with a few keystrokes. The feel of the interface is similar to using Google with autofill turned on. Operating System: Windows.

2. Folder Size for Windows

You may not have even realized that a folder size column isn’t included in Windows Explorer, but it’s not. This simple project corrects that. Operating Systems: Windows 2000, NT and XP (Vista is not supported).

3. ZMatrix

For Matrix fans, this desktop animation tool creates a streaming character effect similar to terminals in the Matrix. ZMatrix blends in with existing backgrounds or can be drawn over them. It is set to run with a low priority, so it doesn’t slow other programs. Operating System: Windows.

4. Super Karamba

This project is designed to help users with little or no programming experience develop desktop widgets. Essentially, this is Mac Konfabulator for the open-source crowd. This begs the question: why are they highlighting the non-technical user angle? How many low-tech OS users are there out there? Nonetheless, Super Karamba lets you build such cool widgets as an MP3 player, toolbars that display your favorite apps with custom icons, and Internet content widgets that display things like weather reports, headlines or sports scores. Operating Systems: Linux, BSD, UNIX.

5. Vista Drive Icon

Despite its many, many flaws, Vista does include some helpful features. One is how it graphically represents drives, showing at a glance their remaining free space. (In XP, you have to park your mouse pointer over the drive until it displays that information as text.) Vista Drive Icon brings that capability to Windows XP. It displays a blue bar underneath each drive, with the bar turning red when the drive nears full capacity. Operating System: Windows XP.

Business Applications

6. Openbravo

Openbravo is a web-based ERP system intended for the SME market. Features include procurement, warehouse management, project and service management, production management and financial management. Operating Systems: OS independent.

7. itracker

Built on Spring, Struts and Hibernate, this open-source project is an IT issue tracking system. It’s intended for organizations with IT teams working independently and who may not always keep track of overlapping work or open items. Operating Systems: OS independent.

8. vtiger

vtiger is a CRM project intended for SMBs. Its features include reports, multiple database support, sales management, and inventory management. Plug-ins are available to support Outlook, Word, and Thunderbird. Operating Systems: Linux, Windows.

9. GnuCash

This financial accounting software is intended for personal and small-business use. GnuCash tracks bank accounts, stocks, income and expenses. Operating Systems: Linux, BSD, Solaris, Mac OS X, Windows.


10. Gallery

Do you wish your online photo galleries weren’t tied to services constantly trying to sell you something? Gallery offers a good alternative. Gallery is an OS photo album organizer that helps you integrate photo management into your own website. Features include automatic thumbnails, resizing, automatic rotation and size defaults. Operating Systems: OS independent.

11. MediaPortal

MediaPortal is media center software that acts as a front-end for PVR, pictures, music, video and photos. There are plenty of open-source media center projects out there. What distinguishes MediaPortal is that it actually runs on Windows (most others only run on Linux). Operating System: Windows

12. gPhoto2

Digital cameras and open-source software don’t play well together. Many camera manufacturers keep their communication specifications secret, tethering them to Windows or Mac. gPhoto2 provides the bridge between digital cameras and open platforms. Supporting more than 900 cameras, gPhoto2’s features include image retrieval, USB image capture and remote control via PC. Operating Systems: Linux, UNIX, Solaris

13. K3b

K3b is burning software for open-source platforms. It can create data, audio, and mixed-mode CDs. It also supports CD ripping and formatting. Operating Systems: UNIX, BSD, Linux.

14. Kaffeine

A media player for KDE3 (a KDE4 version is coming soon), Kaffeine is a full-featured player that supports most types of media, including digital video broadcasting. Operating Systems: Linux, BSD, UNIX.

Visualization and Viewers

15. K-3D

As the name suggests, K-3D is 3D modeling and animation software. It features a plug-in-oriented procedural engine for all of its content. Operating Systems: Windows, UNIX, Linux, BSD, OS X.

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Tags: Linux, services, Vista, OS X

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