50 Open Source Tools: Desktop Downloads

Have open source tool, will travel: Open source tools for every aspect of the Linux desktop experience.
Posted February 23, 2010

Cynthia Harvey

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The universe of open source tools is large and rapidly expanding. If your desktop doesn't look and perform exactly like you want it to, you really have no excuse.

We found dozens of great open source tools that let you customize your desktop environment, whether you're ready to try out a whole new operating system or just a new screen saver.

While many of these tools add new features to software you probably already have on your system, others offer brand new functionality, like the Florence virtual keyboard and the PNotes sticky notes. You might even find a open source tool or two that you just can't live without.

Open Source Tools: Desktop Enhancements

1. Console

If you like to operate from the command line in Windows, Console is a great alternative to cmd.exe. Features include multiple tabs, alpha and color-key transparency, configurable font, and different window styles and backgrounds. Operating System: Windows

2. Dave’s Quick Search Deskbar

Are the Google deskbar and "I'm feeling lucky" button not fast enough for you? Try Dave's Quick Search Deskbar. It lets you search the Internet without opening a browser first, and it has lots of helpful features that speed up search even more. Operating System: Windows

3. Florence

Primarily designed for the Gnome desktop, Florence offers a virtual keyboard on the screen that hides when you're not using it. It's a great tool if you can't use a regular keyboard because of a handicap or injury--or because you just spilled your coffee on it. Operating System: Linux, OS X

4. GeoShell

GeoShell replaces the standard Windows interface (start menu, taskbar, system tray, etc.) with a customizable version. As an added bonus, it usually requires fewer resources to run than the standard interface. Operating System: Windows

5. Kysrun

Kysrun works a lot like Launchy (below), letting you open applications, files, or bookmarks with a couple of keystrokes. As you begin typing, it offers suggestions for what you might be trying to find. Operating System: Linux

6. Launchy

Why bother moving your hand all the way from the keyboard to the mouse and back again? With Launchy, you can open applications, documents, and bookmarks with a couple of keystrokes. You'll never need your start menu or desktop icons again. Operating System: Windows

7. LCARS 24

This is the ultimate conversation piece for true Trekkies. LCARS turns an old PC into a talking alarm clock that uses the graphics you've seen on Star Trek. The latest version runs on Windows, as well as DOS. Operating System: DOS, Windows

8. PNotes

Have trouble remembering things--like where you left the pad of sticky notes to use for reminders? Leave yourself a virtual sticky note on your desktop instead with this handy app. Operating System: Windows

Open Source Tools: Desktop Gadgets/Widgets

9. Google Gadgets

At this site, you'll find a number of gadgets that work with the Google Desktop. They range from the useful (calendar, clock, calculator) to the useless-but-interesting (flower pot, Star Trek star date calculator). Operating System: Windows

10. Google Gadgets for Linux

As you might expect, this app lets you run Google Gadgets developed for Windows or iGoogle on Linux. Operating System: Linux

11. Kludgets

Short for "Klumsy, Lame, Ugly, Dumb, but Good Enough," Kludgets aims to bring OS X-style widgets to Windows. The site includes links to lots of interesting widgets to get you started. Operating System: Windows

12. Qalculate

In addition to all the basic arithmetic functions, this desktop Linux calculator handles logarithmic functions, complex and infinite numbers, graphing, statistics, unit conversion, data plotting, and much more. It also includes financial calculators, geometric functions, and a currency converter. Operating System: Linux

Open Source Tools: Desktop Search

13. Beagle

Beagle searches your documents, emails, web history, IM/IRC conversations, address book contacts, calendar appointments, notes, source code, images, music/video files, archives, and applications to find the keywords you're looking for. It indexes changes to files, conversations, Web pages, etc. as they are made for fast searching. Operating System: Linux

14. DocFetcher

Why waste time searching all the files on your system, when you know you need a document? This application indexes and searches the text of the documents on your PC, very quickly. Operating System: Windows, Linux

15. Pinot

This search tool allows advanced queries (probabilistic search, boolean filters, wildcards, ranges on date, time and size) and detects multiple languages, including Asian characters. You can use it to search the Web as well as your personal files. Operating System: Linux

16. Recoll

A text-only searching tool, Recoll finds keywords in most documents types, including e-mail messages and their attachments. In other words, you don't need to know the name of the file you're looking for, just some of the text from the file. Operating System: Linux

17. Tracker

Built for the Gnome desktop, Tracker organizes and categorizes your files, as well as providing search capabilities. As a result, other apps like photo or music managers can find appropriate content quickly. It also lets you use metadata and keywords to make it easier to find the information you're looking for. Operating System: Linux

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Tags: open source, Linux, Linux desktop, Linux downloads, open source tools

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