5 Lightweight Alternatives to Popular Applications

11 May

Okay so if you have been reading my blog regularly you will have noticed that I love free, open source software, which in many cases is an alternative to popular, expensive and worst of all closed-source software. Here is my list of 5 Lightweight Alternatives to Popular Applications (with a brief introduction and explanation of the contents, of course)

For many years, mostly while I was under the age of 10 I used to think I was brilliant at using technology and computers since I was the only one in my class which could make a presentation in PowerPoint or in iWork. Once I reached age 10 my father gave me a crash course in how Linux worked and why it was better than Mac and Windows (a conclusion I have yet to come to), however, what I got from the week during my Summer break was the information I needed to go and find, contribute to and ultimately make my own free, open source software (a work in progress). Linux is still not as good as Mac and Windows for many reasons, although, it is catching up rapidly due to the magic of not bloated, free software. Without further ado here is my list of ‘5 Lightwight Alternatives to Popular Applications’!

1. AbiWord– Is an awesome little, fully featured, cross-platform word processor. It is amazingly fast and  small for such a great and fully featured application.  It has almost all the features of the likes of Microsoft Word or iWork except from a few not so important features such as; professional novel editing or template design. Another great thing about using AbiWord is that it can save in many different formats (check out the screenshots below) most notably; AbiWord documents (.abw, .awt, .zabw), Microsoft Word Documents (.doc, .dot) and HTML documents (.html, .htm, .xhtml). It is probably the best word processor which isn’t bloated has an blazingly fast start up time and can do almost everything non-free software can do. Along with this you can sign-up for AbiCollab which is based around AbiWord and lets you edit and create documents with your peers or work colleagues, much like Google Docs.

AbiWord Demonstration

AbiWord Running Under Linux

File Saving in AbiWord

File Saving in AbiWord

Download Links

AbiWord Homepage

AbiWord Download Page

AbiWord Mac Download (Slightly Outdated- Read Download Page)

AbiWord Windows Download

AbiWord Source Download

AbiWord Extra Dictionaries Download

AbiWord Extra Fonts Download (Windows Only)

AbiWord Ubuntu Install Instructions

Most Linux distros have the package in the distro repository.

AbiCollab Website

2. Audacity– Is another free, open source application which in this case lets you record, edit and create sounds. It is again cross-platform and has very stable versions available on Windows, Mac and Linux distros which is a change for an open-source application. Audacity in my view is a great alternative to a, in the last release, very bloated and slow to start Adobe Soundbooth as it is quick and has very many, I mean very many plugins and addons available. It has some very brilliant plugins shipped with it, for example; a vocal remover, vocoder and a pitch changer. It is currently available in a beta release as well as the stable release. Check out the screenshots below for a look at the interface.

Audacity Playing a Song

Audacity Playing a Song

Changing Pitch In Audacity

Changing Pitch In Audacity

Download Links

Audacity Stable Release (1.2) System Requirement and Plugin Download

Audacity on Google Code (All Links)

Audacity on SourceForge

3. Thunderbird– Is again an open source, free project which along with the other programs in the list so far is cross-platform which another thing I love about Mozilla- 90% of their software is cross-platform. Thunderbird 3 is the latest stable release of the fast and small alternative to the leader in email clients- Microsoft Outlook, however it has the same features if not more. In my view Thunderbird would be more popular if it was shipped with a Linux distro or if Windows ran with it in Windows 8. Just like it’s browser counterpart Thunderbird has an awesome interface and has many addons which you can get from the Mozilla addons website. A brilliant new feature in Thunderbird 3 is the tabbed email browsing which is an interesting little idea which I’m sure will catch on and will be installed in many different clients for years to come.

Mozilla Thunderbird Inbox

Mozilla Thunderbird Inbox

Thunderbird Address Book

Thunderbird Address Book

Download Links

Thunderbird Download Link

4. GIMP– As I’ve already reviewed as one of the better applications for Windows is one of the best image editing software available and is almost on a par with the likes of Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Fireworks. It is free, open-source and cross-platform and is another application which has support for tens of plugins all available from the GIMP website. Encase you haven’t read the Top 5 Free Windows Applications, GIMP is an acronym for GNU Image Manipulation Software. There is an incredible amount of documentation for GIMP which is split 50/50 between tutorials and other things to do with it.

Gimp In Ubuntu

Gimp In Ubuntu

Gimp Toolbox

Gimp Toolbox

Download Links

GIMP Download

5. uTorrent– Is a tiny and very fast loading torrent client. It is free, open-source and very customizable such as the skinnable interface and the other features. It is a spin-off of the very popular BitTorrent client so has a very large community. A very good feature on the website is the idea bank which in my view all software websites should have as it gives the developer a chance to communicate with his community quickly and easily. There is a lot of documentation on the site for beginners to developers who want to make a spin-off or a new theme.

uTorrent on Wndows XP

uTorrent on Wndows XP

Download Links

uTorrent Windows

I hope you enjoyed the list and you install and use them, Sandy

[edit] uTorrent is not open source

16 Responses to “5 Lightweight Alternatives to Popular Applications”

  1. IH May 12, 2010 at 2:12 pm #

    utorrent is not open-source, and not available for linux.
    It runs linux with wine, and there’s a MacOSX version available as well
    great software, all in all.

    • linuxandall May 12, 2010 at 3:10 pm #

      From what I learned it was open-source however it is good to learn. Thanks for the comment

      • Hunkah May 13, 2010 at 3:19 pm #

        A few other small applications to consider would be “pinta” for an open paint.net/paint program. I just found it and I LOVE it. So easy to use when coming from a paint background and don’t know how to work GIMP.

        Another is a notepad++ replacement for Linux called SciTE I think it is based on the same code or something. I use it all the time now, because it highlights code.

        ChmSee to view microsofts .chm files (in case you come across an online book in that format).

        VLC media player to quickly open music files or even watch a DVD. The next release promises to be even better!

      • linuxandall May 13, 2010 at 3:42 pm #

        Thats really interesting dude. Make sure you subscribe to the blog by email and RSS I will be doing a new list next week. So watch out for a mention of you. If you have a website or blog tell me and I’ll send some traffic your way

  2. Hunkah May 12, 2010 at 2:32 pm #

    Hey there, I have found a uTorrent-like client for linux, that is almost exactly like using uTorrent:



    It was a great find, one of the reasons why I was happy with my switch to Linux.

    • linuxandall May 12, 2010 at 3:11 pm #

      Thats pretty cool dude. I’ll look into making a new post over the coming weeks about these things


  3. Random Squires May 12, 2010 at 2:43 pm #

    Thunderbird and the GIMP are lightweight?

    • linuxandall May 12, 2010 at 3:09 pm #

      compared to Photoshop and Outlook yes they are

  4. Fred McKinney May 12, 2010 at 2:58 pm #

    Correction on Thunderbird: While Ubuntu doesn’t feature Thunderbird by default, there are MANY other distros that do come with Thunderbird, such as Mint, Xubuntu, PCLinuxOS, Mepis, and PC/OS (the full version), just to name a few.

    Just my $.02 worth,
    Fred in St. Louis

    • linuxandall May 12, 2010 at 3:09 pm #

      Oh thats great to find out dude. I’m a ubuntu and fedora man myself.


  5. Mr. Pink May 12, 2010 at 10:54 pm #

    This post is so ill-informed. Abiword is not actually that good. It can’t even properly display ODT files created in OpenOffice. So it’s definitely NOT a substitute for big office suite apps. Before you post why don’t you do some testing.

    • linuxandall May 13, 2010 at 12:02 pm #

      firstly I have done some testing, secondly I’m sorry to hear that you can’t get that working but I can assure you it works for me.

      • Mr. Pink May 13, 2010 at 11:30 pm #

        So it works for you (typical answer) and it doesn’t work for me. Between us we have 50% failure rate. Would you call that a quality application? As for testing we all know what kind of testing you Linux pundits do. Install, click-click, looks good, done. That’s the extent of it. Here’s a test case for you:
        create a 50 page long doc in OOo
        put 10-12 pictures in it anchored to specific paragraphs
        open file in AbiWord
        report back
        then we’ll talk

  6. Eric May 13, 2010 at 10:28 pm #

    utorrent is NOT open source


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