Open-source alternatives to popular software

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Ain’t that the truth. I recently tried to find some open source software that would let me edit pdf files. A bunch of places online said LibreOffice could be used for that. So I downloaded it, messed around with it for half a day with zero success, and screamed out, “This is why open source software will never be widely used!” Which I think is accurate. For those in the top 1% of computer users who are comfortable with making whatever modifications need to be made to your specific system and the software to make it work for you, open source is great. For the rest of us, we just want something that’s going to work out of the box. And that’s just not open source software. Of course, if Adobe didn’t engage in predatory pricing, I wouldn’t even mess with open source. If I could buy the program I need for $30 or $60 or whatever, like how software used to be sold, I’d be fine. But no, if I want to use Acrobat, I have to pay $13 a month for as long as I want to use it.


This is why many keep begging Affiinity for a Linux version of their products. Which they still say no to. Making a FOSS alternative to InDesign would be a huge project.


I use Inkscape for graphics editing, Irfanview for photo viewing and basic cropping or color adjustments, Libreoffice for most of my basic small office applications and Everything for file search on my PC.
Kofax Power PDF Standard I had to pay for but it’s a one-time cost instead of Adobe’s egregious monthly pricing.


well, end user software maybe. most of the web is driven by open source, as is this very bbs!


End users make up a lot more people than the people building websites.


I’m looking at the “Categories” and “Alternatives” pages and I’m seeing things like “Feature Flag Management”, “Marketing” and project management?

The other day I was hankering for a video editor for a quick job, and it doesn’t look like I would have found it on this site. (I can’t recall what I finally settled on; I suppose I’ll have to come back and update this post later.)

ETA: Oh, of course, it was OpenShot. (Thought about ClipChamp, but it needs you to sign in for some baffling reason!?)

it depends on your meaning of “use” maybe.

my guess would be most people’s tech interactions during a given day are actually mediated by open source software in one way or another.

for example, stuff like the chrome web browser and mac os have very solid open source cores – but there is still that last step of polish that proprietary software is able to take for consumer use that many open source projects can’t manage on their own.

i blame capitalism. it’s tough to give up your day job to develop software independently. most things eventually need a revenue stream directly or indirectly to keep development going.


FWIW, It also depends on the PDF and how it was created; If it’s all built as raster images, there’s no text to extract per se. (example: a document scanned in on a copier or MFP to PDF will just be a PDF container with the image of the document encoded in it.)

Sadly, it’s complicated.

But then, I have zero qualms about finding an older copy of Acrobat Pro that doesn’t require internet access (and pirate a license key for it), but then, I don’t use the abode reader, for the same reason- I should not need internet access to view a PDF document. (I’ve been using SumatraPDF for viewing documents- it’s small, there’s not scripting bullshit requiring a patch every other week, and it just works. The only thing I can’t do with it is fill forms, but Chrome and firefox will cheerfully do that with it’s integrated PDF viewer.)


I’m talking about the average person in the world today who is a computer user. Most have zero coding knowledge or capabilities. They just want the program to work without have to look under the hood, so to speak. That’s not the typical BoingBoing reader, probably.


(yes, different post, because this one it about as long)

I’m going to flip it to the perspective of a company that wants to use an Open Source product, but also wants to be able to have support on it, especially if it’s used for critical business functions.
As an example: [RedactedCo] is a VMware shop. We were just as horrified as a lot of the VMware community when Broadcom purchased them, because we’ve seen exactly what Broadcom does to it’s software acquisitions, and it ain’t pretty.
Right now the main alternative to VMWare is ProxMox, which is essentially an Open Source front end / enhancement for KVM, which is also an Open Source product.
But we won’t touch it unless there’s someone I can call up in the middle of the company’s busy time and the software has decided to do something stupid and the production floor is down hard. Talking with one of our VARS about migrating to it (and finding someone in the US for paid support) is on my list of Things To Do when I’m not putting out fires and my projects are either done or at idle/slow points.


Libre Office’s target to offer an alternative was MS Office, not Acrobat. It is designed for the general user. Editing PDFs is a bit more specialist. Maybe they’ll get so that function is easy but most people, like 99% or users, don’t edit PDFs. It is actually a 1% (or less) that do it.

So few that it probably hasn’t had the development push.


I know, but when I googled “open source alternative to acrobat” the most commonly offered suggestion was Libre Office. What that really means is there isn’t one, which I discovered the hard way.


It’s a bit like the way I use IrfanView. It’s easier, faster, more adaptable than the native MS options. I also use it to batch process thousands of images at a time and it flies through it and eats them all up (yum!). But if I want to do advanced Photoshop stuff, well nothing FOSS is going to be easy as there isn’t a real economic drive to put the work in. Consumer level FOSS is good for general stuff. Specialist software exists for a reason.

The back end ecosystem and the most pervasive tech stack (LAMP) is different. Sure they are for the 1%. But the 1% of the 1%, that runs on super proprietary stuff.

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They do offer a support plan, and although I might not be at your scale of usage, I’ve used the PVE servers clustered and unclustered for ~10 years now, and I can’t complain about much (haven’t used Ceph, and the quorum for clustering is a bit touchy, but otherwise I’m happy). Their IaC offerings could be a bit better too.

I own CS5, Adobe Acrobat Professional, and Office 2010.

I recently switched to Window 10 on my main computer, thank goodness they all still work.

I’m hoping they still work on Windows 11.

I have no problem switching to open-source but I can work CS5 and Acrobat in my sleep, I don’t want to learn something new.

I also have Sony Vegas video editing that I grew into from back in early 2000. I’ve tried others but I always come back to Vegas, at least they are not subscription, just an occasional update every few years.

Open Office isn’t bad but it does not like a database I designed back in the 90s and I’m almost done needing it so I’m sticking with Access 2003 for a couple more years.

I’m going to check that list for anything I can use.

Jada Pinkett Smith Periodt GIF by Red Table Talk

This is a REAL issue with open source software. The general public NEEDS these alternatives, and acting like they should ONLY be used by experts is not only not helpful, it’s god damn off-putting. If we want to make the world better, then we need to think about these things in terms of the most good for the most people.

They may not know that. I’m guessing the majority of the population isn’t familiar with open source software, the principles it rests on, and why it can and should be more widely adopted.

Yep. But far too often, people consider that to be a moral failing. Well, it’s not. If people want wide spread open source adoption, then more people need to be able to use it.


I came here to evangelize for Godot, an open source game development platform. I’m not a professional game developer and I can’t compare it to Unity and friends, but I am a professional developer, and I think it’s an extraordinarily well designed framework. Whenever I’ve run into a problem, it has been either A. my fault, or B. fixed in the next release. Here’s their latest showreel:


yeah, that’s what i mean too.

pretty much anyone using technology – and especially anyone browsing the web – is using open source software. not just coders.

i do absolutely agree that the final packaging into standalone, ready to use products – which does require coding knowledge – is where open source often can fall short.

and i think that’s largely about money. so not something that’s easily fixable. ( although, there is good packaged oss for some common uses; like libre can be in some cases. )

even many of adobe’s products include open source software; and they ( and microsoft ) are some of the most closed source companies out there. ( )

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That doesn’t mean that they want to spend their free time learning to code just so they can do basic shit that the software should just do. And that should not be the bar to entry for using open source. There are good political and moral reasons to use open source, and making the software (those built more on the FOSS philosophy, not just stuff that large corporations pump out to burnish their reputations) more generally accessible to EVERYONE, regardless of skill level, is a good idea.