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Free and Open Source Software

Free alternatives to paid software.
 

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Introduction

Welcome to the Free and Open Source Software guide, your source for links to software and programs that are free to use.

Free programs can do amazing things, from serving as a replacement for Microsoft Products (which you can access through your student portal!) to helping you build whole worlds out of lego without ever getting a single brick underfoot. There are many free software products that are safe, powerful, and fun to use. We hope this guide will help you get an idea of what free software can do!

Just because a program is free doesn't mean it's open source. Conversely, many open source products are maintained by multi-million dollar corporations that make money through trainings and enterprise support. There is no singular open source license. The Open Source initiative alone has certified more than 70 licenses as meeting it's guidelines. While there are numerous differences between these, they all share a similar philosophy. This guide focuses on commonly recognized open source products.

Most open source projects are maintained entirely by volunteers, and new ones are constantly being developed, while other projects stop altogether. Because the codebases for open source projects are publicly available they can be an easy target for malicious actors. This is particularly true for outdated, unsupported products which are no longer updated with security patches. When you download an open source program always try to only use download links from the project's primary website. If possible, stick to projects that are still actively maintained. Besides being more secure, these are also the most likely to get new features.

Given the large number of exciting open source projects it's impossible to list every one here, but if there's a project that you're particularly interested in, send us an email to circulation@american.edu and let us know about it.

Explore free and open source software in the table below! Click the header to view by name, category, or operating system.