23 Most Valuable Free Software

23 Most Valuable Free Software: I have compiled 23 of the most outstanding free and open-source software. If these programs have price tags, I would consider them the most expensive and valuable. The list was judged according to how I view their significance in the field of technology and the benefits that they have given to society.

But first, some disclaimer: The most valuable free software list is based on my opinion alone and no survey was done. However, I did some extensive research to support my judgment.

Free software is software that can be used, studied, and modified without restriction, and which can be copied and redistributed in modified or unmodified form either without restriction, or with restrictions only to ensure that further recipients can also do these things. To make these acts possible, the human readable form of the program must be made available and the software must be accompanied by a software license saying that the copyright holder permits these acts. Software can also be free software by putting the source code in the public domain.

Alternative terms for free software have been coined in an attempt to make the use of "free" less ambiguous. The most common is "open-source software", which has since evolved to refer to a subtly different sense of freedom. Free software is also known as "software libre", "free, libre and open-source software" ("FLOSS"), and "free/open-source software" ("FOSS").

The 23 Most Valuable Free Software ( in no particular order):

  • Linux is a Unix-like computer operating system. Linux is one of the most prominent examples of free software and open source development; its underlying source code can be freely modified, used, and redistributed by anyone. Visit and take your pick from the different Linux Distributions available. You can also read some of the distro reviews to learn more.
  • GIMP. The GNU Image Manipulation Program, or GIMP, is a raster graphics editor application with some support for vector graphics. GIMP is used to process digital graphics and photographs. Typical uses include creating graphics and logos, resizing and cropping photos, altering colors, combining multiple images, removing unwanted image features, and converting between different image formats. GIMP can also be used to create basic animated images in GIF format. It is often used as a free software replacement for Adobe Photoshop, the most widely used bitmap editor in the printing and graphics industries; however, it is not designed to be a Photoshop clone.
  • OpenOffice is an office suite application available free of charge for a number of different computer operating systems. It supports the OpenDocument standard for data interchange. is based on StarOffice, an office suite developed by StarDivision and acquired by Sun Microsystems in August 1999. The source code of the suite was released in July 2000 with the aim of reducing the dominant market share of Microsoft Office by providing a free, open and high-quality alternative.
  • Python is a high-level programming language first released by Guido van Rossum in 1991. Python is designed around a philosophy which emphasizes readability and the importance of programmer effort over computer effort. Some of the largest projects that use Python are the Zope application server, the Mnet distributed file store, Youtube and the original BitTorrent client. Large organizations that make use of Python include Google and NASA.
  • KDE is a free software project which aims to be a powerful system for an easy-to-use desktop environment. The goal of the project is to provide basic desktop functions and applications for daily needs as well as tools and documentation for developers to write stand-alone applications for the system. In this regard the KDE project serves as an umbrella project for many standalone applications and smaller projects that are based on KDE technology, such as KOffice, KDevelop, Amarok, K3b and many more.
  • GNOME (GNU Network Object Model Environment) is an international effort to build a complete desktop environment—the graphical user interface which sits on top of a computer operating system—entirely from free software. This goal includes creating software development frameworks, selecting application software for the desktop, and working on the programs which manage application launching, file handling, and window and task management. GNOME is part of the GNU Project and can be used with various Unix-like operating systems, most notably Linux and Solaris.
  • Apache HTTP Server, commonly referred to simply as Apache, is a web server notable for playing a key role in the initial growth of the World Wide Web. Apache was the first viable alternative to the Netscape Communications Corporation web server (currently known as Sun Java System Web Server), and has since evolved to rival other Unix-based or Linux web servers in terms of functionality and performance. Since April 1996 Apache has been the most popular HTTP server on the World Wide Web; since March 2006 however it has experienced a steady decline of its market share lost mostly against Microsoft Internet Information Services and the .NET platform. As of September 2007 Apache served 50% of all websites.
  • MySQL is a multithreaded, multi-user SQL database management system (DBMS) which has, according to MySQL AB, more than 10 million installations. The basic program runs as a server providing multiuser access to a number of databases. MySQL is owned and sponsored by a single for-profit firm, the Swedish company MySQL AB, which holds the copyright to most of the codebase. This is similar to the JBoss model. It is dissimilar to the Apache project, where the software is developed by a public community and the copyright to the codebase is owned by its individual authors. MySQL is popular for web applications and acts as the database component of the LAMP, MAMP, and WAMP platforms (Linux/Mac/Windows-Apache-MySQL-PHP/Perl/Python), and for open-source bug tracking tools like Bugzilla. Its popularity for use with web application is closely tied to the popularity of PHP, which is often combined with MySQL.
  • PHP is a reflective programming language originally designed for producing dynamic web pages. PHP is used mainly in server-side scripting, but can be used from a command line interface or in standalone graphical applications. Textual User Interfaces can also be created using ncurses. PHP is a recursive initialism for PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor. PHP is a widely-used general-purpose scripting language that is especially suited for Web development and can be embedded into HTML. PHP generally runs on a web server, taking PHP code as its input and creating Web pages as output. However, it can also be used for command-line scripting and client-side GUI applications. PHP can be deployed on most web servers and on almost every operating system and platform free of charge.
  • Thunderbird is a free,open source, cross-platform e-mail and news client developed by the Mozilla Foundation. The project strategy is modeled after Mozilla Firefox, a project aimed at creating a web browser. Just as Firefox aims to redefine the web browser, Thunderbird is a refinement of the mail and news interface. On December 7, 2004, version 1.0 was released, and received over 500,000 downloads in its first three days of release (and 1,000,000 in 10 days). As of 2007, Thunderbird has been downloaded more than 50 million times since 1.0 release.
  • Firefox is a graphical web browser developed by the Mozilla Corporation and a large community of external contributors. Firefox started as a fork of the Navigator browser component of the Mozilla Application Suite. Firefox has replaced the Mozilla Suite as the flagship product of the Mozilla project, under the direction of the Mozilla Foundation. Mozilla Firefox is a cross-platform browser, providing support for various versions of Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux. However, the source code has been unofficially ported to other operating systems, including FreeBSD,[5] OS/2, Solaris, RISC OS ,SkyOS, BeOS and more recently, Windows XP Professional x64 Edition. According to Market Share by Net Applications, 14.88% of the world's Web browsers used Firefox in September 2007, with 14.42% using version 1.5 or higher.
  • Bash is a Unix shell written for the GNU Project. The name of the actual executable is bash. Its name is an acronym for Bourne-again shell, a pun on the name of the Bourne shell (sh) (i.e. "Bourne again" or "born again"), an early and important Unix shell written by Stephen Bourne and distributed with Version 7 Unix circa 1978. Bash was created in 1987 by Brian Fox. In 1990 Chet Ramey became the primary maintainer. Bash is the default shell on most Linux systems as well as on Mac OS X, and it can be run on most Unix-like operating systems. So say hello to Bash when using some Linux terminal emulators. It has also been ported to Microsoft Windows within the Cygwin POSIX emulation environment for Windows, to MS-DOS by the DJGPP project and to Novell NetWare.
  • Samba is a free software re-implementation of SMB/CIFS networking protocol, released under the GNU General Public License. The name Samba comes from inserting one vowel, two times, into the name of the standard protocol used by the Microsoft Windows network file system, "SMB" (Server Message Block). As of version 3, Samba not only provides file and print services for various Microsoft Windows clients but can also integrate with a Windows Server domain, either as a Primary Domain Controller (PDC) or as a Domain Member. It can also be part of an Active Directory domain. Samba runs on most Unix and Unix-like systems, such as Linux, Solaris, and the BSD variants, including Apple's Mac OS X Server (which was added to the Mac OS X client in version 10.2). Samba is standard on nearly all distributions of Linux and is commonly included as a basic system service on other Unix-based operating systems as well.
  • Blender is a free software 3D animation program. It can be used for modeling, UV unwrapping, texturing, rigging, skinning, animating, rendering, particle and other simulating, non-linear editing, compositing, and creating interactive 3D applications. Blender is available for several operating systems, including Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, IRIX, Solaris, FreeBSD with unofficial ports for SkyOS, MorphOS and Pocket PC. Blender has a robust feature set similar in scope and depth to other high-end 3D software such as Softimage|XSI, Cinema 4D, 3ds Max and Maya. These features include advanced simulation tools such as rigid body dynamics, fluid dynamics, and softbody dynamics, modifier based modeling tools, powerful character animation tools, a node based material and compositing system and Python for embedded scripting.
  • Emacs is a class of text editors that have an extensive set of features and that are popular with computer programmers and other technically proficient computer users.GNU Emacs, a part of the GNU project, is under active development and is the most popular version. The GNU Emacs manual describes it as "the extensible, customizable, self-documenting, real-time display editor." It is also the most portable and ported of the implementations of Emacs. Many versions of Emacs have appeared over the years, but two are now commonly used: GNU Emacs, started by Stallman in 1984 and still maintained by him, and XEmacs, a fork of GNU Emacs started in 1991 that has remained mostly compatible. Both use a powerful extension language, Emacs Lisp, that allows them to handle tasks ranging from writing and compiling computer programs to browsing the web.
  • MPlayer is a free and open source media player distributed under the GNU General Public License. The program is available for all major operating systems, including Linux and other Unix-like systems, Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X. Versions for OS/2, AmigaOS and MorphOS are also available. The Windows versions works, with some minor problems, also in DOS using HX DOS Extender. MPlayer is known to support a wide variety of media formats. In addition to its wide range of supported formats, MPlayer can also save all streamed content to a file. A companion program, MEncoder, can take an input stream or file and transcode it into several different output formats, optionally applying various transforms along the way.
  • Rockbox is a free software replacement for the firmware held on various forms of digital audio players (DAPs). Rockbox offers an alternative to the host device's operating system firmware (in many cases without removing the original firmware) which provides a plug-in architecture for adding various enhancements and functionality to DAPs which are not present in the original OS. Enhancements include PDA functionality, applications, utilities, and games. Rockbox can also retrofit video playback functionality onto DAPs first released in mid-2000. Rockbox also includes a voice-driven user-interface suitable for operation by blind and visually impaired users. Rockbox runs on a wide variety of portable audio devices with very different hardware abilities: from early Archos players with 1-bit charcell-based displays to modern players with high resolution color displays, digital optical audio hardware and advanced recording capabilities.
  • XChat, commonly written X-Chat or xchat, is one of the most popular IRC clients for Unix-like systems. It is also available for Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X (via an offshoot of the project, called X-Chat Aqua, which keeps in sync with the main development branch and is much more popular than the official version maintained by the Fink project). It has a choice of a tabbed or tree interface, support for multiple servers, and a high level of configurability. Both command line and graphical versions are available, although use of the graphical version far outweighs use of the command line version. It is licensed under the GNU General Public License and uses the GTK+ toolkit for its interface.
  • Freeciv is a multiplayer, turn-based strategy game for workstations and personal computers inspired by the commercial proprietary Sid Meier's Civilization series. The latest stable version of Freeciv is 2.0.9, released on 11 February 2007. The game's default settings are closest to Civilization 2, both in gameplay and graphics (including the units and the isometric grid).Freeciv is included with most desktop Linux distributions, and continually rated as one of the best available free/open source games.
  • Java is a programming language originally developed by Sun Microsystems and released in 1995 as a core component of Sun's Java platform. The language derives much of its syntax from C and C++ but has a simpler object model and fewer low-level facilities. Java applications are typically compiled to bytecode which can run on any Java virtual machine (JVM) regardless of computer architecture.The original and reference implementation Java compilers, virtual machines, and class libraries were developed by Sun from 1995. As of May 2007, in compliance with the specifications of the Java Community Process, Sun made available most of their Java technologies as free software under the GNU General Public License. Others have also developed alternative implementations of these Sun technologies, such as the GNU Compiler for Java and GNU Classpath.Java's design, industry backing and portability have made Java one of the fastest-growing and most widely used programming languages in the modern computing industry.
  • Drupal is a free and open source modular content management system (CMS) written in the programming language PHP. A CMS is a tool used by Web administrators to automatically track online visitors and prepare customized content for consumption, usually as HTML-based Web pages. Drupal, like many modern CMSs, allows the system administrator to customize the content and display of the Web site with little or no programming. Drupal runs in many environments, including Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, FreeBSD, and any platform that supports either the Apache (version 1.3+), or IIS (version IIS5+) Web server and the PHP language (version 4.3.3+). Drupal requires a database such as MySQL or PostgreSQL to store content and settings. (Requirements are available at Drupal's web site). As of July 26, 2007, the current version of Drupal is 5.2. The first beta release of Version 6.0, which has reached "feature freeze," occurred on September 15, 2007.
  • QEMU is a fast processor emulator, written by Fabrice Bellard, which allows full virtualization of a PC system within another one. It is free software. In particular, the QEMU virtual CPU core library (libqemu.a) is released under the GNU Lesser General Public License (GNU LGPL). Many hardware device emulation sources are released under the BSD license. When running on Windows, the proprietary FMOD library is usually used, which disqualifies it for a single, unified, Open Source software license. QEMU is a hypervisor and is similar to projects such as Bochs, VMware Workstation and PearPC, but has several features these lack, including increased speed on x86 (through an optional accelerator), and support for multiple architectures in-progress. By using dynamic translation it achieves a reasonable speed while being easy to port on new host CPUs.
  • Google is not free/open source software but its contribution to information technology and the open source community is enormous enough for me to include them on the list, more like an honorary inclusion:). Most of Google’s web and desktop application services are for free including their most popular and very essential search engine.

* If there are other free and open-source software that I failed to include in the list and you think are worthy enough to be added, feel free to write them down via comment.


  1. How about the Vi text editor?

  2. What about the Perl language?
    See Google Fight i. e. as a short survey...

  3. Try Google vs. Yahoo

  4. I don't think that Google should be included in this list. There is a difference between free software and that which provides access to a closed source api or somesuch. Make no mistake about it, Google is a publicly traded company with the sole goal of making money. This is enough to make most people question Google's altruism.

  5. ajaxflakes - Read all about the latest developments on web design 2.0 and ajax + lots of tips. TOP 100+ best Free Opensource Software for windows XP and Vista. Thought i should add it might be helpful to others…

  6. vlc mediaplayer not in the list
    also apache webserver,..

  7. two words.....

  8. two words.....

  9. AnonymousJune 26, 2008

    Drupal should NOT be in the list. Wordpress should be.

  10. is definitely one of the best freeware ever. It is so powerfull thanks to the numerous plugins available.