14 open source software to discover to create, work, optimize and have fun

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The Internet is riddled with software whose authors make the source code available to the public. In this abundance we find real grains of gold. We invite you to discover 14 of them in different areas.

In addition to the great classics such as the Mozilla Firefox Internet browser, the LibreOffice office suite, the GIMP photo editing software, the Blender model or the essential VLC video player, there is a wealth of free software with formidable efficiency developed by a handful of passionate programmers. Let’s review some of these gold nuggets, whether you’re looking for screen capture software, a VPN, or a game. And you, what is your favorite open source software? Feel free to share your discoveries in the comments.

1 / 0AD: off to conquer the world, in complete freedom

If you like RTS (Real Time Strategy or Real-Time Strategy Games), you like Command and conquer, 0AD should give you a few (good) sleepless nights. The principle is simple: you must gather the resources you need to raise a military force and dominate your enemies. The realization is certainly not at the height of current productions like Age of Empires IV, but the fun is there. Above all, it is possible to organize Danish online games with several friends, whether they are on Windows, Linux or macOS. In the same way, we also invite you to try The Battle of Westnothanother turn-based strategy game.

0AD

0AD © screenshot / Les Numériques

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2 / VeraCrypt: Protect your sensitive data

If you want to protect certain computer data in an encrypted space, VeraCrypt is probably the software for you. Derived from the widely used TrueCrypt (left behind by its creators and suspected of containing security flaws), VeraCrypt is on the list of free software recommended by the French state as part of the overall modernization of its information systems. The software allows you to create an encrypted computer storage volume where you can store all kinds of documents: photos, PDFs, movies, programs, etc. VeraCrypt uses the following encryption systems: AES, Camellia, Kuznyechik, Serpent and Twofish. By depositing your VeraCrypt volume on removable media or a remote server, you can easily access sensitive data from different locations or devices. Too bad there is no version for Android or iOS.

veracrypt

© Screenshot / Les Numériques

3 / WinDirStat: looking for residents

After analyzing a hard disk or other computer media, WinDirStat displays a graphical representation of the tree structure of the files. This allows you to quickly “see” which software or documents take up the most space on your computer. It is certainly not the fastest in the task, and WizTree is much faster, but the latter is not open source, although the use is free. A must to free up space on your hard drives.

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WinDirStat

Here is a “nice” representation of the files on a hard drive. © Screenshot / Les Numériques

4 / Bulk Crap Uninstaller: for spring cleaning

The name is certainly not very engaging, but this open source software allows you to cleanly uninstall most Windows applications (Windows Store Apps, Steam). In fact, Bulk Crap Uninstaller not only deletes the software but also the folders, registry keys and various files generated during the installation. It is especially effective in getting rid of pre-installed software on computers. In addition, it allows you to choose which software to run when your machine starts up to optimize its operation.

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Bulk Crap Uninstaller

Let’s go to the spring cleaning of your computer. © Screenshot / Les Numériques

5 / Snappy Driver Installer: Always be up to date!

It is important to keep your computer up to date to ensure its proper functioning and above all to limit security breaches. Of course, you can use Microsoft’s Windows Update tool, but it’s not necessarily the most up to date, and it can sometimes take weeks for the system to offer you a download. Snappy Driver Installer is a software that shows the various components and peripherals on your computer and offers you to perform an update according to the indications found on the internet. Good point, Snappy Driver Installer suggests you create a Windows recovery bridge. If a driver fails, you can easily roll back. This is a great solution for people who are helping their loved ones keep their computers in top shape.

Installing Snappy driver

To keep your Windows computer up to date. © Screenshot / Les Numériques

6 / RustDesk: so far, so close

If you want to help family members remotely with computer maintenance, RustDesk is a simple solution to implement and effective, if not the fastest. Installing the solution is a child’s play, as all you have to do is launch the software on the machine to be controlled and communicate the username and password to the remote person, who can then see your computer and take control of it. RustDesk requires you to go through a free server, but you can, to improve the confidentiality of the connections, host your own system, especially on a Synology NAS.

rustdesk

© Screenshot / Les Numériques

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7 / Scrcpy: Access an Android phone from your computer

From a “marketing” point of view, Scrcpy is not the software whose name is the easiest to pronounce and the easiest to remember. But this little software developed in Java makes it possible to display the screen of an Android smartphone on a computer (Windows, macOS or Linux) and take control of it. The code lines also allow you to record the screen on video, which can be very useful for making tutorials. Note that using Scrcpy requires the installation of computer software that provides access to a smartphone from a computer.

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scrcpy

Scrcpy requires ADB software installed to work. © Screenshot / Les Numériques

8 / ProtonVPN: for covered surfing

Together with Mullvad, ProtonVPN is one of our preferred Virtual Private Network (VPNs). Both are open source, but ProtonVPN has the benefit of offering a free, albeit limited, version. In its free version, ProtonVPN provides access to servers in the Netherlands, USA and Japan. Of course, it is not possible to connect several devices at the same time. And although the speed may be limited by the request of the servers, it is still sufficient to have secure access to an open wifi network in a hotel or restaurant.

protonvpn

9 / Ferdi: a tool to bring them all together (or almost)

Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, Gmail, but also ProtonMail or Juggernaut, we are often overwhelmed by an impressive number of communication tools and struggle to follow all the channels we have available. Ferdi, software derived by Franz, which is now limited to three accounts in its free version, allows you to centralize your messages (email, instant communication), but also your social networks such as LinkedIn, Twitter or Instagram. Thus, you will keep an eye on all your channels in a French interface. It is a pity that Ferdi is so far not compatible with signaling. Note that it is possible to create jobs to separate your professional life from your private life.

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ferdy

Ferdi concentrates a significant number of communication services. © Screenshot / Les Numériques

10 / balenaEtcher: for easily creating bootable USB keys

Often, open source applications do not benefit from a working graphical interface. This is not the case with BalenaEtcher, which appears in a window that is certainly manageable, but very functional. The software allows you to burn images (ZIP, img, iso) on various media such as USB or SD keys. To avoid damaging images, balenaEtcher suggests checking the consistency of the data at the end of the burn. What simplifies the installation of many Linux distributions to try them out!

balenaEtcher

balenaEtcher © Screenshot / Digitals

11 / PeaZip: data compression (and decompression) just a click away

If 7ZIP, another open source compression software, has gained a good reputation, especially on Windows, PeaZip presents itself as an interesting alternative to Windows, Linux and macOS. It presents a non-localized graphical interface, identical regardless of the platform. The software handles a large number of compression formats, but also encryption. The most advanced users can also install PeaZip so that it is accessible from context menus.

PeaZip

Unfortunately, PeaZip’s interface is in English.

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12 / Ocenaudio: the Swiss Army knife of sound

For a long time, Audacity ruled supremely in the open source audio world. But now, following its acquisition of the Russian company Muse Group, suspicions about the use of personal data have gained the upper hand over the software’s reputation. Various alternatives were born as Tenacity, a forked (modified copy) of Audacity, but the development of the latter does not seem very active. We encourage you to listen to Ocenaudio, which seems to be unanimous in the open source community, with a software with a clear interface (in French) and many features. Too bad there is no online help or manual to get started quickly, its wealth deserves some literature.

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ocenaudio

The interface of Ocenaudio is stripped down, which simplifies handling. © Screenshot / Les Numériques

13 / Joplin: share your notes

With Joplin, Zettlr or Boostnote, a new generation of software is available between word processing, code editor and note taking. Joplin, available on Windows, macOS, Linux, Android and iOS, allows you to quickly create text files whose layout is based on Markdown. Completely in French and displayed in a simple and fast user interface, Joplin also offers to retrieve information (text, image, etc.) from your Internet browser using an extension. Your documents can be synchronized on your various devices by taking advantage of online backup (Nextcloud, OneDrive, Dropbox) or at home by hosting the server.

Joplin

Joplin: a powerful document editor for technical documents. © Screenshot / Les Numériques

Before sending an email, letter or resume, it is important to check that they do not contain spelling errors. You can use the proofreaders in Microsoft Word or your Internet browser, but there is also LanguageTool. This spell checker is available online directly on the website, but also as an extension to your browser. All you have to do is copy the text that needs to be corrected to start the analysis. A subscription of € 4.99 / month allows you to exceed the limit of 10,000 characters and get advice on how to improve your writing style, and also offers modules for Microsoft Word and Google Docs.

language tools

LanguageTool also allows you to correct the punctuation in a text. © Screenshot / Les Numériques

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