10 Essential Free & open-source software (2020 Edition)

th3m

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Jun 24, 2020
73
Earth
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Windows 10
BR
Edge 83.0.478.54
This is a minimalistic list of 10 essential free & open source software, optimized with security & privacy in mind.


01.
Web Browser: Edge Chromium (open source)
https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/edge
Yes it is that good, built-in tracking protection, Windows Defender Application Guard (WDAG) support, open source based on Chromium, constant updates and automatic turn off of the telemetry without user interaction if you disable it in the OS.
Blows out of the water Chrome and Firefox, security and privacy wise, by a large margin.
Use it with a privacy focused search engine like DuckDuckGo.


02. Email client: None
Use the browser instead, it is your safest program in your OS because of the sandbox.


03. PDF viewer: None
Use the browser instead, it is your safest program in your OS because of the sandbox.


04. Antivirus: Windows Defender (not open source)
You trust Microsoft to make a secure OS and respect your privacy settings. Windows Defender is the only antivirus you should use. It's the most secure and private option.


05. Office suite: LibreOffice (open source)
https://www.libreoffice.org/
Nowadays it covers all your office needs and it costs nothing.


06. File archiver: 7-Zip (open source)
https://www.7-zip.org/
Supports all compressed formats, simple and efficient.


07. Text editor: Notepad++ (open source)
https://notepad-plus-plus.org/
Simple to use with advanced features.


08. Media player: VLC media player (open source)
https://www.videolan.org/vlc/
This or "MPC-BE"(open source) are great choices, cant go wrong.
Honorable mention to "foobar2000"(not open source) for audio files only.


09. Image viewer: ImageGlass (open source)
https://imageglass.org/
Light on resources, modern design.


10. Torrent client: qBittorrent (open source)
https://www.qbittorrent.org/
Powerful with privacy features built-in and no bloatware.



Extras:

Browser Extensions: uBlock Origin (open source), HTTPS Everywhere (open source)
The less the better, the above two are too good to pass though.

Messenger: Signal (open source)
https://signal.org/download/
Uses solid encryption, has a great track record and is recommended by many experts. Most other messengers are subpar.


What's your essential 10?
 
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DVDR_Dog

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Nov 5, 2018
805
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Chrome 83.0.4103.116
This is a minimalistic list of 10 essential free & open source software, optimized with security & privacy in mind.


01.
Browser: New Microsoft Edge
Yes it is that good, built-in tracking protection, Windows Defender Application Guard (WDAG) support, open source based on Chromium, constant updates and automatic turn off of the telemetry without user interaction if you disable it in the OS.
Blows out of the water Chrome and Firefox, security and privacy wise, by a large margin.


02. Mail: None
Use the browser instead, it is your safest program in your OS because of the sandbox.


03. PDF Viewer: None
Use the browser instead, it is your safest program in your OS because of the sandbox.


04. Antivirus: Windows Defender
You trust Microsoft to make a secure OS and respect your privacy settings. Windows Defender is the only antivirus you should use. It's the most secure and private option.


05. Office suite: LibreOffice
Now days it covers all your office needs and it costs nothing.


06. File archiver: 7-Zip
Open source, supports all compressed formats, simple and efficient.


07. Text editor: Notepad++
Simple to use with advanced features.


08. Media player: VLC media player
This or "MPC-BE" are great choices, cant go wrong. Honorable mention to "foobar2000" for audio files only.


09. Picture viewer: ImageGlass
Light on resources, modern design, open source.


10. Torrent: qBittorrent
Open source, powerful with privacy features built-in and no bloatware.



Extras:

Browser Extensions: uBlock Origin, HTTPS Everywhere
The less the better, the above two are too good to pass though.



What's your essential 10?
First: Major props for the post. You have motivated me to get one of these lists together. Work is closed Monday so I have time to do a little homework.

I beg to differ with a couple of items.
1. Edge? New or whatever, lately Microsoft has been trying to leverage your personal info and habits for sale to the highest bidder. That's what was behind the benevolence in handing out the "free" Windows 10 upgrade. If you accepted the default privacy settings during the install you are giving away the store in comparison to Windows 7. Subsequent numeric upgrades to Windows 10 continue to chip away at your personal info. All this info is collected under the radar under the guise that providing this info will help Microsoft "help you". Sure they will. Have you ever tried to deal with Microsoft help desk?
the "New Edge" is nothing more than yet another re-skinned version of Chromium. Nothing earth shattering about that.
2. Windows Defender. One question. Based on what I have already posted, you trust Microsoft? Really? I will admit Defender is acceptable as a freebie mostly because it's not always in your face trying to bug you into purchasing an upgrade. Defender is too much like "The Fox Guarding the Hen-house" for me. Absolutely far better than nothing but it's sure as heck not a yardstick of Windows virus/crapware security.
3. VLC media player. That was a favorite of my DVD group back in the day. I always said it was capable of playing the lid off a can of kitty meat. Uses a "splitter" rather than a ton of codecs. Very forgiving will overlook a ton of errors and still play. Good lightweight Video/Audio conversion program. Good minor video manipulation feature. For audio it's so-so. Watch my list.

Now uBlock Origin is perhaps one my my favorite/valuable additions to any operating system's browser. Raymond Hill the author is my hero. He has saved my ass on so many occasions. It's lightweight and quiet. I have heard criticisms of the program being too aggressive, hey better safe than sorry. You can always lower the security it provides but I never would.
 

th3m

Well-Known Member
Jun 24, 2020
73
Earth
OS
Windows 10
BR
Edge 83.0.478.56
First: Major props for the post. You have motivated me to get one of these lists together. Work is closed Monday so I have time to do a little homework.
Thank you for your response, and looking forward to your list too!

Let me explain my current thoughts and try to answer your questions.
First, this is a Windows user base forum, so this list was made with that adjustment. Being on Windows and generally on desktop, sadly there are no real good browser choices at the moment, if you have security and privacy in mind. And i hope you do have, considering you are using a browser.

A good choice would be something like Ungoogled Chromium, but there are no official builds plus no auto update feature. So this becomes a "no" for the average Windows user.

Firefox has the same kind of telemetry nowadays (like Edge or Chrome) and lacks a lot on security compared to Chromium based browsers. (no win32k lockdown, lacks important exploit mitigations)

You ask me if i trust Microsoft, not really. But if i am using their OS i have already put some trust in them. And to be honest they are not so bad compared to other companies like Google.

Let's compare Microsoft Edge with Google Chrome for example.
Microsoft has a few key differences. They aren’t an ad driven company. They are a product driven company and much of their data is collected to improve their products.

Microsoft enacted GDPR regardless of country. Google didn’t. Privacy shouldn’t be based on where you are born. Microsoft was notably better here and that should be acknowledged whether you like or trust them or not.

Microsoft has promised to keep Google accountable and they are pushing for good changes like teaming up to rewrite elements of the browser in Rust. The more market share Microsoft has the more away. The catch being is your usage won’t be reported to market share trackers due to the use of adblockers. (I hope Microsoft takes a large bit out of Chrome market share. It’s good for everyone.)

Microsoft has notable technical superiority. They automatically turn off telemetry without user interaction if they disable it in the OS. Edge also supports default integration with WDAG.

Edge Chromium also supports built in tracked blocking, data clearing on close (which has the nifty feature to save cookies per allowed sites). These things you cant get on another "re-skinned" Chromium browser.

Conclusion. Edge Chromium is far better than Chrome and it’s not close.

Lastly about Windows Defender, you trust your OS already as mentioned above because you are using it. The build in option will always be the best option in terms of security programs. Choosing another AV, you give up much more on privacy but also on security cause you just add another layer of attack surface. If you are really suspicious of a file just scan it online at VirusTotal against 70+ AV engines.

Good luck with your list,
take care
 
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DVDR_Dog

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Thank you for your response, and looking forward to your list too!



You ask me if i trust Microsoft, not really. But if i am using their OS i have already put some trust in them. And to be honest they are not so bad compared to other companies like Google.

Let's compare Microsoft Edge with Google Chrome for example.
Microsoft has a few key differences. They aren’t an ad driven company. They are a product driven company and much of their data is collected to improve their products.

Microsoft enacted GDPR regardless of country. Google didn’t. Privacy shouldn’t be based on where you are born. Microsoft was notably better here and that should be acknowledged whether you like or trust them or not.

Microsoft has promised to keep Google accountable and they are pushing for good changes like teaming up to rewrite elements of the browser in Rust. The more market share Microsoft has the more away. The catch being is your usage won’t be reported to market share trackers due to the use of adblockers. (I hope Microsoft takes a large bit out of Chrome market share. It’s good for everyone.)

Microsoft has notable technical superiority. They automatically turn off telemetry without user interaction if they disable it in the OS. Edge also supports default integration with WDAG.

Edge Chromium also supports built in tracked blocking, data clearing on close (which has the nifty feature to save cookies per allowed sites). These things you cant get on another "re-skinned" Chromium browser.

Conclusion. Edge Chromium is far better than Chrome and it’s not close.

Lastly about Windows Defender, you trust your OS already as mentioned above because you are using it. The build in option will always be the best option in terms of security programs. Choosing another AV, you give up more on privacy but also on security cause you just add another layer of attack surface.

Good luck with your list,
take care
Sorry I hesitated to reply but I feel it's necessary.
I question your "honesty" in regards to Google vs. Microsoft (2020).
I have time and time again including on this board bemoaned the fact the the current leadership of Microsoft in no way reflects the ethics and morals the company embraced under the OG. Looking at the currently proposed profit models championed by the current CEO slowly being phased in supports this massive philosophy change from a one time lifetime lease fee to a never ending revenue stream. Continuous modifications of the TOS that must be approved after every "upgrade" of Windows 10 support my position. Many of these changes represent the further erosion of user privacy if you care to read and properly interpret the fine print.
All your statement regarding Microsoft and the GDPR proves is what has been known for decades. Microsoft has for decades assembled a massive legal team with many functions.
Although this team does actively and aggressively pursue M/S software piracy they also have a few lessor known charges. For example: You mention LibreOffice. LibreOffice as well as Open Office are both continually scrutinized under a microscope for their ability to read, modify and produce files that interchange with M/S Office products. A quick review of the history of both program projects will bear that out. M/S went commando at one point even when an extension appeared that modified both input and output file formats to allow interchangeability between M/S Office and Open Office.
Furthermore as evidenced by the current POTUS rules such as the GDPR don't have to be followed in the spirit that they were authored but rather how the courts may interpret a situation may legally apply to it's wording.
Back to honesty IMO Google has been far more forthcoming on exactly what when and how with your info. Google's controls are not only options to limit their access to your operating system and it's programs and don't forget completely private alternatives such as Duck Duck Go, Protonmail, etc exist. Do Microsoft products offer you the same options? I'll answer that, unequivocally NO!!
Granted there are many more "secure" re-skinned options of Chromium but most if not all compromise legitimate web features or are denied certain site access. Granted I am an advanced user and will change O/S platforms for security in some situations but here's what I have found works and seems to be a general conscientious in security related forums. Stand-alone Chrome without changes isn't good. without going into what's already been published a quick web search will guide you to the proper privacy settings. Those same articles are a good guide to the extensions which further enhance your privacy and security. Anti -virus/crapware programs are a matter of personal preferences and browsing habits, no one size fits all. Do some research.
In conclusion your contention that "Conclusion. Edge Chromium is far better than Chrome and it’s not close." is absurd given M/S's track record dating back to the inception of the browser wars. Leopards do not change their spots. Goes back to my "Fox guarding the hen-house" philosophy.
The words fan-boy and shill come to mind but I hate when people resort to name calling during a dialog.
EDIT:
Speaking of browser wars it just occurred to me that at one point Microsoft was hauled into court over the fact that I.E. was included with Windows and represented a violation of fair trade practices in relation to unfair competition. M/S slipped that one through by it's contention that I.E. was so tightly tied to Windows it HAD to be included. I guess that's out the window (so to speak) with the "New Edge"
 
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th3m

Well-Known Member
Jun 24, 2020
73
Earth
OS
Windows 10
BR
Edge 83.0.478.56
Sorry I hesitated to reply but I feel it's necessary.
I question your "honesty" in regards to Google vs. Microsoft (2020).
I have time and time again including on this board bemoaned the fact the the current leadership of Microsoft in no way reflects the ethics and morals the company embraced under the OG. Looking at the currently proposed profit models championed by the current CEO slowly being phased in supports this massive philosophy change from a one time lifetime lease fee to a never ending revenue stream. Continuous modifications of the TOS that must be approved after every "upgrade" of Windows 10 support my position. Many of these changes represent the further erosion of user privacy if you care to read and properly interpret the fine print.
All your statement regarding Microsoft and the GDPR proves is what has been known for decades. Microsoft has for decades assembled a massive legal team with many functions.
Although this team does actively and aggressively pursue M/S software piracy they also have a few lessor known charges. For example: You mention LibreOffice. LibreOffice as well as Open Office are both continually scrutinized under a microscope for their ability to read, modify and produce files that interchange with M/S Office products. A quick review of the history of both program projects will bear that out. M/S went commando at one point even when an extension appeared that modified both input and output file formats to allow interchangeability between M/S Office and Open Office.
Furthermore as evidenced by the current POTUS rules such as the GDPR don't have to be followed in the spirit that they were authored but rather how the courts may interpret a situation may legally apply to it's wording.
Back to honesty IMO Google has been far more forthcoming on exactly what when and how with your info. Google's controls are not only options to limit their access to your operating system and it's programs and don't forget completely private alternatives such as Duck Duck Go, Protonmail, etc exist. Do Microsoft products offer you the same options? I'll answer that, unequivocally NO!!
Granted there are many more "secure" re-skinned options of Chromium but most if not all compromise legitimate web features or are denied certain site access. Granted I am an advanced user and will change O/S platforms for security in some situations but here's what I have found works and seems to be a general conscientious in security related forums. Stand-alone Chrome without changes isn't good. without going into what's already been published a quick web search will guide you to the proper privacy settings. Those same articles are a good guide to the extensions which further enhance your privacy and security. Anti -virus/crapware programs are a matter of personal preferences and browsing habits, no one size fits all. Do some research.
In conclusion your contention that "Conclusion. Edge Chromium is far better than Chrome and it’s not close." is absurd given M/S's track record dating back to the inception of the browser wars. Leopards do not change their spots. Goes back to my "Fox guarding the hen-house" philosophy.
The words fan-boy and shill come to mind but I hate when people resort to name calling during a dialog.
I am sorry that i made you feel that way, i just stated some facts and made a conclusion based on them. I never said that i trust Microsoft, or i like Microsoft. As you said, is a corporate company who is going to sabotage functionality of files to keep selling their products, like MsOffice.
If you care about freedom, of course it is a pretty bad choice.
But if you are already using their OS, passively you are trusting them in some extend.
I do generally think Microsoft genuinely wants to take care of their customers and keep them happy. They messed up on Windows 10 and are making reasonable progress improving it.
Regarding Windows privacy this is worth checking out.
As far as Microsoft vs Google, i disagree with you, one company implementing something like GDPR and the other not, even if it is not applied in full compliant, it is a big step. Just check how easy it is, or not, to find privacy policies of products. With Microsoft you will have easier time. You said that Chrome can be fine if you look up some guides and make some changes, well Edge is fine without doing anything, all you had to do was to untick some boxes about telemetry when you installed Windows.
Again, as i said, i am using Windows, like the 99% of the users on this forum, if i was using ChromeOS i would prefer to use Google products instead of Microsoft products.
 

jamvaru

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Jun 23, 2012
119
OS
Windows 10
BR
Opera 68.0.3618.173
i don't really like chromium, but it isn't bad, just not my flavor of tea
With (google) chrome and firefox you can increase your level of security fairly easily.
I use basic firefox and I just don't give a damn about security. It doesn't bother me at all.
I like the idea of it, but even so, so what.
I run an adblocker and a password crypt addon.
Currently using Opera with just those 2, but my Firefox has more addons.

The portableApps.com verson of Firefox does not integrate with Windows and can run from any folder or removable drive. It also does not cache video streams, like youtube. There is minimal disk activity with it.
I was using Iron Chrome because it used its own folder for the video cache or stream cache, but then found that this version of Firefox does not even use a cache. It uses live memory I suppose.

That is the extent of my concern about different browsers.
Firefox: no stream/video cache
Opera: pretty decent, alternative default browser instead of MS Edge

chrome? meh

however, I will say that for chrome users they SHOULD use this one the OP suggests, if they are still using GOOGLE chrome; i probably won't even look it up though, lol

idky i had to say all that but i suppose i really dislike 'chromium' that much, and it still has ties to google, even if you are using an alternative code source; the main trunk is developed by google

I still use google mail but I'm also using other emails. And of course Youtube. I have to have my kpop.
 

jamvaru

Well-Known Member
Jun 23, 2012
119
OS
Windows 10
BR
Opera 68.0.3618.173
MS is just another globalist company, captured (maybe it always was, Gates has deep family ties to globalism)
same for google, apparently a CIA op from the start, or NSA; i get my acronyms confused
and of course Facebook
and Twitter
and apple? who knows really, probably though, maybe not at the start of it
 

jamvaru

Well-Known Member
Jun 23, 2012
119
OS
Windows 10
BR
Opera 68.0.3618.173
i use windows notepad because it pops up instantly and is already on the default right click menu
right click on desktop, W, T

Video player: portableApps.com version of Media Player Classic - Black Edition
i usually install VLC as a default player but I forgot this time, for when you click on something, or quick download and view; sort of like how I have Opera as a default browser

I'll dl vlc right now; it's pretty good.

Funny, odd: installed VLC, then wanted to uninstall it to move to a different drive, not SSD
Clicked on it to uninstall, nothing. The uninstall window popped up, with option to modify or uninstall, select uninstall, nothing happens. The window closes but that's it.
So, uses pApps GeekUninstaller, worked fine. Re-installed VLC as default player on HDD not SSD.
 
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