Wednesday, December 14, 2011

60 Open Source Replacements for Communications Software

By 2013, experts estimate that e-mail users will send 507 billion messages every day. Currently, the average person receives about 419 e-mails per day, with a little less than half of them related to work.

When you add up the time it takes to read and manage all that e-mail, plus time spent instant messaging, reading and writing blogs, and viewing and creating Web content, it's clear that digital communication is one of the primary uses for technology.

The open source community has created a wide range of applications designed to help people participate in and manage all that communication.

A little more than a year ago, we put together a list of good open source communications software that can replace proprietary solutions.

This year, we've updated that list with new information and new projects that can help you communicate with your colleagues, customers, friends and family.

As always, if you know of additional open source projects that you think should be added to our list, feel free to note them in the comments section below.

Blogging Platforms

1. WordPress Replaces: TypePad
Calling itself "both free and priceless at the same time," WordPress is the platform of choice for more than 60 million bloggers. It takes just five minutes to get up and running with your own WordPress blog, and a huge library of add-ons and themes makes it easy to customize it to your exact needs. It's also available as a hosted service Operating System: OS Independent

2. MovableType Replaces: TypePad
Used by companies like NBC, NPR, Wells Fargo, Oracle and others, MovableType is a blogging platform that can operate as a full-fledged content management system. In addition to the open source version, it also comes in a free pro version for educational institutions or businesses with up to five users, as well as paid pro and enterprise versions for larger organizations. Operating System: OS Independent

3. LifeType Replaces: TypePad
With built-in multi-user authentication and multi-blog support, LifeType offers a blogging platform suitable for large enterprises. Key features include anti-spam filter, mobility support, integrated media management, easy installation and more. Operating System: OS Independent

4. B2evolution Replaces: TypePad
This blog platform/content management system can support multiple blogs, multiple domains and multiple authors. It's extensible with skins and plug-ins, and the site offers a demo and links to sample sites. Operating System: OS Independent


5. Firefox Replaces: Internet Explorer
One of the most popular open source downloads of all time, Firefox offers excellent security, performance and personalization capabilities. Key features in the most recent version include the "awesome bar," app tabs, desktop and mobile syncing, integrated search and more. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X, Android, iOS

6. K-Meleon Replaces: Internet Explorer
Because both use Mozilla's Gecko layout engine, K-Meleon and Firefox look and feel a lot alike. However, K-Meleon also lets you import your IE Favorites and Opera Hotlist, and it also supports mouse gestures like Opera. Operating System: Windows

Content Management

7. Drupal Sitecore CMS, Kentico
Used by Popular Science, New York Observer, The Economist, Harvard, MIT, the White House, MTV UK and hundreds of thousands of other sites, Drupal is one of the most popular Web content management systems available. It offers a huge list of features, and tens of thousands of modules and themes are available to help you customize your site. Operating System: OS Independent

8. Joomla Replaces: Sitecore CMS, Kentico
Currently, 2.7 percent of all websites on the Internet use the Joomla content management system. The latest version offers one-click updating, improved multi-language handling, batch processing of articles, auto-validation of form data and more. Operating System: OS Independent

9. Alfresco Replaces: SharePoint, Documentum, Open Text
This all-in-one enterprise content management app combines a Web CMS with document management, records management, and enterprise collaboration capabilities. Besides the open source community version, it also comes in a paid enterprise version or an on-demand cloud version. Operating System: Windows, Linux

10. DotNetNuke Replaces: Sitecore CMS, Kentico
Used by more than 700,000 sites, DotNetNuke is a mature ASP.Net-based CMS with lots of documentation, add-ons, and other help available. It comes in both free community and paid professional and enterprise editions, with training and other services also available. Operating System: Windows

11. AIOCP Replaces: Sitecore CMS, Kentico
The All In One Control Panel (a.k.a. AIOCP) combines content management with e-commerce management and a development platform for creating Web apps. Support and services can be purchased from project owner System: Windows, Linux, OS X

12. Get Simple Replaces: Sitecore CMS, Kentico
Downloaded more than 90,000 times, this CMS offers great security, an extremely user-friendly interface, easy "undo," automatic backups and more. Because it's based on XML, it doesn't require a separate database, making it a good option for smaller organizations. Operating System: Linux

13. Liferay Replaces: SharePoint, Open Text.
Downloaded more than 4 million times, Liferay boasts that it’s the "leading open source portal for the enterprise." Commercial support, training and consulting are available through the site. Operating System: OS Independent

14. Magnolia Replaces: SharePoint, Sitecore CMS, Kentico
Used by many Fortune 500 companies, Magnolia offers fast and easy content publishing, scalability, flexibility and proven performance. It comes in fee-based enterprise standard and enterprise pro editions, as well as the community version. Operating System: Windows, Linux

15. MindTouch Replaces: Sharepoint, IBM Lotus
Used by Autodesk, Fujistu, The Washington Post, HTC, Novell and other companies, MindTouch claims to be "the world’s most popular open source collaboration platform." The "Core" version is available under an open source license, while starter, standard and enterprise versions are available for a fee. Operating System: Windows, Linux

16. WebGUI Replaces: Sitecore CMS, Kentico
This CMS offers a framework for creating your own Web apps, as well as a full suite of modules, including wikis, photo galleries, message boards, event management, ecommerce, surveys, donations and more. Operating System: Windows, Linux/Unix, OS X

17. XOOPS Replaces: Sitecore CMS, Kentico
Short for "eXtensible Object Oriented Portal System," XOOPS has grown far beyond its origins as portal software to support a wide range of sites, from small one-person blogs to large, multi-purpose enterprise websites. It features a modular design and is driven by a MySQL database. Operating System: OS Independent

Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

18. SugarCRM Replaces:
"One of the world's most used CRM systems," Sugar helps you communicate with your customers and manage sales and customer service interactions. If you don't want to host the free version on your own server, you can also purchase on an SaaS basis. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.

19. vtiger CRM Replaces:
Used by more than 100,000 companies, vtiger offers lead management, support automation, campaign management, inventory management, e-mail integration, and mobile support for a very low total cost of ownership. Download and host it yourself, or use the SaaS version for just $12 per user per month. Operating System: Windows, Linux

20. Orange Leap Replaces: Blackbaud, Convio
Orange Leap helps non-profit organizations management their communication with donors, supporters and other constituents. Paid support is also available. Operating System: Windows

21. CiviCRM Replaces: Blackbaud, Convio
Similar to Orange Leap, CiviCRM was particularly designed for advocacy groups, NGOs and non-profit organizations with similar needs. It includes modules for case management, fundraising, event management, membership management, e-mail communications and marketing, and it integrates with both Drupal and Joomla. Operating System: OS Independent

Desktop Publishing

22. Scribus Replaces: InDesign, QuarkXPress, Microsoft Office Publisher
Suitable for professional designers, Scribus desktop publishing offers features like color separations, ICC spot color support and PDF creation. Despite the advanced features, there is plenty of help available, so it's also suitable for amateurs. Operating System: Windows, Linux, Unix, OS X


23. Collabtive Replaces: Basecamp, ActiveCollab
Designed as a replacement for Basecamp, Collabtive can even import Basecamp files. You can host it on your own server or use the hosted service. Operating System: OS Independent

24. Replaces: Sharepoint, Novell Groupwise
Available as a free app, a hosted SaaS product or a paid enterprise on-premise appliance, promises to "help teams to communicate faster and build collaborative knowledge." It offers wikis, social networks, blogs, file sharing repositories, micro blogs, discussion boards, and other tools in a unified framework. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X

25. Group-Office Replaces: Microsoft Office Outlook, Basecamp
Group-Office features a calendar, file sharing, e-mail, basic CRM capabilities, project management and mobile synchronization capabilities. You can choose to run the free or paid versions on your own mail server, or you can purchase Web-based service on a subscription basis. Operating System: OS Independent

26. phpGroupWare Replaces: Microsoft Office Outlook, Sharepoint
This Gnu project offers more than 50 separate apps that enterprises can mix and match to meet their own communications needs. Capabilities include contact management, e-mail, calendar, Web content management, document management, project management, bug tracking, and more. Operating System: Windows, Linux

27. Simple Groupware Replaces: Microsoft Office Outlook, Novell Groupwise
This Outlook-compatible enterprise groupware features email, calendaring, contacts, tasks, document management, project management, cell phone integration, full-text search and a library of extensions. It also uses the sgsML programming language so that in-house developers can build their own Web apps to extend its capabilities. Operating System: Windows, Linux

28. Evolution Replaces: Microsoft Office Outlook
Often called "the Outlook of Linux," Evolution offers e-mail, calendar and other capabilities from an interface that looks a lot like the Microsoft product. Other notable features include built-in spam filtering, advanced search capabilities, encryption support, and iCalendar support. Operating System: Linux

29. Thunderbird with Lightning Replaces: Microsoft Office Outlook
Made by Mozilla, the organization behind Firefox, Thunderbird is a tabbed, searchable e-mail client with an emphasis on customization capabilities. If you want an integrated calendar, you'll also need to download the Lightning add-on. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X

30. EGroupware Replaces Microsoft SharePoint, Documentum
Calling itself "the leading Online Collaboration Tool," EGroupware includes CRM, project management, event management, document management, file server, incident tracking, and more, as well as traditional groupware functionality. Hosted and commercially supported versions are available, or you can download the community version for free. Operating System: OS Independent.

31. Feng Office Replaces: Basecamp, ActiveCollab
Now with more than 350,000 users, Feng Office provides Web-based groupware, plus project management, billing, and other features useful to services companies. You can download the free community version or use one of the professional versions on an SaaS basis. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.

32. IGSuite Replaces: Microsoft Office Outlook, Novell GroupWise
The Integrated Groupware Suite, or IGSuite, is another Web-based open source groupware system. In addition to calendaring, e-mail, etc., it also incorporates some basic CRM, ERP and CMS functionality. Operating System: Windows, Linux, Unix.

33. TUTOS Replaces: Microsoft Office Outlook, Novell GroupWise
Short for "The Ultimate Team Organization Software," includes group calendar, email, time tracking, document management and project management. In addition, it also offers special features for developers, like a bug tracker, test support and some Scrum tools . Operating System: Linux.

File Transfer

34. FileZilla Replaces: CuteFTP, FTP Commander
FileZilla comes in a server version that runs on Windows only, or a desktop client version that works on multiple platforms. In addition to regular FTP transfer, it also supports secure file transfer via FTPS or SFTP. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X

35. WinSCP Replaces: CuteFTP, FTP Commander
Award winning WinSCP offers a client for transferring files via SFTP, SCP, FTPS or FTP protocols. It includes two different interfaces: Explorer (which looks like Internet Explorer) and Commander (which looks like Norton Commander). Operating System: Windows

36. FireFTP Replaces: CuteFTP, FTP Commander
This add-on gives you an intuitive FTP client for the Firefox browser. It supports FTP or SFTP only. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X

Instant Messaging

37. Pidgin Replaces: AIM, Yahoo! Messenger, Windows Live Messenger, Google Talk, Facebook Chat
This universal chat client allows you to IM with friends on numerous different networks, including AIM, ICQ, Google Talk, Jabber/XMPP, MSN Messenger, Yahoo, and others. It's available in dozens of languages, and numerous plug-ins extend its capabilities. Operating System: Windows, Linux/Unix

38. Adium Replaces: AIM, Yahoo! Messenger, Windows Live Messenger, Google Talk, Facebook Chat
Pidgin doesn't work on a Mac, but this nearly identical app does. Operating System: OS X

39. aMSN Replaces:Windows Live Messenger
Conceived as an MSN Messenger clone (before Microsoft changed the name to Windows Live Messenger), this app includes offline messaging, voice clips, photo support, custom emoticons and more. A large library of plug-ins and skins is also available on the site. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X

40. Kopete Replaces: AIM, Yahoo! Messenger, Windows Live Messenger, Google Talk, Facebook Chat
KDE's IM client supports AIM, ICQ, Windows Live Messenger, Yahoo, Jabber, Gadu-Gadu, Novell GroupWise Messenger and other networks. It also offers tools for archiving and encryption and a unique notification system that only lets "important" message through. Operating System: Linux

41. Miranda IM Replaces: AIM, Yahoo! Messenger, Windows Live Messenger, Google Talk, Facebook Chat
Small and fast, Miranda is very light on system resources. Like many of the other IM clients on our list, it supports multiple networks, including AIM, Facebook, ICQ, IRC, Yahoo and others. Operating System: Windows

Mail Servers

42. Zimbra Replaces: Microsoft Exchange
The self-proclaimed "leader in open source e-mail and collaboration," Zimbra offers a mail server that provides an alternative to Exchange, as well as a desktop client that offers an alternative to Outlook. It's available in a variety of free and paid editions, including hosted versions and versions designed to run in a virtualized or private cloud environment. Operating System: Linux, Unix, OS X

43. /Zentyal Replaces: Windows Small Business Server
This all-in-one platform combines a communications server with a security gateway, backup, network monitoring, infrastructure management, file server, Web server and more. In addition to the basic, free edition, it also comes in paid professional and enterprise versions, with other add-ons available as well. Operating System: Linux

44. Citadel Replaces Microsoft Exchange
Calling itself the "leader in true open source email and collaboration," Citadel features a unique "rooms" architecture that makes it versatile and flexible. It's available as a standard download, a VMware appliance or on a hosted basis. Operating System: Linux

45. Postfix Replaces Microsoft Exchange
Originally developed by IBM Research, Postfix is a secure mail transfer agent that is very similar to Sendmail (see below). It's fairly fast and can handle a large volume of mail. Operating System: Linux, Unix, OS X, Solaris

46. Sendmail Replaces Microsoft Exchange
While it's not as widely used as it once was, Sendmail continues to be a very popular mail transfer agent. Newer features include support for filters, authentication and external database look-ups. Operating System: Linux

47. Exim Replaces Microsoft Exchange
This MTA was developed at the University of Cambridge and is still widely used in the UK. It's best for servers that are unlikely to have large volumes of mail because it doesn't have a central queue manager. Operating System: Linux, Unix

48.SME Server Replaces Windows Small Business Server
Based on CentOS and Red Hat Enterprise Linux, SME Server offers file and printer sharing, a mail server, network firewall, automatic backup, remote access and more. Installation and basic configuration take only about 20 minutes, and there's quite a bit of documentation for the project available on the site's wiki. Operating System: Linux


49. eSpeak Replaces: Natural Reader, TextAloud
Although not as human-sounding as some other text readers, eSpeak provides clear audio of the text on your screen. It supports dozens of different languages, as well as several different English accents. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.

50. Simon Replaces: Dragon Naturally Speaking Premium
If you'd like to be able to talk to your computer, check out Simon. It accepts voice commands and turns audio into text. Operating System: Windows, Linux


51. QuteCom Replaces: Skype
Formerly known as Wengo, this project enables free VoIP calls from one PC to another. This is still a developing project, so it's not as easy to use yet as Skype or some other VoIP solutions. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X

Web Page Design

52. Amaya Replaces: Adobe Dreamweaver, Microsoft Expression Studio Web Professional
Originally developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) in 1996, Amaya promotes two-way Web communication by incorporating both a Web page viewer and a Web page editor. It supports multiple Web languages, including HTML, CSS, XML, XHTML, MathML and SVG. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X

53. BlueGriffon Replaces: Adobe Dreamweaver, Microsoft Expression Studio Web Professional
First released this year, BlueGriffon uses Gecko, the same engine used by Mozilla products, so it makes it easy to see how your Web pages will look on Firefox. While the core software is free, several add-ons require a fee. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X

54. KompoZer Replaces: Adobe Dreamweaver, Microsoft Expression Studio Web Professional
KompoZer aims to make it easy for novices to create Web pages thanks to an intuitive Web file management system and an excellent WYSIWYG editor. The interface is similar to Dreamweaver's, and like BlueGriffon, it's powered by the Gecko engine. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X

55. Bluefish Replaces: Adobe Dreamweaver. Microsoft Expression Studio Web Professional
Created with more experienced Web developers and designers in mind, Bluefish is a lightweight, fast editor that can be used with multiple programming languages, including HTML, PHP, Python, Ruby, JavaScript and others. Key features include a powerful search and replace function, side bar snippets, multiple document interface, unlimited undo/redo, and a spellchecker that supports many programming languages. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X

56. SeaMonkey Replaces: Adobe Dreamweaver, Microsoft Expression Studio Web Professional
This "all-in-one Internet application suite" includes a Web browser, e-mail client, feed reader, chat client and HTML editor. It's powered by Mozilla source code, and has a large library of add-ons for more features. Operating System: Windows, Linux

57. XML Copy Editor Replaces: XMLSpy
For XML only, this editor is lightweight and fast. It validates your code as you type and offers a simple, basic interface. Operating System: Windows, Linux


58. DokuWiki Replaces: Confluence, SamePage
This simple-to-use wiki was designed for developer teams and other small groups. Key features include unlimited revisions, recent changes viewing, section editing, anti-spam capabilities, multiple language support and more. Operating System: OS Independent

59. MediaWiki Replaces: Confluence, SamePage
Because it's the software used by Wikipedia, MediaWiki should feel familiar to most users. It's scalability makes it a good choice for large wikis. Operating System: Windows, Linux/Unix, OS X

60. TikiWiki Replaces: Confluence, SamePage
TikiWiki calls itself "Groupware" because it offers features like blogs, forums, an image gallery, map server, bug tracker and feed reader to standard wiki capabilities. The software is completely open source, but support, consulting, hosting and other services are available through third-party partners listed on the site. Operating System: OS Independent


  1. Hi,

    Unleash is an integrated solution for managing projects, collaborative Gantt scheduling, real-time reporting, bug tracking / QA, document management etc. The tool is fast, easy and builds on principles of team empowerment, increased communication, transparency, and collaboration.

    Thanks & Regards

  2. Hi,

    Unleash is an integrated solution for managing projects, collaborative Gantt scheduling, real-time reporting, bug tracking / QA, document management etc. The tool is fast, easy and builds on principles of team empowerment, increased communication, transparency, and collaboration.

    Thanks & Regards