I use a lot of programs between multiple computers. Most of the time these computers have different operating systems so I need cross-platform applications. Open source programs have come a long way over the years and no many can compete with commercial software. I use open source software because it is cross0platform, usually light weight, and it is free. I use these programs on both my dad’s Windows Desktop and my Linux laptop.
Firefox (Web Browser)
Firefox is light weight and extendable. I have been using Firefox for as long as I have been a using open source software. It’s extendability is key, it has all the tools I could ever need. It is also more secure than internet explore and I dislike that Google Chrome is spying on you every second. If you are using internet explore I strongly advise you to try Firefox.
Thunderbird (Email Client)
I use Gmail for email service, but I do not like to use the web interface. Thunderbird is as extendable as Firefox and has a great spam filter. It is easy to set up custom filters to organize your mail for you and you can be logged into multiple email accounts at once. Also I download all of my emails so that if the internet is down or Google goes down, I will still have all of my emails. If you use multiple accounts, want better organization of emails, or hate Microsoft Outlook I can not recommend this enough.
LibreOffice (Office Program)
I would never use Microsoft Office if my school allowed me to run this on the computer lab computers. It is fast, extendable, and almost as powerful as Microsoft Office. I will grant that Microsoft office can handle bigger files better and is better for enterprise publishing, but LibreOffice is free and strong enough for anyone short of a major publisher. LibreOffice is much cheeper than Office, with a price tag of free, and can open all of Microsoft’s formats. If you must you can even save your work in Microsoft’s formats. It comes with everything you need: a word processor, a presentation maker, and a spreadsheet program. The best part is that it doesn’t have that horrible ribbon interface.
WINE (Windows Compatibility Layer)
Wine Is Not an Emulator (WINE), is a compatibility layer for windows programs running on Linux. I love open source programs, but sometimes you need a commercial program to do what you need. Most of these programs are Windows only, but I use a Linux environment most of the time. Wine allows me to run these programs. It may not be perfect, but it gets the job done most of the time. I usually use it to run games rather than work related programs, but I use it when making my RPG Maker XP game.
When away from home I usually have a copy of all, excluding Wine, on my USB drive. I hope you find these programs helpful and merry Christmas.