Brief: If you are looking for free and open source software, here are some websites from where you can download free software.
Where can I download open source software?
I have been asked this question several times and I usually have the same answer. So, I thought instead of replying to individual emails, I would put a list of sources in an article for everyone to check out.
You can always find software in the software center of your Linux distributions, the description usually specifies whether it is open source. You can also explore available software on Flathub and Snapcraft.
But apart from them, if you are in browsing mode and just looking for interesting software to download, there are several websites that list and host open-source software.
Best websites to find and download open source software
Some websites provide a way to effectively collaborate for open source software development, but that is not our focus here. We’ll be focusing on web portals that host and distribute open-source projects.
Just to clarify, the list is not in any specific order. So, here we go with the list of websites that host or list open source software. You are welcome to bookmark them.
SourceForge is one of the earliest portals to host and distribute open source software. Over the years, SourceForge has become one of the premier resources for open-source projects.
SourceForge boasts of hosting over thousands (could be close to a million or more) of projects and has millions of registered users.
You can find featured open source projects on its homepage, along with the editor’s choice projects. You can also browse software in various categories. A search option is available too.
SourceForge provides stats on downloads, so you can see whether the project is popular or not. The project page also shows which operating system is supported and which license is used.
Registered members can also rate and review software, similar to what you see on Play Store and App Store.
SourceForge ran into controversy in 2013-14 when it attempted to monetize the downloads with adware. Thankfully, it is now owned by Slashdot Media and its president Logan Abbott has ensured that the software remains free from ads.
OSDN stands for Open Source Development Network. It provides a bunch of free-of-charge services for open-source software developers. These services include SVN/Git/Mercurial/Bazaar/CVS repositories, mailing lists, bug tracking system, bulletin board and forum, website hosting, release file download service, file archive, complete backup, shell environment, etc.
Over 55,000 projects use OSDN services. As an end-user, you can use OSDN for finding and downloading open source software. Their download page has a list of software categories you can browse through and download.
FossHub was founded in 2007 with the goal of becoming a “reliable place for users who wish to download their favorite software titles and as a trustworthy partner for certain free projects”.
It provides fast worldwide servers and optimized pages for good user experience and fast download speeds. They provide you direct download links without needing to redirect to multiple pages.
The project page lists the total number of downloads. It also shows the supported operating systems.
You can also rate and review the software, even if you are not a registered member.
Just to be clear, FossHub also hosts a selected few closed-source freeware. This may confuse some people, as they might expect FossHub to host only free and open-source software.
It would be better if they clearly mention whether the concerned software is FOSS or not on each project page. But, you can rely on the software descriptions to know more about what you’re downloading.
GitHub is slightly different from the two discussed above. GitHub is more focused on hosting source code and collaborating with the project development. But it is also extensively used for distributing software.
Projects can make their own web pages on GitHub and can provide a direct download from it. You can also find the latest releases of a software from the project’s release section.
You will have to navigate a bit to be able to download software packages, but it shouldn’t be a dealbreaker.
F-Droid is a platform to list and distribute free and open-source software for Android.
You can browse FOSS Android apps in various categories. You can also download the APK files directly from the website, but it is recommended to use the F-Droid client for installing the apps.
With the F-Droid client, your installed Android app will get updates similar to the Play Store. If you directly use the APK, it won’t get updates and thus will pose a security risk.
I would like to mention Savannah from GNU for downloading free and open source software here. It’s an old-school website from FSF (Free Software Foundation) that I don’t find very user-friendly. However, you can be sure to get 100 percent free and open-source software here.
AlternativeTo is also a good place to find open-source alternative software recommendations. You can filter by platform and licenses to ensure that you are getting the appropriate recommendation. However, it doesn’t host the projects themselves.
Now, this list may not feature everything there is, and you might know of some other such websites that host and distribute open-source software. If so, please mention them in the comment section below.