Software Alternatives

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Software Alternatives

This page contains lists of software that are replacements or alternatives to proprietary counterparts or are only available on other platforms (Windows, Mac).


Microsoft Teams

Please consider using a different service for your club. Microsoft Teams has many disadvantages including slow messaging, no typing indicators in groups, no emoji reactions, annoying reaction/emoji animations (no way to disable them), inability to share multiple screens at once, duplicated notifications, unreliable notifications (ouch!), barely any customizability (for notification sounds, themes, etc.).

These are free (and open-source) alternatives with generous resources available! Some 'non-commercial' ones are OK since clubs at Rose are a valid non-commercial use!

Discord has some of these issues as well, and is aggressive against customizability (and bans people for violating their stringent ToS). And, other services can 'just work' like Discord too, so what are you waiting for!

Easy Server Discovery

(easy to find/search for other servers, like subreddits)

  • Matrix (Use the servers for clubs, since they are the main server that Matrix groups use)
  • Telegram (harder to find/search for other servers, find other servers by Google searching) [phone number required]

More Similar to Slack

(has channels, no built-in functions for discovery of other servers)

  • IRC (very simple, text-based)
  • Zulip (has free cloud version) (iOS app might not be the best quality, untested)
  • Mattermost [required to pay for cloud version]
  • Mumble (Low-latency voice chat and text chat)

Voice/Video Chat

  • BigBlueButton
  • Mumble (Low-latency voice chat and text chat)
  • Nextcloud Talk
  • Telegram video calls (end-to-end encrypted, but closed-source backend)


  • Ulangi (very easy to use, a lot like Quizlet, can import from Quizlet/Anki, allows you to import images that have publicly available URLs. It even has GAMES!!! Has iOS and Android versions.)
  • Carden (also has Quizlet/Anki import. Desktop app.)
  • Kommit (simple and minimalistic; optimized for quick keyboard use; has audio recording/pronunciation features)
  • Anki (Very customizable. iOS version not open-source. AnkiDroid is good though if you have an android phone.)

CAD Software

  • FreeCAD (simple and best starter CAD program. A bit unintuitive, grid sometimes fails; 2 different transform tools that seemingly do different things)
  • Salome (a lot of options like SolidWorks)
  • BRL-CAD (for fans of a command line interface)

CAS (Computer Algebra System)

FOSS alternatives to Mathematica and Maple (without an equation editor):

SageMath (

Maxima ( (NOT RECOMMENDED - has problems with computing simple integrals)

Note Taking


These are more alternatives of Onenote/Evernote since they have a GUI:

  • Spiral ( - VERY similar to OneNote with notebooks/sections/pages infinite canvas and floating text boxes. WYSIWYG editor (for people who don't want to edit markdown). Does not have drawing but this could be used with Xournalpp and conversion to images. Does not have file attachments though, so use a separate folder for that. Good text formatting features (except for fonts). A native app (not web app), don't have to figure out self-hosting, and notebooks are stored in HTML.
  • Xournalpp ( (rewrite of Xournal in C++. Text features aren't the best. But it is very active. Not quite there yet in terms of features to OneNote) siliconninja personally recommends this one the most and uses it the most often.
  • μPad ( (basically a clone of Onenote's note organization, but with no drawing color (yet). Not WYSIWYG in terms of text. EDIT 2/27/19: rich text was added! Thanks to the μPad developers! Paid sync service - probably can self-host, or just use the webapp offline and sync note data with your own cloud storage.) siliconninja personally recommends this one.
  • CherryTree ( (recently updated to support Python 3! has hierarchy, like a binder.)
  • Trilium ( (Very active project. has a different type of way to organize your notes. Need your own server to sync. Uses the Electron library - you might not like this.) siliconninja sort of recommends this one - the GUI functionality (bold text, etc) is really hidden, but the note organization features such as relation maps and JavaScript scripting are neat and something worth your consideration.
  • Joplin ( (Active project. iOS app has issues on newer iPhones with showing text at the bottom. Markdown, desktop application annoying to use, WYSIWYG for desktop in beta. Syncs with Nextcloud/Owncloud/WebDAV servers. Has mobile applications (yay!) Uses the Electron library - you might not like this.)
  • Bakoma-TeX ( (If you like LaTeX for note-taking, this includes a WYSIWYG editor. Probably no WYSIWYG drawing capabilities. Handwritten math only on Windows because it uses its math writing input thingy. Has Linux version. Bakoma-TeX is somewhat expensive.)
  • Nixnote 2 ( lets you work with Evernote, and offline. Simple WYSIWYG editor and tagging. Has not been updated since late 2017.
  • LyX ( (If you like LaTeX for note-taking, this includes a WYSIWYM editor, which is not exactly WYSIWYG. siliconninja personally noticed that its line spacing functionality doesn't always work well and you might need to change the LaTeX "preamble" by hand for all files to solve this issue.)
  • Turtl ( (Recently had a big update. More like sticky notes with limited text input capabilities. Has mobile applications (yay!) Uses the Electron library - you might not like this.)
  • Xournal ( (for handwriting/text anywhere on page) (Old, no longer being maintained (probably))

CLI/Text based

These are text file editors, and certain functionality such as to-do lists/reminders can be added to them.

Owncloud/Nextcloud server. Edit text files through the Owncloud/Nextcloud webapp or through Owncloud/Nextcloud file syncing on the desktop.

Graphics Editing

  • GIMP ( - also called "The GIMP", this is the most Photoshop like alternative in terms of functionality (and has some unique ones of its own - an open-source exclusive (in some ways)!).
  • Krita ( - primarily designed as a painting tool, not a graphics editing tool. Text functionality is weird as of 3.0/4.0. The UI/UX is slightly more bugged in some areas such as resizing/transforming text/images (IMO) than GIMP. I've used this sometimes when I don't need to use GIMP for a lot.

Notes on how to use GIMP

Play with it for a few (5-6 or so) hours and I think you'll understand/like it because it's very different and extensible in its own way. A neat opinion article on why to learn any graphics editor ( /programming-tip-learn-a-graphics-editor/) I've found that GIMP can do some really neat things that would be hard to do with PS.

2.10.8: There are some bugs like icons (like "make layer visible" (eyeball icon)) not appearing or text for layers not showing up. Resize the left/right panels to fix this. "And I will add this one warning: although GIMP is both free and powerful, the interface is so excruciatingly difficult to use that by the time you become proficient, you'll be able to handle any graphics editor on the market with ease." Remember that layers have a fixed size and the general behavior of it is that more things have to be "defined" first in GIMP.

Useful Things: Move tool>Move the active layer. Fill tool>fill whole selection/fill similar colors - whole selection can be useful, you can say what you want it to do for a particular selection. Use the select color and fuzzy select (acts like "magic wand" in Photoshop) tool. Use the arrange tool for arranging multiple items. Press ENTER when done using the scale or rotate, etc tools, or click something else to confirm. Also, you can preview your gradient while making it! And there are all sorts of cool brushes and effects for them you can use!

The text tool works well, it doesn't have the same "warping" UX like PS does, but you can have "text paths" (tutorial on YT ( /watch?time_continue=36&v=6nHyKrJwsaE)).

USE LAYER GROUPS. You'll need them since you can't select multiple layers at once. Also the color picker (as of 2.10.8) is weird, just select the layer with that color and pick the color from that INSIDE the *MAIN* GIMP window. USE HARDWARE ACCELERATION. Edit>Preferences>Hardware Acceleration>Tick "Use OpenCL". It makes things a lot faster, especially with a GPU.

If you haven't played with Photoshop at all, the learning curve is pretty steep - try something like Krita first. It has greatly improved since the 2.8 days.

Plugins such as G'MIC (can install through package manager or manually) ( and the many filters/"script-fu" scripts can help. Ex: "Drop Shadow..." can be done under Filters>Light and Shadow. Deleting things to have a transparent background as part of the layer - tutorial here ( background-to-transparent/) - click Layer>Transparency>Add Alpha Channel and then select something/delete it.

Drawing built-in geometric shapes (circle, square, etc) can be done using either G'MIC (creates a weird type of concentric circles), as of G'MIC in 2/27/19 you need to go to Testing>Samj>Arrays & Tiles to find this (, the Gfig plugin under Filters>Render>Gfig ( squares-and-circles-on-gimp) (NOTE: you can't resize the preview of the image this way), or through selections manually ( /gimp/gimp-how-to-create-draw-circle-in-gimp-tutorial) (I use this method sometimes because I can change the preview size/zoom, and Gfig is annoying with this sometimes - try a smaller document w/ nothing in it if you want to use Gfig, then move it to the larger one).

Grow/shrink selection (e.g. to make concentric circles or a specific border color) ( circles-in-gimp) using Select>Shrink.../Grow... The selection sticks when you create a new layer.

Creating custom shapes video ( /watch?v=X4IjrPS1ISE)

GIMP's planned features

/gimp_gimp_292_released_and_nondestructive_editing/) is planned for 3.2. Viewing/changing filter properties on layers ( applied-filters-in-gimp) is planned for the 3.x series.