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21 of the Best Free to Download Closed-Source Applications

21 of the Best Free to Download Closed-Source Applications

Software licenses stir up emotive feelings in the Linux community. Licenses generally fall into one of two broad categories: proprietary licenses and open source licenses. The type of software license an application uses is significant in the effect it has on the rights of the user of the application, and whether a programmer chooses to contribute his or her time to its development.

For example, the founder of KDE (K Desktop Environment), Matthias Ettrich, decided to use the Qt toolkit. At the time, Qt did not use a free software license. Many programmers interested in developing KDE strongly objected to using Qt, and set about creating their own desktop environment (GNOME) based entirely on freely distributable software.

Proprietary software (often closed-source) imposes restrictions on what an end user can do with the application. The End User License Agreement (EULA) may prevent users from modifying the source code (or even the right to download it), copying or republishing the software. Some software developers (especially large corporations) regard proprietary software as being more beneficial to their business. For example, releasing the source code of their software may directly or indirectly aid their competitors. However, many Linux users regard proprietary software with disdain.

Organisations that produce Linux distributions also frequently take a dim view of closed-source software. For example, the Fedora Project encourages free and open source to the extent that no proprietary software can be included in Fedora. Although Ubuntu is also committed to free software, it adopts a more pragmatic position by making it easy for users to install non-free software.

Nevertheless, there's a surprising amount of free to download Linux proprietary software that is being used, especially graphics drivers (Nvidia, ATI), wireless firmware, MP3 Decoders, encrypted DVD support etc. However, the purpose of this article is to focus on more heavyweight applications.

To provide an insight into the quality of free to download proprietary software that is available, we have compiled a list of 21 of the best closed-source applications. Hopefully, there will be something of interest for anyone who does not loathe closed-source software.

Now, let's explore the 21 closed-source applications at hand. For each title we have compiled its own portal page, providing a screenshot of the software in action, a full description with an in-depth analysis of its features, together with links to relevant resources and reviews.

DB2 Express -C Full featured relational database
Google Docs & Spreadsheets Web-based word processor and spreadsheet application
Lotus Symphony Office Suite
Quasar Accounting Accounting package similar to Intuit's Quickbooks
Intel C++ Compiler PE High performance C++ compiler
Intel Fortran Compiler PE Full-language Fortran 95 compiler
Java Cross-platform development environment
JBuilder 2008 Turbo Turnkey Eclipse bundle to create and deploy Java applications
Opera Graphical web browser and Internet suite
Skype Peer-to-peer Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP) software
Adobe Flash Manipulate vector and raster graphics / streaming of audio and video
Google Earth View satellite imagery, maps, terrain, 3D buildings
Picasa Organizing and editing digital photos
Avast! Anti-virus program
AVG Anti-Virus Commercial-grade anti-virus product
WebSphere Application Server Java EE 5 server for building and managing Java applications
Adobe Reader PDF viewer
Google Desktop Desktop search application
Rainlendar Lite Feature rich calendar application
Virtualbox Family of virtual machine products
VMWare Server Entry-level server virtualization software suite

Return to our complete collection of Group Tests, identifying the finest Linux software.

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Last Updated Sunday, June 10 2012 @ 05:40 AM EDT

We have written a range of guides highlighting excellent free books for popular programming languages. Check out the following guides: C, C++, C#, Java, JavaScript, CoffeeScript, HTML, Python, Ruby, Perl, Haskell, PHP, Lisp, R, Prolog, Scala, Scheme, Forth, SQL, Node.js (new), Fortran (new), Erlang (new), Pascal (new), and Ada (new).

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