21 of the Best Free to Download Closed-Source Applications

Last Updated on February 26, 2018

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.

Closed-Source Software
DB2 Express-CFull featured relational database
Google Docs & SpreadsheetsWeb-based word processor and spreadsheet application
Lotus SymphonyOffice Suite
Quasar AccountingAccounting package similar to Intuit's Quickbooks
Intel C++ Compiler PEHigh performance C++ compiler
Intel Fortran Compiler PEFull-language Fortran 95 compiler
JavaCross-platform development environment
JBuilder 2008 TurboTurnkey Eclipse bundle to create and deploy Java applications
OperaGraphical web browser and Internet suite
SkypePeer-to-peer Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP) software
Adobe FlashManipulate vector and raster graphics / streaming of audio and video
Google EarthView satellite imagery, maps, terrain, 3D buildings
PicasaOrganizing and editing digital photos
Avast!Anti-virus program
AVG Anti-VirusCommercial-grade anti-virus product
WebSphere Application ServerJava EE 5 server for building and managing Java applications
Adobe ReaderPDF viewer
Google DesktopDesktop search application
Rainlendar LiteFeature rich calendar application
VirtualBoxFamily of virtual machine products
VMwareServerEntry-level server virtualization software suite
Best Free and Open Source SoftwareRead our complete collection of recommended free and open source software. Our curated compilation covers all categories of software.

The software collection forms part of our series of informative articles for Linux enthusiasts. There are hundreds of in-depth reviews, open source alternatives to proprietary software from large corporations like Google, Microsoft, Apple, Adobe, IBM, Cisco, Oracle, and Autodesk.

There are also fun things to try, hardware, free programming books and tutorials, and much more.
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