Google Alternatives

Best Free and Open Source Alternatives to Gmail

Google has a firm grip on the desktop. Their products and services are ubiquitous. Don’t get us wrong, we’re long-standing admirers of many of Google’s products and services. They are often high quality, easy to use, and ‘free’, but there can be downsides of over-reliance on a specific company. For example, there are concerns about their privacy policies, business practices, and an almost insatiable desire to control all of our data, all of the time.

What if you are looking to move away from Google and embark on a new world of online freedom, where you are not constantly tracked, monetised and attached to Google’s ecosystem.

In this series, we explore how you can migrate from Google without missing out on anything. We’ll recommend open source solutions.

EmailEmail is one of the most popular online activities, so let’s kick off this series in this area.

Gmail is a free email service which offers 15GB of storage, a search-oriented interface and a ‘conversation view’. It’s hugely popular with more than 1.7 billion active users. But you might not like the automated scanning of email content.

What do we recommend as an alternative? The best solution really depends how you wish to consume your email.

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You might prefer a self-hosted solution. If so, Roundcube is our favorite browser-based open source IMAP email client. The software offers an awesome range of features including MIME support, canned responses, message searching, spell checking, impressive address book integration, threaded message listing and much more.

Roundcube is written in PHP and requires a web server (Apache, Lighttpd, Nginx, Cherokee or Hawatha web server), and a database (MySQL, PostgreSQL or SQLite database). With its plugin API it’s easily extendable and the user interface is fully customizable using skins (3 are supplied).

Alternative self-hosted open source solutions include Horde, Nextcloud, and Zimbra.

If you’re not looking for a self-hosted solution, Tutanota is an open source service solution. They offer secure email and the free version gives 1GB storage. The service offers paid subscriptions offering more storage.

What if you’re not ready to ditch Gmail but want to experience a native Linux client? One possibility is Thunderbird, our recommended desktop Linux email client. It can be configured to work seamlessly with the Gmail service. Messages are synchronized between your local version of Thunderbird and the web-based Gmail.

All articles in this series:

Alternatives to Google's Products and Services
GmailEmail is an essential activity and starts the ball rolling in this series
MapsWeb mapping service offering satellite imagery, aerial photography, street maps +
PhotosStore your images in the cloud for convenient access from anywhere
TranslateMultilingual neural machine translation service
CalendarManage your busy life with a digital calendar
ChromeApplication software for accessing the World Wide Web
Read our complete collection of recommended free and open source software. The collection covers all categories of software.

The software collection forms part of our series of informative articles for Linux enthusiasts. There's tons of in-depth reviews, alternatives to Google, fun things to try, hardware, free programming books and tutorials, and much more.
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  1. Gmail is a great service. Too much faff having to install my own hosted replacement unless there’s a really easy way of doing it?

  2. I’ve used Gmail for years even though their implementation of IMAP is dodgy. Lately they’ve been blocking IMAP altogether on my mobile provider’s network, so this article is timely.

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