Best Free and Open Source Alternatives to Microsoft

Best Free and Open Source Alternatives to Microsoft OneNote

Microsoft’s stance for decades was that community creation and sharing of communal code (later to be known as free and open source software) represented a direct attack on their business. Their battle with Linux stretches back many years. Back in 2001, former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer famously tarnished Linux β€œa cancer that attaches itself in an intellectual property sense to everything it touches”. Microsoft also initiated its “Get the Facts” marketing campaign from mid-2003, which specifically criticized Linux server usage, total cost of ownership, security, indemnification and reliability. The campaign was widely criticized for spreading misinformation.

However, in recent years, there has been a partial shift by Microsoft to embrace the open source software paradigm. For example, some of their code is open sourced. Examples include Visual Studio Code, .NET Framework, Atom, and PowerShell. They have also made investments in Linux development, server technology and organizations including the Linux Foundation and Open Source Initiative. They have made acquisitions such as Xamarin to help mobile app development, and GitHub a hugely popular code repository for open source developers. And they have partnered with Canonical, the developers of the popular Ubuntu distro. But many developers remain hugely sceptical about Microsoft and their apparent shift to embrace open source.

This series looks at the best free and open source alternatives to products and services offered by Microsoft.

Microsoft OneNoteMicrosoft OneNote is a note-taking program for free-form information gathering and multi-user collaboration. It gathers users’ notes, drawings, screen clippings, and audio commentaries. Notes can be shared with other OneNote users over the Internet or a network.

OneNote is available as part of the Microsoft Office suite. Here’s our recommended free and open source alternatives.


1. Joplin

Joplin is a free, open source note taking and to-do application which can handle a large number of notes organized into notebooks.

The notes are searchable, can be copied, tagged and modified either from the applications directly or from your own text editor. The notes are in Markdown format.

Joplin was designed as a replacement for Evernote and so can import complete Evernote notebooks, as well as notes, tags, resources (attached files) and note metadata (such as author, geo-location, etc.) via ENEX files.

Joplin


2. Tusk

Tusk is billed as a feature-laden, open source, community-driven, free Evernote app used by people in more than 140 countries.

Tusk
Click image for full size

3. Zim

Zim Desktop Wiki (Zim) is an open source graphical text editor used to maintain a collection of wiki pages.

Each page can contain links to other pages, simple formatting and images. Pages are stored in a folder structure, like in an outliner, and can have attachments. Creating a new page is as easy as linking to a nonexistent page.

All data is stored in plain text files with wiki formatting. Various plugins provide additional functionality, including a task list manager, an equation editor, a tray icon, and support for version control.

Zim


4. CherryTree

CherryTree is a hierarchical note taking application, featuring rich text and syntax highlighting, storing data in a single xml or sqlite file. It offers a good range of features.

CherryTree


5. Simplenote

Simplenote offers a simple way to keep notes.

Simplenote
Click image for full size

All articles in this series:

Alternatives to Microsoft's Products and Services
GitHubDistributed version control and source code management functionality of Git
OneNoteNote-taking program for free-form information gathering and collaboration
ProjectDevelop schedules, assign resource, track progress, manage budget +
YammerSocial-networking platform for organizations
BingSearch services, including web, video, image and map search products

Ongoing series
Linux for StartersNew to Linux? Read our Linux for Starters series.
Free and Open Source SoftwareThe largest compilation of the best free and open source software in the universe. Supplied with our legendary ratings charts.
Linux ReviewsHundreds of in-depth reviews offering our unbiased and expert opinion on software.
Alternatives to GoogleAlternatives to Google's Products and Services examines your options to migrate from the Google ecosystem with open source Linux alternatives.
MicrosoftAlternatives to Microsoft's Products and Services recommends open source Linux software.
Linux System ToolsEssential Linux system tools looks at small, indispensable utilities, useful for system administrators as well as regular users.
Linux ProductivityLinux utilities to maximise your productivity. Small, indispensable tools, useful for anyone running a Linux machine.
Home Computer EmulatorsHome computers became commonplace in the 1980s. Emulate home computers including the Commodore 64, Amiga, Atari ST, ZX81, Amstrad CPC, and ZX Spectrum.
Now and ThenNow and Then examines how promising open source software fared over the years.
Linux at HomeLinux at Home looks at a range of home activities where Linux can play its part, making the most of our time at home, keeping active and engaged.
Linux CandyLinux Candy opens up to the lighter side of Linux. Have some fun!
Best Free Android AppsBest Free Android Apps. There's a strict eligibility criteria for inclusion in this series
Programming BooksThese best free books accelerate your learning of every programming language
Programming TutorialsThese free tutorials offer the perfect tonic to the free programming books series
Stars and StripesStars and Stripes is an occasional series looking at the impact of Linux in the USA
Share this article

3 comments

  1. I have been a user of CherryTree for a number of years. It is a reliable software and it keeps improving. It is good that development is still ongoing. Theonly weak point is tables: they are ugly and impractical.

  2. What is great on OneNote and that is missing in all these software is the matrix-like display of notebooks x pages. Where notebook tabs are vertical and pages tabs are horizontal. This makes navigation more intuitive, faster and more pleasant. I pray for developpers to do it πŸ™‚

Share your Thoughts

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.