Linux for Starters: Your Guide to Linux – Open Source Replacements for Proprietary Windows Desktop Software – Part 8

Last Updated on May 22, 2022

This series offers a gentle introduction to Linux for newcomers.

In the previous article in this series we showed how easy it is to install software in Linux. You’ve decided to try Linux but need to make sure your software requirements are met.

Let’s consider popular Windows proprietary software. In this article we recommend great open source replacements that run under Linux.

Office Suite

Probably the best known office suite under Windows is Microsoft Office. Microsoft has made it clear that it sees the desktop office suite future on the cloud with its Microsoft 365 subscription service.


Steer clear of monthly subscription fees and proprietary software. With LibreOffice you get an excellent office suite that is free and open source goodness.

Linux for Starters - LibreOffice Writer
Click image for full size

Coming from a Windows background, you’ll no doubt have amassed a large archive of documents stored in Microsoft Word (.doc and .docx), Excel (.xls, xlsx), PowerPoint (.ppt, .pptx) and Publisher. Fortunately, LibreOffice is compatible with these document formats. It’s DOCX is saved in native 2013/2016/2019 mode. This greatly improves interoperability across multiple MS Office versions.

But LibreOffice goes much further with its native support for a modern and open standard, the Open Document Format (ODF). ODF 1.3’s most important new features are document digital signatures and OpenPGP-based XML document encryption. The new ODF also boasts improvements in change tracking, and elements first pages, text, numbers, and charts.

LibreOffice is already installed in Ubuntu 21.04, so you’re ready set to create documents, spreadsheets, and presentations from the off.

There are other open source office suites available. But we recommend you explore LibreOffice. You’ll probably find it meets all your needs and more besides.

Page 2 – Web Browser

Pages in this article:
Page 1 – Introduction / Office Suite
Page 2 – Web Browser
Page 3 – Media Player
Page 4 – Email Client
Page 5 – Image Viewer
Page 6 – Photo and Image Editor
Page 7 – Audio Editor
Page 8 – Video Editor
Page 9 – PDF Viewer

All articles in this series:

Linux For Starters: Your Guide to Linux
1What is Linux? Why use Linux? What do I need?
2Choose a Linux distribution meeting your specific needs and requirements.
3Make a bootable Ubuntu USB stick in Windows.
4We show you how to install Ubuntu 21.04 on your hard disk.
5Things to do after installing Ubuntu.
6Navigating your way around the Desktop.
7Updating the system, install new software.
8Open source replacements for proprietary Windows desktop software.
9Get started with the power and flexibility of the terminal.
10We cover the basics of files and permissions.
11Getting help from your system.
12Learn all about the file system.
13Manipulating files from the shell.
14Maintain your system with these simple tips.
15Managing users on your system.
16Explore different desktops to GNOME 3.
17Gaming on Linux.
18Protect your privacy with this guide.
19Access the Windows desktop from Linux using a remote desktop client.
20Set up a virtual machine running Ubuntu as the host and openSUSE as the guest.
21Wine lets you run Windows programs on Linux without emulation.
22Extend your GNOME desktop with extensions and themes.
XUseful Linux commands.
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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3 years ago

Thanks for the open source recommendations. I’m keen on moving away from all proprietary software, including no charge software which is closed source. I’m interested in a few more areas covering such as communication tools, instant messaging, and desktops.

3 years ago

But we recommend you explore LibreOffice. You’ll probably find it meets all your needs and more besides.

You may find it an almost usable alternative, but a long way from being a realistic alternative.
Probably the single biggest reason than Linux will NEVER replace Windows.

I use Linux as my desktop OS, and have done so for many years, but I have Windows on my laptop for the programmes that just don’t cut it on Linux.

3 years ago
Reply to  Jed

Everyone uses Linux whether they know it or not. BTW, it’s programs not programmes.

Friar Tux
Friar Tux
3 years ago

Umm, no Gabby, the English spelling is ‘programmes’.

The Font of All Knowledge
The Font of All Knowledge
3 years ago
Reply to  Friar Tux

Gabbling is correct. The British use programmes for TV/radio but programs for computer related.

2 years ago
Reply to  Jed

OnlyOffice is another that’s number 1 goal is MS Office compatibility. WPS Office is nearly a perfect MS Office clone with added tabbed browsing and an integrated cloud. Finally, if you really need microsoft, you can access the web-based versions of office.

3 years ago

The biggest thing you need for a successful transition to Linux is an open mind. Linux is NOT A WINDOWS CLONE. If you think it is you will fail. You have to accept things are done a bit differently. If you can keep an open mind you will love the transition, if you are looking for a Windows clone you will fail.

3 years ago
Reply to  James

I am perfectly happy with my Linux system. I’ve made it so it looks identical to Windows; with a few tweaks and additions. The open source software I used on Windows runs sweetly on Linux.

It doesn’t matter to me that Linux is very different under the bonnet. In the same way I don’t care what programming language is used to write a program. Nor do I care whether a program is licensed under MIT, GNU GPL, Apache etc. What matters is that I have things to do. My Linux system does everything I need to do. At the end of the day that’s what’s important.

3 years ago

The Gimp is fine for those who simply take pictures with their phones or compact cameras.

For those whose photography is at the higher end (and who tend to shoot in raw mode), it isn’t the best program. For these, the better alternatives to Adobe programs are Darktable or Rawtherapee.