Free and open source alternatives to popular services

Keeping balance in things is necessary and having choices is how the human psyche works. Now you may have came across a lot of applications and online services in your life that are built to make life easier for you. But not all are free. Not free is not a bad thing at all, but the question we may ask is, does everyone have the capacity to afford it? In today’s world that answer is No. That’s why balance is necessary. So here we will be talking about some free and open source in some cases alternatives to popular online services from emails to designing to management.

Affording is one thing but there are lots of users who are not comfortable at all to use services which are in some terms called walled gardens and collect your data.

I am pretty sure you get the point and is smart to understand where I am going with this. But let’s keep it short and get into the alternatives.


We will start with Nextcloud. Many of you maybe already using Nextcloud for personal or business. Nextcloud is a self hosted open source solution for files sharing.

Nextcloud has an app store with hundreds of apps available for download. Some common apps are Contacts, Calendar, Notes, Office Suite, Talk, Gallery (Photos), Mail.


Things to know

  • Self hosted and open source
  • Customizable
  • App store
  • Third party storage integration options
  • Painless updates
  • Mobile and desktop apps
Alternative toDropbox, Box, Google drive, Microsoft drive


As described by

Penpot is the first Open Source design and prototyping platform meant for cross-domain teams. Non dependent on operating systems, Penpot is web based and works with open web standards (SVG).

If you have used a design tool before, you will be surprisingly thrilled that Penpot ticks all the boxes for the major features you may need in a design tool.

Recently Adobe bought Figma and to me the rationale reason is none more than competing with them. This way they can just bleed it slowly to death or just leave it as is. Whatever the case is it is now part of Adobe ecosystem whether you like it or not.


So it is always good to have an alternative that can fill the void.

Things to know

  • Self hosted and open source
  • Multi platform (being web based)
  • Cross domain teams (like design, code teams etc)
Alternative toFigma


Fosscord is a free open source, decentralized alternative to Discord. As mentioned on it’s website it is still in an early stage of development, but it’s good to know that there is an alternative to Discord in the works.

The best part is that it is also compatible to Discord.

The installation is divided to two steps as server and client (UI).

Note: It is not a finished product and may not function as intended.

Things to know

  • Self hosted and open source
  • Decentralized
  • Encryption
  • Discord compatible
Alternative toDiscord


Now this one I believe does not need much of an introduction. Most of us already know about it by either using it or just read an article about it somewhere.

But quick overview for those who don’t know yet.

Mastodon is free and open source software for running self hosted social networking services. It has microblogging features similar to the Twitter service.

Source: wikipedia

Things to know

  • Self hosted and open source
  • Decentralized
  • Mobile and desktop apps
  • Interoperable
  • Timeline view
Alternative toTwitter


PeerTube is a free, open source and decentralized video platform powered by WebTorrent that uses peer-to-peer technology. It is based on ActivityPub.

Source: peertube

Things to know

  • Self hosted and open source
  • Decentralized
  • Intuitive UI
  • Streaming option
  • P2P to reduce load on individual server instances
Alternative toYouTube, Dailymotion


Twitch is a popular streaming service among gamers and live broadcasters. But now you can also self host your own service and be not dependent on any third party services.

Owncast is a self-hosted live video and web chat server for use with existing popular broadcasting software.


Things to know

  • Self hosted and open source
  • Chat system
  • External storage option
  • Works with OBS
Alternative toTwitch


Project management users may know the word “kanban”. WeKan is a task based kanban board visually representing each task. It is an alternative to the popular service Trello.


Things to know

  • Self hosted and open source
  • Boards
  • Extensive options
Alternative toTrello


Supabase is an open source Firebase alternative which uses Postgres database for data management. It is still in work in progress stage and is not ready for production use yet.

Source: supabase

Things to know

  • Self hosted and open source
  • Realtime
  • Authentication
  • Storage
  • Functions
Alternative toFirebase

Rocket chat

I still remember in the early days of Rocket Chat, I had installed it for my team and we were actively using it. It was the time when it was not stable and mobile apps were just basic. It has grown since and became quite a good product with stable base.


Things to know

  • Self hosted and open source
  • Customizable
  • Mobile and desktop apps
  • Audio/video calls
  • Live customer chat option
  • Bots

Honorable mention: Mattermost

Alternative toSlack

Mail in a box

MIAB is the best piece of software for users who want to run their own email service. It is free, open source and comes with Nextcloud as storage, Roundcube as webmail and a control panel to manage user accounts, DNS entries etc.

Source: MIAB

Things to know

  • Self hosted and open source
  • DNS management
  • Easy installation
  • Control panel
Alternative toGmail, Outlook

There might be additional ones that I haven’t heard of or might have forgotten; feel free to mention any I’ve missed.