7 Paid Linux App Alternatives That Are Worth the Money

Joel Lee 01-02-2016

We all know Linux as a bastion of open source software What Is Open Source Software? [MakeUseOf Explains] "Open source" is a term that’s thrown around a lot these days. You may know that certain things are open source, like Linux and Android, but do you know what it entails? What is open... Read More , and that’s one reason why the Linux community is flooded with thousands of free apps and programs. Unfortunately, a lot of these free projects are redundant, dead, or just plain bad Open Source Software and Forking: The Good, The Great and The Ugly Sometimes, the end-user benefits greatly from forks. Sometimes, the fork is done under a shroud of anger, hatred and animosity. Let's look at some examples. Read More .


This philosophical aversion to paid software is one of the bigger flaws of Linux as a whole Why Isn't Linux Mainstream? 5 Flaws That Need Fixing Linux market share crossed the 5% mark in late 2010, and sat there for about five years, spiking at 5.9% in June 2015 before settling back down. So why has it failed to grow? What... Read More . If users aren’t willing to pay money for software, the developers of said software will find users who are willing to pay them for their hard work Understanding How Open Source Software Developers Make Money The truth is: many OSS developers and projects do generate revenue. Read More — and that usually means targeting Windows and Mac OS X.

That being said, commercial programs do exist on Linux, and many of them are actually pretty darn good. So the next time you want to seek out free alternatives to paid apps 14 Free and Open Source Alternatives for Paid Software Don't waste money on software for personal use! Not only do free alternatives exist, they most likely offer all the features you need and may be easier and safer to use. Read More , consider going the extra mile and using a paid program instead. You may actually be happier with what you get.

Replace GnuCash With Moneydance

Money management on Linux is actually a frustrating experience if you limit yourself to free software. GnuCash is often recommended for users who need things like personal budgets and expense reports, but GnuCash is a convoluted mess that’s hard to use.

You could opt to use a Web-based budget tracker like Mint 7 Advanced Tips and Tricks to Make You a Mint Expert If you master these tips and tricks, you'll be a real Mint expert! Read More , which isn’t bad at all once you learn how to use it, or you could make budgets out of spreadsheets 7 Useful Excel Sheets to Instantly Improve Your Family's Budget It's not always easy to set up a family budget, but these seven templates will give you the structure you need to get started. Read More using whatever office suite you have available. But there’s an even better alternative.



We usually recommend You Need A Budget YNAB Makes It Easy to Make a Budget and Stick to It Does your checking account remind you of a debt-burdened Southern European nation? You Need A Budget. We know it's tough to keep track of spendings. YNAB can help. Read More as the best program for personal budgets, but it’s unavailable on Linux and we think Moneydance is a great runner-up. It can auto-pull data from your bank accounts, track every transaction, follow all kinds of investments, and produce informative summary reports.

Moneydance is available for $50 with a 90-day money back guarantee. It comes with a free trial that has all features but is limited to 100 manual transactions. Moneydance also provides apps for Android and iOS, making it easy to stay on top of everything at all times.

New to personal finance? Don’t worry! Start with this guide to easy budgets and debt management How to Get Rich: The Fastest Way to Get Out of Debt Imagine being debt free. No overdrawn balances or unpaid bills. There is a foolproof way of getting yourself out of debt. It starts with a plan and some discipline. Let's visit the other ingredients. Read More , then strike it rich with these excellent resources for saving money Simply Frugal: How To Learn Personal Finance The Easy Way Do you fret over bills and debt on a regular basis? Do you feel lost when others speak using financial lingo? Here's the good news: it's never too late to learn about money. Read More .

Replace PDFedit With PDF Studio

In general, PDFs are not easy to edit on Linux 5 Easy & Effective Ways to Edit PDF Documents on Linux How can you modify PDFs on a Linux system? Well, you might pay for commercial-grade software and support, or opt for a free alternative. Let's take a look at what's out there. Read More . A lot of free tools exist, and you can even combine several different tools — like Calibre and Libre Office — to change text when necessary, but most of the time there will be headaches involved.


Of all the free PDF editors out there, the two most commonly recommended are PDFedit (mainly for documents) and Scribus (mainly for layouts and publishing). While these are passable for simple jobs, they can prove problematic when you want to delve into more advanced editing.


As such, our best recommendation is PDF Studio, which is an all-in-one solution that can handle pretty much anything you’d ever need to do, including file conversions, annotations, PDF forms, splitting and merging, OCR text extraction, document optimization, digital signatures, and more.

The Standard version is $89 while the Pro version is $129. The differences are listed on the product page, but we think that if you’re going to pay $89 for PDF software, you might as well go a little more and invest in the full package. Or you could try Master PDF Editor, which has slightly fewer features but only costs $49.


Replace Audacity With Ardour

For those who are new to audio editing, Audacity is actually a fantastic program 12 Creative Uses for Audacity: Podcasts, Voiceovers, Ringtones, and More Audacity isn't just useful for podcasts and music production. Here are some creative ways to use Audacity and how to get started. Read More . In fact, as far as free audio editors for Linux are concerned, I struggle to think of anything better — and in that sense, Audacity is best in class 7 Audacity Tips for Better Audio Editing on a Budget Here are several useful Audacity tips that will make your life much easier when editing audio, especially if you're on a budget. Read More . If Audacity is good enough for you, keep using it.

But anyone who’s serious about audio editing will eventually run into Audacity’s limitations, and if you’ve reached that point, then it’s probably time for you to drop some cash on a paid alternative The 6 Best Alternatives to Audacity for Recording and Editing Audio Audacity is the biggest name in free audio editing. However, there are plenty of alternatives to Audacity also worth trying. Read More . There are a few good ones to pick from, but Ardour is probably the best for personal use.


The first thing you’ll notice is the interface, which is certainly more complicated than Audacity’s, but is also more efficient and effective in the long run. With it, you can do everything you’d expect from a commercial-quality editor: record, edit, mix, master, and export. You can also add new features with plugins.


Ardour has an interesting pricing scheme that lets you choose how much you want to pay. A one-time payment of $1 or more gets you the full program and all minor updates. A monthly subscription gets you all major updates while your subscription lasts. A free trial is also available, but goes silent after 10 minutes.

Replace Avidemux With Lightworks

Avidemux is almost like the Audacity of video editors. It’s free, open source, and the most popular tool in its category. What’s great is that it has a minimal interface, making it easy to learn and use for even the newest of beginners — but that also means it’s a bit barebones.

To be fair there are several free alternatives to Avidemux The 9 Best Free Open Source Video Editors for Linux Video editing on Linux? It's easier than you think! Try these open source video editors on your Linux PC. Read More that are more powerful, such as Shotcut and OpenShot, but even they fall short in some areas and suffer the same developmental limitations that plague many free projects. As such, we recommend bumping up to Lightworks.


Let’s be clear: Lightworks is nowhere near as comprehensive in features when compared to professional software like Adobe Premiere Pro or Sony Vegas Pro. That being said, it packs quite a punch and has even been used to cut Hollywood films like The Departed, Shutter Island, and Hugo.

Lightworks can actually be used for free, but it limits video exports to 720p resolution and MP4 format only, and the license must be renewed every seven days. The Pro version can be bought for $25 (one month license), $175 (one year license), or $438 (permanent license).

Replace Blender With Maya

The open source community often hails Blender as one of its crowning achievements, and in a lot of ways it’s the GIMP of 3D modeling and animation. Unfortunately, like GIMP, Blender suffers from several problems that keep holding it back, such as the steep learning curve and lack of guidance Getting Started with Blender: 7 Fantastic Tutorials for Newbies 3D modeling is an excellent way to exercise creativity while keeping in touch with your technical side. Here are some awesome free tutorials. Read More .

Admittedly, Blender has been used to create some amazing stuff, including a few award-winning short films 10+ Amazing Short Films You'd Not Believe Were Made With Free Software Just like its previous short films online, the Blender Foundation used only open-source or free software to produce movies of at least 10 minutes. Read More , but the biggest complaint about Blender has to do with the overall experience: in general, Blender just isn’t as comfortable to use when compared to professional software.


The bad news is that Blender is actually the best available for most Linux distros. Autodesk Maya, which is the gold standard in 3D animation, is available for Linux but only on a few versions — namely Red Hat Enterprise 6.5 WS and CentOS 6.5. (Some have managed to get it installed on Ubuntu, but it’s a complex process.) Furthermore, only 64-bit systems are supported.

If you’re still interested, Maya can be bought outright for $4,300, or you can opt for 1-year and 2-year licenses for less. A monthly subscription also exists, but is currently unavailable for Linux users.

Replace VirtualBox With VMware

Virtual machines are a great way to run multiple operating systems What's the Best Way to Run Multiple Operating Systems on Your PC? Undecided between Windows and Linux? It's possible to run multiple OSes on a single machine either by dual booting or using a virtual machine. Let's find out which one is best for you. Read More on a single computer, partly because they provide sandbox environments that keep your main operating system protected Testing A New Operating System? Stay Secure With A Virtual Machine Read More . And if you have no money to spend, Virtualbox is usually the go-to solution.

The good thing about Virtualbox is that it’s free, open source, and extremely easy to learn. It takes almost no effort to get started with it as the interface is simple and intuitive. However, over the past few years, Virtualbox has suffered from increasingly poor performance.


When you run an operating system in a virtual machine, performance is key. So even though VMware Workstation Player might seem a bit expensive at $150, the performance gains make it well worth the price — at least if you’re using virtual machines on a daily basis.

VMware offers a free trial that lasts for 30 days and provides full access to all of its features. Give it a try and see whether you can feel the difference. It’s the easiest way to decide whether or not the step up from Virtualbox is worth it for you.

Replace Wine With CrossOver

Linux without Wine would be a travesty. For a lot of us, Wine is the only way we can truly make Linux a replacement for Windows Making Linux a Genuine Windows Replacement With Windows 8 casting a long shadow over the PC industry and Valve committing to create Linux-based gaming PCs, there's never been a better time to start using Linux. For many users, the Linux desktop... Read More as it allows us to run many Windows programs from right inside Linux itself How to Run Windows Apps & Games with Linux Wine Is there any way to get Windows software working on Linux? One answer is to use Wine, but while it can be very useful, it probably should only be your last resort. Here's why. Read More . It’s especially useful for games Using Wine to Play Games On Linux? Here's Why You Should Switch To Steam Right Now In the last couple of months, Steam has been getting a lot of attention. Not necessarily because of the games that it's been carrying, but because of its expanding support of different operating systems. If... Read More .

But for anyone who hasn’t spent much time on Linux, Wine can be quite confusing — and a huge headache if something goes wrong, which isn’t uncommon since Wine is such a complex piece of software. That’s why a lot of users are turning to CrossOver for their emulation needs.

You can think of CrossOver as a polished front-end for Wine: it accomplishes a lot of the same work, but is less prone to failure because it handles dependencies and prefixes for you behind the scenes. The interface is also easier and more comfortable to use.

For $60, you can get a CrossOver license that comes with 12 months of upgrades and email support, or you can pay less for shorter durations of upgrades and email support: $50 for six months, $40 for one month. The good news is that most of that money goes towards supporting the developers of Wine.

Would You Pay for Software on Linux?

It’s time to stop thinking of Linux as an operating system for free apps only. Free apps are great, of course, but in many cases the difference between free and paid is nothing short of incredible.

People have long been willing to pay for top-quality games on Linux 5 Games That Prove Linux Is Now a Serious Gaming Platform Big-budget games are coming to Linux, thanks to graphic driver improvements and the arrival of SteamOS. Here are five, top-tier games which undeniably demonstrate the potential of Linux as a platform for gaming. Read More , but somehow that attitude has yet to spread to non-games. Maybe what Linux needs is fewer people forking projects and more people forking over cash to projects that deserve it.

What do you think of these paid alternatives? Do you spend money on Linux software? If not, what would convince you to start? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!

Related topics: Audacity, PDF Editor, VirtualBox, Wine.

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  1. Lykaestria
    July 20, 2016 at 1:58 am

    I've paid for VMware Workstation twice before, I can't imagine life on Linux without it. Sadly, it can't play the latest and greatest PC games such as GTA IV & GTA V without experiencing severe performance issues. I haven't used it as much lately though since Steam arrived on Linux, from which I've since acquired 84 cross-platform games. If Crossover enables me to play all of the Grand Theft Auto series without having to boot my Windows partition, I'll be a happy man. I would certainly use the trial option before committing myself to purchase though, to see it it works better than Play-On-Linux.

  2. Name
    May 20, 2016 at 4:58 pm

    I would pay for quality Linux software. I prefer to reward people's work when I can. There are some apps I'd prefer stay free (like ad blockers). I'd love to see more quality control and bug squashing. Without incentives, it's hard to keep people correcting their programming mistakes/laziness. Free is good, but only up to a point. Think about it, would you mow my lawn every Saturday for free???

    • Joel Lee
      May 27, 2016 at 1:35 am

      Excellent! If only the majority of Linux users also felt the same way. Well, I suppose a lot of Windows and Mac users are also free software freaks, but it does feel like Linux users are on a different level.

      "Free is good but only up to a point"
      You nailed it, Name.

  3. Anonymous
    February 26, 2016 at 3:27 am

    I agree with Robins comment regarding the Blender vs Maya comparison. The only people I know who are not professionals in 3D modeling that use Maya are using a pirated version obtained from bittorrent. For $4700 dollars vs downloading Blender for free is simply a stupid comparison. It is similar to the comparison of Photoshop vs The GIMP, for the non professional who wants to run legal software there are not many compromises to using GIMP. The one major objection that many point to is that there is no CMYK support in GIMP, this is only relative for the small number of people who send out work to a print service. CMYK has nothing for the vast majority of professional and amateur's who only out put for normal computer displays this includes work for the web.

    There is one type of software that I am still amazed does not exist on Linux is a commercial Blue Ray and DVD player software like CyberLink PowerDVD software. All they would have to do is use the VLC code as is or make their own UI and then have the legal decryption keys for playing BlueRay movies. Not having this is the only reason I am still using Windows on my HTPC. I bet that if this were available 90% of all Linux users would buy it.

  4. David Hollinger
    February 9, 2016 at 5:58 am

    I'm not sure I can agree with replacing VirtualBox with VMWare. KVM is far more powerful and stable than VirtualBox, it's free to use, management is as simple (Sometimes simpler) as Virtualbox/VMWare.

    There are 2 Desktop Apps that can be used to manage it:
    1. Boxes (Installed by default in Fedora) - An extremely easy to use and simple VM Manager. Don't expect a lot of configuration here beyond RAM, CPU, and OS.
    2. Virt-Manager - the older, more VirtualBox/VMWare esque management tool. Included in most Distros repos (if not all - KVM is a part of the Core Kernel).

    As for Enterprise:
    Nearly all cloud IaaS providers use either Xen or KVM for the Hypervisor. The open-source OpenStack project (Foundation of a LOT of Cloud providers now) uses KVM by default. AWS is NOT OpenStack and uses Xen for it's Hypervisor (which is also available in most repos).

  5. JAFD
    February 4, 2016 at 8:01 pm

    If there were a clipboard extender / information manager for Linux with the capability of ClipMate, I would have my creditcard out now. The lack of software in that area equal to what Windows had in 1995 is what's keeping me using Windows.

  6. Anonymous
    February 2, 2016 at 10:14 pm


    I have a small restaurant and my last pc under w10 :(( is my point of sale terminal.
    I just discovered ViewTouch and fighting to install for testing from GitHub with source code on a fresh Jessie Debian. I like the idea of ViewTouch, simple to use and permitting the use of Android devices through xwindow. But I could not have it working yet.

    In order to stay on the thread, yes, I would pay for a good pos software or for ViewTouch if it works, and, like other guys I read here, I regularly $upport Ubuntu and other software devs for the nice job and the pleasure they give me to bring back to life old bricks like 8 years old netbooks without giving Mr. Gates a dime. If you'll save 150$ on your os, you can spare some for open source authors.

  7. André Desgualdo Pereira
    February 2, 2016 at 10:27 am

    I think you are wrong when you say that Linux users have aversion to pay for software. Quite the opposite you can see the Humble Bundle promotion always get relative more cash from Linux than from Windows. Furthermore many Linux users are developers themselves and know the value of software. And many users of free and open source software make donations to the projects they use.
    Best regards.

    • Big Smoke
      February 29, 2016 at 5:44 pm

      I'll second that. I buyed several time from the "Bundle-site", and every time I checked, GNU/Linux users had the highest payment per purchase (as opposed to Win and Mac users). That just says it all about their attitude.

      And yes, like so many others, I have donated to quite a few free software causes.

  8. Robin
    February 2, 2016 at 2:36 am

    "The open source community often hails Blender as one of its crowning achievements, and in a lot of ways it’s the GIMP of 3D modeling and animation. Unfortunately, like GIMP, Blender suffers from several problems that keep holding it back, such as the steep learning curve and lack of guidance."

    You totally lost me with the "lack of guidance" for Blender misinformation, sorry. There are entire channels and websites devoted to Blender tutorials.
    Google is your friend.
    On YouTube alone: "autodesk maya tutorial" yields 254,000 results. "Blender 3D tutorial" yields 1,090,000 results: 4 times as many.
    There are few things the casual user - and now, even serious content developer - can't do in Blender. And at $4700 a seat (less is still AUD$ 286/month or AUD$ 2272/year) you'd have to have really powerful reasons to go with maya. Not knocking that Autodesk software, but wow, how is this relevant for 99% for the population?
    As far as learning curve goes: maya's no walk in the park, either. :-/

  9. Carl Snyder
    February 1, 2016 at 11:16 pm

    I pay for good software which I use, if the payment is within my budget, otherwise I make do with what I can afford. I used free software under MS-DOS/Windows, too.

  10. Anonymous
    February 1, 2016 at 9:14 pm

    " If users aren’t willing to pay money for software, the developers of said software will find users who are willing to pay them for their hard work "
    I think there is a flaw in your argument. If developers want to be paid for their work, why do they churn out endless spins and variations of Ubuntu?! Distros are software, too.

    BTW - in your research on replacing free apps with pay-for ones, have you run across a Linux equivalent of TurboTax or TaxAct?

    • Carl Snyder
      February 1, 2016 at 11:13 pm

      I have used the TaxAct on-line version for several years. If you are e-filing, why bother with off-line? If you want greatest privacy, don't store it on your computer, and file by mail.

      • Anonymous
        February 2, 2016 at 12:11 am

        I used TaxAct for 5 or so years but I no longer have a Windows PC. That is why I am looking for a Linux tax program. Actually there is one, Open Tax Solver, but it is more a script than a program. It does much of the heavy calculating but it is rather rudimentary.

        The greatest privacy comes from doing taxes the old fashioned way, by hand, and filing by mail. :-)

  11. Anonymous
    February 1, 2016 at 8:57 pm

    I had used OS X before where I did buy quite a lot of high quality software, and would love to do so if only there were opportunities. As nice as having everything for free sounds, the reality, imho, is that lots of these free projects are simply not good (or at least not as good as they could and should be). Still, they're often for "geeks" with enough time to dig through endless man-pages and other obscure sources or for people who like to torture themselves with interfaces unintuitive as hell. So again, yes, I would gladly pay for software, as long as I consider them good.

  12. Lazza
    February 1, 2016 at 6:04 pm

    While I agree that supporting software creators is a good idea, I see a few flaws in the article. I'm not writing these to offend the author, just to contribute my two cents...

    - paying for software is not a bad thing, paying for *proprietary* software is usually a bad thing (I did pay for a couple of licensed programs, though)... instead of paying say 50$ for a proprietary program, it's usually better to donate 50$ to the open source alternative and help it grow
    - PDFs are not hard to edit on Linux, quite the opposite: most of the time there are more FLOSS programs running only on Linux for common operations (split, merge, rotate, crop pages, leaflet, extract images, etcetera)... the only problem is the "OCR sandwich", which is solved by using PDF-Xchange editor via Wine
    - Master PDF editor is paid for commercial use only, not home use
    - Ardour is not a commercial program, they sell installers but the source is open and you find it packaged for most distributions
    - "Replace VirtualBox With VMware" seriously, why would I ever want to do this? o.O

  13. Bruce Barnes
    February 1, 2016 at 4:44 pm

    I used Intuit's Quicken for many years. It is the gold standard of home budgeting and finance tracking software but there is no Linux version. I found the free KMyMoney software to be a suitable free Linux replacement for Quicken. No need to pay for Moneydance as far as I'm concerned.

  14. pierre
    February 1, 2016 at 2:51 pm

    certainly would buy software written for the linux system,
    & already have done so.

    & it's still a good saving over buying software, for the windows system.