Linux Security

How to Ditch Google on Linux: 10 Alternative Apps and Services to Use Instead

Bertel King 24-04-2018

Switching to Linux is a great way to increase control over your digital life. But that transition doesn’t make much difference if you’re still using all the same sites and services that you used before.


Among them, Google is probably the largest and most difficult to leave behind. Alongside Facebook, it’s one of the tech giants whose data collection most intrudes on our privacy.

But ditching Google is possible. Here are some Google app alternatives you can consider on Linux. All of the desktop apps are open source, while web services are more of a mixed bag.

1. Ditch Google Search, Use DuckDuckGo

ditch google services and products on linux

Google’s name has become synonymous with online search. But this is also Google’s largest window into the most intimate details of our lives. Through our searches, Google can almost read our thoughts. These inquiries can reveal our deepest desires and fears.

DuckDuckGo is the largest search provider that emphasizes our privacy How DuckDuckGo's New Privacy Apps Keep You Safe Online Privacy-based search engine DuckDuckGo has released new mobile apps and browser extensions. Here's how they can keep you secure online. Read More . For starters, you don’t create an account (Google and Bing don’t require accounts, but many of us use these services while signed into Google and Microsoft regardless). DuckDuckGo also doesn’t try to personalized search results, a process that inherently requires gathering information about you.


2. Ditch Gmail, Use Kolab Now

ditch google services and products on linux

Who have you emailed over the course of your life? What did those messages contain? Google scans every message we send in order to deliver us personalized ads. Every year the company rolls out new services that manipulate this data in different ways.

Want an alternative to Gmail that doesn’t search your email and actually takes your privacy seriously? The folks over at Kolab Now not only make those promises, but they build their offerings using open source tools and contribute back to the community.

Kolab Now accounts integrates best with KDE tools such as Kontact, KMail, and KOrganizer. Kolab Now doesn’t have ads. Instead, users pay directly for the service. Subscriptions start at CHF 4.41 (just under $5) a month.


For further alternatives, check out these secure and encrypted email providers The 5 Most Secure and Encrypted Email Providers Fed up with government and third-party surveillance of your emails? Protect your messages with a secure encrypted email service. Read More .

3. Ditch Google Calendar, Use fruux

ditch google services and products on linux

Many people swear by Google Calendar as a tool that keeps them sane. But it’s not the only way to keep track of dates and events online. Some companies not only provide calendars, but they offer them as their primary product. fruux is one example, and it happens to explicitly list Thunderbird, Evolution, Rainlendar, and ReminderFox as supported clients on Linux.

fruux is a great alternative to Google Calendar, and it’s free to up to two shares across two devices. More than that requires a plan starting at around $5 (prices are listed in Euros) a month. Apps are also available for Android and iOS. The company uses and contributes back to a number of open source projects.


Note: If you decide to use Kolab Now email (mentioned above), you may want to stick with that account for your calendar too. However, the calendar functionality isn’t included with the lowest priced plan.

4. Ditch Google Hangouts, Use Linphone [No Longer Available]

You don’t have to stop placing voice calls to friends, family, and colleagues when switching to Linux. Skype and Google Hangouts both support the operating system.

While you could technically swap Hangouts for Skype, Microsoft isn’t exactly more trustworthy than Google. In that case, there are a few open-source alternatives designed for Linux 4 Linux VOIP Alternatives to Skype When it comes to Linux VOIP apps, many people decide on Skype. But there are plenty of great alternatives! Here are four that we like. Read More . Linphone has the added plus of also being available for Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, and BlackBerry 10.

Download: Linphone


5. Ditch Google Maps, Use OpenStreetMaps

ditch google services and products on linux

Google Maps, the site, has one major open source alternative. That’s OpenStreetMaps.

OpenStreetMaps can show you standard and satellite maps of most corners of the globe. Is it as detailed as Google? Sometimes it has less information, and sometimes it has more. That’s because OpenStreetMaps relies on contributions from people like you and me. On the downside, this information is harder to access because the site isn’t as good at converting addresses to GPS coordinates.

There are a few dedicated Linux apps that access OpenStreetMaps, saving you from having to open a browser. Check out GNOME Maps and KDE Marble.

Download: GNOME Maps
Download: KDE Marble

6. Ditch Google Drive, Use SpiderOak

ditch google services and products on linux

Among cloud storage, Google Drive is really an alternative to Dropbox, which is perhaps the easiest way to sync data across multiple computers over the internet. But Dropbox isn’t a big step forward if you’re concerned about your privacy. In that case, check out SpiderOak.

SpiderOak promises that not even it can access your data if you stick to only using the desktop client, which is available for Linux. That said, as a proprietary product, we can only take them at their word.

Download: SpiderOak (Plans start at $5/mo)

Prefer an open-source solution? That requires a little bit more work, but there are open-source cloud storage solutions out there 10 Cloud Solutions You Should Be Using on Linux Some mainstream cloud storage options don't offer a decent Linux client. But you're not out of luck. Many popular services do work under Linux. You can even roll out your own cloud solution! Read More .

7. Ditch Google Docs, Use ONLYOFFICE

ditch google services and products on linux
Image Credit: ONLYOFFICE

Google Docs provides most of what people want from Microsoft Office for free. It also removes the difficulty of getting your hands on a copy. All you have to do is visit the site with a reasonably fast internet connection (which can be more of a challenge in some areas than others). As for the catch? All of your data exists on Google servers.

ONLYOFFICE is an open-source alternative office suite The 7 Best Free Microsoft Office Alternatives Microsoft Office is the king of office suites, but that doesn't mean it's the right one for you. Here are some other office suites you might like better! Read More that puts the control in your hands. You can access the interface on someone else’s servers, or you can host a copy on your own (both options scale in price based on the number of users).

And for when internet connectivity isn’t available, you can always resort to a free copy of the desktop version.

Download: ONLYOFFICE Desktop (Free)

8. Ditch Google Photos, Use Shotwell + Syncthing

ditch google services and products on linux

Is your phone your primary way of taking pictures? Does it automatically upload every snap you take? There are any number of alternative cloud services you can consider if you simply want to leave Google behind, but you also have the option to store and manage your photos yourself.

Picasa is Google’s desktop app for the job, but it’s no longer supported on Linux. Fortunately, there are many other photo managers to choose from 8 Picasa Alternatives Made for Linux You may have heard that Google is closing Picasa, but of course, Google stopped supporting the Linux port of Picasa years ago, so we've plenty of great alternatives already available! Read More . If you use Ubuntu, Fedora, or elementary OS, your default option is Shotwell (or a variation of it).

If it’s the cloud storage aspect of Google Photos you’re most interested in. Syncthing can keep copies in sync between your smartphone and your Linux-powered PCs. Or you can use any of the other providers linked to above.

Download: Shotwell
Download: Syncthing

9. Ditch Google+, Use Mastodon

ditch google services and products on linux

Like most online social networks, Google+ comes from a single company. How we interact with the site is up to Google. The company stores every letter we type, and what it does with the information is its choice, not ours.

Mastodon is more similar to Twitter than Google+. Nonetheless, it offers a decentralized way to share thoughts, links, and images with others. No one group has access to all of the data. You can create your own Mastodon instance.

Interested? See our overview of how Mastodon works Mastodon: What You Need to Know About the New Social Network Mastodon is out to unseat Twitter as the best microblogging social network out there -- but will it succeed? Here's everything you need to know about the newcomer. Read More .

10. Ditch YouTube, Use DTube

ditch google services and products on linux

YouTube is the most well-known video distribution site on the web. Yet there are reasons to dislike YouTube, and not just because it’s hip to snub what’s mainstream. YouTube is a treasure trove of data for Google. It also pays content creators relatively little money unless they’re consistently bringing in millions of views on a steady stream of videos. The site also demonetizes videos based on an ambiguous standard.

Whether you’re looking for videos to watch or want a place to host your own, a few alternatives are built on decentralized infrastructure. DTube is a blockchain-based option. Then there’s BitChute, which uses peer-to-peer technology.

With either one, don’t expect anywhere near the diversity present on YouTube. You may also see many political videos featuring content that’s less welcome on more centralized platforms. These are early days for decentralized video distribution.

It’s Time to Say Goodbye to Google

There are various reasons to have concerns about Google. Maybe you don’t like the company’s tendency to discontinue less popular services, even if they have millions of users. Maybe you have concerns over data collection and privacy, given the way Google makes its money. Maybe you just don’t like having all of your eggs in one basket.

Whatever the reason, it’s still possible to use a PC without a Google account. And you may be surprised to know you can ditch Google on your smartphone too How to Use Android Without Google: Everything You Need to Know Want to use Android without Google? No Google, no problem. Here's a guide to going Google-free on your Android device to regain privacy. Read More .

Related topics: Google, Google Maps.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

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  1. Matt
    May 8, 2018 at 2:53 pm

    So you wanna Ditch Google by using paid apps... come on, seriously!

    • Decafjava
      May 8, 2018 at 7:59 pm

      “If it’s free you are not the customer but the product. “
      Why not pay a developer for their work and some of the apps/services proposed like DuckDuckGo are free.

      Libreoffice is another free app.

  2. Col. Panek
    May 7, 2018 at 4:48 pm

    Put Linux on your Chromebook, too. I'm running GalliumOS, which makes it easy.

  3. Learjet
    April 26, 2018 at 6:31 am

    No, thanks. I love Google and all its services. I guess I don't get the privacy paranoia. I have nothing interesting or criminal to hide, so whatever. If Google knows that I ordered new loafers from Amazon yesterday, so what? Welcome to the 21st century.

    • dragonmouth
      April 27, 2018 at 12:42 pm

      "If Google knows that I ordered new loafers from Amazon yesterday, so what? "
      Were it only that simple and that limited! To find out the extent of the amount of information Google has on you, just Google your name although even that will not show you the whole extent.

      When the secret police forces of oppressive regimes collect dossiers on their citizens, we are incensed and appalled and we say "How barbaric!" At least they can hide behind the excuse that they are doing it for the good of the country. However, when PRIVATE companies such as Google or Facebook track us 24/7/365, some of us "don't get the privacy paranoia" and sanguinely just say "Welcome to the 21st century". What is Google's, Facebook's, et al excuse other than greed?!

      Just because this is the 21st century, will you allow an A/V camera in every room of your house? CCTV cameras are already becoming ubiquitous in many "democratic" countries. It may be the 21st century but it does not have to turn into 1984.

      • amazed
        May 8, 2018 at 5:57 am

        I find it amazing that people now seem to think nothing of carrying around a tracking device (cell phone) with them at all times and installing audio surveillance devices in their homes (Amazon Alexa, Google Home). If Big Brother isn't watching yet, he will be soon.

      • Friar Tux
        August 2, 2018 at 1:06 am

        Two things to remember here people... One, secret police purposely collect incriminating data, Google does not. Two, the data Google collects is nothing personal. It collects the same data that almost ALL website/apps, etc., collect. This data is used to personalize your interaction with said website/app, etc.. I, for one, use all things Google as they are better developed and FREE. But then, I'm not into porn and stuff of that nature.

        • dragonmouth
          August 2, 2018 at 12:48 pm

          "One, secret police purposely collect incriminating data, Google does not"
          Ignorance is bliss. Secret police collect any and all data they can, so does Google. One never knows when and how a bit of data can be useful.

          "the data Google collects is nothing personal"
          When was the last time you Googled yourself? Much of the data Google has on me is too personal for my taste.

          "It collects the same data that almost ALL website/apps, etc., collect. "
          If fifty million people do the wrong thing, it is still wrong.

    • joeblow
      May 20, 2018 at 10:51 am

      that logic is insane,
      if you dont exercise your rights they will be taken away.
      during the last election, its a proven fact google censored results that were anti-clinton-love or hate the criminal bitch, do you want that?
      but on top of that, google is the largest contributor to politicians, they are also the hire more lobbyist than anyone else.
      plus google was funded by DARPA in their early days, the CIA too, im guessing like MS-13, once your in, there is only one way out.
      every email you get, they route out of country and back, only to create a loophole to give the government everything legally, which they do, without being asked.
      they fired an employee because he voiced an opinion about why there wasnt as many women in tech.
      they are currently working with the DOD to create AI drones, capable of killing people, Americans on america soil too (thanks obama-asshole) without human interaction.
      soon they will be deciding who live and dies, literally.
      and i also think with the amount of data they give to the government, they might as well be the government, with all they give to lobbyist, and politicians, they are the ones deciding the laws.
      not to mention they are a monopoly, crushing competitors, suffocating innovations, and paying the gov in money/data to look the other way.
      is this what you had in mind giving your data to a public company?

  4. dragonmouth
    April 25, 2018 at 12:49 pm

    The very first Google app that users should quit id Chrome.

    If using Firefox, check your about:config and turn off all keys that refer to Google Safe Browsing other wise Google will be able to track you wherever you go on the Internet.

    • Bertel King, Jr.
      April 26, 2018 at 2:15 pm

      Great point!

    • Jim
      April 27, 2018 at 10:54 am

      I also use Google Disconnect. The one thing you have to realize is if you turn of Google a lot of websites use it and it will limit what you can see and do. I do have a Google account, only because you have to if you have an Android phone, and I am to damn cheap to buy and Apple phone, and Apple spies on you too. They don't get much from me there, I seldom call and text even less. It is more for emergencies when traveling than anything else. Otherwise it is off.

    • -g
      May 5, 2018 at 9:35 pm

      I use a Firefox derivative, Waterfox, on a MacAir. In the about:config file was about 20 Google Safe Browsing entries. What was not apparent to me was how to "turn off all keys". Neither 'left click' nor 'double click' revealed an option to "turn off" these keys, only to delete or modify. Would you have a minute to assist?

      • dragonmouth
        May 5, 2018 at 11:21 pm

        You MODIFY all values:
        Boolean by Toggling it False -> True or True -> False
        Integer by changing the numeric value
        String by changing the text or by blanking it

        However, I do not know if all 20 Google Safe Browsing entries need to be changed. Before making any changes to them, read the following article:

        NOTE: While the article is still valid, it was written before FF Quantum was released for general use. Some entries the author writes about may have been eliminated by Mozilla as no longer necessary. If you would like peace of mind, you can put them back in as NEW entries. I believe the author explains how to do it.

        There are other changes that can be made to about:config to make FF more secure and to customize it to your liking. Search the Net (of course using DuckDuckGo) for articles on about:config.

        Before making ANY changes, create a copy of your working about:config. Just in case.

        • -g
          May 6, 2018 at 1:36 pm

          Thanks Dragonmouth; always enjoy your observations and really appreciate your research link. I'll study it.
          FYI, I did not follow FF down the Quantum hole - it just phoned home too often with too much info. Also, use DDG mostly and StartPage sometimes, which is the best, simple way to start protecting your privacy on the old inter-webs.
          Re: The 'I have nothing to hide' privacy crowd, one of my partners responds, "If you believe you don't need a right to privacy because you have nothing to hide, then you don't need a free speech right either, because you obviously have nothing to say."
          Be well D-mouth.

      • dragonmouth
        May 6, 2018 at 1:56 pm

        You're welcome.

        Thank you for the pithy quote.

      • fireboy
        May 11, 2018 at 6:03 am

        Bertel King,
        Thanks for your write-up, it's more fuel for the fire in try to keep from using Google no more than I absolutely have to. It's just so easy to get sucked into "free"! Most everybody have their five out reached with the palm up waiting for it to be filled expecting something when doing nothing in return!
        You have turned me on to some that I was not aware of but overall I've been using most of the item you have posted, and I will check out the new ones you have pointed out!
        Thanks for the post and to know that there are others that think like myself.

        • hannah r
          May 12, 2018 at 11:14 am

          well stated article more closer to the truth that needs to be told and others need to get their head out of the "Google cloud" that does all for me," way of thinking. i have been using Android for 9 yrs, and erased google accounts due to theie putting my photos of kids on the web, without me even knowing. 8 yrs i have not used a Google account, and yes it is possible, but not easy. t you do not have to have an acount on the phones, it takes effort, getting informed about how to alternatives and putting them to use on devices to work for you. Most of all, people need to stop believing everything they hear on the web, and taking it at face value. American people shouldn't have to make statements like "I don't have anything to hide," and wake up. Not that you do, but what you are entitled to as private matters should not be a burden we have to deal with daily time consuming methods to protect out rights to privacy on any level. Too many judges and lawyers are making us the criminal element when it is their guilt that is the root of it.
          life without Google is life without worries that drag us through the gutter.