7 Great Open-Source Desktop Apps Available on Android
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We’re big fans of open-source software here at MakeUseOf. It’s free, secure, and flexible. Indeed, we love it so much that we’ve previously covered some of the best open-source Android apps and open-source desktop apps.

But what about open-source apps that straddle the divide between the two platforms? Finding open-source software with both desktop and Android versions is not as common as you might think.

Nonetheless, some apps are available on both, including some of your all-time favorite desktop software. If you’re curious to find out which desktop apps have made the leap to Android, keep reading.

1. Firefox

Firefox Android Open Source
On the desktop, users are spoiled for choice when it comes to open-source browsers. There’s Chromium, Brave, Midori, and Konqueror, to name just four.

But the best of the bunch is unquestionably Mozilla Firefox.

Firefox has been around since 2002. In that time, it’s grown to become one of the world’s most popular browsers. At the start of 2018, it boasted 12 percent of the market share according to StatCounter. That makes it the second most-used browser in the world behind Chrome.

The open-source Android version of the app has all the features you’d expect from a quality browser, including tracking protection, cross-device syncing, a vast number of add-ons, and a password manager.

Download: Firefox (Free)

2. VLC

VLC Android Open Source

VLC is one of the best media players in the world and is available on all major operating systems. It might hard to believe, but the app is now approaching its 20th birthday after launching way back in 2001.

VLC started as a university project in Paris. The app was intended to be a client/server system that could stream videos from satellite dishes across a campus network, but it quickly grew to be much more.

The app’s ability to play just about any video, audio, or subtitle file you throw at it has won the software acclaim around the world.

VLC is also adored by people who oppose the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA); it can play CSS-encrypted videos despite the lack of a CSS decryption license. It also includes the libdvdcss DVD decryption library, which is legally restricted in many countries.

Download: VLC (Free)

3. DuckDuckGo

DuckDuckGo Android Open Source

Most people have now heard of DuckDuckGo. It’s a search engine with a strong focus on privacy and security.

Of course, you can access the search engine through any browser. However, due to the desktop browser extensions and the company once offering a standalone app for Windows, it makes this list.

Critics will point at DuckDuckGo and say it’s not entirely an open source app. It’s a fair accusation; the app’s core code remains closed. However, it’s mainly due to licensing issues and APIs.

In DuckDuckGo’s defense, the app becomes closer to becoming entirely open source every day. The company is even looking for volunteers to help move the open source project along. If you’d like to lend a hand, reach out and let them know.

Download: DuckDuckGo (Free)

4. KeePass

KeePass is one of the best alternatives to LastPass. And, unlike its more well-known rival, the app is entirely open source.

When it comes to password managers, security is naturally a vital component Is Your Password Manager Secure? 5 Services Compared Is Your Password Manager Secure? 5 Services Compared Unless you have an incredible memory, there's no way you can possibly hope to remember all your usernames and passwords. The sensible option is to use a password manager -- but which is best? Read More . KeePass does not disappoint. It offers AES and Twofish encryption, an SHA-256 hash for the master key components, protection against dictionary and guessing attacks, process memory protection, and a whole lot more.

It’s important to note that the Android ports of KeePass (there are three to choose from) are unofficial. But don’t let that put you off. We recommend KeePassDroid, as it boasts almost exclusively five-star reviews and has been downloaded more than three million times.

Download: KeePassDroid (Free)

5. Freeciv

Freeciv Android Open Source

Who doesn’t love to spend a few hours playing Civilization every now and again?

You can argue about which Civ game is the best in the series Every Version of Sid Meier's Civilization Compared Every Version of Sid Meier's Civilization Compared Sid Meier's Civilization series has been around since 1991. From its humble beginnings to massive recent releases, let's examine the series' evolution through six mainline games and over 25 years of time. Read More for hours, but for pure nostalgia, you cannot beat the historic Civilization 2.

Freeciv uses Civ 2 as its base. Much like OpenTTD is based on Transport Tycoon Deluxe, Freeciv is almost identical to the 1996 classic.

The game is entirely open source and has a growing team of contributors who roll out frequent updates, though the Android version hasn’t seen an update in years. Like its predecessor, you start life as a tribal leader in 4000 BC and play until you either conquer all the other players or until someone colonizes space.

The Android version of the game is an unofficial port, but it works well. It’s more enjoyable played on a larger tablet screen than on a phone.

Download: Freeciv (Free)

6. WordPress

If you want to build a website, there’s a good chance you will turn to WordPress. According to the latest data, it powers 30 percent of the world’s top 10 million pages. For comparison, its nearest competitor—Joomla—only controls a little over 3 percent.

Perhaps surprisingly, many people don’t realize that the software is free and open source.

Previously, only the content management part of the software (WordPress.org) was open source. However, in late 2015, the fully-hosted version of WordPress (WordPress.com) also became open source. Developer Automattic rewrote the entire app from scratch to facilitate the change.

The Android WordPress app supports both WordPress.org and WordPress.com. It lets you write, edit, and publish posts, as well as manage your site and check statistics.

Download: WordPress (Free)

7. Tribler [No Longer Available]

Tribler Android Open Source

Tribler is an open-source BitTorrent client. It’s the result of a partnership between Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and the Delft University of Technology.

The app’s biggest strength lies in its anonymity. The developers have created a custom Tor network which includes encryption, onion routing, and hidden seeding.

Like many of the best BitTorrent clients, you can start watching videos before the download has finished and search for content to download from within the app’s interface.

The Android app does not offer P2P downloads. Instead, it lets you interact with other Tribler users. You can take advantage of NFC to send videos to each other, send encrypted live broadcasts to your friends, and provide live streaming to your followers on Twitter.

Open-Source Apps Are Great, But Not Required

Open-source apps are usually excellent, but they’re not for everybody. If you’re not interested in going completely open source Your Complete Guide to Living a 100% Free and Open Source Life Your Complete Guide to Living a 100% Free and Open Source Life Windows and macOS are commercial, proprietary, closed source operating systems. Linux, and its many applications, are free and open source. Want to use only free and open source software? Here's how. Read More , it’s always good to remember the advantages of proprietary software What Is Proprietary Software? 5 Ways It Beats Open-Source Software What Is Proprietary Software? 5 Ways It Beats Open-Source Software Open-source software is popular, but what about proprietary software? Here are some ways closed-source software enjoys advantages over open-source options. Read More .

Explore more about: Android Apps, Open Source.

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  1. Mark VI.
    April 4, 2018 at 4:23 pm

    That's a rather strange category. I couldn't care less if an app is open source. I mean, sure, it's nice and all, but if the app doesn't deliver, it being open source doesn't matter. At least not for me as a user. A good example would be Threema, a messenger that isn't open source but still considered to be one of the best choices by experts such as Steve Gibson. Also, if you're an Apple user, the operating systems your apps run on isn't open source, either. Just sayin'.

    • halfey
      April 10, 2018 at 1:51 am

      "if the app doesn't deliver, it being open source ..."
      That's the point. If it doesn't deliver, it being open source will allow people with the necessary skills to fork/fix it (or people with money to hire someone else to do it) to make it 'deliver'. That's why it matters.