Forgotten Free Software

A look back at some free software projects which are no longer maintained. Typically listed will be those which have seen some level of popularity at some point in the development history.

Avant Window Navigator

The late 2000s were a popular time for dock launchers of which there were several, including Avant Window Navigator. The launcher concept popularised by Mac OS X, has now died down with Avant seeing its last release in 2013.

Banshee

Banshee was once a particularly popular music player written in C# and GTK+. It was seen as a more powerful alternative to Rhythmbox and was perceived as having an improved interface. Over the years however, releases have become infrequent and the feature roadmap has slipped with the last release being made in early 2014.

Beagle

Once a relatively popular desktop search application, Beagle last saw a release five years ago. The program was written using C# and provided the ability to search a range of content on a computer such as chat logs, email, applications, contacts, and much more. Competing with Tracker, Beagle was seen by some as the more feature complete software until the development pace slowed to a stop.

Blackbox

Blackbox is a stacking window manager released under the MIT license. It can often be found in repositories for various Linux distributions, however the last development release was made in 2005, and the project is now considered to be unmaintained. Window manager Fluxbox was forked from Blackbox and is more frequently updated.

Celestia

3D space exploration software Celestia was last released in 2011, with most development moved to alternative projects or space engines. The key feature was providing travel through space for the user, with the offer of different vantage points that traditional space software does not offer. Celestia achieved some success including use by NASA as an educational tool along with it being used in various television programmes.

CDex

CDex was once a popular CD ripping program released for Windows. Its last stable release came back in 2003, however further unstable releases were made up until 2009 when development stopped. The software still supports a number of output formats such as FLAC, Vorbis and MP3.

Conduit

Conduit is a synchronisation program which saw its first release in 2007. It aimed to allow the syncing of a variety of content types, and allowed the user to specify the data and where it was to be synchronised to. For example, you could take a store of photos to both an image editor and an online storage service. The last release was made back in 2010.

F-Spot

F-Spot is an image organiser which supports a number of image formats such as JPG, PNG, TIFF and even some RAW files. A number of basic image editing functions are available, and the software also supports directly importing files from a camera. The last release of the software came in 2010. Written in C#, F-Spot was included for a number of years in distributions such as Ubuntu, Fedora and OpenSuSE.

Firestarter

Firewall software Firestarter is a frontend for configuring iptables graphically. The software allows for configuring of firewall rules, real-time monitoring of traffic, and configuring of port forwarding and internet connection sharing. The software however hasn’t seen a stable release since 2005, with competitor Shorewall seen as more feature complete.

Galeon

Galeon was a GTK+ web browser based on the Gecko engine. The browser was often compared to a similar browser Epiphany, however it included a number of extra features including mouse gestures, smart bookmarks, and the in-built ability to customise the user agent. The last release came in 2008, however development slowed in 2002 when some of the original developers left the project over disagreements in how to develop the application in the future.

gFTP

gFTP is an FTP client similar to Filezilla which works on several platforms including Linux, Mac and even the Playstation 3. The software even had a command-line version. It supports a number of features such as FXP which allowed transferring files between two FTP servers. In 2013, the developer of the project announced that he would like to find a new owner to continue the work since no new releases had been made since 2008.

Gnash

Being a GNU project, its hard to say whether the Flash alternative Gnash is dead or just slow moving, however the last release came back in 2012. As with Swfdec, the software is a free software implementation of Adobe Flash and for a short time, both Gnash and Swfdec were actively developed to make up for a lack of supported Flash plugin, particularly on x64 architectures.

GnomeBaker

The last release of the CD and DVD burning software GnomeBaker came in 2010. The project fell behind the more popular Brasero which saw more development due to it being a part of the GNOME project. GnomeBaker however had plenty of features such as multi-session burning and audio CD authoring, however it lacks options for UDF support.

Graveman

Disc copying software Graveman has seen no development since 2006. The software is a graphical frontend to a variety of tools allowing it to burn data CDs and DVDs, create audio CDs, and produced disc copies on the fly. Other burning software such as Brasero and k3b now offer more polished interfaces.

Leafpad

Leafpad is similar to Notepad on Windows in that it provides a simple text editor with few dependencies. It is found on lightweight desktops such as LXDE and was also the default editor in Xubuntu until Mousepad came along. The latest release was made in 2010.

Lightspark

The third Flash alternative in this list looked promising as a free software alternative to Adobe Flash after the failings of Gnash and Swfdec. The last release however was made in 2013 but some development does continue on GitHub where the repositories are located. With the demise of Flash as a whole, interest in the project has waned.

Midori

Midori was a promising lightweight browser which saw regular alpha releases through the late 2000’s. It became popular on low resource distributions. Developed using GTK+ and WebKit, it gained a number of features such as adblocking, mouse gesture support, private browsing, and speed dial. The last release was in 2016 with the 0.5.11 version.

Nvu

Nvu was a HTML editor based on Composer, a component of the Mozilla suite. The code was expected to be merged back into the Mozilla suite before it was discontinued, though a community fork called KompoZer continued on for some time. The last release was made in 2005 with the 1.0 release and was able to run on Windows, Mac and Linux at the time.

Swfdec

Swfdec aimed to be a free software implementation of Adobe Flash, which had its initial release in 2008. The project was chosen to be included in Fedora, however once development was abandoned, it was removed. The final commit came in 2009 with support for version four of Flash. The alternatives include using the proprietary Flash plugin, or the alternative free software projects Gnash and Lightspark.

XChat

XChat is a popular, multi-platform IRC client which is commonly distributed with many Linux distributions. A build is also available for Windows however it is available as shareware making it proprietary. Unfortunately, development slowed and no new releases have been made since 2010. Alternative GUI based IRC clients are often lacking, with the terminal based irssi or weechat clients usually recommended.

Wicd

Network manager Wicd was first released in 2006 and was a competitor to the more common Network Manager. In many cases it was more stable and had fewer bugs than Network Manager, however the inclusion of Network Manager in many distributions lead to it becoming more popular. The last release of Wicd came in almost two years ago in 2012 and it lacks some features such as VPN, PPP connections and mobile broadband.