Forgotten Free SoftwareLast update: 2020/04/30
A look back at some free software projects which are no longer maintained.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.
aMSN was a cross-platform clone of the Windows Live Messenger client for connecting to the MSN instant messaging network. With an initial release in May 2002, the program was based on a previous application called ccmsn. Fevelopment continued through to 2012.
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 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.
Once a relatively popular desktop search application, Beagle last saw a stable release in 2009. 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 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.
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 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 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.
Diagramming software Dia is used to create flow charts, network and circuit diagrams, and entity-relationship models with similar functionality to Microsoft Visio. It also supports various formats including SVG and DXF, allowing import into Autocad. Although written in C, extensibility options are available with Python. The last release was made in September 2014 as a preview release.
Ekiga is a video-conferencing application which was started as a NetMeeting clone – and originally had the name GnomeMeeting before changing. The application supported various protocols, had a contacts list, chat, and viewing of call history. Up until 2009, the application was one of the default distributed with Ubuntu.
emesene is an instant messaging client which originally supported MSN, before extending into other services via XMPP including Google Talk and Facebook Messenger. The program was written in Python and was cross-platform with releases available for Windows and Mac OS X. The last release was made in mid-2012.
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.
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 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.
gDesklets is a applet program which provides small applications which are attached to the desktop to provide information such as weather, system resource usage, calendars, notes, and controls for media players amongst other things. The use of applets gained popularity around 2007 and 2008 with the release of Windows Vista. The last stable release of gDesklets was made in January 2011.
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.
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.
GNOME Do is a launcher in a similar vain to Quicksilver on Mac OS X. It also had the ability to appear as a dock, and had support for searching through email and instant messaging contacts, and artists and albums in media players. The codebase was C# and the last stable release was made in 2014.
GNOME Launch Box
Inspired by Quicksilver from Mac OS X, GNOME Launch Box was an application launching program which allowed quick access to installed programs. It could also search contacts, find bookmarks, and open recent files. It was never quite as popular as the alternative – GNOME Do – and development stopped around 2009.
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.
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.
Gwibber is a microblogging client which worked with services such as Twitter and Facebook. It became popular in 2010 and was included with Ubuntu 10.04 as one of the default applications before being dropped again. The final release was made in 2012.
KDE instant messaging client Kopete last saw a release in October 2015. The program supports multiple protocols including Skype, QQ, and Gadu-Gadu. There is also plugin support which provides extensibility to the base features. Kopete was slated to be replaced by KDE Telepathy however development of that program ended a year earlier in 2014.
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.
Nvu is 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.
Quanta Plus (originally called Quanta) is an IDE for web developers with a WYSIWYG design. Also provided are features for project management, templates, plugins, and an integrated preview. Many of the features have been moved to KDevelop with the last release of Quanta Plus coming in 2008.
Screenlets provided applets which were attached to the desktop to provide useful information such as system resource usage and the weather while staying out of the way while using other programs. The application was released under the GPL and last saw a stable release in early 2012 with popularity of applets waning over the last decade.
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.
Tomboy was a relatively popular simple note-taking application which was included in the default Ubuntu install around 2008 and 2009. It provided features such as spell checking, automatic hyperlinking, bulleted lists and synchronisation via SSH, WebDAV and Ubuntu One. The last release came in 2017. Gnote, a clone of Tomboy, but written in C++ continues to see releases being made.
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.
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 2016, and it still lacks some features such as VPN, PPP connections and mobile broadband.