Awesome Humane Tech
Awesome Humane Tech is a curated list of open-source projects that improve wellbeing, freedom and society. It is maintained by the Humane Tech Community.
Better (also called Better Blocker) is an open source add-on for Apple’s Safari browser, available for iPhone, iPad and Mac. Better helps to protect privacy by blocking ads and trackers when you’re browsing the web on Safari.
Better World Books
Better World Books is an online bookshop which tries to take a more ethical approach, by donating one book to charity for every book it sells.
Delivery is free worldwide.
Blender is a professional suite of tools for doing 3D and 2D animations, visual effects, compositing and video editing.
It has been used extensively to create many excellent free short films such as “Spring” (2018), “Sintel” (2010) and “Glass Half” (2015). It’s also widely used commercially, for example on the Netflix feature film Next Gen (2018).
It’s available for Windows, Mac and Linux from the official site.
Briar is an encrypted instant messenger that connects to contacts via the Tor network. If internet isn’t available, you can also connect directly via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
Briar works without any central servers. It is especially suitable for journalists and activists who are operating in environments where communications are difficult.
Calibre is a well-established and popular libre app which lets you organise your eBook collection on your computer, edit eBooks and convert eBook files from one format to another.
It’s free and available to download for Windows, Mac and Linux from the website below.
It’s still in beta testing. Carnet is currently available for Android, Linux and NextCloud.
Compute Freely is a website designed to be approachable and friendly for people curious about free and open source operating systems and Linux distributions. Each Linux distribution listed comes with a rating to help indicate it’s difficulty to get set-up, along with a brief description.
CryptPad is a collection of open source and privacy-friendly collaboration tools. They let you easily create documents, presentations, sheets, polls and more in your browser. Based on the “zero knowledge” concept, no one except you (and whoever you give your access keys to) can access your data.
The service is free up to a certain storage limit, with paid accounts for additional storage. You can even use the free service without registering if you want to. It’s worth registering though, as you can keep your documents permanently online this way.
darktable is a raw photo editor for non-destructive post-production work. It’s aimed at photographers and available from the official website for Windows, Mac and Linux.
De-google-ify Internet is an initiative started by Framasoft that provides a list of privacy-friendly apps and internet services. Despite what the name might suggest, the list offers more than just alternatives to Google software. For example: Evernote, Trello, and Flickr to name a few.
Decentraleyes provides popular website components locally to improve your online privacy. This avoids numerous calls to so-called “Content Delivery Networks” (CDN), that can track the usage of their files. Furthermore, it speeds up browsing.
Disroot is based in Amsterdam in the Netherlands, and is run by volunteers. Its services include email, cloud storage, a Diaspora pod and much more. The site is available in English, Spanish and French.
Distrochooser is a questionnaire to help you choose a suitable Linux variant. The name is derived from “Linux distributions”, the term for such variants.
Do you really need reCAPTCHA?
There’s a very good essay thoroughly exploring the topic of Google reCAPTCHA, captchas in general and whether your site needs them.
It’s highly recommended that website maintainers give it a read before deciding which option is right for them.
The most popular and easiest to use privacy-conscious search engine, DuckDuckGo is funded by advertising but does not track its users. It is based in the USA.
You can search through the website just like you would on Google, and there are phone apps available that provide additional protection when browsing the web. You can also set your web browser to use DuckDuckGo as its default search engine.
Element / Matrix
Element (previously Riot.im) is a libre instant messaging client based on the Matrix protocol. It includes text chats, audio/video calls and file transfers.
The Matrix protocol has a federated design and allows bridges to other communication apps. Furthermore, anyone can set up their own Matrix server and use it to collaborate with other people’s Matrix servers.
elementary OS is an Ubuntu-based distribution with a focus on non-technical users. Its user interface resembles the one of macOS.
Entroware, based in the UK, ships Ubuntu Laptops to Europe.
Etherpad is an online text editor that can be used collaboratively. Just share the link to a pad and everyone involved can make and see changes in real-time.
As it is open source, there are many available instances online. They all work without registration or login.
F-Droid is an open source alternative app store. The store does not track users, and the apps it lists are also all open source, so they are much less likely to invade your privacy.
Installing F-Droid is slightly complicated, but it only has to be installed once. After that, it’s as easy to use as any other app store.
If you are not comfortable with any of these steps, get a technically-minded friend to help you with the installation.
(NOTE: These instructions assume you are using Android Oreo (Android 8.0) or newer. Older versions of Android will also work with F-Droid, but it will be more difficult to use and not recommended for beginners.)
- Go to the website f-droid.org in your Android phone’s web browser
- Click on “Download F-Droid” and then “Download”
- When the file has finished downloading click on “Open”
- Your phone will warn you that the file is from an untrusted source, but this is nothing to worry about. Click on the warning’s “Settings” and click on “Allow from this source” to trust this source. (The reason for the warning is that Google won’t allow alternative app stores in Google Play, so the only way to get a new app store is to download its file directly.)
- Click on the back arrow to go to the F-Droid installation page, then select “Install”.
- The F-Droid app should now install. When it’s finished, click on “Open” to open it.
- The first time you use F-Droid it may seem empty. This is due to it needing to update its index of apps (this index is also called a “repository”). F-Droid will eventually be full of apps.
- Use the buttons at the bottom of the screen to browse the apps, “Latest” for new apps and “Categories” for apps organised by type. To install an app, select it and then press “Install”.
- The first time you install an app from within F-Droid, it will ask you once more about untrusted sources. Do the same process of clicking to trust the source as you did before: click on the warning message’s “Settings”, then “Allow from this source”, then click on the back arrow, then click on “Install”. You only have to do this once, the next time you use F-Droid it will install apps without any fuss.
- After you’ve finished using F-Droid for the first time, go to your phone’s general “Settings” page, go to the “Apps & notifications” section, select settings for the web browser you used to download F-Droid (probably Chrome), go to “Advanced”, go to “Install unknown apps” and switch off “Allow from this source”. Switching this setting off means you won’t accidentally download untrusted apps while browsing websites.
After doing all these steps, you should be able to install apps within F-Droid without any hassle. They will install just like apps on Google Play do, and you can access them from their icons just like any other app.
Many apps are available in both Google Play and F-Droid, but installing them through F-Droid will be better for your privacy.
Fairphone tries to get as much of its raw materials as possible from sources with decent working conditions and fair wages. The latest model, the Fairphone 3, also uses a modular design so that if one part breaks you can easily replace it yourself without having to buy a new phone.
The phone’s software is Android, and it will work just like any other Android phone. The price may seem a bit high, but the manufacturers are transparent about where the money goes, and this is how much a phone costs to make when you pay people fairly all the way down the supply chain.
Fastmail is an Australian company that offers private email funded entirely by its users, with no advertising or tracking. There’s a free trial, after which accounts cost various different prices for different features and amounts of storage space.
Firefox is the most popular independent open source web browser. It is non-commercial, free and maintained by volunteers.
There are a large number of Add-ons that can be install, futher extending the browser. We’ve listed some recommended add-ons to help protect you from most privacy threats on the web.
Flowblade is a free open NLE video editor for Linux, available from the official website.
Framadate is an easy-to-use libre Doodle-style event and poll service, provided by France’s largest ethical software organisation Framasoft. It costs nothing, it doesn’t track you and you don’t need to register.
Also, it can be selfhosted. That’s why it’s also hosted on multiple domains. If you enjoy using the service you can donate to Framasoft or to the other hosting providers to keep them going, but that’s entirely optional.
Framasoft is a French site run by volunteers. It promotes ethical services and open source software with an extensive library of both. Available in French and English.
FreedomBox is a libre self-hosting system and also a commercial product. It has less apps than YunoHost but can be bought as a ready-to-use product.
Friendica is a Facebook-style social network with similar features including events and photo albums. Like Mastodon, Friendica is made up of many smaller sites linked together through federation. The smaller sites that make up the Friendica network are called “nodes”.
If you decide to sign up, you can register at the sites below. You might also want read our hints and tips on how to get started.
It’s still being developed, but you can try it out at the demo link below, or join one of the “whales” listed on the project website.
GetTogether is a free open source event management site. Groups are called “teams”, and the site automatically searches for teams and events near you.
It’s still very new and most of the events are currently related to software development, but anyone can set up a team and events for any topic.
Glimpse Image Editor
Glimpse is a libre graphics application based on the popular GNU Image Manipulation Program. The project tries to improve the performance and user experience of the latter.
GNU Image Manipulation Program
GNU Image Manipulation Program (short: GIMP) is one of the longest-running and best-supported free open graphics apps. It offers Photoshop-style raster graphics and photo editing for Windows, Mac and Linux.
Hint: With Glimpse, there also exists a variant with a less mistakable name.
GoatCounter is an open source web analytics platform available as a hosted service (free for non-commercial use) or self-hosted app. It aims to offer easy to use and meaningful privacy-friendly web analytics as an alternative to Google Analytics or Matomo.
Good Old Games (GOG)
GOG is a Steam-like video games platform without any Digital Rights Management: games you buy are yours forever, no one can take them away from you.
GOG has become well-known for selling classic older games that have been fixed to work on modern computers, but they also sell some more modern titles too.
There’s a games management app called GOG Galaxy, but it’s totally optional. GOG games can be bought and used without GOG Galaxy.
There’s also a service called GOG Connect which lets you transfer certain games you already bought on Steam onto GOG free of charge.
Governmental Petition Portals
For political issues, you should petition governments directly on issues. This more easily gets the attention of people in power, is less likely to sell your data, and governments are often compelled by law to respond to petitions which receive enough signatures.
In some countries, popular petitions may trigger a parliamentary debate or even a referendum.
- European Union:
- United Kingdom:
- United States:
Handwritten Notes offer significant advantages in a lot of use cases. They are fast, easy and distraction-free while also never running out of battery. Plus, you can format and arrange your notes however you like.
Of course, they don’t offer backups, automatic reminders and search/share features. But this might be fine for your short-term or spontaneous notes. Also, it might help you remember your notes better.
Hive is a wholesaler-run site which lets you order books online and have them delivered to your door, or pick them up from independent bookshops in the Hive network (who receive a percentage of the sale). You can also “adopt” a favourite local bookshop which will receive a percentage of everything you spend on Hive.
Delivery is free within the UK, and a bit extra overseas.
IMPORTANT NOTE: For maximum ethical points, get in touch with your local bookshop and order from them directly, your book will cost the same but the indie will get a bigger cut of the sale than they do through Hive.
Instead of asking humans to verify themselves, you can try tricking bots into revealing themselves by interacting with “honeypots”.
Honeypots are web page elements that are invisible to real humans, but visible to bots. If interaction is recorded with them, this may be enough to detect and counteract bots.
There are many websites with more details about this method.
HTTPS Everywhere automatically enables encryption of your connection to major websites.
The charity initiative Humble Bundle also has an online store that sells both DRM and DRM-free games (the link below goes to their DRM-free section).
The store’s games are often sold in co-operation with other platforms (including Steam and GOG), but by buying them through Humble a portion of the sales go to charity.
- Humble Store (DRM-free section)
Inkscape is a free and open-source desktop vector graphics editor. It offers a rich set of features and is widely used for both artistic and technical illustrations such as cartoons, clip art, logos, typography, diagramming and flowcharting.
InterPlanetary File System
IPFS is a decentralized network for storing and sharing data online. Instead of custom URLs, files are automatically addressed based on their content and served by their users.
Currently, most websites depend on central servers. Therefore, content tends to be slow-loading, proprietary and short-lived. IPFS “seeks to connect all computing devices with the same system of files” to ease discovering, spreading and archiving of content.
Inventaire is a libre volunteer-run book lending site where you can make friends and create collaborative libraries together. You can make lists of books you want to lend to friends, and browse other friends’ lists.
It can also be used by book groups or organisations who want to share a common pool of books, as it helps the group keep track of which books are available and who has them at the moment.
Itch.io sells games without DRM, so you can buy games and keep them forever.
It specialises in games from independent publishers, and encourages a community of game makers and their fans. It also sells a certain amount of other media such as eBooks.
For those who want it, Itch.io also offers an optional open source app too.
Jami (formerly “Ring”) is a libre easy-to-use alternative to Skype, with voice call, video call and messaging.
It is open source and designed to respect its users’ privacy, with calls going directly from one user to another without using servers. It gives all its members a unique code, which they can share with others, so that they can add each other on the service.
Jitsi Meet is a free open source video chat app made by volunteers. You can use it through their website or through the mobile apps.
It is extremely easy to use: you don’t need to register, all you need to do is make up the name of a chat room and send the link to whoever you want to join you. You can also add a room password if you want.
Joplin is a libre note taking and to-do app. Notes are organized into notebooks and can be searched, tagged, exported and synced across devices.
Kdenlive is a free open non-linear video editing app available for Windows and Linux. There’s also a Mac version, but it’s currently a bit tricky to install.
Kiwix is an app that lets you browse educational resources (such as Wikipedia, Stack Exchange, Wiktionary etc.) without an internet connection.
You install the app and download the content you want from the Kiwix website. You can then browse the content without an internet connection, because Kiwix content files are huge and include entire websites instead of just pages. For example, some sailors download the whole of Wikipedia for Kiwix while at port so they can browse it while at sea.
Kiwix content can also be sent through the post on a memory stick, or physically carried to remote regions. In short, it makes the internet more like a set of books that can be taken to places without the internet.
Kobo is a global eBook seller and perhaps the most comprehensive alternative to Kindle. Its bookshop Kobo.com sells both DRM and DRM-free eBooks.
The site doesn’t include any official way to separate the DRM from DRM-free titles, but you can search for DRM-free eBooks through our unofficial Kobo search page.
Kobo also make quite nice eReaders which can read almost all eBook formats (including DRM-free ones), and let you borrow eBooks from public libraries. You don’t have to use these though, as DRM-free eBooks can be read on any manufacturer’s device.
Kolab Now is a Swiss email provider with lots of extra services aimed at business people, including a calendar, file sharing, tasks and more. There’s a free trial, after which you pay a fee to continue using the service.
Krita is a professional raster graphics painting and animation editor aimed mainly at artists - available for Windows, Mac and Linux.
Liberapay is an easy-to-use, free open donations platform and lets your fans send you a set amount every week, month or year.
Unlike commercial platforms, Liberapay is open source and is itself also funded through crowdfunding, so it does not take a cut of your donations.
The most popular free open source alternative to Microsoft Office is the LibreOffice suite.
The suite is made up of Writer (equivalent to Word), Calc (equivalent to Excel), Impress (equivalent to PowerPoint), Base (equivalent to Access), Draw (equivalent to Visio or CorelDraw), and Math (a mathematical formula editor).
LibreOffice is compatible with Microsoft file formats, so you don’t have to convert files, and it works in a broadly similar way.
LibreSpeed is a simple and libre speed test for your internet connection.
Besides upload and download speed, it displays the “ping”: The time it takes for a message to get from your computer to the server and back again. Furthermore, the average variation of this value over time is displayed as “jitter”.
Libreture is a Goodreads-style site which lets you store and organise your DRM-free eBooks online, browse DRM-free bookshops, discover new titles and share reading lists.
The basic account is free, and there are also paid options for people who want extra storage space (including an unlimited plan).
It’s sister site The Epubizer explains all the basics of DRM-free eBooks: what they are, how to read them and where to buy them.
LibreWolf is a fork of Firefox designed to minimize data collection and telemetry as much as possible. This is achieved through hundreds of privacy/security/performance settings and patches. Intrusive integrated addons including updater, crashreporter, and pocket are removed too
LibriVox is a DRM-free collection of audiobooks that are provided at no charge. The books are read by volunteers and published under the public domain.
The self-hosted version is completely free of charge, while the version hosted by LimeSurvey comes in free and paid versions.
LineageOS is a free and open source version of the Android operating system. It can be installed on some Smartphones, Tablets, and Media Players. While the default installation doesn’t come with any of Google’s services (or apps), the microG project provides an open source implementation of the services should you need them.
Linux Mint is an Ubuntu-based distribution which is very popular with Linux beginners. It’s easy-to-use and privides a graphical user interface for many tasks out of the box.
Linux Preloaded offers a list of computer shops, that ship with Linux preinstalled.
The most ethical way of buying books is from your nearest bookstore. Local bookshops tend to have better working conditions, pay their fair share of taxes and don’t track their users. They also have a human being who can give you free one-to-one advice on books, and a hand-curated selection of titles. If they don’t have what you want they can order it from their suppliers, often within 24 hours.
Let’s Upload that FIle is an ephemeral end-to-end encrypted file sharing service.
Let’s Upload That IMage is a privacy-friendly and libre photo sharing service. You can set your image to be deleted at first view or after a specified time.
Run by a German family business, mailbox.org offers email, online file storage and online office features such as calendars. There’s a one month free trial.
Mastodon is by far the most popular ethical social network with millions of users. You can watch their official video above, which explains how the site works. It’s a bit like Twitter, but with a much longer character limit and more flexible interface.
Behind the scenes, Mastodon is a bit different to most social networks: instead of being one big site, it’s a network of thousands of smaller independent sites (called “instances”) that are all linked together. Whichever site you sign up on, you can make friends with anyone on any other site because all the sites are connected.
The process of linking together lots of small sites into a network is called “federation”. Federation may sound unfamiliar, but it’s actually a process all of us use all the time, even if we don’t realise it.
Even better, your Mastodon account lets you follow people on other alternative social networks like Friendica (see below), Instagram alternative PixelFed, YouTube alternative PeerTube and many others. This alliance of alternative social networks is called “the Fediverse”.
You can try Mastodon by signing up at one of the sites below, and you can use your account on one of the Mastodon phone apps. We’ve also done some hints and tips for new users.
Matomo analytics lets sites keep their visitor data private without sharing it with anyone else, and is compliant with GDPR regulations. It also respects the web browser No Follow standard (which lets users opt out of web tracking by selecting “No Follow” in their browser options).
Matomo’s software is free and open source, so anyone can install and use it on their own servers completely free of charge. There are also paid options for those who don’t want to host analytics software themselves.
Minetest is a free open source Minecraft-style game with huge worlds, a variety of different playing modes, online and offline gameplay, multiplayer servers, lots of user-created mods and more.
Mojeek is a web search engine based in the United Kingdom. It’s creating an own index of web pages and works without user tracking.
Mumble is an open-source low latency, high quality voice chat application. It also has text chats and is popular amongst gamers and podcasters.
Nextcloud is an easy-to-use service that provides a range of optional add-ons, such as: file storage, document editing, calendars, contacts, video calling, text-chat. You can view the full list of add-ons at the Nextcloud app store.
Nextcloud is the most popular self-hosted productivity platform with many large customers (for example the German government uses it for all official business).
The Nextcloud software is open source and free, so any website owner can set up their own Nextcloud site. If you don’t have a website but you want to use Nextcloud, you can sign up for an account at the sites below.
Once you’ve got a Nextcloud account set up, you can use the Android and iPhone apps to upload files or manage your storage space. (Many people use the app to upload photos from their phone, for example.)
(Note that Nextcloud sites often use the brands and logos of the companies that run them, but they all run on Nextcloud software, so they all work with the Nextcloud phone app. Most of them offer free accounts up to a certain storage limit, then charge a fee if you want to store more than that.)
If you are using Nextcloud, the Forms extension is a good option for creating simple surveys and questionnaires. Survey info and responses are kept private on your Nextcloud instance.
If you are using Nextcloud, the Notes extension is a good option for organizing your notes. You can edit them with every Nextcloud client and many third-party apps.
If you are using Nextcloud, the Polls extension is a good option for creating Doodle-style events and polls. You can make it public or limit access to certain users on your Nextcloud instance.
Google did not invent the captcha, and there are others available which are more privacy-friendly.
The ones listed here are all libre and can be self-hosted.
Olive is a free non-linear video editor aiming to provide a fully-featured alternative to high-end professional video editing software.
Open Collective is a more advanced platform specially designed for crowdfunded projects and organisations that want to be as transparent as possible about how donations are spent.
It lets projects accept both one-time and recurring donations/sponsorships, but also lets them give detailed open accounts of expenditure, and helps members of the project file or discuss expenses.
Open Library is a Goodreads-style site where you can share reading lists, track your own book collection, borrow and download eBooks, and contribute to a catalogue of all books ever published.
The site is libre and run by the Internet Archive, a non-profit organisation dedicated to sharing knowledge.
Open Source Games
Although they are relatively rare, there are some good games available as open source projects. This means they’re available without any kind of DRM restrictions, and free of charge too.
Opensource.Builders is a website that lists open-source alternatives to popular software. Aimed at developers, it also provides alternatives to popular dev-tools and proprietary components.
OpenStreetMap is a huge user-made map site that anyone can use and edit (sort of like the Wikipedia of the map world). It’s sponsored by various universities and other organisations, and does not track its users.
PeerTube is an open source federated alternative to YouTube. It’s a video-oriented social network that doesn’t have ads and doesn’t track you. It’s still very new so there isn’t much content to view, but it’s growing very fast.
Unlike YouTube, PeerTube is made up of lots of independent sites that talk to each other. It doesn’t matter which site you sign up at, they’re all part of the same network.
Even better, because PeerTube uses the ActivityPub standard its channels can be followed by millions of people on Mastodon and other ActivityPub-powered social networks.
PixelFed is a photo-oriented social network with filters, comments, likes, shares. As an open source federated alternative to Instagram, it has no ads and no tracking. You can see an example of a PixelFed account here, and an example post here.
The network is made up of lots of independent sites that talk to each other, so you can sign up on any PixelFed site and follow people on the network’s other sites too. (It doesn’t matter if you join a big or small site, they’re all part of the same network.)
Also, because PixelFed sites connect together using the ActivityPub standard, you can follow millions of people on other ActivityPub sites like Mastodon, and they can follow you too.
Unlike Instagram, you don’t need an app to use PixelFed, it works through your browser on phones, computers and tablets. (There are also apps in development for people who prefer them.)
Plausible is a very simple and privacy-friendly analytics software. It is fully open source and can be tried 30 days for free.
Posteo is an email service with no advertising, maximum privacy and powered entirely by green electricity. The service is paid for by its users. Posteo doesn’t make its own mobile apps, but you can use their service through your phone’s own built-in email app (or through any email app that supports the IMAP standard).
Postmill is a libre self-hosted link aggregator. It lets you create a community free from corporate control.
PRISM Break is collecting libre software alternatives to bypass global surveillance programs, with a strong focus on privacy and security.
A lot of the recommendations there are aimed at experienced users though.
PrivacyTools is a non-profit organization dedicaded to strengthening online privacy in the face of global mass surveillance. They provide libre services, a collection of software recommendations and more.
Their focus is transparency: Every software recommendation is open for discussion, every change to the website can be retraced.
ProtonMail is a Swiss-based email service with no advertising and maximum possible privacy for its users, funded entirely by donations and subscriptions. The basic account is free, with paid-for accounts that have more features and storage.
Public Domain eBooks
Many classic books are old enough to be in the public domain, so they are legal to download and distribute free of charge.
The most ethical way of borrowing books is from your local public library. It’s free, it’s best for the environment and libraries are perhaps the only public spaces left where you can sit, read and relax for as long as you want without buying anything.
Modern libraries also lend eBooks, audiobooks, DVDs, Blu-rays, CDs and sometimes even video games. They usually cost nothing to join, your local council’s website will tell you where your nearest library is.
Quicksy is an easy-to-use chat app. You can register with just your phone number.
It’s based on the XMPP standard, so if you know someone with an XMPP account you can communicate with them as well.
Qwant is a search engine based in Europe which doesn’t track users or personalise results.
It also provides various other services:
- Qwant Junior (which only lists child-friendly results).
- Qwant Music (results are focused towards music).
- Qwant Boards (allows you to save pages or share a public board centered around a topic).
- Qwant Maps (Google Maps replacement built upon OpenStreetMap).
RawTherapee is a raw image processing app available for Windows, Mac and Linux from the official site.
RSS - Really Simple Syndication
RSS stands for “Really Simple Syndication”, and is the most popular and well-established standard for distributing news on the internet. It has no tracking, no ads, no algorithms, and you have complete control over what you see in it. In effect, it lets you build your own private news site or app.
Almost all major news providers, blogs, podcasts and many other sites have “RSS feeds”, which are lists of links to the site’s latest stories or articles. Some feeds may also include snippets of news, full articles, pictures, video or audio files. You can view these feeds through an app called an “RSS Reader” (also known as a “Feed Reader”, “News Reader” or “News Aggregator”). Subscribe to a feed by adding the feed’s address to the app, and the feed’s updates will then start appearing in the app’s timeline.
For example, you can find the RSS feed addresses from the Canadian broadcaster CBC on their RSS feed page. If you add one of these addresses to your RSS feed reader app, the app will begin displaying that feed’s news stories in chronological order.
Podcasts are usually distributed through RSS feeds, though podcasting apps may hide this from the user. You can subscribe to most podcasts through RSS readers.
RSS feeds respect privacy because they do not contain any way of tracking subscribers. Most sites with a feed will have a section of the site called “RSS”, or they may have an RSS logo which usually looks like this:
If you still can’t find a site’s RSS feed, try searching via your favourite search engine (for example search for “cbc rss feed”). Some apps include built-in lists of popular feeds, and features to help you discover new feeds.
Some sites might have feeds called “Atom”, which is a newer alternative to RSS. As most apps support both formats, feel free to pick them too.
For those of you using the Friendica social network, you can add RSS feeds just like you add friends: go to your “Contacts” page and enter the feed’s address into the “Add New Contact” section.
Note: Thunderbird is mainly promoted as an email app, but it also has a full RSS feed reader too. You can find out more from the official Thunderbird RSS guide.
Scribus is a free open Desktop Publishing app, comparable to InDesign. It’s available for Windows, Mac and Linux from the official website.
Scuttlebutt is a social network with no servers. All your data is stored on your own computer or phone, and you can use it offline.
There’s a mobile app for ScuttleButt called Manyverse and a desktop app called Patchwork. Some parts of it are still in development, so it can be tricky to use.
Searx is an open source “metasearch” engine, which searches several other search engines without telling them anything about you.
There are many sites that run Searx, you can use any of them (or if you’re technically minded you can even start your own site).
Security Checklist is a checklist to improve your online privacy and security.
You don’t need to use an external service at all. You can host your site’s fonts yourself and refer to them in the page’s code.
There are many free open fonts which you can legally download, host and use on your own site without payment.
Most font download sites have a mixture of non-free and free fonts, so make sure you check each font’s licence before using it on your site. The ones you want are labelled “GPL”, “OFL” or “Public Domain”.
Also, you don’t actually have to use Google Fonts to use its fonts, because they are under free licences anyway. There’s an unofficial site which makes it as easy as possible to download these fonts and self-host them instead.
Send is an easy-to-use ephemeral end-to-end encrypted file sharing service. Originally developed by Mozilla, it was forked and is now maintained by the community.
Shotcut is a free open NLE video editor for Windows, Mac and Linux, available from the official website.
Signal is a popular private messaging, voice call and video call service. All communication between its users is end-to-end-encrypted by default.
Note: You register with your phone number. That’s why Signal requires you to activate your account via a smartphone app.
Smart Referer makes it harder for websites to know, how you came across them. It blocks the “Referer”, a technical information about the previously visited website.
Soverin is based in the Netherlands and offers privacy-oriented email including custom domain name and optional web page too.
Standard Notes is a simple open source notes app focussing on simplicity. By creating an account, you can easily sync your notes across devices with end-to-end-encryption.
Advanced users might be interested in the paid extended version or in hosting the sync server themselves.
Statify for WordPress
Statify is a straightforward Wordpress plugin to collect statistics on your site. It only counts page request instead of collecting personal data.
Surveillance Self-Defense is a collection of tips and tutorials provided by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). Its goal is to protect you from online spying.
Syncthing is a program to easily synchronize folders across two or more computers. Instead of uploading your files to a central server for sharing them, Syncthing sends files directly from one computer to the other.
To do this, Syncthing assigns an ID to the computer it is running on. Share this ID with your friends, or enter it on your other devices, to sync folders. After confirmation on both sides, changes in a folder are synced in real time.
Alternatively, a site can use the system fonts already built into visitors’ computers or phones.
System fonts never leave the user’s device, so they cannot violate privacy and do not use their internet connection.
System76, based in the USA, sells computers with their own operating system called Pop!_OS. You can also choose Ubuntu LTS (Long Term Support) at the checkout.
The Linux Laptop Company
The Linux Laptop, based in the USA, sells name brand laptops (such as Dell, Asus, Acer etc). On the software side, you can choose from Ubuntu, Linux Mint and Fedora.
Thexyz is a Canadian company offering privacy-conscious business email. There are low-price paid basic accounts with additional paid options for professional services such as MS Exchange and calendar sync. As well as the apps below, the service can also be used through any phone or computer app that supports IMAP (or Exchange if you’ve paid extra).
The most popular open source email app for computers is Thunderbird. While primarily focused on email management, Thunderbird also comes with some extra features such as: viewing RSS feeds, calendar extension, events/tasks list, and integration with some external chat services.
- Website: Mozilla Thunderbird
Tildes is an community focused link aggregrator. The software is open-source and respects your privacy.
The company behind Tildes is a non-profit funded by user donations. If you enjoy using the service you can donate to tildes, but that’s entirely optional.
Tor Browser is a specially modified version of Firefox. It’s a bit harder to use than standard Firefox, but it does a more thorough job at protecting your privacy.
Tor Browser goes to extreme lengths to reduce the amount of identifying information you send to websites when you visit them, using the Tor network of volunteers’ computers to disguise your own computer’s signatures. This makes it much more difficult for companies like Google and Facebook to spy on you, though it does also make browsing slower as you’re not connecting to sites directly.
There are some free open alternatives to Google Translate in development.
Tutanota is an encrypted email and calendar service based in Germany, with no advertising and the emphasis on privacy. The basic account is free, with paid-for accounts that have more features and storage. They also have their own apps for Android and iPhone.
Tuxedo, based in Germany, sells individually built computers in many sizes. The hardware ships with Ubuntu, openSUSE or their custom TUXEDO_OS operating system.
uBlock Origin is an open source browser extension that blocks unwanted content from web pages. In addition to advertising, this includes tracker and malware by default.
By subscribing to additional filter lists, other components of websites can be removed. In order for uBlock Origin to work optimally, no other Adblocker extensions should be installed. Otherwise the extensions could interfere with each other.
(Important: there’s a totally different add-on called simply “uBlock” which is NOT recommended.)
Ubuntu is the most well-known Linux operating system variant. It became popular by its universal usability, as it doesn’t require technical knowledge to use it.
You can try out Ubuntu before installing it. Furthermore, aside from replacing your current operating system, you can install Ubuntu next to it (called a “dual boot” system). Both can be done with most Linux distributions.
Wallabag is a privacy-friendly, libre online service which lets you save articles from the web so you can read them later.
You can sign up for an easy-to-use online service aimed at non-technical people. If you’re a technical person, you can also host your own Wallabag.
Webform is a free open source form software, available to either self-host or host on Webform.com. The version hosted on Webform.com comes in free and paid versions.
wheretofind.me is an open source identity directory website. It lets you create a small profile with all your social media links. Afterwards, point people to this profile so they can quickly find you on all platforms.
If you run a blog powered by WordPress, you can add a plugin that makes it federate with Mastodon and other social networks using the ActivityPub standard.
There are currently a couple of plugins available, one simply called “ActivityPub” and another called “Pterotype”.
Write Freely is a blogging service like Medium where the focus is on the text itself, with a clean uncluttered aesthetic.
The site is open source and extremely privacy-friendly, collecting the absolute minimum amount of information needed for it to work.
Write Freely has just started federating using the ActivityPub standard, so you can follow Write Freely blogs through e.g. Mastodon account.
XMPP (also known as Jabber) is a widely-used free and open internet messaging standard. It’s very easy to use: just register an XMPP account and install an XMPP app. No phone number required.
Because it’s federated, there are lots of sites you can register on. It doesn’t matter if your friends sign up on a different site, all the sites talk to each other.
If these apps and sites are too complicated, try the much easier Zom and Quicksy alternatives. They’re part of the XMPP network as well.
YunoHost is a libre operating system, that eases installing web applications on your own hardware. It also provides you with your own email server out of the box.
YunoHost features a large (and growing) catalog of apps and an easy-to-use interface.
ZaReason, based in the US, offers hardware with a variety of Linux operating systems to choose from. They ship to the US and Canada.
Zom is an extremely easy to use and free open source messenger app. You don’t need to register to use it, just think of a username.
It’s compatible with the popular XMPP standard used by many other messenger apps, so if you know someone who uses one of those other apps you can message them with Zom.
Zorin OS is a beautiful Ubuntu-based operating system. It’s focussed on making the transition from Windows or macOS to Linux as easy as possible.
If you want to support the development, you can buy an extended version.