Libre Office (word processing)Libre Office is the successor to Open Office, and it's really starting to get good. It's a solid productivity package, and they've just released a new version which increased interoperability with Word (although I don't think it's ever going to be 100%).
Clementine (music)Clementine is the only good open source music program I've seen. It has the ability to fetch album artwork from the web, to display song lyrics, and do everything else you would expect in a normal desktop player.
Firefox (web browser)A lot of people I know have shifted from Firefox to Google Chrome, but I'm still a supporter of Firefox. While it may be slightly slower, it's made by a non-profit foundation which works towards creating an open, people-centered web rather than being motivated by commercial interests.
VLC media player (video player)VLC just works – it plays pretty much anything without having to download anything extra.
Duck Duck Go (search engine)Duck Duck Go is a privacy-centric search engine. I've been using it for the last little while and I've yet to be be frustrated by the results. Similarly to Google search, it provides useful information at the top of the results with links to wikipedia information etc.
It doesn't track users of its search engine, displays open source results where possible, and doesn't provide personalised results so helps to avoid the so-called "filter bubble". Here's how wikipedia defines a filter bubble:
A filter bubble is a result state in which a website algorithm selectively guesses what information a user would like to see based on information about the user (such as location, past click behaviour and search history) and, as a result, users become separated from information that disagrees with their viewpoints, effectively isolating them in their own cultural or ideological bubbles. Prime examples are Google's personalised search results and Facebook's personalised news stream.I think it's easy to see how it might be desirable to avoid such a bubble! (Explore blog on tumblr also has a good post about how websites like Facebook are keeping things from you.)
The website has been growing in fits and starts, but interestingly it's growth has hugely benefited from the recent surveillance revelations and an increased awareness of privacy.
Open Street Map (online maps)Open Street Map (OSM) is like the Wikipedia of maps. Anyone can edit the maps and add or correct information about things in their neighbourhood or city. The mapping data is free for anyone to use, so anyone can build apps or websites using the information. The main website (openstreetmap.com) is only the tip of the iceberg.
Everyone in New Zealand seems to use Google Maps for pretty much everything, but there are some pretty compelling reasons why we shouldn't rely on Google's proprietary maps. Simply put, it's dodgy relying on a company to decide what's worth seeing on a map – do we really want those with the deepest pockets being able to pop up, while others are resigned to obscurity?
Updated 6 February