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30 Day FOSS Challenge

The Challenge

The 30 Day FOSS Challenge asks people to spend April (or any other 30 days) reducing their reliance on proprietary and nonfree software, and exploring FOSS alternatives.

You probably currently have some expensive, invasive, or morally questionable software you've been meaning to replace. Or you just want to try a couple of the quick replacements below and see what the hype is about. Maybe you're more technically-minded, and ready to try going full FOSS-exclusive.

Ultimately, the point is to push yourself out of your comfort zone, explore alternatives, and share that experience with others. As long as you've done that, you've succeeded in the challenge.

Proprietary vs Free and Open Source

Proprietary (or closed source) software keeps its source code secret - only its owner fully knows how it's made. Examples include Windows, iOS, Photoshop, and Facebook. Usually proprietary software is made by businesses, small and large.

FOSS stands for Free and Open Source Software. In this case, free means you can obtain and use it with little or no restrictions. Open Source means the code is available for all to see, and usually also contribute to or create their own version of. Examples include Wikipedia, Firefox, Linux, Blender, and OBS.


Proprietary software often includes anti-features such as ads, data collection, micro-transactions, or even malicious code. These benefit the owners, but not the users. In a FOSS project, anything the users don't like would be noticed, and anyone could make a version without the anti-features. Such anti-features are rare in FOSS for this reason.

Open code also means transparency. Experts can (and do) check code for mistakes, dangerous behavior, and security. This allows projects that need security and privacy to be vetted and perfected.

FOSS projects are also usually community projects and passion projects. They're made by people that use them, and because of that their development is closely aligned with the user's goals. When users can't agree, one project can split into two; each does things the way it feels is best, and the user gets more choices.

Why Isn't Everything FOSS?

At this point it sounds like we should all already be using FOSS. You might be skeptical of this magical solution. Why does proprietary exist if FOSS is so much better?

Mostly, it comes down to funding. More funding means companies can quickly develop entirely new projects & features, advertise heavily, and include features with ongoing costs (like cloud storage).

That isn't to say FOSS has no funding. While most projects couldn't survive without volunteers and donations, some actually have nonprofits and receive donations from corporations and countries that rely on them. But rarely does this funding match a large tech corporation.

To get that funding, proprietary software needs profit. This is exactly why a company will sell you a new version every year, and abandon their old projects that no longer attract new customers. Since FOSS lacks this profit-motive, there are many long-standing projects that still get regular free updates.

Get Started

Before you start, remember that this is a challenge. Even if a project is equal to or better than its proprietary counterpart, there will be a learning curve. And you will no doubt find that some things just don't suit your needs. The goal is growth, not perfection. Finding even one permanent replacement, and learning in the process, is success.

A Few of My Favorites

These are my favorites that require no serious commitment to try. They are very well developed, and often similar to their proprietary equivalents. I have no connection to them besides my own personal appreciation. Always open to more suggestions!

On Desktop/Web

On Android

Where to Find Others

Wikipedia maintains a categorized list of well-known FOSS projects you may wish to check.

AlternativeTo although the website is not FOSS, it is a great place to find crowdsourced knowledge on alternatives to popular software. Make sure to filter by "open source".

In the Connect section, I list other people's blogs and posts about this. You can find ideas of what did and didn't work for them there. You can also reach out for ideas on any social media.

You can also simply search "FOSS alternative to [blank]" in your favorite search engine. Several websites specialize in providing exactly that information.


Connect with others by using the hashtag #30DayFOSSChallenge on mastodon or you're preferred social media, or come say hi in the Matrix channel.

Connect with me directly on mastodon (, or via email (nix at If you know me in person, feel free to ask for my phone number to connect via Signal too.

Below you can find the blogs of a few other participants.