Not-very-well-known free software you enjoy or find cool

There’s a lot of free software, and there’s a lot of hidden gems to be found. Share some software that you like, as long as it isn’t your own and isn’t known by many. Here’s my initial list:


Hayward is a fork of Sway that works more like wmii. It’s far from being finished, but I think it’s a great project that deserves more love than it gets. For some reason GitHub hides this project in search, and I’ve never seen it suggested to me.


This is a fantastic piece of software that lets you automatically download media from sites. I’ve downloaded hundreds of gigabytes of stuff using this tool. It works on a crap-ton of sites. If you find youtube-dl doesn’t work on a site you use, or doesn’t have the tools you need to scrape a profile/board/collection, give this a shot. It automatically organises your stuff into folders so you often don’t need to configure anything. Just run gallery-dl [thing].


Maybe a lot of the people here know this piece of software given it’s written by Drew, but it’s a very useful piece of software. It’s a store for secrets, with integrations into other software like SSH. For me, what I find really useful about it is that I can have a prompt for sandboxed programs in Flatpak using the Himitsu SSH agent. Instead of giving it direct access, I can just have it ask for permission to use a secret. It also has a really simple protocol that I think most people could easily implement.


EtchDroid is an application for Android that lets you make bootable USB sticks without root using your mobile device. This app has helped me so many times when my main system and I had no other computers laying around.


It’s Bromite, but updated by one of the guys who used to work on it. It has a lot of fantastic features like a built-in adblocker, the ability to move the search bar to the bottom, and a lot of other stuff. It’s also Degoogled. My understanding is that Cromite doesn’t use blobs unlike other Chromium forks, which makes it a very practical but also very free browser.


It’s acme but modernised a bit and with a customisable colourscheme. Comes with some of its own. Great if acme isn’t quite enough by default.


It’s youtube-dl, but for Android. The app is slick, and it’s super easy to use. Just share a link to the app. It lets you customise the codec and quality and stuff. It’s really great for stealing memes to post onto freer platforms.


This is a proxy designed for circumventing censorship. However, I use it to not have public Wi-Fi block sites. I’ve used public Wi-Fi where even F-Droid is blocked for being a “freeware” site. It’s easy to set up on a cheap VPS, and works well. I’ve never had it blocked. This is the same technology that OutlineVPN uses.


Like GrapheneOS, but have an unsupported device? Try Divest. It isn’t as polished, but it’s great as a harm-reduction strategy until you’re able to get a phone that supports Graphene well. It isn’t as hardened, but does borrow some patches from Graphene, and supports sandboxed MicroG (which is cool.)


It’s a free software Android client for YouTube based on NewPipe, with support for SponsorBlock and Return YouTube dislikes. It’s basically a direct upgrade over NewPipe in my opinion.


Molly is a fork of the Signal client that adds some nice features. For me, the killer one is the UnifiedPush version. Instead of using Signal’s websocket for notifications (which drains battery) you can use an existing UP app like ntfy.


It’s like st meets Alacritty. A slim and simple X11 terminal emulator that has fast start-up times but with GPU acceleration. High recommend if you use X11. I used it up until I moved to Wayland, but I still miss it a lot.


It’s like acme but for X11 windows. Really cool project.


These all sound really cool, even though I’ve never seen them before. Thanks for all of these links!

Thanks for sharing Himitsu :heart:

This one is neat! Going to install it myself.

Some stuff I like which is a bit lesser known:


As I haven’t been a user of any of the popular desktop environments for a long time, I have been continuously annoyed by having to use bluetoothctl to connect to Bluetooth devices for years. bluetuith is a TUI bluetooth connection manager that doesn’t have any special integration with the surrounding DE or dbus or whatever, and works great for my needs! Discovered it recently thanks to a friend.


Bupstash is a backup manager written by an acquaintance of mine. I use it for my personal workstation backups, and we use it in production for backups at SourceHut. I find it much better than Borg; it’s leaner and much faster. The managed backups are also reasonably priced and a good way to support the project financially.


Adds a progress bar to data moving through a shell pipeline. That’s about it but it’s really nice when you need it.


I would love to shout out input-remapper, it… remaps input, on a specific device. It’s really intuitive, works on Wayland, and finally made my drawing tablet work well on Linux. I can finally draw without dual booting thanks to it!


These are in no particular order:


A self-hosted livestreaming platform, with a public directory of many small creators. Maybe not that niche, but cool anyway.


A command line tool for converting PDFs to pages which can be folded to make books. Not actively maintained, but very nice for making little zines.


A UML modeling application with a polished interface, and support for a variety of modeling languages.


pv is a really good one. I’ll have to check out bupstash at some point, I’ve been meaning to.

Loomio is a very cool group forum software for organisational decision making. is a very nice easy to setup IRC server with most IRCv3 features and an integrated bouncer.


I love to use to document the todos and progress in my hobby projects. Super simple to setup, use and share. Also, I did not perceive the fact that it’s completely detached from VCS/Git as a disadvantage for now.

ZK - a stand-alone zettelkasten CLI tool for note taking in any editor. Great UNIX-y alternative to tools like Obsidian.

Howm - Not as unix-y (it’s an emacs package) but so far it is my favorite note-taking system for all its simplicity.

One day I hope to build a combination of the two above. - Minimalist file hosting

Nyxt - An extremely hackable browser built on Webkit.

Kakoune - While I have transitioned away from it to Emacs, I still respect how extremely minimal, fast and extensible it is. Integrating with other linux cli tools like fd or your own shell scripts is done with just a single line of code. The way it works with other CLI tools with the daemon mode is great.

Tig - Very nice and fast git explorer. Works very well with Kakoune.

Oasis - A small statically linked linux


stagit produces static html pages for git repositories. Since it’s producing completely static html the pages can be served from really any webhosting and don’t need any more maintenance than any static html site would need. It’s a great alternative for publishing projects that don’t need the entire infrastructure of a forge. It’s written in C and very easy to hack.


Thanks for this mention! I’ve been wishing something exactly like this for a while.


Lightweight music player. It loads instantly and retains its last state. Has support for playlists and things like drag-and-drop work as expected. It’s a spiritual successor to WinAmp.


I use this to fill in PDF forms without printing them, but can be used to annotate PDFs in general.


Lightweight configurable PDF reader. I’m not sure if this fits the “lesser known” category, but it’s definitely not mainstream.


++ to Xournalpp. I use it frequently not just for forms but for general note-taking, drawing, presentations, all sorts of things. Great software.


Breezewiki (AGPL)

An alternative frontend for Fandom. In other words, it makes Fandom wikis readable.

With undertale/Papyrus as a base of comparison, Breezewiki transferred 359 KB in 1.32 seconds; Fandom, 7.81 MB in 4.91 seconds—and still counting, because there’s a beacon firing every ten seconds or so (and getting eaten by uBlock Origin. Good uBlock).

Haumea (MPL)

Turns file trees into programmable Nix modules. A crucial discovery around the time I started really understanding the language.

xe is a simple xargs and apply replacement, that is much more compatible with my brain.


An attempt at making a publicly available routing API which includes public transport feeds from all over the world. A lot of previous attempts at this ended up only having some feeds in Europe and not much elsewhere due to how hard it was to add new feeds.

This project makes it far simpler as you only need to provide a URL to the GTFS feed you want to add. Whereas previous projects required users to set up stuff such as Navitia which ended up being a big barrier to expanding coverage.