5 Free Open Source Alternatives to Notion

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This post lists some best free alternatives to Notion. Here I have added self hosted tools that you can use in place of Notion if you want to. With these tools, you can create notes and pages using Markdown in block editing manner just like Notion. You can create public as well as private projects and pages. In pages, you can add different kind of content such as images, paragraphs, code, embeddable videos from YouTube, and others.

Notion is a great tool to create notes and pages. People even use it to host an entire website as it has all the features that you need to create webpages. Also, with some tricks, you can add a custom domain to Notion as well. All this functionality is great but if you need something like Notion for your own server then services and tools I have mentioned here will help.

These websites and tools are not meant to completely replace Notion, but once you use them then you can will find them pretty much the same. You will be able to do everything here what you do on Notion and maybe more. All the tools in this list can be installed on a VPS or PAAS platforms such as Heroku.

Let’s go through them one by one.

Free Open Source Alternatives to Notion

5 Free Open Source Alternatives to Notion

Notea

Notea create page content with all options

Notea is the best free and open source alternative to Notion that you can use. Here this is a really close Notion alternative that you can self host. It gives you a very similar Notion like interface where you can create notes and pages. It supports Markdown syntax for pages and you can also create nested pages. It supports the slash command that you can use to insert complex blocks on the pages in a click.

Bullet lists, code snippets, tables, quotes, dividers, etc., can be added to any page with the slash command. You can format text of the page in any way you want and save the changes. You can create as many pages you want and on top of that, you are free to share them with anyone as well via link. Each page gets its unique URL that you can use to publish the page and share with the world.

You can deploy multiple Notea instances with the same configuration file and it will keep your data synced. For example, you can install Notea on Vercel, Netlify, and local PC at the same time and have access to the same data. It supports easy installation via Docker as well, so if you don’t have technical knowledge, you will be able to deploy it easily by following simple interactions.

We have covered Notea separately and for more detailed instructions, you can follow this article. The article includes detailed feature overview and step by step installation and usage guide.

Outline

Outline Pages Notion Alternative

Outline is the next best alternative to Notion. And you can even think of it as a Notion clone that you can self host. There is already an online hosted version for you where you can create a free account and use it. But if you want to own your data and don’t want to live with limitations of the free version then you can self host it.

Outline offers you a powerful markdown editor that you can use to create and host pages. You can create beautiful blocks and format them in the way you want. It has Notion like slash command that you can use to quickly insert blocks like bullet lists, code blocks, tables, quotes, dividers, page break, code snippet, etc. And not only this but it supports smart embeds as well from YouTube, GitHub, Figma, and Framer.

Outline supports team collaboration and you can invite your team members here via email and then share the pages you have created. Or, you can also make your pages public and share them with anyone. All the pages that you create here can be exported as MD files. Also, you can import them back later as well or duplicate them in order to quickly draft a new page with same template.

An online instance of Outline is available here. You can sign up using your Microsoft or Slack account to get started. The free plan in online version is useful for you to get familiar with it. You can browse all the features and see how it works. Or, you can grab its source code from GitHub and self host it on your own server or run it locally. Installation instructions are there on GitHub and unfortunately it is not simple. It has a manual installation method which is long and tedious and you will need an expert to install or host it for you.

Focalboard

Free Self Hosted Alternative to Trello, Asana, Notion Focalboard

Focalboard Board created with tasks

Focalboard is another free and self hosted alternative to Notion that you can use. And not just that but it acts as an open source alternative Trello and Airtable as well. If you wish Notion had a board like tool for managing projects then Focalboard can help you with that. With this, you cannot only create notes and pages but create and host task boards as well and share them with your team too.

In this post, I will only show you how you can use it as an alternative to Notion. You can use it to create pages with interactive boards and tables. You can use it to save wiki or any other information. The best part is that it comes as a desktop app as well. But if you want to host it as a webapp then you can do that easily. The installation process is simple and straightforward.

After you host it, you can create unlimited projects and pages. The editor lets you create smart boards. And the editor lets you build pages in any way you want. The editor lets you quickly insert blocks for images, tables, code snippets, and more. Save all the changes and for each page and it will create a unique URL that you can share with anyone.

Just like Notea above, we have also covered Focalboard separately before. You can follow this post to learn more about Focalboard in details. The linked post also includes step by step guide to install Focalboard on a Linux server.

Notion Clone

Notion Clone Page

Notion Clone is the simplest Notion alternative you can try. Here it offers you a simple UI where you can create and publish as many pages as you want. It offers you minimal editor that you can use to create notes or page content. There are installation instructions on its GitHub repo and you can install it on Heroku or Vercel like platforms as well.

This is probably the very straightforward Notion alternative you will ever try your hands on. However in order to host it on some server, you will need to have some technical knowledge. If you have a spare VPS then you can install it there and use it however you like. Or, you can also install and run it locally with ease by just running few commands.

As I mentioned it already, you can either install it from the source. Or, you can try out an already hosted instance of it here. You will just have to create a free account. After that, you can create a page from profile. Just give your page a title and then proceed further to write content. Use the slash command(/) to see the options to insert various kind of content such as images, headings, etc.

You can create as many pages you want and edit them later if you want to. Each page will have a unique URL and you can use that to share your page with anyone. You can do all this online and offline, depending on where you chose to run it.

AppFlowy

AppFlowy Notion Alternative

AppFlowy is basically a kind of a desktop app that you can use in place of Notion. Here you can use it to create as many notes and pages as you like using Markdown. You can create nested pages here and share them with others as well. However, sharing option is not really available as of now but will be available in the later updates. You can use it on MAC, Linux, and Windows as there are binaries available for all these platforms.

The overall look and feel of this app is smooth and you can easily run it without going through a tedious installation method. However, there are some disadvantages that you must know such as it doesn’t support nested pages. You can just create as many workspaces and then add pages. But this app is in continuous development and new features might be available in the coming updates.

There is no account creation or something in AppFlowy. You can just get it for your platform from its GitHub releases. After that, you are free to use it wherever you like. In the coming updates when the share options become available, you will be able to share pages with anyone easily. Right now, you just create page and then add some content to it. The editor it offers is advanced all the editing tools are available in the toolbar. You can literally create any kind of page here and save the changes on PC.

Closing thoughts:

If you are looking for some free and open source alternatives to Notion then you are at the right place. Just select any tool from this list and then use it to replace Notion. All these tools will let you create notes and pages in pretty much the same way Notion does. The installation process can be daunting but if you already have some DevOps knowledge then it will be no problem. Personally, I will recommend you to use Outline and Notea. But if you need a desktop app then AppFlowy is a good option.

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