Friday, June 14, 2024

Decoding SourceForge’s Open Source “World Changing” Finalists

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As the SourceForge Community Choice awards comes to an end, there’s one category of finalists that immediately caught my attention – Most Likely to Change the World. In this article, I’ll look at these projects, providing my perspective as to why these open source applications were selected as most likely to change the world.

Drupal – I suspect that many people were surprised to see a CMS (content management system) in a list of open source applications set to change the world. While a CMS such as Drupal does provide distinctive features for those looking to host various kinds of blogs and Web sites, I doubt most people realize just how influential Drupal actually is to the world at large.

Drupal is a collaborative tool that provides its users with the ability to work together as a single whole. Drupal is vastly more dynamic overall that other similar projects, as it can be used as a simple blog or, if desired, as a full-fledged online community powered Web site. The modules provided for the community provides users with the exact level of functionality that anyone could ever expect.

How Drupal is most likely to change the world

Drupal is altering the scene by providing a tool and service that would otherwise be totally out of reach to those needing it, if they had to pay the licensing costs of closed source. So cost, along with its expandable functionality through its extensions, make Drupal a logical top contender.

EyeOS – There have been a number of people over the last couple of years who have greatly misunderstood both the value and the reasoning behind the Web-based operating system. Truth be known, EyeOS provides more value as a collaborative platform than what we might think of as an operating system.

How EyeOS is most likely to change the world

EyeOS, if developed to the point where users can quite literally take their desktops with them anywhere, could prove to be invaluable. There are instances where bringing along a notebook, assuming it is in sync with the files on your desktop, can prove to be more of a hassle than a benefit. Imagine if you lost a notebook computer? Those files could be gone, not to mention the fact that now someone else has easy access to them.

By relying more on a browser-based operating system such as EyeOS instead of a localized PC, the user is protected – by not being a target in the first place. If no one knows how you are computing, there is really nothing to directly target for theft.

Firefox – Despite my own love/hate relationship with the various releases of this Web browser, Firefox has been consistent in one key area – providing a user friendly alternative to the default Web browser provided by your operating system.

Firefox outshines other browsers by enabling you to extend its basic functions through the use of extensions or “add-ons.” Some of these add-ons provide so much functionality so that you don’t need to install extra software – sometimes, a Firefox extension does the same task with less resources.

How Firefox is most likely to change the world

As an instrument of change, Firefox is an application that allows users to get more with less. And there’s no question that when applied in areas like Web development, added computer functionality and other related tasks, Firefox provides users with much more than a mere Web browser. By allowing the end user to do more with less, Firefox is changing the way users perceive software in general.

Launchy – When we use the computer, we generally expect to launch programs from our desktops, icons, or docks. Unfortunately this means a lot of unnecessary mouse clicking and often proves to be more work than needed.

Launchy provides the ability to navigate from program to program while also doing so using the keyboard. Using Launchy also enables the ability to open up files without a lot of unneeded browsing with file managers as well.

How Launchy is most likely to change the world?

Launchy gives its users another way of looking at user interaction with their computer. Rather than being limited to previous desktop tools, Launchy provides a means of taking simple keyboard commands and shortening them so that complete navigation and application execution can be done from one single interface. Launchy allows you to be more productive overall.

Linux – Describing why Linux was in this list of “change the world” candidates was difficult for me. Because Linux is in fact a kernel, rather than an OS itself, defining this properly has proven to be problematic. In the case of this contest however, use of Linux as an operating system has exploded among previously frustrated Windows users looking for a more cost effective alternative.

Thanks to the many different efforts by developers and idealists alike, today’s Linux kernel allows vendors of the various Linux distributions to promote a modern, well-supported operating system that is available free of cost.

How Linux is most likely to change the world?

Linux as we know it today is about a choice outside of Windows and OS X. Control over one’s operating system is something that Linux users enjoy, even to the degree of creating their own variations, presenting their own ideas in a new release to be shared with others.

Linux gives users with the ability to use their computer as they always have, but to do so without having to restrict themselves to the rule set forth by Microsoft or Apple. By giving users the option to change or add to their existing operating system configuration, Linux allows users the level of control that others on other platforms can only dream of.

Magento – With eCommerce continuing to grow by leaps and bounds, an eCommerce solution that is cost effective and provides plenty of third party features is going to become a huge success.

Magento is one of the better storefront applications. And due to is open source nature, users are free to utilize just about any payment extension you could possibly want, making Magento a natural fit for any growing online store.

How Magento is most likely to change the world?

Despite the belief that eCommerce options only affect a select few, the reality is that Magento gives low budget online entrepreneurs access to online storefront software with significant functionality.

Thanks to the fact that price is not a consideration, Magento ensures that competition is available, due to the quality of the products being sold rather than the cost of maintaining the online storefront.

Open Office – Thanks to Open Office, students, small businesses and others are no longer bound to spending insane amounts of cash just to get basic office suite functionality. Open Office provides 99 percent of the existing MS Office users out there with everything they could possibly need. And anything deemed to be missing is often covered by Open Office extensions provided on the OO Web site.

How Open Office is most likely to change the world?

Whether it is used in school, the boardroom or at home, an accessible office suite makes all the difference. For years Microsoft has had the corner on the market with their own office suite, and while it enabled needed functionality, its cost was so prohibitive that many users were stuck with dated versions of the software or used piracy to obtain it.

Open Office has changed this for many users who are able to look past the lack of gloss and fluff at a software suite that is allowing all individuals to be as productive as those who are able to afford the Microsoft version. – There is something liberating about the ability to simply take all of your favorite applications with you on a USB flash drive or other removable media. This is especially true for those who are wary of bringing their notebook computers with them into unknown situations where access to their most commonly used applications would suffice.

This is where has managed to take the very best open source software has to offer and make it available to those who would rather leave their computer at home. The idea of being able to take your software and the corresponding settings with you onto other PCs is a powerful one. And tying this in with the fact that the entire concept is open source makes it all the better.

How is most likely to change the world?

Because of the obvious cost of owning a second portable PC or even the hassle involved with toting one around, simpler access to popular open source applications is a good thing. Giving users the option of taking their browser, email client and other open source software with them on a removable storage device can only serve to further the open source cause. Having half a dozen applications running off an USB Flash drive is certainly a conversation starter, which can lead to others trying it out for themselves. And this leads to a real growth in open source adoption.

ReactOS – The idea behind ReactOS is a radically simple one. An open source alternative to Windows without relying on Linux or any of the BSDs.

Designed to replace rather than provide an alternative for Windows, ReactOS has proven that it is working to develop its base for the long haul. Faster than most other operating systems out there, to some it feels reminiscent of OS/2 rather than more modern operating systems, due to GUI and number of applications at this stage in its development. Despite any perceived challenges, its developers have maintained the belief that by providing computers users with an open source option that does not require a Unix-like approach to the modern operating systems, adoption will eventually take care of itself.

How ReactOS is most likely to change the world?

ReactOS is all about ensuring the user has access to advanced functionality without resorting to a command line to enjoy it. This is an area that, according to ReactOS developers, Linux and other Unix flavors are missing, thus leaving many users in the cold. Some even believe that if enough development time went into this OS, it could become the Vista alternative many XP users have been asking for. Secure, fluff-free and stable.

Ubuntu – Even if you’re not using this distribution of Linux, chances are you have seen news about it a multitude of times over the course of the past couple of years. Ubuntu Linux has in many respects changed the way we perceive the Linux operating system. This single distribution has done the impossible by appeasing many hardcore Linux enthusiasts, while also opening the door for closed source applications looking to get their products into software repositories provided by Ubuntu itself.

Using both a straight forward implementation of the GNOME desktop along with some amazing work with grass roots marketing campaigns, Ubuntu has quickly overtaken the popularity of any other Linux distribution to date.

How Ubuntu is most likely to change the world?

In simplest terms, Ubuntu has begun to make desktop Linux accessible to those Windows converts looking for an alternative to OS X. By offering a consistent interface and experience, a virtual sea of new users are willing to try Ubuntu Linux for the first time.

Providing a way for casual users to install and use an operating system free of cost, free of product keys and free of corporate oversight is, in my opinion, incredibly significant.

XBMC media center – Having a media jukebox accessible on just about any platform is a powerful concept in and of itself. XBMC certainly fits this ideal. Enabling its users to enjoy video and music from one’s Xbox, PC or Mac – even if the content being enjoyed is stored elsewhere – is a major shift from relying on store bought solutions.

Using XBMC allows the end user to have a ready-to-roll media center option without being forced to spend large amounts of cash for something that might not even begin to offer nearly as much functionality. These features include Karaoke and iTunes support, along with a simple to use GUI that provides users with a jukebox that is intuitive and powerful to use, with extensions for additional features.

How XBMC is most likely to change the world?

Giving the end user a choice of functionality – along with the hardware enclosure to enjoy the functionality on – is a powerful position to be in. By providing the back-end means of creating a home jukebox, without limiting the user to hardware that might otherwise be out of reach, translates into adoption where it otherwise might have been cost prohibitive.

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