Christmas Gifts from Your Open Source Community

One of the biggest gaps in the world is that there is a wide range of resources available to organizations and individuals and not a whole lot of awareness of them. That’s why I thought I’d list 10 open source products that every small business, non-profit or otherwise should be aware of.

In no particular order:

  1. Firefox — It’s an obvious one I know, but when you think of the gazillion possible extensions available (Zotero, Delicious, Google, just to name a few), there is just a whole lot of productivity to be generated in a series of simple three-to-five second download.
  2. Paint.Net — Photoshop for free, basically.
  3. LAMP — Web servers have never been so easy and flexible. Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP are pretty much the standard in the world these days for managing web sites.
  4. The Open Source Content Management SystemJoomla, Drupal, Xoops, WordPress. There are alot of really good CMSs out there, it’s just a matter of your needs and coding ability.
  5. MediaWiki — This actually belongs in #4 since it is really a CMS, but it is a wiki CMS ergo people think it’s different. In a way it is, I suppose.
  6. Open Office — This is a casual alternative to Microsoft Word, although I feel it may be taken out of commission by web-based productivity software like Google Docs.
  7. Xemacs — a pretty good application development system, and a great way to practice xml documents, in particular xslt.
  8. Open Source Games — Well, if you are into development, these games could give you an in-roads into understanding how to build a game. That’s a big power in a world where Gamer types are taking over the Internet.
  9. X-Forms Essentials — Well, it’s a book and x-forms is not really supported by most browsers right yet. But x-forms is a W3C recommendation and it does seem to have a future over standard HTML forms. So, I think people should start reading this stuff asap!
  10. Moodle — Really just another CMS, but this time the focus is e-learning and online courseware. I’ve been impressed with the developement community so far!

This is a starting list of course, and I’ve cheated a little in that some of these products are, in fact, groups of products working together. Still, you ought to be aware of these if you have any technical capacity in your organization. I’m not advocating of course — whether you use open source all depends on what you need to do and how well-equipped you are to manage products that don’t really have maintenance support the way commercial products do. But, you can save a lot of money and gain alot of productivity if you use these wisely!

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