The union of open source software into the Windows market is becoming ever more commonplace. So I've compiled another, albeit
short list, of some of my latest favorites. All of these are great products for the IT pro that rival their commercial counterparts
and come with that loveable, open-source price.
Zenoss Core IT pros need to monitor their networks and applications but it can be a costly endeavor. There are lots of alternatives to
the commercial packages on the market and I blog about them frequently. Even still, Zenoss Core is a project that not only
caught my attention but seems to be one of the darlings of the entire open source software (OSS) community. Sourceforge.net
gives it a sixth place overall ranking and with good reason. Zenoss Core is an easy to manage, easy to read monitoring tool
with lots of features. I downloaded the VMware file, powered it on and was ready to go in no time. The dashboard style was
easy to learn and the core product handles most of what you need to monitor. But wait, there's more! You can download ZenPacks from the community Web site to extend the features and functionality of Zenoss Core. Download Zenoss Core from the Web site
VirtuaWin Multiple monitors are great for extending the "real estate" you have to work with on your desktop. Sometimes you need to go
beyond having more space. Sometimes you need to separate your workspaces according to functionality. If you have ever been
the project manager, help desk, network administrator, Exchange admin, etc., VirtuaWin is the perfect tool to help you out.
Rather than have many different windows on a single desktop, VirtuaWin allows you to create many virtual desktops that can
be customized and set up according to functionality. I like knowing I am working in defined workspaces. VirtuaWin also offers
numerous modules and is highly customizable. If you wear many hats or if you just need to get your desktop more organized,
VirtuaWin is great solution for you. Download the program here and check out the modules as well.
Bochs Legacy software, testing and incompatible file formats are all scenarios where you need to keep another system around. While
virtualization has made it simple to toss out that old Windows NT 4 machine and run the application without the extra hardware,
Bpchs offers another alternative. Bochs uses emulation to create systems that are not only portable but capable of running
any OS within any OS. Run Linux on a Windows Vista machine and then move that image to Mac OSX without needing to do anything
to the image file itself. The latest infusion of cross platform computing has made file compatibility a bit easier to deal
with, however many applications still need file conversion utilities to work. And many times these are only one-way conversions.
That means transferring the data back to the original format and that can be difficult if not impossible. With Bochs you could
simply load the file into its native file format and work on it without needing to convert something in order to make the
file reusable. Bochs is lightweight and easy to configure and run. The images pull little in the way of resources on the host
machines. I also enjoyed the idea of keeping a bunch of emulated legacy systems around. Who knows, perhaps I can break out
some of my old DOS and Windows 95 games again? It could be fun to run them on my Vista machine. You can download Bochs and
several image files from the Web site
Recuva Backup and disaster recovery are essential in every IT environment but can only take care of the files that are backed up.
Most times, users' systems are not part of the backup/DR plan, so what action can you take? Undelete and recovery tools are
nothing new and there are many solutions. I have even blogged about a few commercial packages in the past (Nothing is lost forever and Nothing is lost forever part II). Recuva is an open source iteration of recovery software. What I enjoyed about this software package is that it did everything
the commercial packages did, had an easy-to-use GUI interface and it cost nothing. To me that makes Recuva a no-brainer. To
management, it will make you a resourceful team player. To the executive who loses that critical file (the picture of his
kids), it will make you a hero. You can download Recuva here. And while you are at it, with the money you save, donate something to support this project and keep it around.
PINs Remembering passwords of your user account, admin account, Exchange admin account, personal computers, online banking, LinkedIn
profile, job sites, and any other can be tedious and painful. I don't know about anyone else but as an IT professional I have
enough things on my plate already. PINs is a secure password manager that not only makes it easier to keep track of them all,
it reminds you when passwords have expired, creates password for you and can even paste the username and password into the
app for you – in over 25 languages. PINs uses 448-bit encryption to secure your data. The setup is very easy as well. Now
that you know about PINs, isn't it time for you to generate a new password for some of those important online accounts (Gmail?)
that haven't been changed in months? Download PINs here.
Honorable Mentions I'm including this category because every time I write about open source Windows tools, I invariably get comments and e-mails
asking how I could possibly have overlooked the following highly popular tools. I haven't overlooked them, I just prefer to
blog about Windows open source projects that are not sitting in the bull's-eye of the collective radar. But, since no list
is complete without mentioning these Windows OSS projects here we go ...
Firefox– The granddaddy (grandfox?) of all Windows OSS projects. Firefox has become the standard on which Internet browsers are judged.
And while Internet Explorer 8 hopes to catch up, Firefox may be too far ahead in the game.
OpenOffice.org 3– For years the MS Office price tag has been a hard pill to swallow for many organizations. But business being what it is,
many had no choice, until OpenOffice.org that is, the latest version of which includes support for Office 2007 files. Compare
its price (free) to the retail cost of $379 for Office 2007 professional. Need I say more?
Thunderbird– Many would agree that Outlook Express or Windows Mail is not an effective replacement for Microsoft Outlook as an e-mail
client. If you were to go with OpenOffice.org 3 then Thunderbird would be a good companion. Thunderbird comes with a host
of features like message tagging, advanced search options and even the ability to save searches, all of which makes it a viable
replacement for Outlook.
MySQL– I am a big fan of Microsoft SQL Server but have many times been working on projects where I thought to myself that I had
no need for all that power. SQL Server Express editions have left much to be desired in the area of managing those databases.
MySQL is a popular alternative and it has gained a large following in the OSS community. Not surprisingly it has been gaining
ground in the Windows world as well.
phpMyAdmin– If you are going to have MySQL, then you should have phpMyAdmin to administer your databases over the Web. The project has
numerous themes and allows you to control all the features that MySQL has to offer making this a popular management tool.
ClamAV– Antivirus protection is in a lot of ways a double-edged sword. On the one side, it is absolutely needed to keep your system
and data safe. On the other, many AV applications are extremely bloated and slow your system down. ClamAV is a great solution
for providing necessary safety without all the resource overhead and there is no upgrade costs to continue to get new virus
patterns…need I say more?
SugarCRM– Is a full CRM solution that has grown in popularity over the years. The community edition offers the ability to track leads,
create marketing campaigns, share calendars and manage accounts. You can even use SugarCRM as an e-mail client or project
management tool. Commercial solutions cost tens of thousands of dollars to deploy; the community edition of Sugar CRM gives
you the most essential CRM tools without the cost.
I believe we are heading to a world where OSS will converge with proprietary software. In the meantime, please stay tuned
to my blog as I continue to hunt down, and test, interesting fully open source projects for Windows that can help enjoy A Better Windows World.