Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Great Software

I'd just like to say I think existing Free Software and Open Source Software (and, for that matter, public domain software) is great - really, really great. Sometimes people give it a really hard time, saying things like it's rubbish or poor quality or just a rip-off of commercial software.

However, I just think that they are griping for no reason. They don't have to use it! Of course there are loads of abandoned applications on places like sourceforge and elsewhere that are not finished, and others that are worked by learning coders who write terrible code with bugs everywhere that may never be finished. However, it's not like an infinite number of monkeys that produce the occasional gem. The good ones are well know and work well. Additionally, and of critical importance, many are written by commercial companys as well as professional programmers in their spare time and not just hobbists in bedrooms at night as some suggest. I guess most big projects have some combination of the above.

Additionally the whole 'rip-off commercial software' angle tends to focus on the desktop environments of KDE and Gnome. I'm not going to answer that directly but will ask two things: Is a 'natural' bar on selling, effectively, the same software for eternity all bad? Should we restrict the freedom of people or companies to develop competing software that they decide they should give away for free unless there is a another very compelling additional reason to stop them? On the last point think of two situations: browsers and Free Operating Systems.

This is getting way too deep and philosophical!

Let me re-focus on what I wanted to do and give you a list, in no particular order, of some great Free Software and Open Source software that comes to mind. I'm sure there won't be any surprises and I know there will be many, many things missing that I'll kick myself for later.
  • gcc ... the great, the wonderful, compiler collection.
  • cvs ... maybe showing it's age but in other respects still revolutionary and even with all the known flaws still out-performs some current commercial SCM programs.
  • The Linux Kernel
  • FreeBSD
  • OpenBSD
  • NetBSD
  • OpenSSH
  • Apache
  • Perl
  • Python
  • cvstrac ... a less known program but no less great ... a web interface to cvs (and others) plus bug tracking plus wiki pages.
  • Ruby
  • Lua
  • Firefox
  • Mozilla
  • Eclipse ... Java based IDE
  • Dev-C++
  • MySQL ... open source database
  • PHP
  • Blender ... great open source 3D design package
  • GDB ... the debugger
  • OpenOffice
  • Tcl
  • Nethack
  • SDL
  • Subversion
You might note that there are a lot of programming languages and programming related things on this list. This is not suprising for I'm a programmer! Additionally programmers work on F/OSS so programming related things tend to be done well.

And that's all I've got to say for now.


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