Best of Open Source Software Awards 2009
InfoWorld's 2009 Bossies spotlight today's Top 40 open source products for business and IT prosFollow @infoworld
If you think you can easily whittle down the best open source software to a manageable number, you'll soon discover that you can't do it without a great deal of hair pulling, nail biting, and gnashing of teeth. There are just too many excellent tools. Even if you give up on a "manageable" number and go whole hog -- say, a top 100, which is certainly doable -- you'll still face too many hard decisions and too many arguments. You'll be looking for a way out.
To bring you this year's 40 top open source products -- our 2009 Bossie winners -- we pulled a couple of fast ones. Our first inspired dodge was to come up with the InfoWorld Open Source Hall of Fame. There's a certain number of obviously great open source solutions (we settled on 36) that deserve a hall of fame, and though our annual Bossies selection regularly passed over most of these because of their sheer obviousness, a few inevitably complicated the process. Erecting the hall of fame allowed us to honor these inconvenient legends -- the Linuxes, BSDs, Sendmails, and Snorts -- once and for all.
[ See the slideshows of the 2009 InfoWorld Bossie Award winners: The best of open source developer tools | The best of open source enterprise software | The best of open source networking software | The best of open source platforms and middleware. ]
Our second shortcut was to omit desktop productivity tools and focus strictly on enterprise software, application development tools, networking and network management software, and platforms and middleware. We covered some of the top desktop productivity tools in "The best free open source software for Windows" -- including Linux standards such as OpenOffice.org and Firefox -- but there's so much more to talk about. Once you start down this road, you have to walk a long way.
Desktop OSS, briefly
OK, we'll just mention a few. We'd have to pick GIMP, the open source Photoshop alternative, and Blender, a formerly commercial 3-D graphics editor that was purchased by the community and made freely available through the GPL. That gets a big thumbs-up. There's also Inkscape, the vector graphics illustration program, and ImageMagick, a very cool scriptable tool used for mass graphics manipulation. On the audio/video front, no doubt the excellent Audacity audio editor and the VLC media player take a prize. VLC is also a very good streaming video server that supports both uni- and multicast.
And that's just graphics and multimedia. We'd also have to explore all the open source utilities available, like the Handbrake DVD ripper and the Growl notification system, and whether to include software like LinuxMCE, a home automation controller (think lights, cameras, thermostats, media centers), or Musix, a Debian-based distribution that's chock-full of top-notch software for musical composers and performers. Not to mention all of the open source browsers, and maybe even variants of OpenOffice.org. Should Google Chrome win a Bossie?
(Should we include games too? Do you remember that old arcade game called Battlezone with the wire frame tanks? BZFlag is like Battlezone for the 21st century. Highly recommended.)