The greatest open source software of all time
InfoWorld's Open Source Hall of Fame recognizes the 36 most important free open source software projects in history (and today)Follow @infoworld
Another old standby of network admins is the Snort intrusion detection system, by far the most popular way to keep a constant watch over network traffic. Snort can perform real-time protocol analysis and content matching to identify all sorts of attacks on your network. A number of helpful modules are built into Snort, and many third-party plug-ins are available to extend the functionality.
For instance, if you want Snort to serve as an in-line intrusion prevention system, you could use Snort-Inline to automatically drop offending packets. With the SnortSam plug-in, Snort can communicate with Cisco, Check Point, Juniper/Netscreen, and other firewalls to automatically block IP addresses when Snort identifies an incoming attack. The front end of choice for Snort is BASE, which gives you an easy Web interface to review and analyze attacks. And the company behind Snort, Sourcefire, has a vulnerability research team that maintains a set of Snort rules that are available by subscription at a very reasonable rate.
OpenSSH and OpenSSL are two other indispensible security tools that make it into our inaugural hall of fame. Many of the tools (such as telnet and rlogin) used to connect to older Unix systems sent usernames, passwords, and data over the network in clear text. OpenSSH encrypts shell connections to remote computers so that someone sniffing network traffic won't be able to see your sensitive information. OpenSSL is a software library that enables all sorts of applications to use encryption when sending data across the network. OpenSSL is most often used to create VPN tunnels and to secure data between a Web browser and a Web server.
Asterisk, the open source VoIP phone system, also makes the cut in our networking wing. As it has matured over the years, Asterisk has not only gathered advanced telephony features but also become easier to manage, with several Web-based interfaces now available. The result is that adoption of Asterisk has exploded. Asterisk is backed by an extremely active community, with plenty of commercial support available, and it boasts compatibility with a wide range of VoIP gear. A sizable industry has now grown up around Asterisk, and improvements and additions seem almost constant.
Last but certainly not least, the Apache Web server rounds out our open source hall of fame. Sure, you can find Web servers that are more lightweight or more specialized, but few can match Apache's flexibility or wide variety of add-on modules. Apache has virtually owned the Web since the late 1990s, and it still runs half of the world's Web sites. No wonder the Apache Web server is a standard part of every major Linux distribution and all of the *BSD operating systems.
From Linux and GNU to Asterisk and Apache, these are our 36 original inductees into the InfoWorld Open Source Hall of Fame. We grant you that no hall of fame is ever complete, and no doubt ours suffers from a number of boneheaded omissions. We expect many of our Bossie winners will become hall of fame material in the coming years. As for the inevitable lapses, we're counting on you to draw our attention to the great open source software that we've missed.
InfoWorld Test Center contributing editors Brian Chee, Curtis Franklin Jr., Martin Heller, Neil McAllister, and Paul Venezia contributed to this article.
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High Mobley is a contributing editor to the InfoWorld Test Center and president of q!Bang Solutions, an IT consulting company based in Las Vegas.