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Bossies 2012: The Best of Open Source Software Awards

It's back -- and bigger and badder than ever! Our sixth annual Bossie Awards call out more than 100 open source products in seven categories

Welcome to the sixth annual Best of Open Source Software Awards, otherwise known as the Bossies. If you've enjoyed our previous Bossies, you're in for a treat: This year, with the help of our extended InfoWorld family of contributing editors, we've pulled together more than 100 Bossie-worthy products in seven categories, from application development tools to -- for the first time -- games and other fun stuff.

Just as the Bossies have grown fatter, so has the totality of the open source beast. Sourceforge claims more than 4 million downloads, 3,402 code commits, and 722 bugs were tracked on the day I'm writing this paragraph alone. The most popular by far is the VLC video player, which continues to beat many commercial players. And all it takes is a glance at GitHub to see that JavaScript code for the browser (jQuery) and the server (Node) continue to draw downloads and bug fixes like flies to flypaper.

We've taken it upon ourselves to plow through all that frenetic activity and dig up the juiciest, smartest, and most useful open source software available. If you'd just like to page through from beginning to end, start here. Stick around in this article and you'll get a tour of the important trends in open source this year.

Hadoop: An elephant born tap-dancing
Nothing in open source is more exciting than the constellation of software around Hadoop. Technically, Hadoop is just a small part of a big stack of software that keeps a number of machines crunching together on a single problem, but as you may have noticed, your boss's boss has learned to drop Hadoop as a buzzword. So we often overlook related programs such as Pig or Hive though they can be more useful than Hadoop itself.

Hadoop is the poster child for the big data. It began as a small experiment based on Google's MapReduce technology and grew into a stack of code for those who need to do big things with data spread out across a rack of nodes. The tool has been so successful, we've heard rumors that the Google engineers who pioneered the MapReduce paradigm are jealous of the innovation going on in Hadoop. Google got the ball rolling, but the open source nature of Hadoop allowed the rest of the Internet to surpass the biggest dog in big data.

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