Best of open source software awards: Collaboration

Bossie winners in social networking, wiki, mail and calendar, remote control, and blogging software

The InfoWorld Bossies are chosen annually by Test Center editors, analysts, and reviewers. The winners represent the best free and open source software we've used. Our choices in collaboration were spearheaded by contributing editor Mike Heck, with help from contributing editor Victor R. Garza.

Got an open source favorite we missed? Please send us a note.

Social Networking


You won’t find an open source version of MySpace, but even at the current .92 version, Elgg comes darn close. So why would you even want to create smaller communities? Simple: While Elgg lets corporations, governments, and schools quickly establish blogs, the system’s collaborative features encourage building communities of users with shared interests. Other Elgg fine points include podcast support, file repositories, user profiles, RSS aggregator, and branding features. Significantly, the software integrates with other IT systems and provides OpenID authentication. Developers can add specific functions using an open API. Wiki


The appeal of MediaWiki, the original application written for Wikipedia, goes far beyond the trademark look, navigation, and page editing – though there’s clearly value in using software that most users already know. Administrators should find MediaWiki simple to install, upgrade, and maintain. Customization is trivial using different skins or altering style sheers. Content contributors benefit from time-saving features, including automatic table of contents generation. And the system can do more by installing multimedia features and extensions; some of these let you write mathematical formulas or quickly build timelines. Mail and Calendar


If you’re looking for an open alternative to Microsoft Exchange, Scalix just slightly edges Zimbra as a enterprise-class e-mail and group calendar solution (though we still feel Zimbra is more innovative). ‘Enterprise’ is the watchword here, since Scalix does a fine job using Linux clustering and failover features for maximum uptime. Scalix’s AJAX console makes administration a snap, while the included Scalix ActiveSync lets wireless devices connect directly to the server for push e-mail, contact, and calendar updates. Remote Control

Virtual Network Computing

Lightweight, fast, and portable, VNC is more useful now than ever for remote system management and application sharing. The free version of VNC doesn't support Microsoft Windows Server 2008, Vista, or Mac OS X, but it does support most other Microsoft Windows platforms as well as many flavors of Unix and Linux. Editions such as TightVNC and UltraVNC add capabilities such as file transfer, desktop video scaling, SSH, and encryption. For Mac OS X, there’s Chicken of the VNC. Blog Publishing


Since its humble beginnings in 2003, the WordPress blog application has been downloaded about 10 million times. A five-minute installation and more than 1,300 plug-ins help explain why. These latter enhancements bolster WordPress’ already great built-in usability, standards compliance, security, and tidy aesthetics. WordPress is easily molded to handle most anything from simple bogs to sophisticated e-zines. User registration, the commenting system, workflow, password-protected posts, and static pages round out the main attractions. There’s even an open source app to write and edit WordPress blogs from your iPhone or iPod Touch.

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