Archive | May, 2008

A SourceForge history lesson

So, you come to SourceForge every day (at least I hope you do) to check out what’s new and what’s happening with your favorite projects. If you’re around the FOSS community for any length of time, you’re bound to hear mention of this site when people talk about where they host their projects or look for software. Did you ever wonder about where the idea to provide free hosting for open source projects got started or how SourceForge was created (hint: lots of pizza and caffiene)?

Last fall, Datamation’s James Maguire relayed the history of the company in a fascinating article, “The SourceForge Story.” He picked the brain of our favorite Community Manager Ross Turk and several other people who were around back in 1999 to get a sense of how things developed over the first few weeks — and years.

Maguire tells of the early years when infrastructure couldn’t keep up with the demand of thousands of developers clamoring to eke out a sliver of server space. He also tells of the time when SourceForge suddenly got an influx of cash and staff following its first profitable quarter in 2006. The aging infrastructure was replaced, more developers flocked to the site, and the rest, as they say, is history.

If you’ve been thinking of getting a new FOSS project underway, what are you waiting for? As Maguire notes, “… some projects incubated at SourceForge have broken through to the big league. Zimbra, recently acquired by Yahoo for a heart-stopping $350 million, began life as a SourceForge project. So, too, JBoss, now owned by Red Hat. SugarCRM, launched as a SourceForge project in April 2004, raised $26 million in venture capital; its customer list includes Starbucks and NASA.”

Even if you don’t hit the big time, maybe your project will win a Community Choice Award. Speaking of which, have you nominated anyone yet?

FOSS tools and apps for bloggers

Once just a vehicle for broadcasting teen angst, blogs are popping up everywhere these days. Though many people use hosted blogging services like TypePad, LiveJournal, and WordPress.com lots of folks in the FOSS community swear by the blogging software platform offered by WordPress.org. Our sister site Linux.com often highlights various WordPress plugins and there are loads more to check out on SourceForge. Some plugins tackle broad issues like adding extra language functionality while others are designed for with a very specific purpose in mind.

Of course, WordPress isn’t the only game in town. The Flash Blog “uses XML as the source of the files and PHP as the workhorse. Flash Blog is more of a Blog System, rather than just a blog.” If Java’s more your thing, Ministone might be just what you’re looking for.

If you’ve got multiple blogs to maintain, the cross-platform app Thingamablog can help. Linux.com’s Tina Gasperson took it for a test spin recently and says, “The software is easy enough for beginners to use, but sophisticated enough that veteran bloggers will appreciate it too.”

While all of these blog platforms contain their own editors, there aren’t too many standalone blog editors to choose from (why is that?). Offline apps like Mars Edit, Journaler, Qumana, Ecto, are either platform specific or not Linux-friendly. Yarns is an offline blog editor written in Python but looks to be a relatively new addition to the roster of apps hosted at SourceForge. If you’re adventurous, you could always try ScribeFire (formerly Performancing Firefox) but since browsers crash from time to time, this may not be your best option. Instead try an app like Bleezer, Drivel, or BloGTK to get the job done.

Fun and useful instant messaging tools

The Internet would be a lonely place without instant messaging. It’s hard to imagine life without Adium, Pidgin, Kopete, or the Jabber messaging protocol. SourceForge hosts a number of really cool projects that center around instant messaging (IM). Some add functionality or features, some are just plain fun.

The Last.fm plugin for Pidgin adds your Last.fm profile to the user information displayed by the popular IM client. It’ll even scrobble your most recent songs so your friends know if you prefer rocking out to Queen or Rick Astley. For a broader application, try Pidgin-Current Track. It’s little plugin that updates your user info from several media players including Amarok, RhythmBox, iTunes, RealPlayer, and more.

Use the Jabber client Gabber on your GNOME desktop, or konverse on KDE, to connect with your friends and co-workers. It’ll let you connect with people you know on other networks, like AIM, Yahoo! MSN, and IRC. Moving to Jabber from another instant messaging system? Use JabberTools to import contact information from ICQ, AIM, and other IM platforms, then use it to manage your account info and roster.

Control your (or someone else’s) PC over the Jabber network with Remote Control via Jabber, send a receive voice messages with VoIM, or IM from the beach with Jabber Mix Client for portable devices. If you need a special Jabber client for your next raid, you can’t beat Gamers Own Instant Messenger (GOIM), to let you know who’s playing what game on which server.

What’s your favorite instant messaging client or plugin? Let us know in the comments.

It’s all about the beer

If you’ve been a part of the open source community for more than five minutes, you’ve heard the expression “free as in beer.” There’s a reason that we don’t say “free as in water” or “free as in pomegranate juice” because, really, who can resist free beer? And everyone loves free software, right? How about free software about beer?

BrewBlogger is a cool PHP/MySQL-based system that helps home brewers log their creations and sports a “blog-like forum to share their efforts.” If your recipes are family secrets, then use brewsta to design, edit, store, and keep track of your favorites. Turn to The Brewery for a Web-based multi-user app that’s perfect whenever homebrewing is a team effort.

If you dig the science of beer as much as the brewing, then take a look at MacBarley. This spiffy app (Mac only) analyzes your beer recipes to calculate gravity, alcohol content, bitterness, color, and more. It’s written in Cocoa and compatible with OS X 10.5 or later. If you need something a little less technical, then try BeerCrafter, an app with calculators and other tools designed to help homebrewers with session and recipe management.

If beer is your business, then you’ll need BeerFest DB. It’s only in Pre-Alpha right now, but the developers say it will focus on tracking cask information such as ordering, sales, and quality control. For an app that’s ready to take to work right now, try BrewSession. It catalogs ingredients and supplies, formulates recipes, and performs all sorts of calculations a home or small brewery needs.

Don’t want to imbibe? Then play these fun drinking games without the hangover. FH-Ingolstadt Beer Game is a Java-based version of the MIT Beer Game, that’s sort of like Sim City for adults (this game looks like it’s in German, however, which really just adds an extra challenge). Belgian Brewer is a Web-based multi-player game that lets you buy pubs, beer, and other buildings — all the fun of bar ownership without the actual risk.

Download System Improvements

One of the things about having a site where you ask people to store things on your infrastructure is that, no matter how well you plan, you’re bound to outgrow your capacity eventually. We call it being “loved to death”, and it’s something we’re constantly battling against.

I’m pleased to announce that one major skirmish in this battle was won yesterday, when we redeployed our download service with major functional improvements!

First off: no more of that nasty, insecure anonymous FTP for uploading files. Instead, project admins can upload in a few different ways: SSL-enabled web-based form, WebDAV over SSL, sftp, or rsync over SSH. The files that you upload will be going into per-user directories, so you’ll only see the files you’ve uploaded, instead of seeing everyone else’s. That also means we were able to increase the amount of time that files remain in the upload directory from 24 hours to 7 days, so you can resume your upload using rsync over SSH up to a week later if your transfer fails and you can replace it immediately if you uploaded the wrong file.

We’ve updated our site documentation for these new features, and we encourage everyone who cares about publishing files using SourceForge.net to give it a once over.

Thanks for your support!
Ross