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Top 6 Open Source Back-to-School Apps: A SourceForge Downloader’s Guide

When I think school, I think homework. While homework may make some students want to scream or even wish they had a pool of workers like in Rodney Dangerfield’s classic “Back to School,” I assure you that the right software tools can make all the difference.  And here at SourceForge, there are some pieces of outstanding homework-helping software under the Open Source license — free to download, free to use, and the source code is available too.

Here are my picks to help you get through the school year:

2013-08-22 15_18_45-StatisticsBest flash card pick:

Mnemosyne Project

tux win

Flashcards are a tried and true tool to help you learn everything from math facts to science and language definitions to foreign languages. And Mnemosyne helps you learn faster and retain longer by optimizing how frequently cards are shown from the deck.

You can easily create your own flashcard decks and share with your teacher for distribution to the whole class.

Screen Shot 2013-08-22 at 3.22.16 PMBest offline reference pick:

Kiwix – Wikipedia offline 

tux win mac

   Wikipedia is great. It can be used for Social Studies homework, when you need to find the longest river in North America, and for science research. Kiwix extends access to that greatness offline, letting you use Wikipedia data when you’re in the car, working places that have no Internet access, or even using your laptop to finish homework when the power is out. As Wikipedia continues its march toward complete world knowledge, Kiwix gives you powerful options to pare down which pieces of information you want to carry portably and offline. Budget some time to try this out and download data before you need it.

Screen Shot 2013-08-22 at 3.25.59 PMBest unit conversion pick:

JConvert

tux win mac

Whether you’re converting imperial to metric to avoid space vessel calamities, or just bantering about nibbles and yottabytes, a dedicated unit conversion tool can be handy when accuracy counts (like when doing homework). JConvert fits the bill, covering units including acceleration, mass, angles, areas, and data size. Also, it’s Java-based, so you can just download the .jar and double-click to start it up.

Screen Shot 2013-08-22 at 3.29.44 PMBest office suite pick:

Apache OpenOffice 

tux win mac

If you need a Word processor, spreadsheet, presentation slides and more in one easy package (and who doesn’t?), then you have to check out Apache OpenOffice. Compatible with data formats from other popular office suites, you can work in .odt and export to .doc or PDF. The PDF Import Extension allows you to import and modify PDF documents too! This is truly must-have software for everyone.

Screen Shot 2013-08-22 at 3.40.38 PMBest drawing tool pick:

Inkscape 

tux win mac

Channel your inner artist or engineer with Inkscape, a vector graphics editor. Inkscape uses the W3C standard Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) file format and allows for export to many formats, including PDF and AutoCAD.

Screen Shot 2013-08-22 at 3.54.55 PMBest e-reader pick:

CoolReader 

tux win mac

You want an e-reader that is easy on the eyes, and Cool Reader fits the bill perfectly. Font, font size, page layout and background are easily tunable. With a great e-reader, you can tap into the wealth of e-books available freely from the likes of Project Gutenberg.

I hope you have a great semester and that these apps help you succeed!  Your feedback is always welcome. I’d love to hear from you.

I also want to give a shout out to the folks helping all of us life-long learners — TED, Khan Academy, and local ham radio operators.  Keep up the great work.

Daniel Hinojosa

SourceForge Community Manager

December community newsletter

Subject: JStock is project of the month; Games for the Holidays; The year in review;

It’s hard to believe that the end of 2012 is just a few days away. It’s been a great year for SourceForge. More about that later. Let’s start with this month:

JStock is the Project of the Month

JStock is a free stock market software for 26 countries. It provides stock watchlist, intraday stock price snapshot, stock indicator editor, stock indicator scanner and portfolio management. Free SMS/email alert supported.

Earlier this month we spoke with Yan Chen Cheok, the lead developer on this project. You can listen, or read, to find out more about JStock, at http://sourceforge.net/blog/potm-201212/. And, if you’re interested in the stock market, you can use JStock to help you become a smarter investor.

Please vote for the January Project of the Month. You’ll find the list of candidates, and a link to the vote, at http://sourceforge.net/blog/potm-vote-201301/. (You’ll need to be signed in to Twitter to vote, as a preventative measure against robo-voting.) Note: Vote is closed. Stay tuned for the January POTM announcement.

SourceForge is hiring

SourceForge, and our sister sites Slashdot and Freecode, are looking for some additions to our team. We’re looking for a Systems Programmer/Analyst, who will work on the team that oversees production and development systems, databases, systems integration, infrastructure, and networks for the Geeknet Media sites (Slashdot, SourceForge, Freecode) and associated services. You’ll find details of this position at http://bit.ly/SwenWE.

We’re also looking for a Senior Systems Administrator in the Chicago, IL area. You can find more details on that position at http://bit.ly/TMypNj.

Finally, we’re looking for a Front End Engineer for our Dexter, MI office. The details of that position are at http://bit.ly/TlCJBo.

If you’re interested in any of these positions, please click the red “Click Here to Apply” button on that site.

Games for The Holidays

If you’re a video game buff, new games for the holidays are always a winner. And if they’re free, that’s even better. Last year around this time, we did a blog entry (https://sourceforge.net/blog/games-for-the-holidays/) about free games, and since then we’ve done a number of features about the many games on SourceForge. We even tried to create a comprehensive list – https://sourceforge.net/p/forge/community-docs/SourceForge%20Games/ – which is still very much a work in process.

Platform Updates

Our team of engineers is constantly pushing out updates to the developer platform. However, we’ve done a rather poor job in the past of telling you what they’re up to, which is an injustice both to them and to you.

We’ve started a new series of blog posts, which you’ll find at http://sourceforge.net/blog/tag/updates/, where we’ll tell you what they’ve pushed out. We don’t cover everything, because much of it, although important, is behind-the-scenes stuff you won’t necessarily see. But we’ll cover the changes that we think will affect your daily use of the site, or which fix problems that many of you are likely to have seen.

We tend to operate in two-week sprints, but we also do minor pushes in between the major ones, so the frequency of these posts will vary from week to week. We hope that you find them helpful in keeping up with the progress of our platform.

Two recent additions include the 5-star ratings feature (http://sourceforge.net/blog/five-star-reviews-coming-to-your-project) and the addition of your Twitter handle to your project summary page (http://sourceforge.net/blog/your-projects-twitter-stream/). We think that both of these features will enhance your attachment to your community.

You can also see what we’ll be working on next (see the Milestone list on the left) and vote on tickets for upcoming milestones, at http://sourceforge.net/p/allura/tickets/.

Help Wanted

Every now and then, every project needs a little help. We have a forum at https://sourceforge.net/p/forge/helpwanted/ where you can post your needs, or your desire to help.

Here’s some projects that are looking for developers or designers to help them out.

Sqliteman is looking for someone to adopt the project. Sqliteman is a sqlite3 GUI frontend for developers and db users, written in C++ and QT4. If you’re interested, respond to the article at https://sourceforge.net/p/forge/helpwanted/programmers/thread/9ef2c155/

Aurora Game Manager is looking for a creative developer and a PC gamer to jump in on the effort. They describe more of what they’re looking for at https://sourceforge.net/p/forge/helpwanted/programmers/thread/3c17f54e/ Aurora is written using Java Swing.

XOOPS is looking for PHP developers, and for designers. XOOPS is a PHP CMS which was recently the SourceForge project of the month. You can follow up on the post at https://sourceforge.net/p/forge/helpwanted/programmers/thread/80250c4a/ if you’re interested.

The Vega Strike project is looking for artists to design 3D cockpit interiors. That request can be seen at https://sourceforge.net/p/forge/helpwanted/artists/thread/22208746/ and you can follow up on that post.

And, as importantly, there’s another forum for developers in search of a project. If your project is looking for new talent, have a look at the developer profiles posted at https://sourceforge.net/p/forge/helpwanted/developers/ and see if one of them is what you’re looking for.

Projects of the Month – a year in review

We’ve had some really great Projects of the Month this year, with very closely contested votes many months. At http://sourceforge.net/blog/2012-projects-of-the-month/ we review all of the featured projects for 2012, including the current project of the month, JStock.

Top Growth Projects

We’re always on the lookout for projects that might be doing interesting things, and a surge in downloads is one of many metrics that we look at to identify them. Here’s the projects that had the greatest growth in the last month.

Stellarium: A realistic, real-time 3D simulation of the night sky. http://sourceforge.net/projects/stellarium

Moodle: Moodle is a Course Management System (CMS), also known as a Learning Management System (LMS) or a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). It is a Free web application that educators can use to create effective online learning sites. http://sourceforge.net/projects/moodle

Eclipse and Java Video Tutorials: Free video screencam tutorials for Eclipse and Java. Includes “Eclipse and Java for Total Beginners”, “Using the Eclipse Workbench”, “Introducing Persistence”, and “Using the Debugger”. Intended for beginning and intermediate users and programmer http://sourceforge.net/projects/eclipsetutorial

Lazarus: Rapid applications development tool and libraries for FPC http://sourceforge.net/projects/lazarus

West Point Bridge Designer and Contest: A national virtual bridge engineering contest for kids of all ages. http://sourceforge.net/projects/wpbdc

Zenoss Core – Enterprise IT Monitoring: Zenoss Core is an enterprise network and systems management application written in Python. Zenoss provides an integrated product for monitoring availability, performance, events and configuration across layers and across platforms. http://sourceforge.net/projects/zenoss

MO Virtual Router: Virtual Wi-Fi For Windows 8 http://sourceforge.net/projects/movirtualrouter

Kiwix: Wikipedia offline & more http://sourceforge.net/projects/kiwix

AkelPad: A simple notepad-like text editor with many features. It is designed to be a small and fast. http://sourceforge.net/projects/akelpad

tuntaposx: Unix-style tun and tap virtual network interfaces for Mac OS X. http://sourceforge.net/projects/tuntaposx

PosteRazor – Make your own poster!: Want to print a poster? PosteRazor cuts an image file into pieces and you can print them on your printer and glue them together to a poster. Easy FLTK based user interface. Uses FreeImage for image loading. Creates PDFs as output. http://sourceforge.net/projects/posterazor

xplanner-plus: XPlanner+ is a web-based project planning and tracking tool. http://sourceforge.net/projects/xplanner-plus

ShellEd: ShellEd is a superb shell script editor for Eclipse. The benefits of this plugin are the integration of man page information for content assist/hover help and the ability to run your project’s shell scripts without leaving Eclipse. Check it out! http://sourceforge.net/projects/shelled

Sims3 Tools: Tools using the s3pi library and other related works – package editor (with simple objk, vpxy and language string editors and a DDS file tool), object cloner and sims3pack packer/unpacker. Runs on Windows, MacOS and Linux. http://sourceforge.net/projects/sims3tools

RapidMiner — Data Mining, ETL, OLAP, BI: No 1 in Business Analytics: Data Mining, Predictive Analytics, ETL, Reporting, Dashboards in One Tool. 1000+ methods: data mining, business intelligence, ETL, data mining, data analysis + Weka + R, forecasting, visualization, business intelligence. http://sourceforge.net/projects/rapidminer

Arch Bang: ArchBang is a simple GNU/Linux distribution which provides you with a lightweight Arch Linux system combined with the OpenBox window manager. Suitable for both desktop and portable systems – It is fast, stable, and always up to date. http://sourceforge.net/projects/archbang

NASA WorldWind: NASA World Wind is a graphically rich 3D virtual globe for use on desktop computers running Windows. It combines NASA imagery generated from satellites that have produced Blue Marble, Landsat 7, SRTM, MODIS and more. http://sourceforge.net/projects/nasa-exp

PhotoFilmStrip: PhotoFilmStrip creates movies out of your pictures in just 3 steps. First select your photos, customize the motion path and render the video. There are several output possibilities for VCD, SVCD, DVD up to FULL-HD. Creates animated slideshows. http://sourceforge.net/projects/photostoryx

py2exe: A distutils extension to create standalone windows programs from python scripts. http://sourceforge.net/projects/py2exe

In Closing …

As always, thanks for being part of the SourceForge community.

If you want more frequent updates than this newsletter, there’s several places where we make those updates. We’re on Twitter – http://twitter.com/sourceforge We’re on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/sourceforgenet We’re on Google+ – https://plus.google.com/u/1/102470258162390195749/posts And if you follow the opensource and software Reddits, http://www.reddit.com/r/opensource and http://www.reddit.com/r/software respectively, you’ll see the occasional post from us there, too.

And, of course, there’s our blog – http://sf.net/blog – where we post longer articles about our projects and our platform.

Keep coding.

The SourceForge Community Team
communityteam@sourceforge.net

October 2012 Developer Newsletter

For those of you who don’t get the monthly newsletter, here’s what we sent out this week:

SUBJECT: ProjectLibre is Project of the Month; Looking for Developers; Games; and more …

Thanks for being part of the SourceForge Community!

ProjectLibre is Project of the Month

ProjectLibre is the October 2012 Project of the Month. ProjectLibre is an Open Source alternative to Microsoft Project. It’s a fairly new project, but it’s derived from a much older one – OpenProj – that has been dormant for several years. It’s off to a very strong start, having been downloaded in more than 175 countries in its first month. And they’ve put together a strong community site at http://projectlibre.org/ where there are thousands of registered users from around the world.

You can read, or listen to, our interview with ProjectLibre at http://sourceforge.net/blog/potm-201210/

Also, don’t forget to vote for November’s Project of the Month at http://sourceforge.net/blog/potm-vote-201211/ At the moment, the vote appears a little one-sided (Go Rigs of Rods!) and the other projects have yet to really show themselves. Let’s make this more of a race in the last week of voting.

Looking for Developers

The following projects are just a small selection of those that are looking for fresh input on their teams. Keep watching the blog, Facebook, and Twitter, for other projects that might need your help.

Privateer Gemini Gold is a remake of the classic space simulation adventure Privateer that was part of the Wing Commander games series. It brings back the magic of the Gemini Sector with a modern game engine and high resolution graphics. As such, it’s natural that after achieving faithful reproduction, the game approaches a “finished” state. It’s not there, though, and while it depends on Vega Strike’s engine, there have been lots of improvements on that engine since the last release, and Gold is thus in need of adaptation to this new engine. Volunteers to help on that task would be very welcome. New engine features range from movie support (the game is missing some cutscenes present in the original game) to improved shaders and graphics overall. So help on 3D models and other assets could also be useful. If you’re interested in playing along, go to the project tracker at http://sourceforge.net/tracker/?group_id=78387&atid=553118 and dive in.

SciDAVis is a user-friendly data analysis and visualization program for high-quality plotting of scientific data. It’s an intuitive, easy-to-use graphical user interface with powerful features such as Python scriptability. Unfortunately, the project admin is no longer interested in the project, and is looking for someone to take over maintenance of the project. You should have a strong background in scientific calculation, C++, Python, and Qt. Get in touch with us (communityteam@sourceforge.net) and we’ll make the necessary introductions.

Exult is a game engine for running Ultima7 on modern operating systems, plus a map-editor and other tools for creating your own mods and games. Dominik Reichardt, the lead developer, says: “We do actually plan to release a new version soon since we hope that we recently squished a really bad, show stopping bug that is hard to reproduce. Once we can confirm it is really fixed a new version will be on its way. But, after 14 years of development, work on Exult has really slowed down. So new developers are really welcome to join and could possibly rejuvenate the project. We need help in porting Exult to SDL 2.0 and to new platforms like iOS and Android, or just plain fixing some of the bugs are areas that could interest new developers. Any developers wanting to join can contact us via the mailing list at https://lists.sourceforge.net/lists/listinfo/exult-general or on our irc channel #exult on irc.freenode.net.

We also have been posting ‘Help Wanted’ announcements on our blog, at http://sourceforge.net/blog/category/help-wanted/ and the response has been very encouraging, with several projects resuming development after years of inactivity. If your project is looking for fresh blood, please let us know (communityteam@sourceforge.net) and we’ll try to connect the right people with your project.

Games

We were looking through the Wikipedia list of Open Source games a few days ago (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_open-source_video_games) and noticed that a lot of them are on SourceForge. In fact, of the 114 games listed, 58 are on SourceForge. Apparently SourceForge is the place to be, if you’re developing an Open Source game.

But we also noticed that there were a lot missing. In just a few minutes of poking around, we’d found about 40 other games, game engines, and other game related projects. Rather than brave the Wikipedia editorial process, we made our own list: https://sourceforge.net/p/forge/community-docs/SourceForge%20Games/ (We probably missed some – please let us know if we missed yours.)

We love our Open Source game communities. They seem to have some of the most passionate, most quality-conscious communities around. They care about details. They care about internal consistency and historical accuracy. And, of course, they’re having fun.

Top Growth Projects

Each month we mention the projects that have been growing the fastest. These are the projects to watch, and while many of them are ones we’ve seen before, there’s always a few rising stars in the list – projects that we may not have noticed before. So, here they are.

ClamWin Free Antivirus: Looking for free Open Source Antivirus for Windows? Download ClamWin Free Antivirus and get free virus scanning and free virus definition updates. Free Antivirus software for Windows, using the well-respected ClamAV scanning engine. Includes virus scanner, scheduler, virus database updates, context menu integration to MS Windows Explorer and Add-in to MS Outlook. Also features easy setup program. http://sourceforge.net/projects/clamwin

Orwell Dev-C++: A portable C/C++/C++11 IDE http://sourceforge.net/projects/orwelldevcpp

WinSCP: WinSCP is a SFTP client and FTP client for Windows. Its main function is the secure file transfer between a local and a remote computer. It uses Secure Shell (SSH) and supports, in addition to Secure FTP, also legacy SCP protocol. http://sourceforge.net/projects/winscp

KompoZer: KompoZer is a wysiwyg HTML editor using the Mozilla Composer codebase. As Nvu’s development has been stopped in 2005, KompoZer fixes many bugs and adds a few useful features. http://sourceforge.net/projects/kompozer

qBittorrent: An advanced and multi-platform BitTorrent client with a nice Qt4 user interface as well as a Web UI for remote control and an integrated search engine. qBittorrent aims to meet the needs of most users while using as little CPU and memory as possible. http://sourceforge.net/projects/qbittorrent

Source Code Pro: A set of monospaced OpenType fonts designed for coding environments http://sourceforge.net/projects/sourcecodepro.adobe

Whited00r: A custom iOS firmware for older devices. http://sourceforge.net/projects/whited00r

Cool Reader: XML/CSS based E-Book reader for desktops and handheld devices. Supports most popular ebook formats. http://sourceforge.net/projects/crengine

SQuirreL SQL Client: SQuirreL SQL Client is a graphical SQL client written in Java that will allow you to view the structure of a JDBC compliant database, browse the data in tables, issue SQL commands etc. http://sourceforge.net/projects/squirrel-sql

Free Pascal Compiler: Free 32/64-bit multi-platform Pascal and Object Pascal compiler http://sourceforge.net/projects/freepascal

Chicken: Chicken is a VNC client for Mac OS X. A VNC client allows remote access to another computer over the network. http://sourceforge.net/projects/chicken

DavMail POP/IMAP/SMTP/Caldav to Exchange: Ever wanted to get rid of Outlook ? DavMail is a POP/IMAP/SMTP/Caldav/Carddav/LDAP gateway allowing users to use any mail client with Exchange, even from the internet through Outlook Web Access on any platform, tested on MacOSX, Linux and Windows http://sourceforge.net/projects/davmail

gnuplot: Famous scientific plotting package. http://sourceforge.net/projects/gnuplot

Bodhi Linux: Bodhi is a minimalistic, enlightened, Linux desktop. http://sourceforge.net/projects/bodhilinux

wxWidgets: Cross-platform C++ GUI Framework http://sourceforge.net/projects/wxwindows

YouTube Downloader: Files Downloader is a free powerful utility that will help you to download your favorite videos from youtube. The application is platform-independent and runs in Windows, Linux, and MacOS. http://sourceforge.net/projects/ytd

D-Fend Reloaded: D-Fend Reloaded is a graphical environment for DOSBox. D-Fend Reloaded is a successor of the discontinued D-Fend. Both environments look alike and D-Fend Reloaded contains all features of D-Fend. Even the D-Fend config files can be used. http://sourceforge.net/projects/dfendreloaded

xVideoServiceThief: xVideoServiceThief is a tool for downloading your favourite video clips from a lot of video websites. xVideoServiceThief also provide you the ability to convert each video in most popular formats: AVI, MPEG1, MPEG2, WMV, MP4, 3GP, MP3 file formats. http://sourceforge.net/projects/xviservicethief

Source Sans Pro: A set of OpenType fonts designed for user interfaces http://sourceforge.net/projects/sourcesans.adobe

Subsonic: Subsonic is a web-based media streamer, providing ubiquitous access to your music and video collection. More than 20 apps are available for Android, iPhone, Windows Phone, BlackBerry, Roku, Chumby, Sonos etc. Supports virtually all media formats, converting files on the fly. Also includes a Podcast receiver and jukebox feature allowing you to control what’s playing on your computer from your mobile phone. http://sourceforge.net/projects/subsonic

In Closing

As always, thanks for being part of the SourceForge community.

If you’re not following us on Twitter, you should. Every day, we tweet about a bunch of projects that have released something amazing. http://twitter.com/sourceforge

We’re also on Facebook, at https://www.facebook.com/sourceforgenet , where we try to give the longer-than-140-character view of our projects. If your project is on Facebook, please let us know. We’re trying to build up the list of projects that we’re following, in our ongoing attempt to be more informed about the news from our communities.

And, of course, there’s our blog – http://sf.net/blog – where we post longer articles about our projects and our service.

Keep coding.

The SourceForge Community Team
communityteam@sourceforge.net

Getting started: Training missions

Every few days, someone asks me, how do I get started on this Open Source thing? It’s not always an easy question to answer, because the barrier to entry can be quite high. You need to know how to program. You need to find a project that interests you. And you need to navigate both the community and the technical aspects of that project.

I’ve recently been watching the OpenHatch site, with its wonderful approach to getting people involved in projects. They seem to really care about the projects, but also about the developers who are casting about looking for a place where they can be useful.

One brilliant resource on the site is the training missions. These are short exercises designed to teach you some of the basic skills required to survive in the Open Source wasteland. You do the task, and you’re evaluated by a little bit of software which is non-judgmental and won’t laugh when you make a mistake. You can do it as many times as necessary in order to get it right, and then move on to the next thing.

Over time, the list of training missions will grow, and this site will be an even more valuable resource that all of us in the Open Source community can point to, so that we don’t all have to develop this training material for ourselves.

OpenHatch also offers resources for connecting projects with developers, and I’m looking forward to seeing how this matures over time. I’m already a big fan.

While you’re there, also take a look at their project growth cookbook, which offers a lot of great ideas for getting people involved in your community.

SFProjectTools and WWW::SourceForge

In a bit of a change from the ordinary, I’m going to talk a little about one of my own SourceForge projects, the SFProjectTools project.

Every day, I look at numerous SourceForge projects, and this involved quite a bit of repetition. Looking up project descriptions, recent releases, contact information, and so on. As a long-time programmer, I strive to automate everything I possibly can, so that I can spend my time on things that matter, rather than on things that a computer can do for me.

As a result, I have a lot of scripts sitting around which perform many of the daily boring tasks for me.

The SFProjectTools project is an attempt to share the parts that may be of use to people other than myself.

There are, at the moment, three main parts to the SFProjectTools code repository. There are GreaseMonkey scripts, there’s a Perl implementation of the SourceForge data access API, and there’s a scripts directory containing things that actually use those Perl libraries.

The GreaseMonkey scripts provide various tweaks to pages on the SourceForge site which are particularly useful to me in my daily tasks, and which you might find useful. If you have your own GreaseMonkey scripts that you use on SourceForge, please contribute them.

WWW::SourceForge is a Perl implementation of the SourceForge data access API. It is distributed both here and on CPAN, and currently gives access to basic data about projects and users. More functionality is planned. I’d like to implement the entire API, of course, but I’d also like to implement the download stats API, which is full of very useful goodness.

The scripts directory, at the moment, contains just one script – event_influence.pl – which purports to measure the influence that a particular event (blog post, tweet, release, etc) had on downloads. It uses the API to count downloads in the N days before and after an event, and tells you what changed. This isn’t terribly scientific, but it gives you a rough idea if what you’re doing is working. I use this script every week to measure whether various promotional activities I did resulted in good things for the project. Of course, downloads aren’t the only measure of project health, but they’re a convenient and easy one to measure.

If you would like to participate in this project, please don’t hesitate to contact me.