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“Community Choice” Project of the Month Vote – October

The vote for October 2014 Community Choice SourceForge Project of the Month is now available, and will run until Oct 24, 2014 12:00 UTC:

Vote here for the Community Choice SourceForge Project of the Month for October 2014

Ares Galaxy

Ares Galaxy is a free, open source BitTorrent and chat program that uses its own decentralized supernode/leaf network. Ares Galaxy has a simple, quick access interface with a built in audio/video viewer. Ares allows you to share any digital file including images, audio, video, software, documents, etc. You may now easily publish your files through the Ares’ peer-to-peer (P2P) network.

[ Download Ares Galaxy ]

7-Zip

7-Zip is a file archiver with a high compression ratio. You can use 7-Zip on any computer, including a computer in a commercial organization. You don’t need to register or pay for 7-Zip. 7-Zip works for Windows 7, Vista, XP, 2008, 2003, 2000, NT, ME, and 98. And there is a port of the command line version to Linux/Unix.

[ Download 7-Zip ]

PortableApps

PortableApps.com is the world’s most popular portable software solution allowing you to take your favorite software with you. A fully open source and free platform, it works on any portable storage device (USB flash drive, iPod, memory card, portable hard drive, etc). With millions of users all over the world and a full collection of open source software (as well as freeware and commercial software), PortableApps.com is the most complete solution for life on the go.

[ Download PortableApps ]

Media Player Classic Home Cinema

MPC-HC is an extremely light-weight, open source media player for Windows®. It supports all common video and audio file formats available for playback. We are 100% spyware free, there are no advertisements or toolbars.

[ Download Media Player Classic Home Cinema ]

Wireless Universal Resource File

WURFL detects thousands of types of mobile devices accessing your web service to help you optimize mobile web content, effectively deliver advertisements, and analyze mobile traffic. It also reads HTTP requests from mobile browsers and search the Device Description Repository (DDR) for the corresponding device properties (i.e. capabilities). WURFL returns device capabilities to your application, which can leverage this knowledge to optimize the mobile experience.

[ Download Wireless Universal Resource File ]

Octave Forge

GNU Octave is a programming language for numerical computations. Octave-Forge is a central location for the collaborative development of packages for GNU Octave. The Octave Forge packages contains the source for all the functions and are designed to work with the Octave package system. In general the packages are designed to work with the latest development version of Octave, but it should be possible to use most packages with earlier versions.

[ Download Octave Forge ]

Clam AntiVirus

ClamAV is an open source (GPL) antivirus engine designed for detecting Trojans, viruses, malware and other malicious threats. It is the de facto standard for mail gateway scanning. It provides a high performance mutli-threaded scanning daemon, command line utilities for on demand file scanning, and an intelligent tool for automatic signature updates. The core ClamAV library provides numerous file format detection mechanisms, file unpacking support, archive support, and multiple signature languages for detecting threats. The core ClamAV library is utilized in Immunet 3.0, powered by ClamAV, which is a fast, fully featured Desktop AV solution for Windows.

[ Download Clam AntiVirus ]

TurnKey Linux

Turnkey GNU/Linux is a free Debian based library of system images that pre-integrates and polishes the best free software components into secure, easy to use solutions. TurnKey was started in 2008 by Alon Swartz and Liraz Siri who were inspired by a belief in the democratizing power of free software, like science, to promote the progress of a free & humane society. Without the freedom to freely distribute, tinker and learn from free software the Internet as we know it would not exist. Free software is the silent, often invisible power behind the greatest technological marvel of our era.

[ TurnKey Linux ]

SMPlayer

SMPlayer is a free media player for Windows and Linux with built-in codecs that can also play and download Youtube videos. One of the most interesting features of SMPlayer is that it remembers the settings of all files you play. SMPlayer is a graphical user interface (GUI) for the award-winning MPlayer, which is capable of playing almost all known video and audio formats. But apart from providing access for the most common and useful options of MPlayer, SMPlayer adds other interesting features like the possibility to play Youtube videos or download subtitles.

[ Download SMPlayer ]

September 2014, “Community Choice” Project of the Month – OpenMediaVault

For our September “Community Choice” Project of the Month, we elected OpenMediaVault (OMV), a next generation network attached storage (NAS) solution based on Debian Linux, which contains services like SSH, (S)FTP, SMB/CIFS, DAAP media server, RSync, BitTorrent client, and many more. The project manager, Volker Theile, who began OMV in 2009, shared his thoughts about the project’s history, purpose, and direction.

SourceForge (SF): Tell me about the OpenMediaVault project please.
Volker Theile (VT): OMV is an open source network attached storage (NAS) solution. It is designed to be used without deep knowledge of the software and the operation system. The user should be able to install and use it within minutes and with minimal configuration options, OMV is not a Webmin replacement. The core system provides some default services like FTP, CIFS/SMB, NFS or RSync and can be enhanced via plugins.

SF: What made you start this project?
VT: I wanted to develop a software solution that allows me to easily set up a NAS in my home network. During my time as the project leader and main developer of the FreeNAS project, I realized that the code base couldn’t fulfill the plans and vision I had for the software.

For example, it was not possible to easily integrate a plugin infrastructure. Additionally I was unhappy with the package maintenance, too much time was wasted with compiling and stripping down software components. Then I decided to recode the whole project with Debian GNU/Linux, which was not desirable to the FreeNAS community, where I had contributed since 2006, so I started OpenMediaVault in 2009.

SF: Has the original vision been achieved?
VT: The foundation for my original vision will be achieved with OMV 1.0, which will be released soon. But new ideas are already being born during this time so there is a continuous flow of work.

SF: Who can benefit the most from your project?
VT: Users who do not have the knowledge, skills, or time to set up a NAS and all its services on their own will benefit the most.

SF: What is the need for this particular network attached storage solution?
VT: In my opinion all existing solutions out there are too big and complex, or provide features that are unnecessary for a normal/casual user. Because of that OMV is reduced to its main purpose, to be a NAS. In addition it is free and can be used on nearly any hardware that is supported by Debian GNU/Linux.

SF: What’s the best way to get the most out of using OpenMediaVault?
VT: Thanks to the Debian project, users have access to thousand additional software packages, even if they are not fully integrated into the Web GUI or the system back end as is the case with OMV plugins, which allow the them to customize the system to their needs. OMV uses shell scripts to generate system and service configuration files. These scripts can be customized via environment variables when the default values do not fit the user’s needs. Since OMV tries to respect Debian rules and use a Debian infrastructure when possible, power users expand the software’s potential through customization. Nevertheless, our default configuration helps anyone get results without deep knowledge.

SF: What has your project team done to help build and nurture your community?
VT: Continuous software improvements, bug fixes that address the users’ wishes, and forum moderators who help solve real everyday issues build up our community. I’d also like to single out the translators who help translate the Web GUI and other system parts into various languages.

SF: Have you all found that more frequent releases helps build up your community of users?
VT: I am not sure but I assume that more frequent minor releases give users a feeling that the project is alive, which might help propel them towards using OMV.

SF: What is the next big thing for OpenMediaVault?
VT: The release of version 1.0.

SF: How long do you think that will take?
VT: The release date is set for the near future.

SF: Do you have the resources you need to make that happen?
VT: Yes.

SF: If you had it to do over again, what would you do differently for OpenMediaVault?
VT: Using a more powerful database backend for the configuration.

SF: Why?
VT: So we can implement the configuration restore feature which is badly missing at the moment.

SF: Any reason you can’t do that now?
VT: We want to keep backward compatibility and not loose all of our existing plugins.

SF: Is there anything else we should know?
VT: I am presently working on ideas how to implement the missing configuration restore feature!

September 2014, “Staff Pick” Project of the Month – PDF Split and Merge

For our September “Staff Pick” Project of the Month, we selected PDF Split and Merge (PDFsam), an easy-to-use tool with graphical and command line interfaces to split, merge, mix, and rotate your PDF documents. One of the project’s managers, Andrea Vacondio, who has been with PDF Split and Merge since 2005, shared his thoughts about the project’s history, purpose, and direction.

SourceForge (SF): Tell me about the PDFsam project please.
Andrea Vacondio (AV): PDFsam is an open source desktop utility I started developing in 2005. Its original purpose was to help users performing a simple split and merge on PDF documents but it grew quite a lot from there. Now it provides a comprehensive set of features.

SF: What made you start this?
AV: I wanted to practice my Java developer skills and I remembered that few years before I could not find a free, open source utility to merge my bachelor degree thesis. I soon found there was already an open source Java library called iText providing a PDF manipulations API. Developing a user interface over the iText library seemed like a reasonable task to exercise my Java knowledge.

SF: Has the original vision been achieved?
AV: Sure, PDFsam is now used by thousands of people every day and I keep working on it.

SF: Who can benefit the most from your project?
AV: Occasional users, students needing to organize their notes, users dealing with digital documents (payslips, taxes forms, etc). We all have to deal with PDF documents in some way and PDFsam makes it a little easier.

SF: What is the need for this particular split and merge tool?
AV: PDF editors are often commercial and cumbersome. PDFsam is simple, multi platform, and it doesn’t require any training or documentation. It is not supposed to replace a full fledged PDF editor but it usually fits situations when the purchase of a commercial solution is not justified. A student trying to merge together all their physics class notes, an avid reader trying to extract few chapters from their e-books, the accountant sending your tax declaration upside down are just few examples where PDFsam shines.

SF: What’s the best way to get the most out of using PDFsam?
AV: Read the features list but don’t expect it to do things it is not supposed to; it is not a replacement for other famous commercial products but it often helps.

SF: What has your project team done to help build and nurture your community?
AV: We have a forum where users can ask questions or suggest features and we try to reply to every single post. Most of the PDFsam features, except for the original split and merge, came from users suggestions from real use cases.

SF: Have you all found that more frequent releases helps build up your community of users?
AV: Unfortunately, I never managed to find the time for short release cycles. PDFsam has been a “spare time” project for long and releases come when I have time to implement new features, it all depends on how busy my week is.

SF: What was the first big thing that happened for your project?
AV: A French magazine wrote an article about PDFsam.

SF: What helped make that happen?
AV: People started using PDFsam and the voice spread, despite a limited set of features at that time. It was super easy to use and, like I said, we all have to deal with the PDF format.

SF: What was the net result for that event?
AV: PDFsam gained visibility and I realized it wasn’t something just for my entertainment because people were actually using it.

SF: What is the next big thing for PDFsam?
AV: PDFsam v3, the upcoming new release. I am completely rewriting it with eight years of experience, using some updated libraries, new technologies, and adding more functionality. I hope it grows into a sustainable business so I can dedicate more time to it and make it a more professional tool.

SF: How long do you think that will take?
AV: The first milestone release available to the public should be ready this Fall sometime.

SF: Do you have the resources you need to make that happen?
AV: Kind of. Some time ago I quit my daily job as software developer to be able to work on my personal projects, PDFsam tops the list. It’s a gamble but I think PDFsam v3 has the potential to grow into something professional and sustainable. If I am wrong I will go back to my traditional software developer job and PDFsam will remain a “spare time project”.

SF: If you had it to do over again, what would you do differently for PDFsam?
AV: Probably nothing.

SF: Why?
AV: PDFsam and its satellite projects have been my playground for a while where I could experiment with things I couldn’t try at work. They helped me to grow as a developer and I am very happy with my career path, I wouldn’t change anything of it.

SF: Is there anything else we should know?
AV: Thanks to PDFsam I switched from a FOSS user to a developer. This made me realize just how much effort goes into creating open source tools.

So, don’t be shy, user support and feedback is extremely important to us, a message, a dollar, a tweet, a thumbs up, a polite criticism, everything adds up to keep we developers motivated. In the end, this helps us deliver better software to the open source community.

August 2014, “Staff Pick” Project of the Month – CMDBuild

For our August “Staff Pick” Project of the Month, we selected CMDBuild, flexible software to configure a custom database of assets and design related workflow processes. One of the project’s managers, Fabio Bottega, who has been with CMDBuild since 2005, shared his thoughts about the project’s history, purpose, and direction.

SourceForge (SF): Tell me about the CMDBuild project.

Fabio Bottega (FB): CMDBuild is an open source, enterprise web application to model and manage your IT asset database. CMDB stands for configuration and management database but CMDBuild is more than an IT asset database. With CMDBuild you can configure and customize a complete IT governance environment, think of it as enterprise resource planning (ERP) for IT division management.

Every organization needs its own data model; it’s own information technology infrastructure library (ITIL) and/or non-ITIL workflows, reports and dashboards, connectors, etc. With CMDBuild you configure your data model using our web interface to create and connect a custom workflow. CMDBuild is like an “open source Microsoft access” except that it’s an enterprise web application, written in Java, with a modern SOA architecture and a powerful workflow management system. The CMDBuild philosophy is to create complete configurability.

SF: What made you start this?

FB: In 2005, the information systems division of the municipality of Udine (a town in the northeast of Italy where we are based) started a revision and optimization activity for some internal processes, according to ITIL “best practice” standards. The CIO searched for an open source tool but could not find any, so he approached Tecnoteca with the idea to start a new project to develop an open source CMDB tool. The initial financial impetus to grow came from the municipality but it was a long and difficult path to get here.

SF: Has the original vision been achieved?

FB: Compared to the initial CMDBuild objectives, we went much further faster than we hoped both in technical and in functional aspects, with one exception: the growth of a strong community. To begin with, contributions were very few because of the lack of English documentation. After we released manuals in English, contributors localized 13 languages ​​and some advanced users began helping users on the forum. Then code contributions began, with a new Web service CMDBuild and CMDBf compliance. But the project needs more help from the community for CMDBuild to continue to grow.

SF: Who can benefit the most from your project?

FB: CMDBuild target users are medium to large public and private organizations (from 200/300 to 20,000/30,000 or more employees) that want to manage their IT governance in a controlled way.

SF: What is the need for this particular asset management tool?

FB: The main use of CMDBuild is to manage the IT governance (assets and workflows) of an organization. However, thanks to its flexibility and architecture, CMDBuild is also a good solution for managing data and the workflows of non-IT environments. For example, we recently created and released the new openMAINT software, a complete solution for the property and facility management (CMMS), on SourgeForge that started from CMDBuild. And some organizations use CMDBuild to manage and maintain vehicles, to manage artwork in museums, to manage workflow-based office practices, etc.

SF: What’s the best way to get the most out of using CMDBuild?

FB: There are two things you can do: learn about the philosophy and the technical mechanisms of CMDBuild and have clear ideas about the best way to manage the IT division of your organization.

To learn CMDBuild, I suggest starting with the overview manual and then switch to the administrator and user manuals. If you then want to study the workflow system, the Web service, and the external connectors there are separate manuals for each. I suggest the ITIL approach to clarify the optimal way to manage the IT infrastructure of your organization. You must believe that a configured solution, which works exactly how your organization works, is better than a hardwired solution.

SF: What has your project team done to help build and nurture your community?

FB: We opened a forum where we provide updated documentation with each major CMDBuild release, we organize events and publish slides and videos, and of course we make the updated source code available in real time. Then we take care of the “socials” by issuing a bimonthly newsletter, a LinkedIn group with over 300 members, and a dedicated channel on Twitter, YouTube, and SlideShare.

SF: Have you all found that more frequent releases help build up your community of users?

FB: Yes, frequent releases enable users to obtain bug fixes, new features, and updates that keep users close to the project. CMDBuild has one or two major releases each year and a minor release about every two months.

SF: What was the first big thing that happened for your project?

FB: After two or three years of life CMDBuild was chosen for some high profile public administrations in Italy (since Tecnoteca, an Italian company, is the brain child of CMDBuild), such as the State Attorney, the City of Bologna, the Regional Council of Tuscany, the Italian Chamber of Deputies, etc. From then on, thanks to these testimonials that supported the project in public events, word of mouth, etc., the CMDBuild circulation increased.

SF: What helped make that happen?

FB: The open source license helped to achieve this result and the fact that the initial sponsor, the Municipality of Udine, is a public administration. Italian public administrations are required to always consider open source solutions in their software choices and when they find valid products they use them.

SF: What was the net result for that event?

FB: A lot of case studies, testimonials, events slides and videos.

SF: What is the next big thing for CMDBuild?

FB:  We are working on a new “mobile interface”, an app that can be used with smartphones and tablets. Then we will work to develop a “relations graph viewer”, a web interface to analyze relationships and dependencies, impacts between assets, and infrastructures and services in a visual way.

SF: How long do you think that will take?

FB: We will release the “mobile interface” in about three months and the “relations graph viewer” in about nine months.

SF: Do you have the resources you need to make that happen?

FB: Availability of resources is a common problem in open source projects and we have this problem too. We need more economic resources to grow the project, increase its working group, and provide it with new features. We can achieve this result getting more subscription by the organizations we support or by obtaining funding from investors.

SF: If you had it to do over again, what would you do differently for CMDBuild?

FB: Every choice can be made in many ways but we are happy with the choices we made.

SF: Is there anything else we should know?

FB: Yes, for some time an important part of our job was dedicated to balance the results obtained in Italy with those obtained in the global market (from the beginning more than 90% of the downloads came from countries other than Italy). Tecnoteca is based in Italy so we required more effort to access the global market. Now we support a lot of organizations around the world. Our goal is to grow our market even more through the Internet, new partners, and through awards, such as this SourceForge “Editor’s Choice” Project of the Month!

August 2014, “Community Choice” Project of the Month – VASSAL Engine

For our August Project of the Month, the community elected VASSAL Engine, a game engine for building and playing online adaptations of board and card games. One of the project’s managers, Joel Uckelman, who has been with VASSAL Engine since 2006, shared his thoughts about the project’s history, purpose, and direction.

SourceForge (SF): Tell me about the VASSAL Engine project.

Joel Uckelman (JU): VASSAL provides a virtual tabletop for playing board games live over the net and by email. It’s cross-platform and open source, and has a huge library of games of all types—traditional board games, Euro games, war games, and card games—over 1400 in our module library at present.

SF: What made you start this?

JU: Rodney Kinney created VASL (Virtual Advanced Squad Leader) in 1997 as a program for playing Advanced Squad Leader (a tactical WWII combat game). After a while it became clear that most of the code in VASL would be applicable to other board games as well; in 2001 Rodney split the project into the generic game engine VASSAL, while the ASL-specific parts kept the VASL name but became a VASSAL game module.

I joined the project in 2006. The draw for me was and is that VASSAL lets me play games with my old opponents who now live in far-flung places, lets me keep set up large games for which I lack the table space, and lets me keep logs of what happened in those games. VASSAL is a tool I want to use myself, as well as a way I can contribute to both the board gaming and open source communities.

SF: Has the original vision been achieved?

JU: Yes. We’re well beyond what anyone envisioned at the outset and have been for years now.

SF: Who can benefit the most from your project?

JU: People who want to play short board games in real time, people who want to play longer games in sessions or by email, people who lack the space for setting up large games, game designers building and testing prototypes, game publishers who want more visibility for their board games—all of these can benefit from VASSAL.

SF: What is the need for this particular game engine?

JU: There are custom programs for some board games. However, writing a custom program for each board game that someone might want to play is a huge duplication of effort, beyond the abilities of most people, and maybe not even feasible given the incredible number of games published.

Just within the war-gaming section of the hobby, there are more than 150 games published in a typical year; there must be hundreds of Euro games. Fortunately, even the most disparate board games have common elements: There are players, pieces, boards or maps, maybe cards, and dice. The code one needs for handing these things in one game is largely applicable to others as well. With VASSAL, there’s no need for anyone to recreate these things for each game. Using our module editor, anyone can build a game module—it’s not necessary to be a programmer to do so.

Without VASSAL or a program like it, there would be no way to play the vast majority of board games over a computer.

SF: What’s the best way to get the most out of using VASSAL Engine?

JU: Read the Users’ Guide. Read the instructions for the game module you want to use (if the module designer provided any). This is the best way to get started. It helps if you’re familiar with the game you want to play already, as then you’re not learning VASSAL, the module, and the game at the same time. If you have a problem, ask about it in our forum or in the #vassal IRC channel on freenode (but please wait for a reply if you drop in to #vassal—sometimes we’re a bit slow to answer).

SF: What has your project team done to help build and nurture your community?

JU: For some years now we’ve had a forum (bridged to a mailing list) for our user community. It’s quite active—there are more than 44000 posts there as I write this. Our development team also frequents the VASSAL topic on ConsimWorld.

SF: Have you all found that more frequent releases helps build up your community of users?

JU: We’re fairly aggressive about fixing the bugs users report, so one of our motivations for releases is to get those fixes out to users—it makes users happy to see bugs they reported fixed, it makes it easier for us to troubleshoot with fewer changes between releases, and killing bugs in the wild helps us spend less time on bug reports and more time on development.

SF: What was the first big thing that happened for your project?

JU: What happened was a collection of many small things rather than one big thing. Many war games have VASSAL modules before they’re even published in hard copy these days, which is something I never expected. It dawned on me that we were having an impact on the hobby when I started to see VASSAL module designers being thanked in the credits for printed games.

SF: What helped make that happen?

JU: Game designers deciding to use VASSAL for play testing.

SF: What was the net result for that event?

JU: It’s gotten VASSAL much more exposure in the board gaming community, but it’s also helped grow the hobby. We hear constantly from people who bought a game because they saw the VASSAL module or because they realized they could now play the monster game for which they lack table space. That’s good for us, good for game players, and good for game designers and publishers—good for everyone in the hobby.

SF: What is the next big thing for VASSAL Engine?

JU: The next major version is VASSAL 4.

SF: How long do you think that will take?

JU: I’m asked this often and I always try to dodge it. The most accurate thing I can say is that our current release, 3.2, is getting attention for bug fixes only now and I’m focusing the bulk of my own development efforts on VASSAL 4. In short, I don’t know when you’ll see V4 but I do know it will be next.

SF: Do you have the resources you need to make that happen?

JU: Partially. I’m aiming for us to have Android, iOS, and web clients for V4, in addition to Mac, Linux, and Windows clients that we have now. As a team, we don’t have all that much expertise with tablets or web apps right now. More developers, especially ones familiar with those areas, would expedite things a bit.

SF: If you had it to do over again, what would you do differently for VASSAL Engine?

JU: From 2009 to 2012—the period when 3.2 was in development—we were adding new features, but we were also getting a torrent of bug reports from the bug reporting tool we added to 3.1. Both experiences made us reflect on the overall design of VASSAL. It became clear that some design choices that were appropriate in 1997 weren’t in the 2010’s. But the main thing I learned was that we need a clearly defined specification (for the module designer API) so we can tell whether a behavior is actually a bug. VASSAL is in an odd position in that some of our users are game module designers and some are game players. It means that VASSAL is a client for some people and a library for others. Because VASSAL is extensible, module designers are constantly finding creative ways to do things, and we’ve increasingly found ambiguous situations where fixing an apparent bug for one module designer breaks another designer’s module. Providing a proper spec should help with that.

SF: Any reason you can’t do that now?

JU: We’re planning to do all of that in VASSAL 4.