Iâ€™ve had a long history with open source starting in the mid to late 1990s when I was simply a personal consumer of software. I spent days downloading floppy diskettes of Slackware over a 14.4 modem connection and endless hours tweaking myÂ Franken-desktop trying to get my X server to show a graphical desktop on my boat anchor 14â€ monitor.Â
I soon moved from desktop tinkerer to downloading and installing software that helped manage a small set of servers for a large public company. Later in my career I was fortunate to have the opportunity to work at companies that developed open source systems management software. SourceForge provided a good home for us to host downloads, mailing lists and mirror source control repos. However, the thing I liked just as much as the free hosting was the social aspect of SourceForge. Users can contribute to multiple projects with one identity plus they can add recommendations to software they find useful.Â
Today many projects host their own community websites but most of any size also maintain a presence on SourceForge as itâ€™s still the biggest and one of the most important repositories for free and open source software with over 316,000 projects. I found many of the projects I rely today on SourceForge under theÂ Systems Administration tab; at the time they were calledÂ troves. In those days as *NIX newbie I was enamored with Webmin, a graphical interface for administering Linux servers.Â
If I look back to my days managing infrastructure I was working for a company where our budget was tight and it was necessary to find software that was â€œjust good enough to make doâ€. Today many OSS projects raise the bar and I feel many are better than their proprietary counterparts. Many offer community support that blows away the support I have received from a traditional company and the release cycles are much more aggressive to keep up with IT state-of-the-art.Â
Todayâ€™s Linux systems administration tools listed on SourceForge total over 49,000 and here are some I think are particularly useful though by no way inclusive.Â
- OCS Inventory NG â€“ OCS inventory is an automated inventory solution that scans your network and provides an overview of the hardware, operating servers and software on your network.
- phyMyAdmin â€“ MySQL database seem to multiple like rabbits and if you are a sysadmin you may not have the most in-depth SQL chops. phpMyAdmin is a great way to administer your MySQL databases from an intuitive web interface. Apparently people like it at last check they had over 2,000 user recommendations.Â
- Wireshark â€“ Formerly known as Ethereal, Wireshark is great tool for analyzing traffic on your network, WireShark is a network packet analyzer that can be used to measure what is going on inside your network. WireShark is available for Mac, Windows, BSD and numerous Linux distributions and downloadable from SourceForge.
- Clonezilla â€“ Is a disk-partitioning tool that deserves a place in any sys-adminâ€™s toolbox. It allows you to do bare metal backup and recovery for servers or desktops. It also can clone multiple machines simultaneously. Upon checking the health of the project on SourceForge I was please to see that was actively developed with the last update processing only three hours before reaching the site.
In addition there are two other projects that I have been involved with that have flourished since I added them to SourceForge both great tools for systems administrators interested in cloud computing.Â
- CloudStack â€“ CloudStack isÂ cloud computing platform that allows you use virtualized servers and build your own cloud computing platform. CloudStack supports all the major hypervisors: VMware, Xen, KVM and OracleVM so that you can deliver infrastructure-as-a-service on your hardware in your data center.
- Zenoss Core â€“ Zenoss Core is a monitoring platform that allows you to comprehensively monitor your entire infrastructure: applications, hardware, networking and operating systems in one system. They also have a big focus on monitoring cloud computing and virtual infrastructure.Â
So while most of us probably â€œgoogleâ€ to find new software you still may want to surf over to the SourceForge â€œbazaarâ€ sorted by their function and operating systems. Then check their activity rankings to understand how active development is on the project. You can also see how other users are ranking the projects using the SourceForge to make informed decisions on how you can fill out your sysadmin tool bag.Â
About Mark Hinkle
Mark is the Director, Cloud Computing Community, at Citrix where he is responsible for driving all of the community efforts around the company’s open source, cloud computing software , CloudStack. Before that he was the force behind the Zenoss Core open source management projects adoption and community involvement, growing community membership to over 100,000 members. He is a co-founder of both the Open Source Management Consortium and the Desktop Linux Consortium, has served as Editor-in-Chief for both LinuxWorld Magazine and Enterprise Open Source Magazine, and authored the book, “Windows to Linux Business Desktop Migration.” (Thomson, 2006) Mark has also held executive positions at a number of technology start-ups, including Earthlink, (previously MindSpring).
You can find him online on Twitter @mrhinkle or at his blogÂ http://www.socializedsoftware.com.