Walk in to any computer store or electronic store and you will no doubt see an aisle dedicated to anti-spyware or anti-virus software. Viruses are a real problem in today's computing world and the problem has grown to such an extent that a cottage industry has appeared to try to combat all the virus variants introduced seemingly daily. Of course, if you run Windows, there is a real need to run some sort of anti-virus software. Whether it's the Operating System, the programs (IE or Outlook) or the size of it's marketshare, Windows tends to attract virus writers. SourceForge.net's February project of the month, ClamWin, is an Open Source licensed virus checker for Microsoft Windows 98/Me/2000/XP/2003. It is a GUI front-end to the popular Clam AntiVirus engine which is also Open Source. ClamWin Free Antivirus comes with an easy installer and is licensed under the GPL (General Public License). The software has been a top project since it's inception. ClamWin has had over a quarter of a million downloads in the past 10 months alone. The SourceForge.net team is proud to make ClamWin Project of the month.
Why and how did you get started?
Alex: I came across Clam Antivirus for POSIX (Linux, BSD, etc.) when I was searching for a mail server antivirus application about six months ago. As a free software believer I gave ClamAV (also hosted on SourceForge.net) a go and was very impressed. I followed the product development in the newsgroups, and it became clear that ClamAV had great potential. The scanning engine is maintained by a team of free software enthusiasts, the virus database is regularly updated by the community, and quite a few big companies are using it. All this gave ClamAV very good chances for success.
I decided to give something back to the project by introducing it to a wider community of Microsoft Windows users. I started with a fairly simple user interface to ClamAV command-line tools and a plug-in to Microsoft Outlook written in Python, then expanded it a bit to include a scanning task scheduler, email alerts, and context menu integration into Windows Explorer.
Russ: I was working for a small company with a very small budget for IT. I used open source whenever I could, since I saved on license fees and licensing administration. I discovered ClamWin, and thought it was a great idea, but it had no documentation, so I emailed Alex and offered to write some.
What is the software's intended audience?
Windows desktop users and administrators.
How many people do you believe are using your software?
Judging by download numbers, I'd guess in the region of 40,000 to 50,000. Version 0.37.3 was downloaded 59,000 times in less then two months.
What are a couple of notable examples of how people are using your software?
Someone created a plug-in for BartPE, so that they could use it from a bootable Windows CD. I thought that was pretty cool.
What gave you an indication that your project was becoming successful?
It is a bit too early to talk about ClamWin as a big success, but the steady growth in the number of downloads and visits to the clamwin.com Web site indicates it may become successful.
What has been your biggest surprise?
Alex: The invitation to become SourceForge.net Project of the Month!
Russ: Seeing a nomination for ClamWin to be included on TheOpenCD. I'd been considering nominating it myself, but someone beat me to it. I think it was then that I realized that ClamWin was getting well-known.
What has been your biggest challenge?
Finding those extra hours in a day to develop and support ClamWin.
Why do you think your project has been so well received?
It's generally accepted that Windows users need antivirus software. There are free (as in beer) solutions for personal users, but there aren't many true "Free Software" antivirus packages with open source code for Windows. The SOSDG maintains a ClamAV binary port to Windows, but it has to be run from a command line. The fact that ClamWin has a GUI makes it a lot more accessible to many Windows users.
Where do you see your project going?
We'd like it to be a worthwhile competitor to the commercial antivirus packages for Microsoft Windows, with the true freedom of free software provided by the GPL license. That's still a fair way ahead, but with the help of the open source community we'll get there.
What's on your project wish list?
We're working on on-access scanning, and then there are plug-ins to Mozilla Firefox and Thunderbird and POP3 proxy for other email clients. It was always important to me to make ClamWin viable and easy to use for those who would not like to enable on-access scanning.
What are you most proud of?
Having done something useful and receiving positive feedback from users.
If you could change something about the project, what would it be?
Getting more developers involved to speed up the release cycle. I'd also include a method of translating the software to other languages from the start.
How do you coordinate the project?
Alex: As I am the only developer it's easy to manage. I use the excellent tools provided by SourceForge.net to manages source code, bug reports, and feature requests. Testing is performed by a small group of about 20 beta-testers.
Russ: I do all the documentation, so apart from the occasional email to Alex to ask about how something works, I just get on with it. My work has little or no effect on the actual development.
Do you work on the project full-time, or do you have another job?
If you work on the project part-time, how much time would you say you spend, per week, on it?
Alex: It varies, but around 8 to 15 hours a week.
Russ: At the moment, probably only about an hour a week, because my job gives me little spare time, and I'm always tired. I'm changing jobs soon, though, and then I hope to spend more time on ClamWin.
What is your development environment like?
Alex: My machine is an AMD Athlon 64 3200+ with 1GB RAM and Windows 2000. I have couple of older boxes running FreeBSD and Linux as well. Compiler for the project is Microsoft Visual C++ Free Toolkit and Python. Most of the ClamWin user interface has been developed using Boa Constructor (also hosted on SourceForge.net).
Russ: I use a self-built AMD Athlon XP 1800+ with 512MB RAM, dual-booting Ubuntu Linux and Windows 2000. I write the manual using OpenOffice. Each part of the manual is a separate document, and I have macros that can stitch them into one document (to create the PDF manual) or batch-convert them to HTML (for the .chm help file, which will be in later versions).
How can others contribute?
ClamWin project desperately needs developers with Python and C++ experience with exposure to both Windows and Unix operating systems. We'd like them to be able to devote at least five hours a week to ClamWin. Assistance in development of user-mode components for communication with on-access filter driver would be greatly appreciated, as well as any user interface enhancements. It would also be great to hear from someone experienced in developing Mozilla plug-ins. Anyone interested should send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Project Name: ClamWin Free Antivirus
Background of Project Leader:
Name: Alex Cherney
Occupation or experience: Software developer/consultant (9 years C++ for Windows, 2 years Python, 2 years FreeBSD admin) Education: Bachelor's degree in Computer Science Location: Melbourne, Australia
Quote about SourceForge.net?
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Free Software.
Why did you place the project on SourceForge.net?
SourceForge.net has become The Place to host a free software project with open source code. It provides a great audience and has good tools for managing the project.
How has SourceForge.net helped you?
SourceForge.net introduced ClamWin to such a wide audience of users. Free hosting of downloads and project management tools have also been a great help.
The number one benefit of using SourceForge.net is:
Providing a communication link between users and developers through Tracker. It helps to constantly improve the software.