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

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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 

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   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:


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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 

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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:


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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:


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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

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

  1. Compdude1 Sep 16, 2013 at 3:44 pm #

    Thank you so much! This is an amazing list!