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Where to Search Open Source Tools and how to Evaluate Them?

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We all know, there are millions of open source software, tools and directories available on web but to find out suitable open source tools and directories and to evaluate them is definitely a tough task.

Let’s consider a scenario –
How would you find a suitable email clients for your organization? How would you initiate the search in the first place? Yes…you might be aware of dozens of open source and free email clients but you might not know their capabilities. You must have also read thousands of reviews but would you be comfortable believing in those reviews, which might be paid ones or simple fake. Except few of the open source tools and software which are available on the SourceForge Top Downloads.

Besides, Apache, MySQL, PHP, Linux, eMule, GIMP, VLC, and OpenOffice are some of the highly prestigious vendors, who support and sponsor some of the open source tools. You can definitely trust open source tools backed by the aforesaid vendors, but beyond that the situation becomes really very confusing.

Many people still think Google as a solution for every need and they think they can find perfect open source software on Google, which is wrong. Google can definitely provide you list and reviews of the tools and software in seconds, but how would you evaluate them. You cannot certainly trust Google as it just provides you search results and do not analyze the software. There are some people out there, who even go though the favorite lists of open source software and tools on Facebook and Twitter. But again, it is not a wise move.

The scenario becomes tougher when you do not have any idea about the factors you should focus on or look for while selecting a particular open source tools or software.

But if you know How to Find out Open Source Software and the criteria to judge them for their credibility, life will be easier for you. Read on the article and know what open source software expert Roberto Galoppini, author of SOS Open Source suggests:

How to Find Open Source Software and Tools

OSALT: The organization rightly claims, “Our mission is to provide easy access to high quality open source alternatives to well-known commercial products.” The website is maintained and managed by Anders Ingeman Rasmussen. You can search alternatives to any software you want on this website. It will also provide you with a brief description of the products it suggests. Anders Ingeman Rasmussen, the editor of the website entertains suggestions of possible alternatives to proprietary software.

SourceForge: SourceForge is the biggest platform for open source software. The website is the leading repository of open source software, where you can find, publish and create open source software for free. The Popular Directory of SourceForge connects “more than 46 million consumers with these open source projects and serves more than 4,000,000 downloads a day.” The website is owned by a US-based Geeknet, Inc.

Free Software Directory: Free Software Directory, which is a project by the Free Open Software Foundation and UNESCO, is another platform where you can come across suitable software alternatives.

FreshMeat: Like OSALT, FreshMeat is also a credible website that provides complete descriptions on thousands of open source software including their history, releases/versions, downloading information and others.

Free Software Portal: Free Software Portal by UNESCO not only gives information on Free Software but also provide with “access to documents and websites which are references for the Free Software/Open Source Technology movement.”

Enterprise Open Source Directory: Enterprise Open Source Directory is the most popular directory that provides “a vendor-neutral and up-to-date directory” of open source products for small, medium and big sizes of enterprises.

All the above options have already been proved to effective for finding out better websites or platforms to search better alternatives for proprietary software. The above sites may not be perfect but will certainly be of great help for those, who are looking to apt open source tools.

Alright! Now..What would you do if even any of these sites do not provide you enough description of the software they recommend? Well! Read some criteria below, which you should focus on while choosing the software.

The following criteria are also suggested by Roberto Galoppini.

  • Code Maturity
  • Project Popularity
  • Case Study Availability
  • Books
  • Community
  • Commercial Support
  • Training
  • Documentation
  • Bugs Reactivity
  • Source
  • Certification by Red Hat, Solaris or Windows
  • License
  • Modifiability
  • Roadmap or Future of the Software in terms of its significance
  • Sponsors

N.B.:     Code Maturity is really tough to understand as most of the companies do not made the code available to all.

Training, if available for the software is always a benefit as it will allow you to even implement particular open source software on enterprise level.

To understand Bug Reactivity, you will have to login to online forum or analyze bug-tracking systems.

Source can be evaluated on the available Binaries and Virtual appliance.

Besides Red Hat, Solaris and Windows, there are various third party agencies that also support some software.

Meta Forges is one of the credible platforms where you can analyze the credibility or significance of any project, even if they are hosted on other directories such as Ohloh, Melquiades and FLOSSMole. Here you can properly understand how any program is going to benefit you and at the same time you can also analyze the code quality of the project.

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Varun Bhagat is a technology geek and works with PixelCrayons as a Sr. Technology Consultant. He possesses in-depth knowledge of different web development technology and helps our clients to choose the best technology as per their needs.

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