The amount of free content on the Internet is partially a result of horrid copyright infringement and partially a product of the open source movement, an umbrella term that applies to any kind of software that allows for its source code to be openly copied, edited, and distributed. Many of these programs are often quite amazing and frequently very cost-effective so, for your consideration, here are five really awesome products of the open source movement.
1. Mozilla Firefox
Probably the coolest web browser on the open market, Mozilla Firefox offers a smooth interface, tremendous customization options and all the plug-ins our increasingly cybernetic hearts could desire. There was a time when Internet Explorer and Safari did the job. Now, however, they simply can’t keep up with this sly fox.
Although it lost some of its open-source “flavor” when it was purchased by Umbrella Corporation … er … Google, there’s no denying that this mobile operating system has made the current tablet craze possible while also giving us hope for inexpensive gaming through Ouya. Because of its extremely price-friendly relationship with developers, many games that actually cost something in Apple’s market are free on Android. How Google actually makes money off it is still somewhat a mystery.
It is the volunteer-supported foundation behind Wikipedia; that alone makes it a life-saving tool for about a billion college students. MediaWiki allowed Wikipedia to reach its lofty heights ,and while it is often criticized for being somewhat difficult to learn, that certainly does not stop it from being the tool that allows thousands to edit and share information (whatever the consequences may be). Also, while we’re on editing, consider WordPress, which has given so many people the power to blog, it is downright uplifting (and, depending on the writer, sometimes hideously annoying).
4. VLC Media Player
If you’re one of those sorry individuals that ends up needing to play an FLV file, good luck doing that on built-in media players without having to install some plug-ins. Instead, the thing we should all have is VLC Media Player, a truly advanced open source video player that really has all kinds of options, including viewing, streaming, playlist formation and video filtering. You simply cannot stump its codec collection for audio and video, meaning it does not fail to play something where many major video players have failed.
You may have seen the videos online: fighting games where all your dream characters just duke it out. For letting us live the fantasy of having Scorpion from Mortal Kombat fight Ryu from Street Fighter, MUGEN ranks as one of the best tools for people who want to create fighting games but lack programming knowledge. Also, while we’re in game creation, consider Ren’Py, authoring software that allows you to make visual novels, a genre of interactive storytelling.
An obvious shout-out would be to the awesome PolicyMic, which is sort of like “Open Source Journalism” as PM Pundit Bob Dohse defined, but including it in the list would just scream of nepotism so … yeah.
But there you have it: five truly valuable open source movements. Of course, considering the amount of people taking part in the open source field, there are naturally quite a few (including the amazing PNG format) so be sure to share your favorites in the comments below.