Over 30 Must-Have Open Source Resources

by Ostatic Staff - Feb. 09, 2009

Periodically, we here at OStatic like to round up our ongoing collections of open source resources, tutorials, reviews and project walkthroughs. These educational tools are a central part of the goal here at the site. We regularly round up the best Firefox extensions, free online books on open source topics, free tools for web developers, resources for online video and audio, Linux tutorials, and much more. In this post, you'll find more than 30 collections and resources. Hopefully, there is something right up your alley here, and the good news is that everything you'll find is free.

The iMacros Firefox extension is incredibly powerful--an application unto itself, disguised as a Firefox extension. It lets you record macros that you can play back at any time, and the process is about as easy as using a VCR. In this post, you'll find a collection of screenshots that function as a guided tour to using iMacros, including how to use Super Bookmarks--macros that sit right on your Bookmarks menu in the browser, capable of executing task-based scripts of any complexity--or elegant simplicity--you choose. Several readers have gotten this running in minutes and written in with imaginative, time-saving applications for iMacros.

OStatic's Firefox Superguide has been one of our most popular posts. It collects more than 100 ways to get more out of the Firefox browser, including screenshot driven tutorials, and a collection of the very best extensions for Firefox.

Keir Thomas, a noted Linux author, has made available a free book online: Ubuntu Pocket Guide and Reference. It's very good, and has already been downloaded over 150,000 times.

It used to be that open source video tools were scarce and often fraught with problems--but no more. In this post, we recommend eight top-notch tools for video playback and encoding, ranging from the very flexible SMPlayer, which lets you add subtitles to your videos, to the super-easy Simple Theora Encoder.

Along with free, open source software, there are many good, visual tutorials for top open source applications found free on the web. In this post, you'll find a whopping sixteen of them. You can brush up on web development skills such as CSS and AJAX, become a graphics wizard with GIMP, and learn how to install and master any Linux distro.

Some people love Linux but just can't use it full time. In this post, you'll find a discussion of free virtualization options that can put Linux right on your Windows PC or Mac.

Speaking of web development, our post More Than Five Top, Free Tools for Web Developers has been very popular. It discusses Piwik (open source web analytics software with useful plug-ins from the community), Kompozer (a very popular web development environment, especially for CSS fans), and OpenX (a free, open source ad server for monetizing your site), plus several more.

If you haven't tried out some of the open source tools focused on animation and video conveniences, take a gander at this post. It introduces Blender (powerful 3D animation software that has been used to create full-length animated movies), XVid (a utility that can compress video files at a ratio of 100:1), and more.

Want to put a bushel of free open source applications on your computer or even on a USB thumb drive in one, free download? You can find out how to do so here, and dive right into everything from the OpenOffice suite of productivity applications, to Thunderbird e-mail, to open source calendar applications. Many of the applications are guaranteed to be ones you've never heard of, but they're all hand-picked by folks in the know. You get hundreds of applications--all free. For Macintosh users, you'll find an equally good one-download offering at MacLibre, as we discussed here.

In this post, you'll find two excellent tutorials singled out by Mozilla. The first is a step-by-step recipe for how to build Firefox extensions. The second is a guide to how to use Mozilla's useful Ubiquity command-line tool, and create commands for it.

What if you want to put Linux and Linux applications on your USB thumb drive? Here, you'll find instructions and a huge collection of useful tools for making it work. 

Are you upgrading a Linux box? Our own Reuven Lerner--a skilled and experienced developer--has a guide here to a large collection of resources for SELinux--which protects Linux systems from security threats.

High-end graphics software is expensive when you shop on the proprietary aisle, but we've collected six cool, free tools here. Make sure to check out IrfanView (which is freeware, not open source, but just had to be here).

Are you under the impression that BitTorrent downloads are illegal or DRM infected? There are plenty of sites out there that offer free and legal torrent downloads to save bandwidth and make file sharers happy. Here, you'll find sites such as Legit Torrents, where you can get free video, games and Linux distros, plus nine other legal torrent sites worth checking into.

Webinars have increased in popularity in recent years, and this post rounds up seven resources for finding free ones on open source topics. You can sit in on educational webinars on MySQL, Drupal and much more.

Do you frequently share web-based content with others via social networks? If so, check out BlueOrganizer, a slick Firefox extension that we reviewed here. It's also very handy to have when you want to search the web for content related to what you're currently looking at. (Make sure and check out Glue, an update to this project.)

Want to view videos and presentations on Google's free offerings for the development community? We wrote up how you can find a slew of them here, on topics ranging from Google's AJAX APIs to using Google Gears.

Do you use Mozilla's Thunderbird e-mail application? If you do, or you're moving to it, check out our list of the best add-ons for Thunderbird.

Want to sell your open source skills to the highest bidder? Here we covered over 10 ways to get paid for your FOSS wizardry. Also check out this interview with oDesk's CEO (oDesk connects people with open source skills with employers, even guaranteeing work and payments).

In our post 6 Ways to Get Much More Out of GIMP you'll find lots of good resources for leveraging the power of one of the most popular open source graphics programs. The post includes links to a free, full online book on beginning and advanced GIMP skills, and more.

Are you thinking of getting a netbook? They've become hugely popular and come with various flavors of Linux and lots of open source applications installed for very fair prices. Here are some good pieces of advice and links if you're in the market for one.

GPhotoSpace is a very interesting extension for Firefox that we wrote up here. It requires Firefox 3 and leverages the 7GB+ of storage space that you currently get with a Gmail account for an online photo storage repository. Uploads tend to be much faster than on sites such as Flickr, and there are other conveniences to having your photo management application in your e-mail engine.

Do you have a need for warding off patent trolls who may threaten your idea or patents with dubious patents of their own? Linux Defenders is a brand new organization, with some heavy hitters backing it, working to ward off patent trolls. Check out our writeup here.

Looking for a killer open source word processor? AbiWord is a top-notch one, and we took the brand new version for a spin, which you can read about here.  Among other things, it now works much better with Microsoft Office files.

In addition to OStatic itself, where can you go to evaluate and kick the tires on open source applications? We found six sites looking into--many with user ratings for useful FOSS products--and you can check them out here.

Open sourcers often collaborate with each other, and if you work with others who are in remote locations, Dimdim is a very powerful open source web meeting application, recently out in a new version. Check out our impressions here. For an alternative from the world of freeware, including a Linux version, look into Yugma.

Songbird is one of the slickest open source music players available. It just arrived in a final new version. Here we took a look at the final beta version and summarized why you ought to consider this melody maker for your open source arsenal.

Here's a pictorial tour of one of the more useful Firefox extensions we've tried out in a while: VideoSurf. It provides chronological timelines for online videos at YouTube, Google Video and other sites. Jump straight to what you want.

Have you suffered a layoff recently? If so, we have scores of good ideas for finding work in the world of open source here. You can find good places to put up a profile of yourself, good sites to visit for advertised jobs in open source, and more.

Are you interested in some of the best brand new open source projects? In this post, you'll find a collection of 10 of the "best rookies" selected by Black Duck Software, including note-taking applications, automated trading software, and much more.

Cloud computing is all the rage these days, but did you know that there are many open source infrastructure tools for cloud computing that can provide free flexibility, cost savings, and more? Try these five examples.

 Part of OStatic's mission is to deliver good educational resources on open source. We hope these free tools and tutorials help you.