The Quieter Side of Open Source at Google

by Ostatic Staff - Dec. 27, 2009

Very little is done quietly in a giant multi-national corporation. Exceptionally high-profile firms like Google undergo even more scrutiny, making it somewhat unusual to discover they've been developing numerous projects — in the open, and Open Source-licensed — that are all but unknown.

As odd as it may be, that is exactly the case at Google. A post yesterday from a Polish student/software developer lists several dozen such projects, few of which could be described as household names, even in the geekiest of homes.

Included in the list are a number of projects that are relatively well-known, at least within the Open Source community. Both Chromium, the foundation for Google's Chrome browser, and Chromium OS, the base for Chromium OS, are Open Source, as is the highly-acclaimed Android mobile operating system. How many, though, are familiar with NameBench, a benchmarking application designed to speed up your browsing by locating prime DNS servers based on your individual browsing history?

Many of the applications are focused on system administration and testing. stressapptest, a utility for testing hardware's high-load performance, is one of Google's in-house tools and lesser-known Open Source efforts, though some Linux distributions do include the tool in their repositories. The Linux backup tool OpenDuckBill is another — selected files and directories are mirrored locally or to remote backup locations using rsync. A pair of Open Source MySQL tools are also available: Google mMAIM offers analysis and monitoring tools for MySQL servers, and Google MySQL Tools is a suite of maintenance/improvement/management tools for MySQL databases.

Being an internet powerhouse, it's no surprise that Google also has a variety of web tools in its semi-secret stash. Google Code Prettify, Redacisaurus, Selector Shell, Rat Proxy, and others are all aimed at making the web developer's life easier. The company also has its own Atom feed server, Google Feed Server, and has Open-sourced JaikuEnginethe code behind its Jaiku social networking site. There are even meta-tools in the mix: Melange, the Spice of Creation, an application for Google App Engine, is "a framework for representing Open Source contribution workflows."

A multitude of others are hiding in plain sight as well — crash reporting, image generation, POP/IMAP troubleshooting, barcode processing, frameworks galore — just waiting for someone to stumble across them.

Note: Google's role in many of these projects is not immediately obvious when looking at the project's Google Code page. The documentation and licensing information included with the source code provides additional details.

Image courtesy of stuartpilbrow.