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The 10 Coolest Open Source Products of 2008 198

An anonymous reader writes "Open Source Software is about more than just the Linux operating system, and 2008 brought advances in the form of OpenOffice.org, IBM Lotus Symphony, Firefox and Android. But Linux is still the heart of the FOSS movement, and this year brought key developments in the operating system as well. Here's a look at the coolest open source products to come across the transom in 2008." Along roughly similar lines, davidmwilliams points out the year in review of the iTWire's "Linux Distillery" column.
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The 10 Coolest Open Source Products of 2008

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  • CCExtractor [sourceforge.net]

    *Sorry, couldn't resist.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      Even though the source code is ugly as sin (sorry comskip author, but it is, it's one big C file that's nearly impossible to dissect) -- a nice addition to CCExtractor is comskip.

      http://www.kaashoek.com/comskip/ [kaashoek.com]

    • Epidermis project [slashdot.org] is definitely on the road to Linux on the desktop.
      • Epidermis combines wallpaper, GTK, metacity, icon, splash, usplash, cursor, grub and GDM themes in one GUI program for the GNOME desktop.

        I don't find anything spectacular about that. wallpaper, GTK, metacity, icon, and cursor themes are already in the same place. You can save them together as a specific theme.

        • while thats true, from looking at the screenshot it is aiming to show you all those settings graphically on the same screen, rather than each having their own tab or buried inside an "advanced" or "custom" button that pops open another window with more tabs. Personally I think its a good idea, but what would really be helpful is one that can easily preview and download themes from the net and easily allowing you to mix and match them. I know there's Art.Gnome app but its not exactly very integrated out of
  • Zzzzzz (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sunderland56 ( 621843 ) on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @04:15PM (#26284303)
    Of the 10, 9 are merely updates of existing products - nothing new here.

    Android *is* new - but is hardly newsworthy by now.

    • >merely updates of existing products - nothing new here.

      Put this into up-to-the-minute context. With ZUNEs going to comas around the world [msn.com], OSPs of any ilk shine, baby, shine - now, isn't that newsworthy!!!
    • Re:Zzzzzz (Score:5, Informative)

      by larry bagina ( 561269 ) on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @04:23PM (#26284427) Journal

      1 is Open Office, 1 is an open office derivative. 1 is a website. 1 is firefox 3. 1 is Android. The rest are linux distros.

    • Yeah, I could write an article right now about what would be coolest in 2009
      1. Ubuntu 9.10
      2. Ubuntu 9.4
      3. Fedora 10
      4. Firefox 4
      5. JeOS 2
      6. Open Suse 11

      And I wonder, why did they forget the service packs, IIRC Open Suse 10 SP2 was released this year.

      TFA is a non-story.

      • Yeah, I could write an article right now about what would be coolest in 2009

        Dude, don't forget Thunderbird 3! At least, I *hope* it'll be out in 2009. *sigh*

      • by MrHanky ( 141717 )

        You forgot GNU/Duke Nukem 4Ever.

    • Re:Zzzzzz (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mcgrew ( 92797 ) * on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @04:27PM (#26284495) Homepage Journal

      Thanks for that. I tried to RTFA and found it was one of those "one paragraph and ten thoudsand ads per screen" sites so I didn't go any farther.

      How can you trust any tech site with a gawdoffal layout like that? Pathetic!

      • Re:Zzzzzz (Score:5, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @04:39PM (#26284631)

        Plus Ubuntu's on the list twice. So here's the article reproduced verbatim, sans ads, just as a giant middle finger extended in the direction of CRN and all the other assbags using this format these days.

        OpenOffice.org 3.0

        The popular -- and free -- open source productivity suite hit its milestone 3.0 version in 2008, making it more clear than ever that its functionality and compatibility with Microsoft Office (including OpenOffice Impress, which is PowerPoint compatible) make it a force to be reckoned with. With an acquisition cost of between $150 and $200 less than Microsoft Office 2007, it could have a big year in a down economy in 2009.

        IBM Lotus Symphony

        IBM has taken great pains to position itself as more of a middleware company than a desktop productivity software company, but diverged from that path a bit in 2008. By launching and upgrading its IBM Lotus Symphony suite of productivity apps based on OpenOffice.org, IBM is once again using the Lotus brand to take aim against Microsoft on the desktop.

        Firefox 3.0

        Die-hard Firefox users showed thanks for the Mozilla community's efforts to eliminate memory leaks and other annoyances in the most recent iterations of the open-source browser. Features like its "awesome bar" are also helping it continue to gain market share against Microsoft Internet Explorer, even as it's fending off new challenges from Google's new Chrome browser.


        If microblogging site Twitter became the social networking smash of 2008, 2009 could be a great year for the open-source microblogging platform called Laconica. The best-known site using that code, Identi.ca, allows communication through browsers, e-mail and SMS messaging -- giving a powerful, free alternative to those seeking to build their own social networking or microblogging platforms.

        Fedora 9

        Test Center highlighted three intriguing aspects for Fedora 9: the new desktop schemes, the new package management system and back-end improvements to memory usage and performance. On the desktop front, Fedora 9 Beta offers GNOME 2.22 and KDE 4.0.2 as the defaults. GNOME 2.22 in Fedora 9 has better file system performance, security improvements and the ability to manage power right at the login screen (quite handy on a laptop). There's also better Bluetooth integration, especially for Palm devices.

        Ubuntu 8.10

        Ubuntu 8.10 Desktop Edition, nicknamed "Intrepid Ibex," provides so much functionality and ease of use, at zero cost of acquisition, that it is really impossible to ignore. For anyone or any business not tied to Microsoft legacy desktop applications, Ubuntu 8.10 may realistically be considered a smarter choice in many scenarios.

        OpenSuSE 11

        Novell didn't launch a new version of its SuSE Linux Enterprise Desktop in 2008, but it did shepherd the OpenSuSE community that delivered OpenSuSE 11. OpenSUSE is powerful, and improvements in usability, performance and stability should attract and win back users from other Linux distributions. There is some business advantage to consider OpenSUSE instead of Ubuntu or Fedora because of Novell's relationship with Microsoft, such as the tweaks to OpenOffice.org that make document conversion and migration easier, as well as the hypervisor adapter support. OpenSUSE is probably best for power users, those who can take advantage of the virtualization support and those with more experience using Linux.

        Novell JeOS

        SUSE Linux Enterprise JeOS (pronounced "juice"), the beta "Just enough" operating system from Novell is a lightweight and barebones version of the company's SUSE Linux Enterprise Server. The code base is SLES 10 Service Pack 2. The stripped-down operating system is intended specifically for virtual appliances. Applications certified to run on SUSE Linux Enterprise Server will carry that certification onto the JeOS

        • Re:Zzzzzz (Score:5, Interesting)

          by mcgrew ( 92797 ) * on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @04:54PM (#26284807) Homepage Journal

          Thanks for that. I see that half of their coolest ten are all Linux. Not run on Linux, but ARE Linux!

          I wish slashdot would quit posting interesting summaries of mediocre websites and stories.

          • Re:Zzzzzz (Score:5, Interesting)

            by ToasterMonkey ( 467067 ) on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @09:51PM (#26287647) Homepage

            Thanks for that. I see that half of their coolest ten are all Linux. Not run on Linux, but ARE Linux!

            ...and two of them are just different versions of Ubuntu. WTF?

            How about OpenSolaris for Christ's sake? The first Sun supported Solaris LIVE CD for desktops, had it's initial 2008.05 release and a new 2008.11 release this year. That's just not as cool as Ubuntu, and... newer Ubuntu I guess. What in 2008 did these Linux distros do that rates being in a top 10 OSS list anyway? OpenSolaris had it's _FIRST_ release at least, I would expect that at a minimum. Two f'ing Ubuntu's...

            I wish slashdot would quit posting interesting summaries of mediocre websites and stories.

            It NEVER ends.

        • Lotus Symphony (Score:5, Informative)

          by Enderandrew ( 866215 ) <[enderandrew] [at] [gmail.com]> on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @05:29PM (#26285187) Homepage Journal

          The list fails. Lotus Symphony isn't OSS, though it is based off OpenOffice 1. They based it off OpenOffice 1 as opposed to the trunk for 3 at the time, because IBM didn't want to have Symphony a GPL product.

          • Re:Lotus Symphony (Score:5, Informative)

            by Petrushka ( 815171 ) on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @06:02PM (#26285533)

            The list fails. Lotus Symphony isn't OSS, though it is based off OpenOffice 1.

            Indeed. Seeing Lotus Symphony on the second slide was enough to make me realise that these folks haven't done more than a minute of research, and that it's time to stop reading /., go outside, and make the most of the sunshine ...

          • by KlaymenDK ( 713149 ) on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @09:49PM (#26287635) Journal

            I wonder, who here has actually tried Lotus Symphony?

            I have; it's part of Notes 8 which I use at work. After about two minutes of acquaintance with it, I reinstalled OOo3: They actually managed to break some things that OOo gets right (CSV import/export in Calc) and completely omit (WTF?!) other parts (Draw).

            I have no idea why they would do that. But it certainly makes the whole experience more, um, Lotussy. (If only that were a good thing!)

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        Thanks for pointing that out. Took way longer to get through that list than it needed to. Especially with the lag between page loads.
      • Re:Zzzzzz (Score:5, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @04:57PM (#26284833)

        Article has wrong title, should be: "1 Cheesy Way To Drive Up Your Ad Revenue"

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by onegear ( 802747 )
        Hmmmmm, let's see....so many ads, it's hard to read the article, Ubuntu on the list twice, and Fedora 9 listed instead of Fedora 10. How long did it take to come up with this article? 5 minutes?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Even if they were new, five are Linux distributions. And that's not counting Android.

      Yeah, Linux is cool, distributions are cool, but you'd think they would show some variety. Coolest one I've seen all year -- that is new -- is Archaeopteryx [blogspot.com]. Perhaps not a big deal, but weren't they doing the 10 coolest projects, not the 10 most important projects?

      • by rk ( 6314 )

        If you like stuff like this, you night want to give ChucK [princeton.edu] a test drive if you haven't seen it. It's a programming language written from the ground up to do audio work.

      • by grumbel ( 592662 )

        Another interesting one is Galapix [google.com], an image viewer that allows fluent navigation across tenth of thousands of images. But since I have written that one myself, this of course is nothing more then self advertisment.

    • by joggle ( 594025 ) on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @04:37PM (#26284605) Homepage Journal

      Android is cool but does anyone know why they took out some of the beta functionality (like being able to get driving directions which are now expressly forbidden by the terms of service for the Android google maps API key)?

      It seems like it would be fairly trivial to write a turn-by-turn voice app for Android if they still had the API to request driving directions. By knowing the location of the phone the program could easily find what segment of a route it's on (if any at all), see how far it is until the next instruction and then read the instruction using the text2speech library someone has already made.

      As it stands, the only way I see of implementing such an app would be to have a webserver somewhere that would forward direction requests from the phone to google using the standard google maps javascript API and then return the directions back to the app. Very much a PITA if you ask me and might violate the terms of use of developing software on Android for all I know.

      • If I were to take a guess, it was at the request of cell phone carriers who advertise turn-by-turn directions as a unique feature of their phone network and/or charge separately for that feature.

    • The ChannelWeb editor's colorful use of language has confused you. You are confusing the phrase "to come across the transom" with the phrase "to come blasting from the uterus trailed by a gusher of afterbirth".
    • More Importantly (Score:3, Insightful)

      by thermian ( 1267986 )

      These are all projects with mainstream corporate backing.

      In my opinion the list should include projects done by people who don't have vast sums of cash to back them.

  • by uncledrax ( 112438 ) on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @04:15PM (#26284305) Homepage

    2 Ubuntus, 2 SuSes, a new Fedora.. and a host of applications that just version incremented this year, and a twitter clone.


    Not dissing the applications.. I think OO3 is a vast improvement, and newer versions of an OS is probably a good thing.. I was just hoping for stuff that wasn't just 'Newest release of MyFlavourHere linux based OS'

    • by MyHair ( 589485 )

      More in depth? Heck they couldn't even bother themselves to add a link to the products. If they're that lazy a link to Distrowatch would've covered over half the entries.

      I was going to say this is the first site I've seen that has more ad and navigation space than article space, but no, I've seen that before.

  • Spoiler (Score:5, Informative)

    by ojintoad ( 1310811 ) on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @04:19PM (#26284353)
    The coolest are:
    1. OpenOffice
    2. IBM Lotus Symphony
    3. Firefox 3.0
    4. Laconica
    5. Fedora 9
    6. Ubuntu 8.10
    7. Open SuSe11
    8. Novell JeOS
    9. Ubuntu 8.04
    10. Android
    • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) *

      Damn that FOSS, I tried to find a FOSS app named "ice" but google failed it. Ruined a perfectly good joke.

      Programmers, get on that ICE project, ok?

    • The coolest are:

      1 and 2: OpenOffice
      3: Firefox
      4: OSS Twitter clone that surely will surpass Twitter because Twitter is popular. (?)
      5, 6, 7, 8, 9: Linux. (More specifically, Fedora, Ubuntu, Suse, Suse, Ubuntu)
      10: Whatever Google released recently. What, it's hardware? Meh, leave it on the list, anyway.

  • open office, IBM Lotus Symphony

    I didn't even read the the rest, dos not seem worth it. Why can't these list articles have sofware like this. [yorku.ca]

  • by DRAGONWEEZEL ( 125809 ) on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @04:22PM (#26284403) Homepage

    WinDirStat is my #1 favorite OSS by far and above anything else. This year I have used it a ton, and I even have a contribution budgeted for Feb. It's small, fast, useful and beautiful. Thank you WINDIRSTAT!

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by nonewmsgs ( 1249950 )
      isn't that just a windows clone of the KDE program that does the same thing? Kdirstat (i think)
  • WTH? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MBGMorden ( 803437 ) on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @04:25PM (#26284467)

    5 of the 10 are just Linux distro's. Ubuntu 8.10 AND 8.04 were both on the list as seperate entries!?!? And Lotus Symphony, a version of OOo, was listed along with OOo as seperate products. For the most part this could have been condensed down to:

    Linux, Firefox, OpenOffice, Android

    Which is so boring a list that it's of no use to anyone actually using open source already.

  • why is open source crawling through the transom?

    still cant get a key eh?

  • hidden in 500 adds. That site just made my blacklist.

  • Completely worthless (Score:5, Informative)

    by IICV ( 652597 ) on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @04:30PM (#26284523)

    This list is entirely without any redeeming value. More than half of the "coolest" products are new versions of operating systems and applications (OMG they released Fedora 9! I may wet myself with glee!), and the rest of it includes useless things like what appears to be a Twitter clone and something IBM's branded as Lotus. Hell, they put Android on there, and that's a hardware platform that doesn't even have a killer app yet.

    Ubuntu's on it twice for goodness' sakes! And the second time is the long-term service distribution, which is about as exciting as growing grass!

    Normally I don't complain about the stuff that makes it to the front page, but this list is just a complete waste of absolutely everyone's time.

  • by xrayspx ( 13127 ) on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @04:31PM (#26284535) Homepage
    How about some individual projects? Amarok [kde.org] 2 came out in 2008. Other things that existed before but which improved mightily in '08 were:

    Flock [flock.com] (released v2)
    KDE Released 4x series, abysmal at first, but it's great now.
    BasKet [kde.org] Probably doesn't belong on a Best Apps Ever list, but it is pretty useful. This existed before, but I just found it this year and it's great, and it has become a lot more stable for me through the year. Someone help get them to qt4!
    There are lots of great apps out there that deserve some love this year.
  • Not quite mainstream and obvious as the pointless list presented in TFA, but I gotta add: Clojure [clojure.org]

    Clojure seems at first as Yet Another Lisp or Yet Another JVM Language or the general Yet Another New Programming Language, but once you scratch the surface you will discover it's an amazing engineering feat with groundbreaking design.
  • by omb ( 759389 )
    This story is click-through junk and should not be on slashdot, even on a slow news day
  • You just got spammed by an ad-farm. Moron.

  • Why is the Internet not on the list?! Over half of it, anyway. FreeBSD. Linux. Apache. PHP. Embedded devices, routers, switches, wifi; A lot of this is open source too. They keep the networks running, and without their contributions it wouldn't exist. But who cares about infrastructure when--Oooh look, a kitty!

  • Sorry, all I'm seeing here is redundancy. A handful of Linux distros, and a few attempts to replace existing commercial apps?

    Where's the innovation?


  • How did Stellarium [stellarium.org] and/or Celestia [shatters.net] *not* make this list!? If one's criteria is for "Cool" applications, these can't do anything but qualify.
  • Arduino (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Speare ( 84249 ) on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @05:52PM (#26285449) Homepage Journal
    I'd have to say that the most interesting "product" that I've seen this year is an electronics microcontroller platform called Arduino [arduino.cc]. It started pre-2008, but it has shot up in popularity and had a writeup in Wired this year. The board is open source (blueprints and source code are Creative Commons), and people are making a wide range of alternative form factors with special features.
  • Merely a list of the usual suspects.

    Though I suspect the auhor was in a hurry (and the editor was asleep) as 5 of the ten are basically the same: linux distros.

    In fact I have a feeling that, apart from the version numbers, this will also be the author's personal list for the 10 coolest / hottest products for 2009, 2010 ... Though it comes nowehere near being mine - nor probably yours, either


  • I clicked on this article thinking I could maybe find some really cool open source piece of software that I haven't seen yet. I am completely unimpressed, the list is barely anything more than a bunch of Linux distros.

    Here's my personal favorite open source project I discovered in 2008: Spring Engine http://spring.clan-sy.com/ [clan-sy.com]

    my 2 cents
  • Formula sites:

    1. Post interesting sounding but meatless articles in the form of top 10 lists.

    2. Divide the content into 12 parts -- opening, items 1-10, and conclusion.

    3. Post pay per view or pay per click ads on each and every page.

    4. Profit! While users limp through your lame site.

    Not interested -- not even though I have ad-blocking that makes it a futile attempt.

  • by TinuvaZA ( 1295961 ) on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @06:07PM (#26285583)
    I actually think the article "Great Linux Innovations Of 2008" on http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=article&item=great_linux_innovations_2008&num=1 [phoronix.com] was much better.
  • Sorry, if half of your list is just Linux distro shoutouts, you fail.

    A single linux item is tolerable, though still a cop out. Listing the same distro twice is just highlighting your mediocrity.

  • If you haven't read it, then don't bother. 6 or 7 linux distros (half of which are outdated - fedora 9 beta anyone?), open office 3, firefox 3, and ibm lotus symphony. I can't fathom how this made it to the front page. I kept clicking 'next' thinking that I'd find the content of the article just around the corner.
  • As much as i hate to give RMS credit, GNU is the real heart of that side of the house.

    But never forget, BSD was there first.

  • Asterisk (Score:4, Informative)

    by z_gringo ( 452163 ) <z_gringo AT hotmail DOT com> on Thursday January 01, 2009 @07:14AM (#26289937)
    I am kind of surprised that Asterisk didn't make the list. There is a complete open source revolution happening in the field of Telephony. Asterisk 1.6 has been released, and Asterisk 1.4 is very solid and not only can do everything that the conventional higher end PBXs do, but can do a lot more.

    Asterisk has also inspired some other open source PBX projects. Asterisk doesn't necesarrily need to be only a IP pbx either, but in the VOIP field there are loads of exciting products that are revolutionizing telephony.

    Surely one of those products is at least worth a mention instead of putting linux in the list 4 times and open office in there twice.

Make it myself? But I'm a physical organic chemist!