Monday, January 12, 2009

Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) CD

I'm in the process of building up a "FOSS CD" that we can give or check-out to faculty, students and students here at my school. The idea is to load up with CD with useful free and open source applications that users may easily install on their personal windows or mac computers. Yes, I know this software is all freely available for downloading via the web, but I was thinking this just might make things a little easier for folks to get some of this software installed on their computers.

I'm looking for a little help from any readers of this blog to help me evaluate whether I'm missing out on some obvious titles for the CD. Now, I don't want to include every last free and open source application that is out there as I feel it will then be difficult for the user to figure out which ones they should install. Instead, I'm thinking of just including the big ones that involve things like screen capturing, image editing, office software, etc.

With that said, if you can think of anything I'm missing, please leave a comment and let me know.

Mac and Windows Software:
Jing Screencasting
Open Office 3
Google Sketchup
Audacity audio editing along with Lame mp3 plugin
Scratch Programming
Alice Programming
VLC Media Player
GeoGebra math modeling
Skype VOIP Software
Pidgin Universal Chat Client
Firefox Browser
GIMP Image Editing

Windows Only
Irfanview image editing utility
CamStudio Screen Capturing

Mac Only:
Skitch Screen Capturing/image editing tool
QuickSilver fast app launcher

The following apps are also being included as of 1-14-09:

NVU HTML editor
Opera (I'm amazed at how fast Opera loads pages and I always wonder why I don't use it more)


  1. I would add Phun - to your list.

  2. Cool idea. When I started to put together a "mini" version of something like this for the Gatorbotics team last year what I ultimately decided was that I could build the "CD" as a virtual CD / webpage just as quickly and it was easier to tweak as updates came along. I also burned it (easy enough) for offline installs or convenience but the website was always there.

    Just something you might want to think about as an implementation question. FWIW, the web page I put together (now out of date with the 2009 platform, so just for reference) is at:

    In terms of other software ideas:

    Greenfoot is very cool for teachin OO programming (used it with some of the incoming sophomores over the Summer and they built some fun games. One of Annie's games is online at:

    As a utility I love Allway Sync for backing up files Windows only, free version from Usov labs), and AVG for AV (they make the free version hard to find, so a pointer might be helpful unless you have an alternative)

    Chrome & Firefox might be two others, although they're certainly pretty easy for people to find on their own. Same for Google Desktop & Picasa.

    Then of course there are the IM clients if you want to cover that territory, although folks seem to find those well enough on their own:-)


  3. @David--EXCELLENT suggestions. I was actually quite torn in doing this because on one hand it is all out there...but on the other, many folks aren't even aware of the possibilities. I'm hopeful that we'll have something to hand out to folks when we talk about Open Office or other potentially useful apps.

    I'm in the process of creating an HTML file with short little descriptions and links to the software websites...I was planning on including that as the Read Me file on the disc, but after reading your comment, will now publish it online.

    Just checking out Annie's game now...let me guess, that must be "Dr. Who" :-) Thanks for the lead on Greenfoot...that will go on the disc.

    @Steve...EXCELLENT call on phun...thanks for adding to this list.

    Thanks for taking the time to comment and add to this list Steve and Dave...appreciated.


  4. Matt--Sounds like the CD will be a winner!

    And yes, the game(s) are based on characters from Dr.Who. Good guess. --David

  5. Matt,

    This is a fantastic idea! I am passing this off to our IT director! Thanks for sharing!

  6. @Lori...thanks for the comment...glad it was helpful to you in some way and I hope your IT folks run with it.

    @everyone...thanks for your comments and ideas on this project. It really has been quite positive. I can't say we've had many folks check it out (perhaps 6 or so) but it has created some conversation and raised awareness about open source. To that extent, I think it has been a success. Again, thank you for your title suggestions and feedback.