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Open Source Resources
If you want to further explore the world of open source software, check out the many resources on the Internet.
USENET is a network of servers that hosts discussion lists on subjects as varied as politics, hobbies, and of course computers. These forums are called newsgroups and they act as a sort of community bulletin boards for people interested in particular topics. USENET got its start as a technical discussion group, and there are still a wide variety of groups covering technical subjects. Although spammers and the use of Web-based forums have dulled the effectiveness of USENET, there are still a number of active USENET newsgroups related to open source.
You need a USENET newsreader to access USENET. Most modern browsers have one built in. In Internet Explorer, from the Tools menu choose Mail and News, and then select Read News. You also need a valid USENET News Server to subscribe to. ISPs used to provide this service as part of their standard offering and many still do. If yours doesn't, there are public USENET servers you can connect to. Check out www.newzbots.com to find public USENET feeds. Once you've subscribed to a server, here are a few of the general groups that might be of interest. There are many others related to specific operating systems or programs.
You can also go to the Google Groups site (click on Groups at www.google.com). In addition to having access to current postings and groups, it houses the former Dejanews site, which was an archive of USENET news discussions going to back to 1992. However, the use of USENET is declining and many forums are moving to Web-based forums or moderated mailing lists to cut down on the noise-to-signal ratio in the postings.
There are many mailing lists related to open source. Most are specific to a particular program. They are used to provide support and collaboration on the project. Check the Web site or documentation for your program to find out if it has a mailing list and how to subscribe. The tools discussed in this book have pertinent mailing lists shown at the beginning of each tool section. There are also some general discussion lists.
There are tons of Web sites about open source software. Any project of a decent size will have a Web site dedicated to it. There are also some good general information sites. The following are great sites to start if you are just getting into open source.
SourceForge (sourceforge.net) is a great Web site for support and information on open source projects (see Figure 12.1). It is run by the Open Source Development Network, which funds the site with ads and by selling its open source development software. SourceForge provides a forum for discussing open source software and has many resources for open source projects. If you have a budding open source program, SourceForge will provide you with a home page, forums, project management tools, a place to store your program for download, and many other resources. This is all provided for free, although there are some strings attached to your use of them.
Figure 12.15. SourceForge Web Site
It is also a great place to look through the over 80,000 open source software projects cataloged there, and they are searchable by category and platform. Granted that some of them are probably half-baked ideas with minimal support, but there are also thousands of full-featured, time-tested programs. You can get involved with any of the projects or get feedback or support there. SourceForge attracts hundred of thousands of users and creators of the latest open source software. If you are starting up a project, it's a great place to look for recruits.
Slashdot (www.slashdot.org) is a site for news on all things open source. It is written and maintained by and for hardcore coders, mostly open source based. Go there to get the latest scuttlebutt, rumors, and breaking news as well as all kinds of interesting articles and opinions. It is part geek shoptalk, part hard news and articles, and part satire and commentary. In fact, it has become part of the techie lexicon to say a site has been "slashdotted" when it receives an overwhelming amount of traffic from being mentioned on the site.
Freshmeat (www.freshmeat.net) is a no-nonsense site for discussing and developing open source software. It is kind of a combination of Slashdot and SourceForge but on a smaller scale. This might be a plus for some who are intimidated by SourceForge's size and the number of options and resources. It also has articles and discussion groups as well as directly offering many projects for download.
Open Source Initiative
The Open Source Initiative (www.opensource.org) is an organization dedicated to promoting and refining the concept of open source software development. It offers a formal definition of what open source software should consist of and offers certification of such status, even though many people may claim this is a moving target and open source by definition is constantly changing and indefinable. Only a handful of programs so far bear their approval seal, but they are some of the bigger ones such as the Apache Web server and the Sendmail program. I feel that it's a move in the right direction for the future of open source: Only once the open source world organizes itself and agrees to certain standards will it gain a significant foothold in corporate America. Standardization promotes adoption.
Free Software Foundation
This site (www.fsf.org) is the home base for one of the two major camps in the open source world. The FSF houses the GNU project as well as their official software products. It is also the place to find the GPL license and learn all about how it works. Some might see their view of advocating that all software should be free as radical, but they have certainly provided the base for much of the open source software available today.
There are many, many other sites on open source software, and new ones are being established all the time. Use your favorite search engine and enter the terms "open source security" or "open source software" and see where it takes you.
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