The iPhone has its App Store. Linux has its application repositories. Gamers have their Steam. So why, then, does the open-source world not have a centralized database for standardizing the deployment of applications across a common software delivery system?
I can see your answer now? "That's crazy!" Elaborating, you'd probably suggest that half of the joy of open source comes from the individual development that people (or groups of people) pour into a piece of software. In short, you probably think they should be free to distribute it as they see fit: via SourceForge, on their Web sites, burned onto a disc and cast into the sea, whatever.
But think about it--just think about it--for a moment. A single, downloadable application that could grant you access to a SourceForge-like list of open source applications grouped by categories, themes, alphabet letters-anything you want! It sounds like a far-off dream, perhaps the whimsical musings of a columnist looking to write something for the week. But I'm not the only one who considers a single-front application "store" for the open-source world as a real, future possibility. No, I've got Novell on my side too.
Click the jump and, whatever you do, don't steal my idea!
Last week's freeware gaming roundup generated a mixed bag of reactions from the community. Some of you liked the unique perspectives on traditional gameplay offered by the nominees and finalists of the 2008 Independent Games Festival. Others... thought I was crazy. That's okay. I can take the heat. In fact, I welcome the commentary -- one of Maximum PC's community members, Mojosico, offered up a number of titles that he enjoys playing in the article's comments thread. I checked out the games on his list and was pretty pleased with what I saw. If you like traditional run-and-gun gameplay, with a single driving-based game adding a little spice to the freeware mix, I think you'll enjoy this week's gaming roundup.
Consider these titles penance for last week's out-of-the-box batch of gameplay. For the first-person-shooters, third-person-shooters, and racing games I'm checking out this week represent the meat and potatoes of any gamer's plate. If you don't find something you like in this batch of games, you're getting nothing but Tetris variants next week. Just kidding. Let me know what genres or titles you like in the comments, and I'll see if I can't find a way to boost your spirits by +5 in next week's freeware roundup!
Click the jump to check out this week's top titles!
E3! E3! E3! There is seemingly nothing more important right now than checking out the latest iteration of some made-for-14-year-old-girls title at that big LA convention. Feh. You know what the worst thing about E3 is? It's not the lack of awkward-looking hot actors to stare at, nor is it the barrage of press meetings, demonstrations, and pomp and circumstance for less-than-stellar titles. The worst thing about E3 is that all the games you see there cost money. That's right. Cash. For every neat title you're seeing, there's a price tag attached at the end of the day. Want new graphics in a hot sequel? You'll pay for it. Want to blow up 255 of your closest console friends? Ask for your allowance early. Feel like waving your hand around to simulate an activity you can do in real life? Get a real-life job.
This week, I'm strolling down memory lane and profiling some of the best games from that other gaming conference in California. You know the one--good ol' GDC, or the Game Developers Conference. Each year, the Independent Games Festival takes up shop amidst the chaos of this convention and awards a host of independent (and often free) titles awards of various persuasions. There's a long list of contenders that come to the IGF every year: here's a list of five of the most interesting, enjoyable, and free titles I've found.
Click the jump to check out the cream of the freeware gaming crop!
As if Microsoft didn’t have enough on its plate in advance of the October 22 launch date for its latest operating system, Windows 7, an old, familiar friend is entering the fray. Like a second player that adds a quarter and interrupts your progression in an arcade fighting game, Google is bringing its open-source Android operating system out of the handheld market and into the PC world.
Acer netbooks are the target for Android’s first foray beyond the mobile market. The company has announced that it will begin offering both Microsoft-based operating systems and Google’s Android platform for a majority of its netbooks—or “mini-notebooks,” as Microsoft now prefers to call them. Acer’s latest Aspire One netbook will be the first of its kind to offer Android as an alternative platform, and you’ll be able to pick one up in the third quarter of this year.
The move is a boon for the open-source world… sort-of. For Android is as open as it is Linux, which is to say that it might be based on the Linux kernel, but it’s not a Linux operating system. Similarly, although Android comes close to fulfilling the philosophy and licensing requirements to deem it a full, open-source product, a few qualifiers exist that give cause for concern. Together, these two issues combine to create a troubled picture for Android’s future outside of the mobile market.
According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, Acer will start shipping netbooks powered by Google's open-source Android platform in the third quarter of this year. The new netbooks will supplement -- not replace -- Acer's lineup of Windows-based netbooks.
The 180 comes as somewhat of a surprise, as two months ago Acer had stated it didn't believe Andorid was ready to run netbooks.
"For a netbook, you really need to be able to view a full web for the total internet experience," said Jim Wong, head of Acer's IT products and business line. "And Android is not that yet."
Fast forward to today and Wong is singing praise over Android's ability to provide a fast wireless connection to the Internet, which is apparently enough to outweight any cons the company might have previously felt existed.
So here's the deal. You have a ton of extra storage sitting around your house/apartment/basement. That's great. So what's the problem? It's just sitting there, doing you absolutely no good. You've maxed out the SATA ports on your desktop rig, but would love for a way to make use of your hard drives in some manner that's geekier than a doorstop, a height extension for your coffee table, or a crude weapon.
Have you thought about building your own server?
Woah, woah. Don't skip over this article just yet. It sounds complicated, but crafting up your own personal server for your files (and multimedia) isn't that complicated. In fact, for some of the free solutions I'm about to show you, all you need is a working PC that accepts USB keys. That's it. Plug it in, fire up the software, and you'll have a brand-new storage array that's ready to receive your file backups and music files in equal measure. And why is that important? Because you're probably not running a RAID array on your main PC--if your primary drive goes, that's it. Game over. End of story. And if you're the most backup-conscious person around, wouldn't it be nice to have a low-powered PC that serves up multimedia for any networked computer in your abode? I thought so.
All this and more awaits you in the land of home servers!
If you're a fan of open source, you're a fan of licensing. Okay, maybe not a fan. But you still have to respect the legal power of the documents attached to open-source software and projects, which describe for you the exact ways you can and cannot use, modify, and pass-along the licensed material. While a newcomer to the open source might see these licenses as restrictive entities prohibiting commercial exploitation of a body of work, they're the lifeblood of those who spend untold hours poring over the bits and bytes of a dream. Not as a means of financial extortion for companies that want to use the software, rather, these licensing documents ensure that the spirit of open source carries on regardless of a project's potential iterations.
I sometimes wish I could apply a license to everything I do on the Internet. And perhaps you will too, once you realize that you're a content creator -- just like me, anyone who writes for this site, and any of the estimated 17 million (and counting) microbloggers on the popular Twitter service. As of yesterday, Twitter has joined forces with Threadless. The t-shirt retailer and community hub is now the centerpiece in a massive effort to transform your witty public Tweets into cash-generating, hipster t-shirts. But this partnership respects the spirit of licensing, even though the actual legal rights you hold as a Twitter user are still open for debate.
Fire up your best 140-word comment and click the jump to learn about this fashionable new deal!
Just like the Spy pulling a fast one over on the Sniper for this week's Team Fortress 2 update, I'm not going to be profiling a list of freeware applications this time around. Nope. Not a single program. I'm going meta with this update. Instead of tossing a list of superior apps your way, I'm going to give you a list of the top five Firefox extensions that will take your power downloading to untold heights of awesomeness.
Now what does that entail?
Are you sick of having to sort through your expanding download directory just to find and organize the new files you've picked up? Boom. There's an add-on for that. Does it frustrate you every time you have to wait for a countdown on one of the free file hosts before you can grab the file you want? Oh-ho-ho: There's an add-on for that as well! Do you hate the very act of clicking on multiple links on a page to download files?You might be a little lazy on that one, but no hate here. Yes, there's an application to make even this most-mundane of tasks easier.
If you aren't using Firefox, well, I can't say much to that. But check out this list anyway -- I bet you'll be tempted to switch over once you realize all the additional functionality you can pack into this foxy browser. Click the jump (no, an add-on won't do that for you) and let's get started!
When's the last time you surfed on over to your Pligg and updated what you were doing for the entire Internet to see? What about Elgg? Have you changed your favorite movies to reflect that big blockbuster hit you saw this weekend? You probably don't have to, because all of your friends using the Tweetero client on their iPhones could just log on and see exactly what you were up to. Or not. Because you aren't on Twitter -- you're on Identi.ca, the open-source equivalent of the popular messaging program.
Unlike the open-source software world, where even the smallest gems of programs can find a meaningful existence, the open-source social networking world depends on people. Masses of people. You can't just launch a new social networking platform and expect it to flourish if it doesn't have a decently sized audience. And you're never going to pull away the users that are already comfortable on their existing Web 2.0 platforms if you just imitate the best practices of the current litany of sites. But that's what's happening in the open-source social networking world right now. There's a healthy mix of innovation and duplication, giving some segments of the online world new and interesting applications... and others with their 25th version of Twitter.
Which areas of social networking are dead zones for open-source development? Click the jump to find out!
One of the most rewarding parts of doing these weekly freeware roundups for Maximum PC is the sheer wealth of software that I get to play with each month -- applications that I not only use myself, but ones that I feel compelled to tell you about as well. But coming in a close second are the responses that you, the readers, leave in these posts. For as much as I scour the Internet to find awesome new programs for you to check out, you too have become my eyes and ears for the latest in amazing free software.
You might guess where this one's going. I'm looking toward the pool of Maximum PC users this week and highlighting programs that you, yourselves, have recommended in the various comments you've posted to these articles. For a number of you have left links and comments featuring compelling alternatives or hidden gems that relate to the programs I've posted. Although I'm featuring your best answers this week, don't let that stop you from joining the discussion! If a certain freeware application has really caught your eye, jump in the thread and say something! Or hit me up on Twitter and let me know when you've found something great!
After the jump: The Maximum PC commenters get their day in Freeware Court!