As 2008 winds to a close, we're taking a look back at some of the year's highlights in the open-source world. And what a year it's been! Google phones and the android operating system finally saw the light. The semi-popular MMO Myst decided to go entirely open source, the genre's first "conversion." And Microsoft--yes, Microsoft--decided to embrace open-source development with one hand while chastising it with the other.
We're rounding up all of the year's top stories from every source we can get our hands on. Click the link and let's get started with 2008's top open-source news!
Remember Myst Online? You shouldn't. GameTap shut the servers for the fumbling MMO in the beginning of this year, leaving plenty of fans of massively multiplayer online puzzle-solving out in the cold. Until the rights were returned to Cyan Worlds, which promptly promised to resurrect the MMO under the clever acronym of MORE -- the Myst Online Resurrection Experiment. Which was all fine, until funding difficulties killed the project once again. Which has since been resurrected again (surpassing Jean Gray's record), this time as a result of Cyan Worlds turning the entire Myst Online platform over to the open source community.
Strangely, this is the first big announcement from any of the "larger" MMOs that involves open source in any fashion. When an MMO dies, it usually dies for good, regardless of how persistent the fan base is toward resurrecting the fallen title into a working project.
Click the link and come into the strange, shifting world of open-source MMOs!
Everyone has a short list of "classic" games that are fun to fire up every now and then. It doesn't matter how old they are, nor how many times you've successfully beaten these A-list titles. These awesome games will always hold a special place in your heart no matter what. That's the enduring legacy of their appeal.
That's why we love remakes -- fresh new takes on classic games or traditional gaming motifs that can be better than the original titles we're used to playing. Bundle in our zealous enjoyment of anything free or open-source, and you've got a recipe for awesome on your hands. We like awesome, which is why we're profiling five freeware gaming remakes in this week's feature roundup. Check out these titles, as they're examples of some of the best, remade gaming environments that the freeware/open-source community has to offer!
Remember this quote? "Linux is a cancer that attaches itself in an intellectual property sense to everything it touches." It was uttered by none other than Microsoft frontman Steve Ballmer himself, in an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times in 2001. It's no secret that Microsoft has put itself right in the center of the proprietary versus open-source war. But the software giant is now starting to dabble in the dark side of open-source projects itself. We're getting nothing but mixed-signals from Redmond. So what is it, Microsoft? Cancer, or cash-cow?
Read on to find out about Microsoft's newest open-source initiatives!
The Free Software Foundation filed suit in U.S. District Court today, alleging that networking giant Cisco violated FSF copyrights by not giving its users the ability to share and modify the open-source software it uses as the basis for some of its hardware. That's a mouthful, so here's what happened: According FSF, the company found that Cisco was using a GNU-licensed version of Linux to power its firmware. Only, Cisco wasn't giving its customers the full access to the source code that the GNU license specifies as a condition of use!
If you haven't yet made the plunge to Firefox 3.0, you might want to put it near the top of your to-do list (don' forget to call your mother as well). Should it still slip your mind, Mozilla will actively be encouraging users to upgrade.
"With the holidays fast approaching, later today Mozilla will start offering a gift to Firefox 184.108.40.206 users - a free upgrade to Firefox 3.0.4," Mozilla wrote in a blog post, "the very latest and best browser from Mozilla offering more speed, requiring less memory, and providing the safest and easiest web browsing experience available."
Yes, Firefox is still free, despite what we assume is a tongue-in-cheek blog. But it's not all a laughing matter. According to TGDaily, Mozilla might be making plans to kill off support for Firefox 2.0. Should that happen, those using the older browser could find themselves at increased risk of attack, particularly as hackers have now started targeting Firefox with malware written solely for the open-source browser.
Need to keep your hard drive from being crapped up? Are you a power-downloader with no organizational skills? Do you want to see exactly where the space on your hard drive is going and have your computer automatically shuffle and sort new files around?
You're in luck. We've assembled a batch of freeware utilities that are, without a doubt, the most essential file management tools you'll want to have on your PC. We use them to automate mundane tasks like file moving and deletion, and better still, to determine exactly where all the wasted space on our drives are going. We would kill to have these feature integrated into Windows Explorer, but no dice thus far. But we can't complain much, because we've saved so much time with these small utilities that we can't ever think about going back to a life without them.
If you want a more ringing endorsement, there's only one way you're going to get it. Click the jump and come check out the most time-saving file management tools we've ever found.
We typically recommend that those new to Linux get their feet wet with Ubuntu, but if you think you're ready to explore alternative distros, the Fedora developer community has announced the official release of Fedora 10. The release was originally planned to go live a few weeks ago but suffered a delay as Fedora developers verified its source code had not been compromised following a hacker attack back in August.
Like Ubuntu's recently released Intrepid Ibex (8.10), Fedora 10 is built on the Linux 2.6.27 kernel. The new kernel, which was released last month, offers better webcam support and the new Atheros ath9k wireless drivers, among other goodies. Firefox 3.0.4 also finds its way into Fedora 10's default installation.
ArsTechnica takes an in-depth tour of the distro's several new features, including the glitch-free PulseAudio (PA). In addition to support for controlling the volume of individual audio streams and movie streams between multiple devices, PA also sports some advanced capabilities, such as dynamic volume adjustment and network transparent stream redirection. But perhaps the biggest improvement to the rewritten PA is the significant reduction in the potential for dropped audio.
Other upgrades include a new version of the Network Manager utility, an overhauled RPM package, and a more tightly integrated PackageKit, which is a GUI-based package management frontend.
Left 4 What? If you're not one of the legions to be playing Valve's newest zombie shoot-em' up, fear not. Just because you aren't killing the undead with your friends doesn't mean that you can't partake in the best open-source and freeware zombie titles! Better yet, fire up some of these games while you're waiting for your big Steam download to finish. Because nothing gets one in the mood to kill zombies like, well, killing zombies.
Check out our favorite freeware zombie titles after the jump!
Open-source? Freeware? Which is it? Some people frequently interchange the terms as a generic way to say that a piece of software costs nothing to download or use. I mean, it's all free, right?
Open-source software has as much to do with freeware as an apple has to do with an orange. Both are fruits, but each offers a different enough of a texture and flavor to render it completely unique from the other. You cannot, and should not, confuse open-source software with freeware, as there can be grave consequences for such a fatal misstep. Ok, so maybe not grave. But you can get slapped with a lawsuit depending on how you're using the software, and that's certainly not fun. But we're not here to confuse you; we're here to help you. What exactly are the differences between open-source software and freeware? Find out after the jump!