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Best Open Source 2016

We’re celebrating the best in the open source world this issue, by picking our top 100 tools of the open source crop. The one proviso being this is an impossible job, with tens of thousands of projects, tools, services, applications and more in constant development, singling out a meagre 100 as the best seems somewhat presumptive.

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Desktop revolution

In this issue – cue music – Linux users are doing it for themselves. We’re not happy with how our desktops are being built, so we’re going to make one ourselves. It seems a long-standing open source tradition that if you don’t like what you’re given, you can just fork it and do the job yourself. While we’re not going to develop a desktop environment from scratch, we are going to take out our digital digger and look at building our ideal desktop ourselves.

Linux Inside

Quad-copters! Let’s distract management with the shiny thing, so us grown-ups can sit down and talk about embedded Linux. In this issue there’s not only an entire cover feature on the subject, but also a host of tutorials on the idea of running Linux in embedded systems for speed, fun and entertainment.

Information wars

We live in the information age – yes, I just used a silly bit of hyperbole – but with many of us now living with so much of our live stored online the threat of information loss through theft or vandalism grows greater each year.

Escape Windows 10

It’s that perennial question: how do you get your friends, family and companies to switch from Windows to Linux? The best way is usually to wait for Microsoft to launch a new improved edition of its operating system – like Windows 10 – that causes so much disruption and issues that people are dying to escape Windows.

Hack your home!

Smart homes, smart TVs, smart watches, smart phones, smart fridges: is there anything that isn’t smart these days? Smart humans, might be a useful start. The startling thing is that behind that huge list of smart things is Linux (and perhaps a bit of BSD). The open source nature of Linux; its lightweight footprint and robust security (though nothing is foolproof) makes it perfect for use in tiny, deployable, internet-connected smart things.

A happy home

An entertained home is a happy home, with the digital dream a real one, most homes have turned into a digital entertainment heaven. My home’s daily routine often revolves around keeping the tiny humans entertained streaming music, video and photos from a home Linux server (plus online services) around the home to a variety of devices. From the traditional TV with a Raspberry Pi media centre to Android tablets and Chromebooks, or through the Pi-powered projector for cinema-style fun.

Open Source Learning

You get an education! You get an education! You get an education! It’s not something Oprah Winfrey would give away, as I guess to some a free car would seem more valuable, but how much is an education worth? I’d suggest on a purely practical level a huge amount, and we all know it’s something that’s truly invaluable. It’s one part of FOSS that we almost take for granted, but by providing the tools and documentation it’s assumed that people can and do educate themselves in everything they need to know.

Next-gen Linux

Next-gen GNU/Linux, what does that even mean? The FOSS world is so unlike the proprietary world. In that closed universe, new releases are considered so important that secrecy becomes paramount. So the next-gen release of Windows becomes so crucial. With FOSS and Linux development everything is laid bare. Sensible folk stick with the stable release but the brave-hearted can jump into an unstable, development branch and compile where angels fear to tread.



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