Open Source Products I Use for Fun and Profit

I’ve devoted several years of my career to creating sustainable businesses around open source technology.

I’m not an open source zealot by any means. Rather, I’m an optimistic capitalist that believes there is money to be made from transforming the way enterprise software is conceived, developed, marketed, deployed, supported and enhanced. I have deep personal connections to the large and growing set of stakeholders that see value in the transparency, innovation, longevity and support systems emerging around open source solutions. Understanding that proprietary software vendors can’t match these advantages, I see an opportunity to transform the economics of enterprise software, create happy customers and make a buck for myself and others.

Open source is a great idea, but the fabulous products distributed via open source licenses are the real heroes. Below is a list of open source software that I actively use and directly support.

Product Description
7-zip I use this Open source Windows utility for manipulating archives everyday. Does what it says on the tin.
Filezilla Multi-platform ftp client that I use virtually every day.
Audacity An excellent Windows application for recording and editing sounds. I use it to edit podcasts.
LAME The best MP3 encoder I’ve found is free, compatible with every audio application I’ve used and improves with each new release.
Crimson Editor Small, fast, usable and feature rich text editor. While this product is no longer in active development, I continue to be a fan.
Java I’m not a programmer, but the number of Java-based applications I use is a testament to Sun’s powerful technology. Kudos to Sun for releasing Java with an open source license as a way to maximize profits from their investment.
XAMPP XAMPP saves me countless hours by providing a simply to install and administer web development environment that includes (among other things) Apache HTTP Server, multiple versions of PHP, MySQL and more.
Apache HTTP Server The first open source product I used way back in 1995 and the application that ushered open source software into enterprise data centers.
MySQL The world’s most popular open source database may not be the most feature rich, but it has more than enough power for my phpBB forum and WordPress blog. Easy to administer, small footprint, reliable.
PHP The server side scripting language and core component of XAMPP powers many of my recently deployed Web sites and Web applications. Zend Technologies employs the original developers and remains the catalyst for the language.
WordPress The power of community organization from the team at Automattic elevated Matt Mullenweg’s interesting code into a beacon of web usability and the promise of a plug-in architecture.
phpBB Easy to deploy and administer, phpBB defined the open source forum software category. It how has more competition than ever but continues to innovate.
Gallery My latest open source find, I use gallery to manage Internet photo albums. Perhaps a tad behind flickr and other photo sharing sites, but it gives me more control over privacy and intellectual property.
SquirrelMail I use and like SquirrelMail because its reliable and lightweight. Sadly its not a leader in innovation.
Postfix Even with sendmail available as open source and bundled in virtually every Linux distro, Postfix has become my favorite mail transfer agent thanks to rock solid reliability and ease of administration.

As part of the open source tradition of contributing back to the communities that make effective products, I’m sharing my endorsement along with links to the drivers of these products and communities. I wish all of the commercial interests, developers and customers driving these products a long and prosperous run.

Leave a comment with details about other great open source products.