1. Computing

8 Easy Ways to Find Open Source Software

By

Silver Directional Arrows
Image © Rore D

Wanting to use, participate in, and contribute to free and open source software is great, but what happens when you don't know where to find it? These websites have everything you need to find the perfect open source project.

End-User Friendly

Just like proprietary software, open source software is written for many different audiences and uses. These three resources have a little something for everyone.

  • SourceForge: Broken down into categories like "Audio & Video," "Home & Education," and "Security & Engineering," SourceForge is one of the oldest and most complete free and open source software lists. It's also a great place to get started.

  • Open Source Software Directory: Boasting more than 1,000 applications, this directory divides software up by its intended audience rather than by the job it does. That can make browsing projects easier when you don't have anything specific that you're looking for.

  • Open Source Alternative: OSAlt.com's tagline reads, "open source as alternative," and that's exactly what makes this website unique. Search for proprietary software that you use, and OSAlt.com will tell you the equivalent open source project.

Fun and Games

Computers are for work, problem solving, and other serious things ... except when they're not. If you're looking for some lighthearted entertainment, these directories have the open source games, puzzles, and fun that you need.

  • Open Source Arcade: The more technically-minded will appreciate the ability to search games by development platform while everybody will appreciate the sheer number of entries listed here. But, don't be intimidated by having to search by programming language. Spend a little time with this site, and these games will have you bouncing, bowling, and blasting your troubles away in no time.

  • LinuxGames: While not specifically a download directory like the other resources on this list, sometimes you need to know what's out there to know what you want. This website will point you to the hottest new games and make sure you know what's going on in the Linux gaming world.

Developer Central

Although these three websites aren't aimed solely at software developers, they tend to lean that way. From programming language libraries to tools for programmers, these projects are a great place to look if you're interested in contributing code to a free and open source software project.

  • GitHub: Part software repository, part social network for open source developers, this website uses the popular version control system, Git, to make global sharing of and collaborating on free and open source projects easier than ever before.

  • The Free Software Directory: Compiled by the Free Software Foundation (FSF) itself, over 6,500 entries make up this extensive directory. Licenses are the focus here. Rest assured that everything you find on this directory grants you every liberty you'd expect from free software.

  • Freecode: Need a thread caching library or a way to manage zfs filesystem replication? Freecode is your place. Organized by date, popularity, and tag, this website calls itself the "Web's largest index of Linux, Unix and cross-platform software, and mobile applications."

With so many free and open source applications and places to get them, you should have no problem finding the perfect project to get involved in or use. And just remember, there are many ways to contribute back to an open source project without being a software developer, so don't be afraid to jump right in when you find something you really like.

  1. About.com
  2. Computing
  3. Open Source
  4. Getting Started
  5. Open Sourcing Your Life
  6. 8 Easy Ways to Find Open Source Software

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.