In my recent post The importance of donating to open source projects (and a giveaway), I called for donations to one of my favorite open source projects, Bohdi Linux. I also ran a poll to see where members stand as far as donating to open source is concerned (Figure A). After I wrote that post, I realized there were many other outstanding open source projects that deserved a bit of attention. So I thought I would take a moment to list 10 projects I feel could use a little help. These projects range in target audience and scope — I wanted to cover as much ground as possible. Certainly, some of the projects listed are more in need than others, but each of them could use a bit of financial support.
iTalc is one of the two educational projects in this list. We all know education should be considered one of the single most important targets for donations, attention, and general aid. This particular project is a powerful didactic tool that enables teachers to instruct, control, and test students and their PCs. It allows the instructor to view and control a student's desktop over the network, take screenshots, and much more. Of course, as you might expect, nearly any open source educational software could use financial support (unless they're funded by a university).
Once you see Claroline in action, you'll be surprised you hadn't known about it before. This Web-based application can make online education and online class management a breeze for both educators and students. Claroline lets you manage documents and files, courses, students, and groups. You can also create online exercises, track results, import SCORM content, offer chats and forums, allow collaboration, and much more.
As far as Linux desktops are concerned, you won't find one with a better ratio between speed and eye candy than Enlightenment. Although it doesn't follow the standard metaphor, it still does a great job of making the desktop user friendly. This project has been going on for quite some time and has evolved nicely. I have so much faith in the Enlightenment desktop, I can't understand why it hasn't been more widely adopted. Getting more exposure is the key for E17 — and for that, donations could go a long way.
4: GNU Health
There are a couple of open source tools for hospitals, but GNU Health is one of the finest. With this application, hospitals get a strong focus in both family and primary health care, as well as on socioeconomics (housing conditions, substance abuse, etc.), prescriptions, billing, and patient genetic and hereditary risks. GNU Health offers an outstanding patient records section, along with imaging, appointments, and much, much more.
5: Lemon POS
One of the weakest aspects of open source is in the area of finances. Fortunately, two applications can help the small business manage its money. One of those applications is Lemon POS. Although not the easiest application to install, once it's up and running, Lemon POS will serve your small business well. Its only downfall is that it has yet to integrate with an application to keep track of assets and finances (see below).
If Lemon POS could be integrated into GnuCash, the open source community would have a serious one-two punch for small to midsize businesses. But even as a stand-alone application, GnuCash offers those same businesses some serious financial management power. GnuCash is a strong contender for double-entry accounting. It offers serious reporting power as well as multiple accounts and account types. GnuCash is cross-platform and constantly growing and evolving.
I can't think of a better piece of multimedia software to focus on here. Not only does Audacity do an outstanding job of recording and editing sound files, it does so with the flexibility and reliability of programs that are often far out of the budgetary reach of the average consumer. I use this tool every week to record my Zombie Radio podcast, and I can't imagine being able to make such professional quality recordings without this amazing open source tool. Audacity is cross-platform (Windows, Linux, Mac, and more) and can record live audio, edit audio, import, export, add effects, and more.
If you're looking for a cloning tool, look no further than Clonezilla. This tool allows for bare-metal backup and recovery. Similar to both Norton Ghost and Symantec Ghost Corporate Edition, Clonezilla offers the best features of those for free. This is a cost-effective, bare-metal recovery solution.
I've used plenty of Web-based email before. But few of those tools match SquirrelMail for ease of setup, use, and reliability. Although not an Exchange OWA killer, SquirrelMail is a perfect solution for the SMB or educational institute that needs Web-based email without all the bells and whistles.
10: Meeting Room Booking System
If you need a scheduling system but don't want to spend money on an industry-specific system, Meeting Room Booking System might well be the ticket. This tool has a small cadre of developers who do a great job of keeping the project chugging along. With a bit more funding, this tool could become larger and find a wider user base. I would love to see this application find its niche and grow beyond it.
Thriving and advancing
Each of the projects listed here could use your help. At any given time, you hear of good open source projects closing up due to a lack of funding. I would hate to see any of the above projects have to say goodbye to this cruel world. With your help, these products will live a long and healthy open source life.
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.