20 great Windows open source projects you should get to know

A list of 20 great open source projects for Windows that will appeal to the management and maintenance of your network

Paglo

Paglo is an IT search engine designed to help you manage assets and software, monitor your network (even remotely), and receive alerts. The tool's developers even market themselves as the "Google of IT search engines." The ability to manipulate the data collected into reports, charts, and dashboards makes this a powerful inventory management tool. Paglo works by downloading and installing the Paglo Crawler to discover and report on assets. This information is then uploaded to a secure server and indexed to your own private portal. The powerful search engine ties it all together. For some the online aspect of this tool might leave you feeling leery -- think of your Hotmail account or online banking or even companies like Salesforce.com. But it's the 21st. century and we have just as much worry over the disgruntled mail room person who has access to lots of personal information as we do with our data in the cloud. Paglo is in beta right now and is accepting invitations to join it. If you can conquer any fears you might have of both open source and an external, cloud-based hosting service, this is a good tool that can make your Windows world better. You can see an online demo here.

Liferay

Liferay is an enterprise portal that offers a full array of features and flexibility. Wish I learned about Liferay earlier. My last company went and dropped over $500K between document management, intranets and corporate instant messaging and collaboration software. As I tested the interface and features, I was surprised. I learned we could have done 75 per cent of all the things we wanted by spending little to no money. What we saved on commercial software packages could have been spent on servers and more storage that could have been shared by our IT projects as well. What makes Liferay even cooler is the customized "portlets" that each user can add. You can add weather, financial tools, news and RSS feeds. You can collaborate via internal blogs, wiki's, and message boards. Document Management has check-in, checkout, and versioning. Being open sourced you can under the licensing rights customize Liferay for your companies needs.

GroundWork Monitor

GroundWork Monitor is a bit of a different offering than most open source projects. This company is actually a commercial software vendor that sells GroundWork network monitoring software. However, they offer a community version of their product that covers most of the monitoring functions you need for your network. Like most open source support, support is handled through forums. GroundWork has auto discovery options for server devices and applications. The entire thing is downloadable for your Windows environment in a VMware virtual machine however this VM must run on a Linux flavor. You're starting to see the connection here, right? If you want something free for Windows often you need to get it from a Linux source. Ironic isn't it? If this makes your skin crawl too much, there are alternatives: GroundWork's Pro or Enterprise commercial versions or Hyena.

Cobian Backup

Version 8 of this software, code-named Black Moon, was released as an open source project. If you are not using a commercial backup software you probably are using the Microsoft's built-in backup software. Nevertheless, Cobian Backup is worth looking into. I tested it out by backing up my Document folder in Windows Vista. The system took just 12 minutes to backup 16.5GB's of data and compressed it down to 9.25GB's. What's more, I was able to create a copy with no compression and no archiving. True, this isn't the kind of backup needed most of the time. However, when we do need to store data in another location, the ability to copy files to a secondary location and be able to retrieve them instantly without running a restore process is invaluable. Cobian Backup can also work as a fully encrypted and compressed backup solution and so it can be used to routinely schedule backups, both the compressed/encrypted or not. Mix and match, its up to you. Cobian Backup comes with the ability to choose your compression and encryption methodology as well, which is a major advantage over the built in Windows backup utility. It is a good way to get more than the basic backup software without emptying your budget.

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