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

TrueCrypt

Locker technology, and encrypting an entire hard drive has its place, full drive encryption can sometimes be like using a cannon to hunt ducks. It is sometimes just too much. While we do have to be able to support the security needs of those who work with very sensitive data (they need the RSA device, full drive encryption and maybe the retina scanner), most people would be fine with a portion of their hard drives being set aside as a secure location. TrueCrypt is perfect for this. Simply create a volume and assign a portion of your exiting free space to TrueCrypt. That portion shows up on your computer as a file, nothing significant or noteworthy. When mounted, however, it acts like a separate drive on your system. If you are truly paranoid you can also make the drive hidden. You can use TrueCrypt to turn USB devices into secure drives as well with the tool's Traveler option. This is what I like to call responsible security which is better than full-blown paranoia any day. Now, I, personally am not a paranoid person and I think sometimes those in the security industry can go too far. I once had an instructor for a Microsoft Security class that almost had me burning my computers, electronics, emptying my bank accounts and moving into a cave in the Blue Ridge Mountains. By the time he was done, I was suspicious of my 1 year old. That would be an example of what I would call irresponsible security. That's not to say I take security lightly. I just don't see the need to spend $2,500 to secure the desktop in every instance (for instance, a six-year-old machine in an office reception area running Windows 2000 with 512MB of RAM). TrueCrypt is the right amount of security for most of your enterprise needs.

Joomla!

I'm not a stuffy person. I understand the whole "free the world" thing -- you know, the down-with-the-tyranny, bohemian, hippie or mad scientist types. However, for the life of me I do not get the naming of these open source projects! While I'm not crazy about its name, I do have to say that Joomla! is a great Website design and content management tool. I was told about this tool from a colleague and I have been messing around with it for months. Now it must be said that to get Joomla! configured will take some work. It requires PHP and MySQL. In all fairness Joomla! does seem to work better with Apache than IIS. (Actually, I tried to get it to work with IIS with no success at all. I finally gave up and downloaded XAMMP, which installed all three components to my server and I was set.) Still, I'm keeping Joomla! on this open-source list for Windows because I like it so much. It makes usability simple by breaking down the management component into sections These are:

  • Article Manager
  • FrontPage Manager
  • Section Manager
  • Category Manager
  • Media Manager
  • Menu Manager
  • Language Manager
  • User Manager
You can also manage global configurations and add articles from the opening console. Joomla! also give you the ability to easily add components like banners, user pools and news feeds. You can also manage extensions for plug-ins and modules. Most of the functions come with pre-existing samples you can edit to make the Website your own. Need help with something? I have to say that Joomla! has one of the best help menus I've seen for an open source product. Overall this is a great tool to create manage and improve your corporate Websites.

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