The 10 best open source apps you never heard of

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Citadel Groupware Server

citadel150.jpgSource: Citadel
Citadel Groupware Server

Friends don't let friends become enmired in the overpriced, under-featured Microsoft Exchange, even if it does include the most Byzantine licensing of all time. The Citadel groupware server is a solid, reliable, easy-to-administer groupware server that doesn't need super-powered hardware just to get out of its own way. Citadel provides email, group contacts and calendaring, instant messaging, mailing lists, a nice Web interface, document shares, and many other flexible, useful features. It runs on any Linux server, and supports clients on any platform. (GPL, Linux.)

Childsplay Educational Games

childsplay_algebra_plus150.jpgSource: GCompris
Childsplay Educational Games

The gCompris suite of teaching games is designed for children, but it is also fun and useful for adult beginners. It has activities that teach computer basics such as typing and using a mouse, brain trainers, arithmetic, math, and geometry, geography, puzzles, and many more that exercise the brain in fun, challenging ways. This is a first-class suite of activities that continues to grow and expand. (GPL, Linux, Mac, Windows.)

VLC Multi-media Player

videolan150.jpgSource: VideoLAN Organization
VLC Multi-media Player

VLC is the best cross-platform media player. It plays pretty much any audio or video file, plays movie ISO files from your hard disk, includes a format converter, and it rips and streams. In fact it makes a nice quick and easy media server. VLC has a modular design that makes it easy to extend, customize, and improve. If you want a single excellent media player, rather than hassling with QuickTime, Media Player, RealPlayer, and all that other silliness then you want VLC. (GPL, Linux, Mac, BSD, BeOS, Windows.)

Bonus round: KeePass Password Safe

keepass150.jpgSource: KeePass
KeePass Password Safe

I keep my logins in a notebook (the kind made of paper and written with a ballpoint pen). A paper notebook has several advantages: portable, doesn't need power, doesn't need a machine to read it, and easy to keep under lock and key. The KeePass Password Safe is as good as a paper notebook, with the added advantages of convenience and easy replication. You can carry KeePass on a USB stick, so it is even more portable than a paper notebook. All you need to remember is a single master password. Your logins are protected by strong encryption, and are kept in a single database so you can easily copy it as you need to. KeePass supports many import and export file formats, you can print hard copies of your passwords, and it includes a strong random password generator. (GPL, Linux, Mac, BSD, Windows.)

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