» » Five fantastic open source tools for Windows

By: Hugo Luis Alberto Repetto Posted date: December 18, 2009 Comments: 0

The union of open source software into the Windows market is becoming ever more commonplace.

So I've compiled another, albeit short list, of some of my latest favorites.

All of these are great products for the IT pro that rival their commercial counterparts and come with that loveable, open-source price.

Zenoss Core

IT pros need to monitor their networks and applications but it can be a costly endeavor. There are lots of alternatives to the commercial packages on the market and I blog about them frequently. Even still, Zenoss Core is a project that not only caught my attention but seems to be one of the darlings of the entire open source software (OSS) community. Sourceforge.net gives it a sixth place overall ranking and with good reason. Zenoss Core is an easy to manage, easy to read monitoring tool with lots of features. I downloaded the VMware file, powered it on and was ready to go in no time. The dashboard style was easy to learn and the core product handles most of what you need to monitor. But wait, there's more! You can download ZenPacks from the community Web site to extend the features and functionality of Zenoss Core. Download Zenoss Core from the Web site.


Multiple monitors are great for extending the "real estate" you have to work with on your desktop. Sometimes you need to go beyond having more space. Sometimes you need to separate your workspaces according to functionality. If you have ever been the project manager, help desk, network administrator, Exchange admin, etc., VirtuaWin is the perfect tool to help you out. Rather than have many different windows on a single desktop, VirtuaWin allows you to create many virtual desktops that can be customized and set up according to functionality. I like knowing I am working in defined workspaces. VirtuaWin also offers numerous modules and is highly customizable. If you wear many hats or if you just need to get your desktop more organized, VirtuaWin is great solution for you. Download the program here and check out the modules as well.


Legacy software, testing and incompatible file formats are all scenarios where you need to keep another system around. While virtualization has made it simple to toss out that old Windows NT 4 machine and run the application without the extra hardware, Bpchs offers another alternative. Bochs uses emulation to create systems that are not only portable but capable of running any OS within any OS. Run Linux on a Windows Vista machine and then move that image to Mac OSX without needing to do anything to the image file itself. The latest infusion of cross platform computing has made file compatibility a bit easier to deal with, however many applications still need file conversion utilities to work. And many times these are only one-way conversions. That means transferring the data back to the original format and that can be difficult if not impossible. With Bochs you could simply load the file into its native file format and work on it without needing to convert something in order to make the file reusable. Bochs is lightweight and easy to configure and run. The images pull little in the way of resources on the host machines. I also enjoyed the idea of keeping a bunch of emulated legacy systems around. Who knows, perhaps I can break out some of my old DOS and Windows 95 games again? It could be fun to run them on my Vista machine. You can download Bochs and several image files from the Web site


Backup and disaster recovery are essential in every IT environment but can only take care of the files that are backed up. Most times, users' systems are not part of the backup/DR plan, so what action can you take? Undelete and recovery tools are nothing new and there are many solutions. I have even blogged about a few commercial packages in the past (Nothing is lost forever and Nothing is lost forever part II).

Recuva is an open source iteration of recovery software. What I enjoyed about this software package is that it did everything the commercial packages did, had an easy-to-use GUI interface and it cost nothing. To me that makes Recuva a no-brainer. To management, it will make you a resourceful team player. To the executive who loses that critical file (the picture of his kids), it will make you a hero. You can download Recuva here. And while you are at it, with the money you save, donate something to support this project and keep it around.


Remembering passwords of your user account, admin account, Exchange admin account, personal computers, online banking, LinkedIn profile, job sites, and any other can be tedious and painful. I don't know about anyone else but as an IT professional I have enough things on my plate already. PINs is a secure password manager that not only makes it easier to keep track of them all, it reminds you when passwords have expired, creates password for you and can even paste the username and password into the app for you – in over 25 languages. PINs uses 448-bit encryption to secure your data. The setup is very easy as well. Now that you know about PINs, isn't it time for you to generate a new password for some of those important online accounts (Gmail?) that haven't been changed in months? Download PINs here.

source: Networkworld

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