FFOSS (Freeware/Free & Open Source Software) Friday

by Todd Ogasawara

I've long been interested in Open Source applications for proprietary Operating Systems like Microsoft Windows and, more recently, Mac OS X. I've only been a Mac user for less than 2 years. But, I've been learning a lot by collecting F/FOSS (and free web based services) information on my personal blog as a learning tool. I thought some MacDevCenter readers might find some of the Mac F/FOSS findings interesting too. So, I'll be posting summaries from my blog here whenever I have an interesting list to contribute. And, if you know of interesting/useful F/FOSS for Mac OS X, please let me know!

We used to hand code HTML for web pages in the old days. Tools like Frontpage, Dreamweaver, and even good old Windows' Notepad were commonly used by web developers in those dark days. These days most of us use some kind of Content Mangement System (CMS) or outsource it to a blogging or web management site (often for free). But, every now and then a WYSIWIG HTML editor comes in handy. For me, that now and then event is usually creating some kind of product information table for a product review (such as the ones I sometimes write for the O'Reilly Network. The...

AppleJack Mac Troubleshooter
I haven't found myself in the position to need this yet. But, the Open Source AppleJack...

AppleJack Project Page

...sounds like something I should learn more about... just in case. It drops you into Mac OS X's Single User Mode text interface (very familiar to UNIX related OS users) where you can access critical parts of the system to fix hard drive , permissions, caches, and swap file problems.

jEdit Programmer's Editor
Unlike many programmers who use a single text editor for nearly all tasks, I tend to use a couple of different ones: vi (vim) or nedit for quick edits on UNIX/Linux systems, notepad++ for quick edits on Windows systems, and TextEdit for quick edits on Mac boxes. However, if I know I will be working on something for an extended period, I often choose to use...

jEdit Programmer's Text Editor

jEdit is a Java-based application with a rich feature set and a larger body of communinty contributed add-on plugin modules. This multi-platform Open Source editor runs on everything I use: Microsoft Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X. This means that I don't have to adjust much in the way of muscle-memory-typing to get things done regardless of what platform I'm using at the time.

CyberDuck 2.7 (Mac OS X)
The Mac OS X Open Source ftp/sftp client CyberDuck 2.7 was just updated. If you're looking for a GUI ftp client to use on the Mac (or even old UNIX hacks like me who still mostly use ftp and scp from the terminal command line), you might want to take a look at the rich feature set in this Open Source app. In addition to ftp/sftp file transfers, it supports using an external editor for remote file editing and provides a Dashboard widget.

The R Project for Statistical Computing
The R Project for Statistical Computing is an Open Source application with binary installation routines for Linux, Mac OS X, and Windows. It is much much more than a simple statistical package. R provides an interpreted statistical programming language that looks a lot like S. The resemblance is so strong that I can use my old S language reference books to work with R.

R provides a graphing facility that goes far beyond what you might have used in spreadsheets like Excel.

R version 2.4.0 was just released last month (October 3).

stikkit: Web Yellow Sticky Notes
stikkit describes their currently free beta-release web product as the digital equivalent of a sticky note: the easiest thing you can grab to jot down an idea or reminder. As you type, Stikkit watches for appointments, to-dos, people, bookmarks and more, magically extracting and organizing the important details.

I just started playing with it today. And, it does seem like something worth returning for some further testing. One of its interesting features is the ability to share a sticky note with other people.

CoreDuoTemp is a freeware utility for Intel Macs that gives you information about the Mac's internal temperature and CPU speed.

If you moved from an iBook G4 (which runs very cool) to a 2GHz MacBook (which tends to run hot) like me, you probably had this utility running a lot during this past summer.


2006-12-08 07:28:03
There are a few nice open-source options I've played with, although I tend not to run that many 3rd party apps of any sort. I think my favorite OSS app on OS X is the audio ripping/encoding program Max. That's nice, because it supports LAME and FLAC, and just about any format one might wish to use.

But I've no particular preference for OSS apps as such - for example, I prefer TextMate to Smultron, and don't mind too much that I can't see TextMate's source code, as I'm not going to modify it to suit me in any case.

Todd Ogasawara
2006-12-08 08:19:25
Mike: Thanks for the feedback as I have Smultron and TextWrangler on my list of FFOSS apps to look at. Please note that my interest is not limited to just FOSS (Free Open Source Software). I'm also interested in Freeware (the first F in FFOSS) which is free software with unrestricted use but no source code available like TextWrangler and CoreDuoTemp.
2006-12-08 08:40:31
I like to think I am a "Freeware Evangelist" too with Mac Apps, but I pay all the shareware apps I use. When you see a great app, it's worth to pay or donate to the project. I remember donating to Mike Bombich for his excellent CCC and NR. They the only apps to clone and image computer labs back in the day, Apple had nothing. And today I bought SubEthaEdit, cuz the collaboration feature is the bomb, but nano is still a great editor and so is Smultron and TextWrangler. Fugu is an amazing free SCP/SFTP app, but Transmit also merits having and buying. Handbrake does its thing, but Delicious Library is a great cataloguer. So many awesome free apps for Mac, I love it. And so many amazing pay-apps too. Best of both worlds.
2006-12-08 08:49:40

2 FOSS heavens

2006-12-08 09:19:26
I want to add my recommendation: I love AppleJack!
It's great for cleaning up and fixing up problems on my Mac. As a developer, my machine tends to break more often than a lot of people's (even though that's still not very often). I love that I can restart, go into single-user mode, and run applejack on automatic. It cleans up everything, and I'm golden.
It's wonderful for all you people who have to "support" friends and family. It's easy to instruct someone how to run applejack, and since it's automatic, you can let it run and have them call you back when it's done.
I've rarely needed to use it, but when I have used it, it's worked great!
2006-12-08 10:56:00
I forgot to add that I too love applejack, and I am thrilled that the developper released an intel version. (my intel iMac needs it alot!). I use applejack at work, as well, it's a lifesaver. it has built in memtest now too. sa-weet.
2006-12-08 10:57:32
Don't forget about Mac Ports and Fink too!!!
2006-12-08 11:31:00
I recently found "MacLibre" it checks, installs and or updates many opensource apps. Looks great for keeping current or a fresh install. Defintely looks worth checking out.
2006-12-09 03:15:57
What about Adium?
2006-12-09 08:28:20
It may be a little too specialized for the room, but I use the open-source 3D modeling package Blender a lot (blender.org) -- sometimes even for actual work. I can't compare its feature set to something like 3ds Max or Maya (nor do I have the multi-K it would cost to find out), but it does a lot and has a rich online community (for instance, browse through blenderartists.org/forum).
Todd Ogasawara
2006-12-10 00:09:28
Matt, mattx, anon, painudp: Thanks for the suggestions. I'm adding them to my list of Mac OS X FFOSS to look at as possible blog entries...todd
Todd Ogasawara
2006-12-10 00:13:26
Bemopolis: I'm always happy to learn about F/FOSS apps for Mac OS X. I thought I had Blender on my list of apps to look at but didn't. So, thanks for mentioning it!...todd
jeremiah foster
2006-12-11 03:22:01
Hey Todd!

May I recommend emacs. Emacs is a meta-IDE or super-editor. I use it for coding and lots of other stuff as well, it is a kitchen-sink type of application. Warning: it will prompt religious discussions with other fervid believers, but mostly those of the Vi religion. :)

Also, The GIMP and Inkscape. What amazing applications. They easily replace photoshop and Illustrator on my machines.

Todd Ogasawara
2006-12-11 08:35:31
Jeremiah! I can't believe I didn't even have EMACS and The Gimp in my list (81 yet-to-be-blogged Free, FOSS, or free web site services) yet! I have Inkscape in the list but haven't mentioned it yet. Thanks for the reminder!