Tired of the strangle-hold Microsoft has on the software world? There is a viable alternative that people are turning to: open source software. What do open source applications look like? Download this CD-ROM and install some of the applications on your Windows computer to see. The idea behind the CD-ROM is that all the applications are open source, and they also exist to run on Linux computers. Linux is a ubiquitous operating system that can be found in everything from home electronics to personal computers to some of the world's largest and most powerful computers. Much of the Internet runs on Linux servers. I believe that sooner or later, Linux and open source applications will gain a firmer foothold in North America, leading to a multi-billion dollar industry. All the major hardware players offer Linux and open source software, and we're talking about big, established companies like IBM, Novell, Sun, and HP.
Richard Houston has created a CD-ROM of open source software for Windows you can download for free. What's the purpose of offering up the CD? Ultimately, it's to educate people about the phenomenon of open source software as an alternative to "closed source" software. That is, software that you can't download to improve the code yourself. E-mail Rich with your feedback.
According to Wikipedia, "Open source software refers to computer software available with its source code and under an open source license to study, change, and improve its design." I personally love the concept of companies being able to improve upon the software if they want to, and then sharing their improvements for the rest of the community to benefit. Most open source applications are free but that isn't always the case with everything. Red Hat is possibly the best known Linux company around, and they offer up products that you must pay for with subscriptions for upgrades and support: Red Hat Enterprise Edition, versions AS, ES, WS, and Red Hat Desktop. In Red Hat's FAQ, they discuss the ability to download the source code for their Enterprise Editions, which are licensed under the GNU General Public License (GPL).
In fact you can download the source code from our FTP servers at any time. However, Red Hat does not provide free access to the binaries of Red Hat Enterprise Linux, and these, combined with an annual subscription to Red Hat Network, access to upgrades, and a selected support service, are the components that comprise an Enterprise Linux subscription.
What follows is based on information found at Rich's blog, "Rich on Linux, OSS and other stuff." These applications can be freely downloaded and generally run on Windows or Linux, but the CD-ROM being offered for download contains software that runs on Windows.