OSI
TheOpenCD

The OpenCD project aims to introduce users of MS-Windows to the benefits of Free and Open Source Software (FOSS). We include only the highest quality programs, which have been carefully tested for stability and which we consider appropriate for a broad audience. We provide a description and screen-shots of each program, so you can get an idea of what it does before installing. All these applications install and un-install cleanly, so you can be comfortable testing them with the knowledge that they will not adversely affect your system. The programs on the disc are all distributed under an Open Source License (OSI approved), which allows you to freely use and distribute them. You may even change the programs using the source code, which we make available, and distribute your own modified versions, provided you then in turn make the source code available, and give appropriate credit to past contributors.

Open Source Software

Open Source Software (OSS) is provided with a license that gives the end user the right to use it freely for private or commercial use. You also have the right to inspect and even modify the underlying source code. You can give away or sell the original version you received or one with your modification, provided that you then in turn pass on the modified source code so that others can benefit from the changes you have made. This last clause protects the developer's work from unfair exploitation by others, while allowing the source code to be released to the community. You are not required to pay royalties to previous developers, but you are still permitted to charge money for the sale of OSS. This disc may have been given to you by a friend; or sold to you for a small fee, and both are permitted.

If you have no interest in source code, you may ask why the availability of this matters. One answer is that the release of source allows external observers to inspect the true functioning of the program, which means that you can be confident that the program treats your private data with respect. A real problem with proprietary software can be that your data is locked in to a software's proprietary file format, which means that you may eventually be forced to upgrade to newer versions of that software to retain access to your data. This does not happen with OSS, because when the source code for opening and saving files is available, a third party can easily write an import filter for the next generation of software, ensuring that your data will always be available. Finally, the release of source code has in some cases spawned large communities of volunteer developers who have in turn provided the world with highly useful, and entirely free software such as Linux, OpenOffice, and Mozilla. These are then available free of charge to schools or anyone else who may not have a large budget available for software. So, you can see that the freedom of software is important for everyone, not just software developers.

The OpenCD Project

There is a staggering number of OSS projects out there. A typical source (Freshmeat) lists over 30.000 projects. There are also a vast number of Shareware and Freeware programs available that you can freely download from the net. However these do not qualify as OSS, because you do not have the right to modify the underlying source code. Usually you are not even able to inspect the source code, and often restrictions are placed your use of the program, such as non-commercial use only.

Enter TheOpenCD project. We have made a small collection of only the highest quality OSS for Windows, easily available on a CD. When you insert the disc into your computer it automatically launches a browser which will guide you through the contents of the disc, presenting the various programs, and allow you to easily install them. The programs are carefully selected to ensure stability, ease of use and a clean install and un-install from your computer. This CD is intended as a first introduction to the world of OSS, but it is our hope that you will later go on to explore other projects, and at some stage you may even want to try a whole new operating system such as Linux. In the Further Resource section of this disc we provide a list of other major OSS projects with links to their web pages. There is also a selection of essays about Open Source which should give you some more insight into the history and philosophy of OSS.

The OpenCD Team

So, who are the people who have put together this CD and why? As with most open source projects, this one is run purely by a small group of enthusiasts in their free time. Participating in such projects can be personally rewarding and provides a useful public service. The core team of TheOpenCD at present is (in alphabetical order):

Phil Harper - Responsible for re-programming and graphics in versions 1.2 and 1.4 of the CD browser. Current maintainer of the project web pages and forum.

Will Martin - Assembled the first edition of the CD, including programming the CD browser, which was the basis for the current version. Set up the project web pages and forum. Local grammar maven. Contributor to the forthcoming version of the CD browser, based on K-Meleon.

Brett McNamara - Primary C/C++ developer. Responsible for Bil (now shelved), Launch (vital to future versions), and XML/XSL work for future versions of the CD browser.

Henrik Nilsen Omma - Launched the idea for an OSS disc for windows with two NewsForge articles in April 2002, and has continued to play a central role in the project since. Wrote a majority of the text for the CD browser and worked on layout and quality control.


Other Contributors:

Chris Brentano - Made the clean and simple text logo for TheOpenCD.

Eric Penne - Forum Moderator. Set up a site which provided pre-made CDs for a small fee for those not able to download and burn them.

Imran Ghory - The original maintainer of our extensive OSS software list.  Birmingham, UK.

Over 100 others - Have contributed with artwork and program testing.

We would also like to thank the nice people at sunsite.dk for providing us with free web-hosting and for acting as primary mirror for our CD image.