I’m a big fan of sites about open source. Especially those that categorize, index, and report information about them. I’ve probably spent more time marketing my pet Open Source project PlaneDisaster.NET on these sites then writing code for it. So I’ve compiled this list of sites I use.
The true power of open source is allowing anyone to contribute your project. In order to have a successful open source projects, you need to build a community where users and contributors can collaborate. This means a source code repository, forums, bug tracking, a wiki, project webspace, and of course a system of mirrors to download project releases. One place that allows you to do all that for free is SourceForge. In recent years new players have entered the market including Microsoft CodePlex and Google Code. However, SourceForge is still the most popular.
While Sourceforge will host anyones project, few released are handpicked to appear on their frontpage. The site that fills that void is FreshMeat. If you release a new version of your software, you can notify FreshMeat, and the announcement will appear on the SourceForge home page. Unfortunately for myself, it does not accept windows only software. They are a site that lists unix software, not open source software. This means that they will list closed source souftware, but not windows only open source software. Despite this policy, they will list open source operating systems, and you can specify that your software will work on windows if it also happens to have a version that works on some unix variant. Finally there is a special category for OSX software.
Ohloh is a unique site. It is a combination of social networking and open source software metrics. If you write open source software you can list it on the site, and have it scan your version control repository. It will report metrics about your software. It will also generate metrics about the lines of code you write across all open source projects on the site. You can also list software you use, and give other users on the site “kudos” if you enjoy their work. Finally, all these metrics are used to sort every user on the site by a single ranking system. The exact formula is a secret like those used to calculate credit scores.
A simple code search engine. I can honestly say I have yet to find source code with the site that I’ve used. However, I think the idea has potential. While there are better forms of code reuse such as static and shared libraries, sometimes you need a small snippet of code.
osalt Open Source as Alternative (http://www.osalt.com/)
This is a strange site. The way the site is supposed to work is that you select a piece of commercial software listed on the site and it lists equivalent open source software. While they have a form on the site for suggesting software there site, the content is highly editorialized. The content on most other sites on this list is more directly user generated. I think a more open format would lead to a site with more information. However, until a more open competing site opens up, this is best in breed by virtual of being the only one of its breed.
These are my favorite sites. Feel free to list yours in the comments. If I get enough feedback I will post a follow up article.