Appendix A 


A Byte of Python 

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Free/Libré and Open Source Software (FLOSS)

FLOSS is based on the concept of a community, which itself is based on the concept of sharing, and particularly the sharing of knowledge. FLOSS are free for usage, modification and redistribution.

If you have already read this book, then you are familiar with FLOSS as well since you have been using Python all along!

If you want to know more about FLOSS, you can explore the following list. I have listed some big FLOSS as well as those FLOSS which are cross-platform (i.e. work on Linux, Windows, etc.) so that you can try using these software without the need to switch to Linux immediately although you eventually will ;-)

  • Linux.  This is a FLOSS operating system that the whole world is slowly embracing! It was started by Linus Torvalds as a student. Now, it is giving competition to Microsoft Windows. The latest 2.6 kernel is a major breakthrough w.r.t. speed, stability and scalability. [ Linux Kernel ]

  • Knoppix.  This is a distribution of Linux which runs off just the CD! There is no installation required - you can just reboot your computer, pop the CD in the drive and start using a full-featured Linux distribution! You can use all the various FLOSS that comes with a standard Linux distribution such as running Python programs, compiling C programs, watching movies, etc. Then, reboot your computer again, remove the CD and use your existing OS, as if nothing happened at all. [ Knoppix ]

  • Fedora.  This is a community-driven distribution, sponsored by Red Hat and is one of the most popular Linux distributions. It contains the Linux kernel, the KDE, GNOME and XFCE desktops, and the plethora of FLOSS available and all this in an easy-to-use and easy-to-install manner.

    If you care a complete beginner to Linux, then I would recommend that you try Mandrake Linux . The newly released Mandrake 10.1 is just awesome. [ Fedora Linux, Mandrake Linux ]

  • OpenOffice.org.  This is an excellent office suite based on Sun Microsystems' StarOffice software. OpenOffice has writer, presentation, spreadsheet and drawing components among other things. It can even open and edit MS Word and MS PowerPoint files with ease. It runs on almost all platforms. The upcoming OpenOffice 2.0 has some radical improvements. [ OpenOffice ]

  • Mozilla Firefox.  This is the next generation web browser which is predicted to beat Internet Explorer (in terms of market share only ;-) in a few years. It is blazingly fast and has gained critical acclaim for its sensible and impressive features. The extensions concept allows any kind of functionality to be added to it.

    It's companion product Thunderbird is an excellent email client that makes reading email a snap. [ Mozilla Firefox, Mozilla Thunderbird ]

  • Mono.  This is an open source implementation of the Microsoft .NET platform. It allows .NET applications to be created and run on Linux, Windows, FreeBSD, Mac OS and many other platforms as well. Mono implements the ECMA standards of the CLI and C# which Microsoft, Intel and HP have submitted for standardization and they have now become open standards. This is a step in the direction of ISO standardization for the same.

    Currently, there is a complete C# mcs (which itself is written in C#!), a feature-complete ASP.NET implementation, many ADO.NET providers for databases and many many more features that are being improved and added everyday. [ Mono, ECMA, Microsoft .NET ]

  • Apache web server.  This is the popular open source web server. In fact, it is the most popular web server on the planet! It runs nearly 60% of the websites out there. Yes, that's right - Apache handles more websites than all the competition (including Microsoft IIS) combined. [ Apache ]

  • MySQL.  This is an extremely popular open source database server. It is most famous for it's blazing speed. More features are being added to it's latest versions. [ MySQL ]

  • MPlayer.  This is a video player that can play anything from DivX to MP3 to Ogg to VCDs and DVDs to ... who says open source ain't fun? ;-) [ MPlayer ]

  • Movix.  This is a Linux distribution which is based on Knoppix and runs off the CD but is designed to play movies! You can create Movix CDs which are just bootable CDs and when you reboot the computer and pop in the CD, the movie starts playing by itself! You don't even need a hard disk to watch a movie using Movix. [ Movix ]

This list is just intended to give you a brief idea - there are many more excellent FLOSS out there, such as the Perl language, PHP language, Drupal content management system for websites, PostgreSQL database server, TORCS racing game, KDevelop IDE, Anjuta IDE, Xine - the movie player, VIM editor, Quanta+ editor, XMMS audio player, GIMP image editing program, ... this list could go on forever.

Visit the following websites for more information on FLOSS:

To get the latest buzz in the FLOSS world, check out the following websites:

So, go ahead and explore the vast, free and open world of FLOSS!