Apache web server
The Apache web server is a fascinating and actually new-traditional example of 'net-based open collaboration on a free, open Internet application. One could argue that Apache is the most important Internet server application to date. Apache now powers about 60% of the world's web sites. It's a development of the groundbreaking NCSA web server, which was also free and open. (This openness enabled growth and further development.)

As a measure of power and success of free, open systems, Apache is the now world's most popular web server by a large margin. Apache's share of server installations continues to accelerate away from Microsoft and Netscape, and Apache comes bundled with BSD and Linux.

Mozilla web/mail/news client
The open source Mozilla web browser, mail and news client are rapidly becoming a favorite throughout the Internet for reliability, strong features, and streamlined functionality.

Open Source and totally free shopping cart software currently powering more than 1000 stores worldwide. Runs under BSD, Linux, Solaris, Windows. Uses PHP, Apache, and MySQL. Installs with rapid store setup out-of-the-box. Good developer community.

LibreOffice is a free office suite for spreadsheets, word processing, presentations, etc. It's just as functional as Microsoft Office for every day use. Unfortunately Oracle handled LibreOffice's open source parent OpenOffice (which it inhereted from its acquisition of Sun Microsystems) poorly, so most of the developers forked off a much better maintained version as LibreOffice. LibreOffice is widely used under Windows, Linux, BSD, etc.

Oracle and Informix
Oracle and Informix have announced ports of their (closed) commerical database engines to the free, open Linux platform. Oracle also pledges that its' first-tier Finance, Manufacturing, and ERP applications will have Linux support. Now if only we could get them to release FreeBSD versions.

PostgreSQL is a free object-relational database developed at U.C. Berkeley. Some of the concepts of Postgres have recently been incorporated into commercial relational database systems.

Free, Open Source 2-Dimensional CAD package for UNIX. Trialware for Windows.

Open Source 3D Modeling kernel "used to create all types of domain specific 3D graphic applications, including CAD, CAE, CAM, AEC, GIS, reverse engineering, metrology, optical simulation, topology, etc." Reads and writes standard IGES and STEP data formats for exhange with commercial softwre environments. Runs under Linux, Solaris, Windows NT, others by subscription.
"A resource dedicated to providing timely information about the BSD operating systems with commentary and reviews of software and hardware."
The key point about applications is that as platforms become generalized (with Java as an example), applications also become generalized. Open network applications are not tied to fixed hardware platforms but utilize and provide network resources in a platform-transparent way. The network and solutions that run on it give us freedom from closed platforms.

Key Internet Service Are Open and Free

While mainstream business today tends to focus on commercial (paid) applications, much of the Internet is built on freeware. PERL, Apache, sendmail, DNS/BIND and other key Internet services have long been developed by volunteeers and distributed for free. This is part of the culture of the net: to promote openness and communication by donating work that contributes directly to that goal. Admittedly a strong part of this culture comes from the academic background of the net, but the idea is firmly planted and remains a very strong undercurrent among its' many contributors.

For some of the reasons outlined above, these kind of services, which the entire Internet depends on, probably can not be developed, maintained or supported in a closed, proprietary way. In order for them to work broadly, which is the greatest asset of the net, they need to be tested and developed broadly. No one company (including Microsoft or Cisco) or national government has the scope or standing to encompass every system on the Internet. The beneficiaries are the growing hundreds of millions who use and are empowered by the Internet.


One of the more interesting and ongoing events in the history of the Internet is Interop. Internet hardware developers get together once a year to connect their systems to make sure they can interoperate with each other. The preparation for this even actually begins months in advance with the systems being set up in giant warehouses before the formal event takes place.

Originally almost a purely technical session, Interop has also evolved into the World's largest networking trade show. It's held in Las Vegas in the Winter and in secondary locations like Chicago or Atlanta in the Summer.

Next: Organizations Developing Free Software