Loading a USB Drive with Open Source Software
- Posted On: February 4th, 2007
- Filed Under: Software
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Engadget today is reporting on a plan by French authorities to issue USB drives stocked with Open Source software to 175,000 Parisian high school students. For now the list of OS programs is up in the air. The Greater Paris Regional Council, which appears to be in charge of the initiative, will be taking bids from firms interested in providing the drives. Apparently the wining bidder will be choosing which Open Source apps make the cut.
Just about everyone is expecting Firefox and Thunderbird to end up on the drives but I thought I'd include a few other "must have" open source apps that would be great for students.
Open Source Planner
Lightning for Thunderbird incorporates most of SunBird's functionality right into ThundeBird without the need to install separate software. You get to do lists, a calendar, reminders, a contact manager and even e-mail all in one client.
VLC Media Player: VLC media player is pretty much the premier Open Source Media Player. Besides playing almost all of your standard video formats you can also use it to play audio and even DVD.
Generally speaking you don't want to have your USB Firefox or Thunderbird installation save your passwords. Of course keeping track of multiple passwords across multiple computers can be a real problem. KeePass is an Open Source password utility that keeps track of your passwords in a secure manner. Users can password protect their KeePass database and copy passwords to the clipboard so wandering eyes don't have the chance to see them. KeePass also contains a password generator to make it easier to create hard to guess passwords.
In the same vein as KeePass, TrueCrypt provides students with the ability to safely encrypt files, directories, and even entire volumes. This is great for preventing a lost USB drive from giving away and sensitive data held in documents or cached files.
ClamWin is one of those programs that instantly replaces commercial software as soon as you try it. Why waste money on things like Norton and McCafee when you can download a free program that will do everything for free.
Unless you're only looking for a Word Processor Open Office is the definitive Open Source Office bundle. Rather than dropping around $150 for a Microsoft Office Student & Teacher License you get a full set of programs that can replace Word, Excel, Access and even Power Point all for free. Can't beat that can you?
Open Source Internet Browsing and E-Mail
- Firefox: Obviously a given. Firefox can easily be installed on a USB drive and offers plenty of customization options thanks to it's extensive "Add-on / Extension" library.
- Thunderbird: Another Given for all the same reasons Firefox is a must have.
USB Application Launcher
While there are plenty of open source application launchers out there I recommend going closed source (but free) here. The Portable Apps Application Launcher incorporates almost all of the previously mentioned utilities into a slick menu that is much cleaner and interesting than most of the open source alternatives. This launcher is easy to install and manage plus offers a backup utility and a file structure that is similar to Windows' "My Documents" system.
If you're interested in any of the programs you've seen here I recommend starting at The Portable Apps Suite website. Most of the programs included on this list can be installed through one installer available there.