I love open source stuff. Who can argue with free? And with the idea that a community of users can work on something they love and make it good and, in some cases, better than a corporate version. Good stuff. Unfortunately, sometimes the price of "free" is that you have to be an enthusiast in order to get stuff to work. And while that can be fun if you are, in fact, an enthusiast... the difference between "not worth my time" and "whoa! cool!" can be measured in frustration.
Two new services (new to me, anyway) help put the "easy" into "free."
WinLibre bundles some of the best open source, desktop softare for Windows into one complete, customized download and install routine. You download one (pretty big... 151 MB) WinLibre setup file, choose the components you want, and BLAMO! they all get installed in one swell foop. Optional installs include Open Office, Firefox (and other free browsers), creativity software (Audacity, InkScape, Blender, Gimp), multimedia utilities and helpful Windows tools . A Mac version, MacLibre, is available, too.
On the Web front, JumpBox creates virtual machines that do easy installs for a number of popular, open source applications. I've installed a number of these "by hand" over the years (WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, TikiWiki, PmWiki, MediaWiki and others), and it can be a royal pain. Others on the list I have tried... but couldn't get past the steep learning curve for installation. JumpBox promises to make the process of installing web-side software that much easier. I haven't tried it yet, but if I do, I'll come back and let you know how it goes. It can't be any harder than some of these installs (ahem... MediaWiki) are without support. There are currently 22 applications in the JumpBox library.
Previous post on open source, with list of additional free stuff.