As a staunch advocate of open source software, I often find myself exploring Github and various websites to discover new software to experiment with or to replace proprietary solutions. My plan is to begin composing articles about the diverse open source software I’ve utilized, as well as providing guidance on their installation and configuration.
To kick things off, let’s begin with a compilation of my favorite open source software that I’ve been consistently using for a considerable period of time.
For approximately five years, I’ve been utilizing Proxmox in both my home lab and for hosting VMs at work. I’ve discovered that it’s not only highly adaptable but also simple to configure and start using swiftly. Additionally, I rely on the Proxmox backup server to handle all of my backup needs.
Key Features and Benefits of Proxmox:
- Easy-to-use web interface: Proxmox’s intuitive web interface simplifies the management of virtual environments. It allows users to create, configure, and manage VMs and containers with just a few clicks.
- High availability: Proxmox supports clustering and high availability, ensuring that your VMs remain operational even if a hardware failure occurs.
- Live migration: This feature allows you to move running VMs between different nodes without any downtime, ensuring minimal disruption to your services.
- Backup and restore: Proxmox includes a built-in backup solution that simplifies the process of backing up and restoring VMs and containers.
- Support for multiple storage types: Proxmox supports various storage types, including local storage, network storage (NFS, CIFS, GlusterFS), and distributed storage (Ceph).
- Open-source and cost-effective: Proxmox is a free, open-source solution, making it an affordable choice for organizations and individuals alike.
Pi-hole was likely the first open source software I ever tried, originally setting it up on a Raspberry Pi. Nowadays, I run several instances of it on my Proxmox servers.
Key Features and Benefits of Pi-hole:
- Network-wide ad blocking: Pi-hole blocks ads across all devices connected to your network, including desktops, laptops, smartphones, and tablets, without the need for individual ad-blocking extensions or apps.
- Privacy protection: By blocking trackers and other privacy-invading content, Pi-hole helps protect your personal information and browsing habits from third-party data collectors.
- Improved network performance: By filtering out unwanted content, Pi-hole can reduce the overall bandwidth usage and loading times of websites, providing a smoother and faster browsing experience.
- Customizable blocklists: Pi-hole allows you to use pre-built blocklists or create your own, giving you control over what content gets filtered on your network.
- Web interface: Pi-hole comes with a user-friendly web interface that offers an overview of your network’s ad-blocking statistics, as well as easy management of settings and blocklists.
- Open-source and cost-effective: As an open-source solution, Pi-hole is free to use, and its low system requirements make it a cost-effective option for repurposing old hardware or running on inexpensive devices like Raspberry Pi.
Ghost has consistently been my preferred software for self-hosting a straightforward website. Over the years, I have utilized it on numerous occasions and found it extremely simple to set up and begin. It offers ample functionality to swiftly establish an attractive webpage, operational in just a matter of hours.
Key Features and Benefits of Ghost:
- Intuitive content editor: Ghost’s user-friendly editor supports Markdown, which allows you to create and format content effortlessly. It also offers a split-screen preview, enabling you to see how your content will appear as you write.
- Customizable themes: Ghost provides a variety of customizable themes, allowing you to create a unique and visually appealing website. The platform supports Handlebars, a templating language that’s easy to learn and use.
- Dynamic routing and custom URLs: With Ghost, you can create custom URLs and dynamic routes for your content, improving your site’s SEO and user experience.
- Built-in SEO and social sharing features: Ghost comes equipped with SEO features like metadata customization and XML sitemaps, as well as social sharing options, to help increase your content’s visibility and reach.
- Integration with third-party services: Ghost can be easily integrated with various third-party services, such as email marketing tools, analytics platforms, and e-commerce solutions, to help enhance your website’s functionality.
- Open-source and self-hosted: Ghost’s open-source nature means it’s free to use and modify, and its self-hosted setup ensures you have full control over your website and its data.
Mastodon is a social media platform that has gained popularity as an alternative to Twitter. It is built on the principle of federation, which allows for independently operated servers, known as instances, to form a network. Each instance is run by an individual or group and has its own set of rules and moderation policies, providing users with the ability to find communities that align with their interests and values. I have been exploring Mastodon for a few years and found it to be a refreshing alternative to Twitter. In fact, I was so impressed with it that I decided to self-host my own instance.
While it may require more technical knowledge to maintain than the other software listed here, it is not excessively difficult to host an instance of Mastodon.
Key Features and Benefits of Mastodon:
- Decentralized structure: Mastodon’s decentralized nature offers numerous benefits, including increased user control, reduced reliance on a single entity, and enhanced resilience against censorship and server downtime. By distributing content across a network of instances, Mastodon empowers users and communities to define their digital experiences.
- Privacy and data ownership: Mastodon puts a strong emphasis on privacy and data ownership. User data is stored locally on the instance they choose, granting them greater control over their personal information. Moreover, Mastodon offers granular privacy settings, allowing users to customize the visibility of their posts and control who can interact with their content.
- Ad-free and non-commercial: Unlike mainstream social media platforms, Mastodon is ad-free and does not rely on monetizing user data. Funded primarily through donations and voluntary support, Mastodon offers a user experience free from targeted advertising, promoted content, and the pressures of commercial interests.
- Content moderation and user safety: Mastodon’s decentralized structure enables each instance to implement its own content moderation policies, allowing communities to define their guidelines and standards. This flexibility fosters diverse and inclusive online spaces while enabling users to find instances that align with their values and interests.
- Customizable and extensible: As an open-source platform, Mastodon encourages customization and extensibility. Users can develop and contribute to the platform, creating new features, themes, and integrations. This collaborative approach ensures that Mastodon continues to evolve and meet the changing needs of its user base.
My journey into home automation began with just a handful of smart plugs, which gradually expanded. Initially, I was hesitant to adopt Home Assistant and used Zwave devices with Samsung SmartThings instead, later integrating them into Home Assistant. Eventually, I fully committed by acquiring a Zwave/Zigbee USB hub for Home Assistant, and now the majority of my home is connected to it in some way. I had anticipated more of a hassle than a convenience, but I was proven wrong. Setting up all your devices with Home Assistant may be time-consuming, depending on their connection requirements, but once that’s done, everything runs smoothly. Without Home Assistant, I would be manually controlling many of my devices, consuming more time. I must admit, it’s both an enjoyable hobby and an incredibly useful tool.
Key Features and Benefits of Home Assistant:
- Comprehensive device compatibility: Home Assistant offers compatibility with a vast array of devices and services, such as Zwave, Zigbee, Philips Hue, Nest, Google Assistant, and Amazon Alexa. This extensive support ensures that you can seamlessly integrate your existing smart devices and easily expand your home automation system as new technologies emerge.
- Privacy-focused and secure: As an open-source platform, Home Assistant emphasizes privacy and security. All data and information are stored locally on your system, ensuring that you have full control over your data. Furthermore, Home Assistant’s active community continually works to identify and address potential security risks.
- Customization and flexibility: Home Assistant’s open-source nature allows users to tailor the platform to their specific needs. With support for custom components, plugins, and a powerful automation engine, you can create a truly personalized smart home experience.
- Energy-saving potential: Home Assistant enables you to monitor and control your home’s energy consumption. By automating your lighting, heating, and cooling systems, you can optimize energy usage and reduce your environmental impact, ultimately saving money on your utility bills.
- Accessibility and convenience: With Home Assistant’s mobile app and web interface, you can monitor and control your home from anywhere. Whether you want to check your security cameras while on vacation or adjust your thermostat from your office, Home Assistant offers you the flexibility to manage your home on the go.
Upon initially exploring 3D printing, I quickly realized that I required more control over my printer. My Ender 3 V2 printer adequately meets my 3D printing demands, yet I found it lacking in terms of management and monitoring capabilities. This changed when I came across Octoprint, a versatile software that connects to various 3D printer models. Octoprint enables me to precisely control the printer and enhance its monitoring during operation. Additionally, numerous plugins can be incorporated to extend its functionality. The software is simple to install and currently runs on my Raspberry Pi.
Key Features and Benefits of Octoprint:
- Remote Monitoring and Control: Octoprint enables you to monitor and control your 3D printer from any device connected to your network. Whether you’re using a smartphone, tablet, or computer, you can access the printer’s status, initiate prints, pause, or cancel them at your convenience.
- Time-lapse Videos: Octoprint can automatically generate time-lapse videos of your prints, allowing you to observe and analyze the printing process in detail.
- G-code Viewer: Octoprint’s built-in G-code viewer provides a visual representation of your print, enabling you to inspect the print layers and detect potential issues before they occur.
- Plugin System: The Octoprint ecosystem is further enriched by a large number of plugins developed by the community. These plugins expand the software’s functionality, catering to a variety of user needs such as automatic bed leveling, filament management, and advanced slicing options.
- User-friendly Interface: Octoprint’s web-based interface is intuitive and easy to navigate, making it suitable for users with varying levels of experience.
- Multi-Platform Compatibility: Octoprint’s compatibility with multiple platforms ensures that users can access the software regardless of their preferred operating system.
I am passionate about exploring the open-source community and uncovering new software to experiment with. My aim is to spotlight some of my favorite projects in the hope that these talented developers receive the acknowledgement they deserve for creating such outstanding tools that are available to everyone at no cost. Each section contains a link to the project’s webpage. If you find yourself fond of using one or more of these projects, consider contributing to them through donations or by sharing your enthusiasm for these tools with others.