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The web's top 20 open-source downloads

Download guide: Free open-source tools

DOSBox: If you're a retro kind of a person, you've probably been frustrated by your inability to play old DOS-based games. DOS is long gone from Windows - the command prompt inside Windows isn't truly DOS anymore. Many old games simply won't run from the Windows command prompt. They need true blue DOS.

You can't buy DOS any more, but you can get the free DOSBox, which does a great job of emulating it. Install and run the program, then run any DOS game - or DOS application, for that matter - inside it. When you run DOSBox, it automatically sets any sound-system related variables, so that your sound system will work properly with your old games.

Download DOSBox

eMule: Contrary to popular belief, not all file-sharing clients are filled with adware or spyware.

EMule is a perfect example of this. This file-sharing program lets you search for, download, and share files with others. It's exceedingly popular, and so there are a vast number of files available to you. In fact, it's the most downloaded file of all time from the open-source site SourceForge.net - more than 332 million downloads and counting.

It has all the features you'd expect in a file-sharing client, including some very nice logging and reporting. Note that some firewall programs, such as Windows Vista's firewall, will block this program from making an internet connection, so make sure to configure your firewall to give it access.

Download eMule

Ares: Here's another P2P file-sharing program, and although it's not as popular as eMule, many people will find it easier to use.

The interface is cleaner than eMule's, it's easier to figure out how to search for files and download them, and it also will download files using BitTorrent, which is probably the most popular file-sharing protocol today. Also useful is that the program includes a built-in media player, as well as chat capabilities and a built-in web browser.

Download Ares

FeedReader: This very good, simple RSS reader does everything you want a reader to do - it makes it simple to subscribe to feeds, manage your feeds, download podcasts, and more. Particularly helpful is that it includes an auto discovery feature that will find feeds on any web page, and subscribe you to them.

This reader has plenty of extras as well, such as keyboard shortcuts, the capability to search through all of your feeds, and support for running the program from a USB flash drive. Note that this version of FeedReader is open source, but there is a newer version, which is freeware, but not open source.

Download FeedReader

K-Meleon: Most of the world is familiar with the open-source browser Firefox. But Firefox isn't the only open-source browser out there, and as K-Meleon shows, it's not the leanest, either.

When Firefox was released, one of the benefits it touted was that it didn't consume nearly as much memory as Internet Explorer. But those days are gone, with many people complaining about Firefox memory leaks.

K-Meleon is a return to the days of lean, mean browsers. It's fast and lightweight, so won't take up much memory, and loads pages quickly. The browser is built on top of the Gecko engine, which Mozilla uses for Firefox. It gives you all the features you've come to expect in a modern browser, including tabbed browsing, and some nice extras as well.

For example, you can use built-in ‘mouse gestures’, which let you perform tasks such as moving forward or backward through your browsing history, opening a new tab, and so on, by moving the mouse in a specific direction while pressing and releasing the right mouse button. The browser can also be customised easily.

Download K-Meleon

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