Android became a worldwide phenomenon not only because it is Google’s operating system but also because it is an open source OS. Among various things that make open source technologies intriguing, one major trait is that they often come with surprisingly innovative features that are normally seen on commercially sold software and apps with noticeably bigger price tags possess.

However, Android still has a few proprietary components that make up its functionality and user experience aspects. But the open source Linux is still its base kernel establishing the OS as an open source contribution.

The stock Android ROM served as a foundation for a number of third-party custom ROMs including MIUI, Paranoid Android etc. Apart from the ROM, many apps designed to run on Android are actually open source complementing the nature of the OS itself. As a leading open source development services provider in the Middle East, we too often deal with client demands for an open source mobile app for Android.

That said, as we are ushering in 2019, here is a list of a few open source mobile apps that ended up making a lot of Android users happy this year.
 

Orbot

 
Orbot, a product from The Tor Project released in 2008, is the Android version alternative to the Tor browser. Similar to Tor, Orbot serves as an effective anonymity cover for Android devices.

Once the Tor proxy has been enabled using Orbot, the app will suggest using an open source web browser called Orfox which in turn shares source code similarities with the Tor browser. To unlock Orbot’s full potential, the device it’s running on will have to be rooted.
 

VLC for Android

 
VLC is one of the most popular video players for the Windows operating system. It’s free and open source, and has a dedicated community working on improving it. VLC for Android didn’t dominate the Play Store however as MX Player already took the top spot. Nevertheless, VLC Android is still loved by millions of Android users, and features better audio support than MX player as well.
 

Amaze File Manager

 
What Android users expect from a great file manager include simplicity, material design, appealing looks, and a bunch of other useful file management features. Amaze File Manager has all these and more. Amaze File Manager is an open source file manager that gained good momentum this year in terms of downloads and feedback. It can also use other apps to open various media files.
 

AdBlock Browser

 
Intrusive advertisements are too frequent and too annoying now. With the AdBlock browser for Android, unwanted or intrusive advertisements while browsing can be blocked. The customizable open source browser is recommended by Stanford University and the Electronic Frontier Foundation as it also effectively minimizes the risks of ‘malicious advertising’ infections.
 

ProtonMail

 
ProtonMail was founded by CERN scientists in 2013, and was backed by a $550,000 donation campaign. The open source app is proudly presented as the world’s largest encrypted email service. The app comes with an impressive, modern UI with a number of great features including customizable swipe gestures, set self-destruct timers for messages etc. Users can also password-protected encrypted emails to non-ProtonMail addresses.
 

Conclusion

 
Evidently, 2018 gave a lot of momentum to a number of open source Android apps despite heavy competition. Open source tools and technologies have been around for a long time, and never have they actually disappointed people who simply aren’t willing to spend a lot on apps. Most open source apps including the ones in this list are products of passion.

As open source gains more traction across popular industries including but not limited to software development, mobile app development, IoT applications etc., we can expect the arrival of even more open source digital solutions packing awesome features with surprisingly smaller price tags or none at all.

Written by: Ajeesh Azhakesan

Open source is so popular and widely used that there are people who are using it daily without even realizing it. There are people who use WordPress, one of the most popular open source platforms, for blogging. There are many who use Mozilla Firefox, another digital contribution from open source, for browsing. Open source development services are highly demanded by enterprises across various industries.

As a matter of fact, a survey by Black Duck last year revealed that 60% of the surveyed businesses reported an increase in the use of open source in 2017.

Despite the wide acceptance and popularity, open source technologies are heavily criticized by many. Many myths surround the technology and many people believe those myths and misconceptions are true. Here are 5 such open source myths that people still believe to be true.
 

It’s free

 
The ‘free’ of open source technologies relates to ‘freedom’ i.e. open source technologies tend to have fewer restrictions than their proprietary counterparts. People think it’s all about the monetary cost and ‘free’ means it wouldn’t cost them anything.

However, there are free (literally) open source technologies available but they may not be the most up-to-date or feature-rich. Typically there wouldn’t be any licensing costs for open source software. But there are exceptions to this as well. The bottom-line is that not all open source is free, and not all free open source is good enough to make a difference for users.
 

Large companies don’t use open source tools

 
Open source tools, especially open source software, has been used by organizations of all sizes since the early 1990s. Corporate giants like Microsoft, Google, IBM, and many other companies use open source tools in some form. Open source software development is a big industry with an ever increasing number of developers.
 

Open source software aren’t secure at all

 
Many organizations refrain from using open source tools due to the misconception that they are less secure than proprietary software. This wrong notion is mostly due to the fact that the source code of an open source software is openly available to anyone who wants to tinker with it. This increases the likelihood of black hat hackers figuring out a vulnerability to exploit.

But this isn’t the whole truth. Contrary to public perception, open source codes also serve as a way for many open source experts to verify the integrity and security of the code i.e. security vulnerabilities are more likely to be detected, reported, and removed.
 

You can’t always count on support for open source software

 
It’s true that some open source software don’t have a long lifespan. These software “die” once the community backing them leaves them behind. It’s the community itself that provides the biggest support for open source technologies. It’s pretty much the same for proprietary software as well. The company that developed the software may simply stop providing support one day, and move on to a more lucrative project. Popular open source software with a reputation will likely still have a community backing it, ready to help anyone with technical issues.
 

Conclusion

 
These are but a few myths around open source software. It isn’t as unreliable as many people still seem to believe. It’s open source technology that powers quite a lot of popular platforms that have proven their worth across various industries. An enterprise can have a customized open source software developed to drive business growth efficiently and securely – something that can do the job just like a proprietary software can but more cost-effectively.

Written by: Ajeesh Azhakesan

Enterprise DevOps adoption seems to be increasing consistently. Many enterprises have seen how a DevOps culture is important to becoming successful faster. Practicing a DevOps culture isn’t hassle-free however, and comes with its own fair share of challenges. A DevOps ecosystem requires Continuous Integration, Continuous Deployment, test feedback etc. to be faster. A poorly thought out automation strategy here could be detrimental to the test automation efforts.

A well thought-out automation strategy on the other hand would also consider every important aspect rather than focusing all efforts on ensuring that the application is ready to ship. API testing is one such important aspect every testing strategy should take into account.

Thanks to a plethora of tools available in the market today, it’s not that difficult to perform API testing provided the strategy allocates a slot for API testing in the project’s lifecycle. And a few of the most effective of those tools are open source technologies.

The following are 3 great open source tools any tester should check out for API testing.
 

SoapUI

 
SoapUI is not a new tool. It’s been contributing to QA & testing for a while now, and is ideal in API testing environments where there are mostly QA engineers instead of developers. The open source test tool is designed for effective API testing, and even allows users to create custom workflows or functionalities (if necessary) by coding up the solution in SoapUI using Groovy.
 

REST-Assured

 
If Java is what the team’s using for the project, REST-Assured is what they need for API automation. The tool has a large following, and is recommended by many experienced testers for API testing.

REST-Assured is basically a Java library generally used to test HTTP-based REST services. It can integrate with every existing Java-based automation framework and comes with a number of functionalities that testers usually have to code in. The bonus is that the tester need not be an expert in HTTP to use the tool. As validating REST services is comparatively harder in Java as opposed to Ruby and Groovy, REST-Assured can be a great asset since it allows testers to bring dynamic languages like Ruby and Groovy into the Java domain.
 

Fiddler

 
Another open source tool, Fiddler is not exactly known for its API testing capabilities. It’s mainly used to monitor, manipulate, and reuse HTTP requests. It has many extensions that allow you to perform even more tasks – from debugging websites to API testing itself, making it invaluable for certain mid-scale software development projects.

API testing is possible with the APITest extension. The extension allows the tool to test and validate web APIs. However, it may not be ideal for extensive testing. For that purpose, an API testing infrastructure should be built with the FiddlerCore.NET Class Library. Fiddler is a preferable option for teams using .NET languages for their projects.
 

Conclusion

 
The use of a tool should be based on the requirements of the test strategy and the nature of the testing subject itself. There are many API test tools, including proprietary ones, with features that would prove very useful when testing APIs. The ones above are popular open source alternatives that many experienced testers recommend. If you are a tester who likes to explore and experiment, do give each of these tools a shot.

Written by: Ajeesh Azhakesan

A great majority of businesses today rely on open source technologies to push towards progress under dynamic market conditions. Open source today extends itself to even enterprise security and VPN sectors, though companies are reluctant to use open source security products.

Thanks to the large community behind many popular open source solutions and contrary to popular belief, open source software is as secure as proprietary software. This also explains the rise in demand for open source development services that can build custom enterprise open source solutions.

Considering the recent controversy over unaddressed vulnerabilities that may lead to disastrous security risks in the products of many popular online security and VPN vendors, this seems to be the right time for enterprises to take the open source route.

That said, there are many enterprise-level open source VPNs that meet the requirements of any business, regardless of their size. Here are 4 great open source VPN solutions that might just be what your business is looking for.
 

Tcpcrypt

 
The Tcpcrypt encryption protocol is quite unique due to the fact that it doesn’t require configuration, changes to applications, or any noticeable changes in network connection. It’s compatible with both Windows and macOS, and operates with what’s generally referred to as ‘opportunistic encryption’.

If the other end of the connection relays messages to the tcpcrypt, the communication will be encrypted. Otherwise, it would be just plain text. It has robust protection against active and passive threats though it isn’t known for being useful as a company-wide solution. It’d be ideal in an environment with transfers of comparatively less-sensitive data.
 

strongSwan

 
strongSwan comes with unique encryption standards, and is maintained by Andreas Steffen, the head of the Institute for Internet Technologies and Applications at the Swiss University of Applied Sciences Rapperswil. strongSwan is easy to configure and features IPsec policies that support large, complex VPNs.
 

Tinc

 
A free open source VPN software, Tinc is licensed under GNU General Public License and is known for its variety of features including optional compression, automatic mesh routing etc. on top of encryption. It’s ideal for businesses that want to create VPNs out of a number of smaller networks at different locations.
 

OpenConnect

 
OpenConnect grew into a popular VPN client because of the fact that it was designed to support Cisco’s AnyConnect SSL VPN. Cisco is one of those popular VPN vendors mentioned at the beginning of this blog, whose product’s had potentially harmful vulnerabilities. Naturally, this led to companies doubting OpenConnect as well, as the client is believed to be associated with Cisco’s SSL VPN.

However, that’s not the case at all. OpenConnect has no association with Cisco, and got popular simply because it was compatible with their equipment. After the security vulnerabilities of Cisco were discovered, OpenConnect was subjected to some serious redevelopment. It’s now rectified all of the identified Cisco client deficiencies. OpenConnect is Linux compatible, and is one of the leading alternatives to Cisco for enterprises.
 

Conclusion

 
Open source security has always been questioned. But if you dig deep enough, you can find many experts discussing how secure open source is today, and why open source security rivals that of its proprietary counterparts. Open source also leads in the Middle East, particular when it comes to software development in UAE. Because of the large number of eyes and brains working behind open source solutions, pretty much every security gap has already been identified and filled. Enterprise-level open source VPNs can get the job done, while effectively securing business’ sensitive data.

Written by: Ajeesh Azhakesan

It’s hard to keep track of all the technological advancements we have witnessed till now. The evolution of open source cloud and enterprise infrastructure software transformed the way many how companies provide open source development services. Back when OpenStack first showed up, it was first seen as a better, more efficient way to deploy and manage virtual machines, but turned out to be much more. It was a natural evolution with huge potential.

Last year, we witnessed such an evolution in open source cloud that changed the way the technology was used, with many incremental upgrades. Today, most applications we use on a daily basis have become cloud-native. In addition, hybrid and edge computing environments present even more potential.

So basically, open source cloud is bring major changes in a short span of time. Here are a few things that happened last year that you might have missed.
 

OpenStack growth

 
With enterprises increasingly starting to favor multi-cloud strategies, OpenStack had a phenomenal growth. According a survey sponsored by Cloudify, OpenStack was found to be the most widely deployed cloud infrastructure. Half of the organizations surveyed were found to manage more than one cloud, and prefer multi-cloud strategies that avoid vendor lock-in. A combination of AWS and OpenStack turned out to be quite popular in enterprises including non-IT ones.
 

Edge computing expands the scope of the open cloud

 
The advent of Edge computing birthed a new breed of enterprise cloud computing solutions, albeit raising the complexity notably. Evidently, it’s not the scale of the cloud that keeps growing exponentially, but also the scope. To effectively leverage Edge computing, a powerful cloud software stack that can be deployed efficiently and sustainably, is required. This is where open source makes a difference.
 

Kubernetes the game changer

 
Before Kubernetes, development and deployment of cloud-native applications were challenging. After Kubernetes, the open source platform does all the heavy lifting. The platform for running containerized workloads attracted developers from the open source community around the world, and functions quite similar to an Infrastructure-as-a-Service solution and a Platform-as-a-Service resource. It also offers the facility to monitor the status of a deployment in-progress, and complements a DevOps ecosystem.
 

Hybrid cloud

 
Hybrid cloud gave enterprises choices – to figure out the right kind of cloud that can handle their workloads. However, its definition changed over time. Initially thought of in the context of cloud bursting where the on-premise infrastructure can reach out to a public cloud if usage spikes, hybrid cloud now address data and application portability without racking up bandwidth bills for enterprises.

Hybrid cloud today is essentially a functional and effective combo of Software-as-a-Service applications, container platforms, and public clouds, which facilitates data and application portability from one location to another whenever necessary.
 

Conclusion

 
For open source enthusiasts, the last few years were full of exciting developments which contributed to the growth of many open source services – from open source CMS development to open source cloud. Infrastructure software are getting paradigm shifts and new developments under open source licenses massively expands their potential. As of now, 2018 hasn’t been disappointing for open source supporters. Hopefully, we will see open source dominating even more soon.

Written by: Ajeesh Azhakesan
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