Interesting Nonstandard Software

Here are several pieces of nonstandard software that have been found to be very useful.
  1. VNC: Useful as a general purpose tool for sharing applications between machines. A partial solution to the conference problem, great for sharing application state between home and work machines, useful as a collaborative environment, and part of a solution to the reboot problem. Mature.
  2. unison: Great for syncing up filesystems across weakly connected machines i.e. home and office. Young.
  3. SSH: Never send your password in the clear in the CMU environment. There are also several more arcane fun tricks that can be done with ssh tunneling. Mature.
  4. vmware: Another solution to the reboot problem. Young and Proprietary.
  5. Nmap and Nessus: Network scanners. Useful tools for security checking and diagnostics. Misusing them will get you shot. Mature and Young.
  6. Ocaml: A higher level programming language. The compiler is reasonable: cross platform and about 1/2 (varies significantly depending on use) the speed of optimized C. The language is concise and the syntax avoids using parentheses as a keyword overly much. Whole classes of bugs in C/C++ are just plain impossible in Ocaml. Mature.
  7. Gale: Instant messaging with pervasive public key encryption, authentication, and a global namespace: Young.
  8. Lyx: Greatly softens the latex learning curve. Gurus don't like it, but new latex users almost certainly will. Mature.
  9. Squid: Collaborative caching web proxy. Hides latency and enhances availability of web sites while almost never giving you a stale web page. Mature.
  10. Junkbuster: Ad filtering and privacy enhancing web proxy. Several competitors exist. Some prefer intermute. Young.
  11. zarchive (cmu only): The collected public discussions of CMU-CS grad students and others on a great many topics. If you have a software configuration problem or need programming tricks, look here for an answer.
Interesting though not yet used software:
  1. Mosix: Turn a cluster of machines into one virtual SMP machine.
  2. Coda: AFS done right so that it supports weakly connected clients and isn't proprietary. Lacks good encryption support but that will hopefully change soon.
  3. freenet: distributed anonymous authoring and viewing of any particular set of bits.