Open source refers to products and applications anyone can use, view and modify because the files for the project can be viewed by the public. While they may fall under various licensing terms, the common factor is they are available for anyone to use for any purpose.
I collected this list of 10 open source projects to appreciate the amazing work of the open source community and highlight what can be accomplished when developers come together.
Each of these open source projects is known for providing applications of exceptional value to its users. Some of these are truly groundbreaking pieces of work that we may take for granted.
Let’s get started with the list.
Why not start with one of those groundbreaking pieces of work? Linux without question qualifies as an open source project that changed the software industry.
Linux is an open source operating system. Linux started off as a hobby project of Linus Torvalds who as a student decided he wanted to build his own operating system. Little did he know how much of an impact his project would make.
Linux is everywhere and powers a lot of technologies you probably hadn’t thought of.
Linux based operating systems runs on all sorts of computer systems such as PCs, mobiles, servers and supercomputers. It also runs on more unexpected places such as washing machines, cars, robots and the Large Hadron Collider.
2. Visual studio code
But wait, visual studio is made by Microsoft, which means it’s not completely free right?
Well, no. This is visual studio code. An entirely free to use and open source code editor made by, yes, Microsoft.
It’s a misconception that Microsoft is not part of the open source community. Microsoft has recently embraced the open source community and even joined the Linux foundation in 2016. The existence of visual studio code is just one showcase of their increasing support for open source projects.
Open source politics aside, visual studio code is cross platform, lightweight and supports many programming languages. It’s also highly customisable and extensible. The ability to enhance the editor through extensions allows the user to configure it to their development needs.
Visual studio code is now the preference editor for many developers. It was even voted the #1 source code editor in a stackoverflow developers survey.
Eclipse is an open source IDE (Integrated Development Environment) and has been around since 2001. The Eclipse IDE is part of the efforts of the Eclipse Foundation, a non-profit corporation steering the development of numerous open source projects.
Eclipse was initially known for its use in developing Java applications but now contains vast support for other programming languages through it’s plugins.
A well-renowned IDE providing reliable and quality tools, Eclipse is another example of an impactful open source project in the space of developer tools.
Shotcut is a video editor application available for Windows, Linux and macOS. What makes shotcut awesome is not just the fact that it’s open source, but the vast video editing features available considering it’s a free application. One could argue shotcut can compete with equivalent pro video editors that charge quite hefty fees.
If you’re looking for a free to use yet powerful video editor, shotcut is one to consider.
Blender is a software application providing tools for creating 3D graphics such as animations. But aren’t most 3D modeling software quite expensive? Not Blender. Sticking with the open source philosophy, Blender is 100% free to use.
If you think an application offering free 3D modelling tools can’t possibly produce high quality outputs why don’t you see for yourself. See this showcase of animated short movies created using Blender.
Blender is not just for amateurs. Blender provides everything you need to create professional 3D graphics and animations.
A cross platform, stable and powerful 3D modeling tool that’s completely free to use. Blender is a great example of an application highlighting the incredible efforts of the open source community.
6. Mozilla Firefox
Probably no introductions needed but Firefox is a web browser with hundreds of millions of users. The Mozilla Foundation supports development of Firefox and other open source projects for web based tools and technologies.
The Firefox browser has been ported to several operating systems running on PCs and mobiles. Firefox is known for being stable and stands well amongst other browsers.
Oh and did I mention it’s completely free and open source? Well of course, or it wouldn’t be on this list!
WordPress is a popular web based content management system (CMS). This means it’s used for creating content that resides on the web such as websites and blogs.
Plugins can be installed along with WordPress to configure or enhance it and anyone can develop their own plugin. WordPress is so popular there’s probably a plugin available for anything you can possibly think of doing on WordPress. Some of these include plugins for security, web forms, site configuration, backups, e-commerce, site analytics and search engine optimisation.
WordPress is an absolute monster of a platform with a huge presence on the web and doesn’t show signs of slowing down anytime soon.
The version control system we all know and love (most of the time). The git system is another example of an open source project that has highly impacted the software development industry.
Providing a way of tracking, comparing and applying version control on source code and its relevant files, git is now viewed by most as being a mandatory tool in managing software projects.
As a fun fact, the development of git was actually started by the creator of Linux himself, Linus Trovalds. He created it as a way to help manage the Linux kernel project. Considering git formulated from the Linux project, it’s no surprise it also saw immense contribution from the open source community.
It’s nice to know if you’re ever curious on exactly how the complexity that is git works, the source code is free for anyone to view.
9. The GNU project
GNU refers to a collection of software that’s often combined with the Linux kernel to form a fully fledged operating system.
Without GNU software, a lot of Linux distros out there wouldn’t exist. While the Linux kernel is the core, software provided by GNU are also essential to providing a functional operating system platform.
Types of software packages created by the GNU project with examples include: shell (Bash), text editors (nano), desktop platform (GNOME), image editors (GIMP), bootloaders (GRUB), debuggers (GDB) and compilers (GCC).
The abundance of GNU software in many Linux based operating systems has caused a bit of a naming controversy. This is because some supporters of GNU insist operating systems using the Linux kernel along with GNU software should be referred to as “GNU/Linux” so the importance of GNU can be known to its users. However most still refer to these operating systems simply as “Linux”.
Whatever the history, the GNU project and its efforts is one to be appreciated in the delivery of open source operating systems.
10. Beagleboard & Arduino
Last but definitely not the least, the Beagleboard and Arduino are a suite of open source hardware electronic devices.
What is open source hardware you may ask?
It’s not much different to open source software. With hardware, the design files that are used to build the device such as schematics, Printed Circuit Board (PCB) layouts and Bill of Materials (BOMs) are available publicly for anyone to download.
The Beagleboard and Arduino are similar to the Raspberry PI. They can all be described as low-cost, computing devices that are used for prototyping and teaching programming and electronics. (The Raspberry PI isn’t on this list because it’s not open source)
With Beagleboard and Arduino being open source hardware, anyone can design their own custom boards using the freely available design files as a base. Although Beagleboard and Arduino are designed and maintained by different communities, they both believe in the important role of open source hardware.
These projects are the odd-one out on this list since not only are the Beagleboard and Arduino hardware based, they also require the user to purchase the product to use it so they are technically not “free”. However, they still very much count as being open source due to the availability of the design files. Anyone can take these design files and manufacture their own Beagleboard and Arduino devices if they wish.
In my books, these are incredible examples of open source projects considering the extra effort required in manufacturing a physical product.
This list is just a small sample that showcases the incredible efforts of the open source community. It highlights how much of an impact open source projects can have in the software industry.
What do you think of these open source projects? Does it fit with your definition of ‘incredible’? Were you surprised any of these applications were open source? If you made your own list what open source projects would you include? Comment down below!
Here at inspirezone you have the power to kickstart your own open source projects. Join our community and submit your coding project ideas. We’ll assist you in planning the project, breaking it into tasks and dividing the work amongst other members interested in helping out. You can leverage our community in any you wish to accomplish your project!