Businesses are constantly searching for digital solutions from the top IT services providers to help them run more efficiently and turn bigger profits faster. And one common term they may or may not have heard of that can further this agenda is open-source software.
In this article, you will find out what open-source software is and get familiar with the most required types that even the best software development companies use. What’s more, we will also discover the best open-source software examples of 2023.
Table of Contents
- Top 10 Open Source Software Examples Of 2023
- What Is Open Source Software?
- How Does Open-Source Software Work
- Open Source Software vs. Free Source Software
- The Most Popular Open Source Software Licenses
- The Most Popular Types Of Open Source Solutions
- Pros and Cons of Open-Source Software
- Open Source Software Takeaways
- Open Source Software FAQ
Top 10 Open Source Software Examples Of 2023
The ten examples of open-source software listed below demonstrate the variety and quality of open-source options. Regardless of your vocation and level of expertise, open-source software can be a powerful tool for creating, collaborating and innovating.
Mozilla Firefox is a customizable internet browser and free open-source software. It offers thousands of plugins that are accessible with a single click of your mouse.
The platform holds 2.92% of the worldwide browser market share and it is available for Android, iOS, Windows and Linux.
According to CNET, Mozilla reshaped the technology industry and fanned the flames of open-source software that changed the way social networks and operating systems function.
LibreOffice is a complete office suite that offers presentations, documents, spreadsheets and databases.
Unlike Microsoft Office, which is not accessible to everyone due to its pricing model, LibreOffice is totally free.
To support it, its users can make donations when they download. So, it has a huge community of contributors.
It is available for Mac, Linux and Windows and it also has a live chat and a forum that you can turn to when searching for help.
Another of the best open software source examples that are worth mentioning is the photo editing tool GIMP.
It offers similar features to some of the expensive tools on the market including various filters and effects, and yet it is free.
GIMP is available across different platforms including Windows and Linux and it has different 3d party plugins and customization options.
Plenty of illustrators, graphic designers and photographers use it to improve their pictures and enhance their work.
VLC Media Player is one of the most popular open-source software examples that you can use for free.
This multimedia player is used for video, media and audio files and it plays discs, webcams, streams and devices. Most of the users use it for streaming podcasts as well.
It allows you to optimize your audio and video files for a particular hardware configuration and also offers a plethora of extensions and skins which allow you to create customized designs.
What’s more, it runs on different platforms such as Android, Mac OS X, Linux, Windows, iOS and more.
Linux is one of the most user-friendly open-source software on the market. It is most commonly used on Android devices and desktops.
What makes this operating system different from the others is that it costs nothing and it is incredibly customizable.
Most companies also choose it because it is highly secure and offers excellent community support.
Blender is another of the best open-source software examples of 2023.
It is a 3D graphics and animation tool that supports motion tracking, simulation, animation, video editing, rendering, modeling and much more.
It also offers a set of modeling tools and features including real-time viewpoint prereview, multi-resolution and support for Planar tracking and Tripod solvers.
GNU Compiler Collection is a collection of compilation tools for software development in C, C++, Ada, Fortran and other programming languages.
It provides high-quality releases regularly and works with native and cross-targets.
The sources it offers are freely available via weekly snapshots as well as SVN.
Python is common programming and scripting language used by custom software developers.
According to IEEE, it was the most popular language in 2021. In recent years, it attracts plenty of new users because of its fast-growing field of machine learning.
It is also easy to use which is why most developers also choose this open-source software.
When talking about the best open-source software examples of 2023, we shouldn’t miss PHP.
It is a software development language used for creating websites and other digital platforms.
It is fast and flexible and powers some of the most popular websites around the globe including Slack and Spotify.
Shotcut is a video editor that offers powerful features including audio and webcam capture, color, text, noise, and counter generators, support of popular image formats, EDL export and much more.
It is a great tool to edit your audio and video files and it is available for Windows, macOS and Linux.
On its website, you can also find great resources and tutorials on how to use this free open-source software.
Now that we've listed the best examples of open-source software, let's go back to the basics.
Open-source software is a program that has publicly available code which anyone with technical expertise can use, modify and distribute.
The term open source was introduced in the late 1990s by The Open Source Initiative (OSI).
These types of software solutions don't always solve the same problems. In fact, most open-source software is geared towards different niche solutions.
However, because it is accessible to the general public, it is typically very easy to obtain and incorporate into digital solutions.
Now, it is important to remember that just because open-source software is free to use, it doesn't mean that just anyone can use it. Open-source software refers to lines of code (and their variations) that are available.
So, depending on the type of this software, you'll likely still need a qualified software developer to inspect that code, customize the software to your specifications, and integrate it into your current operations.
How Does Open-Source Software Work
Open-source software is created with source code publicly available for anyone to view, use, modify and distribute.
Open-source code is usually stored in a public repository, a shared online storage space where developers can store and share their code with others. As the name suggests, a public repository is publicly accessible and allows developers to collaborate on a project, track changes and share updates. Anyone that accesses this repository can use the code independently or make improvements and contribute to the overall open-source project.
When developers create open-source software, they also choose a distribution license that outlines how the software can be used, studied, modified and distributed. Some popular licenses include the MIT License, the Apache License 2.0 and the GNU General Public License (GPL) 2.0 and 3.0.
Developers that access and modify open-source software must record what has been changed, as well as the methods used. Depending on the license terms, the resulting software may or may not be required to be made available for free.
Open Source Software vs. Free Source Software
Very often free source software is used as a synonym with open source software. Though similar, these two are different types of software. Both of them offer similar licenses but share different ideologies.
Richard Stallman introduced the concept of free-source software back in the 1980s. Its main goal was that all users have the right to operate, copy, share, study, change, and improve this software.
Open-source software, on the other hand, was introduced in the late 1990s by a group of individuals as a reaction to the limitations of free-source software.
The main difference they presented was that they changed the emphasis from freedom to security. And, they also brought other pragmatic benefits like transparency and cost savings.
All free-source software can qualify as open-source software. However, not all open-source software can be free.
For instance, Open Watcom is an integrated development environment whose license cannot be modified and used privately.
Conversely, Velo by Wix, a full-stack development platform that allows brands and development agencies to create advanced websites and web apps, is an open development platform, so there’s zero cost involved.
The Most Popular Open Source Software Licenses
Open-source software licenses allow users and commercial companies to run, modify and share different sets of software code.
In other words, these licenses are legal contracts between the creator and the user. They imply that anyone with a license can use the software under specific conditions.
They are mostly available free of charge and sometimes may have restrictions.
For example, users may be confined to preserving the name of the authors. Or, it may also happen that they are not able to redistribute the licensed software under the same license only.
There are over 200 licenses of this type.
Here are the most popular:
- MIT license (MIT): The users who are MIT licensed can use open-source software code according to their preferences and without any restrictions. This license is also GPL-compatible meaning that users can modify the original code without affecting the resultant derivative code of the original permit.
- Apache License 2.0 (Apache-2.0): Those who have issued an Apache license can freely run, modify and share software code. However, they must follow the terms of the Apache license which has strict rules, especially to redistribution. Thereby, users have to provide unequivocal statements verifying that files have been modified. And, they also need to include notices in their original work.
- 3-clause BSD license (BSD-3-Clause): The developers who own a BSD-3-Clause license also need to include the original copyright notice, disclaimer and several other conditions that are mandatory. This license is very similar to MIT. However, the main difference is that it provides a clause that protects the original creators of the software.
- GNU General Public License (GPL): Those who write software code under GPL, must release it as open source. In other words, all the users are obliged to release the full source code and all the rights to change and share the entire code.
- Common Development and Distribution License 1.0 (CDDL-1.0): All the users who own a CDDL can reproduce and distribute any original and derivative work. However, they cannot make any trademark, copyright or patent changes included in the contract. When developers share a modified form of the source, they must make it available under CDDL. However, if the form does not contain the original code, they don’t have to release it under CDDL.
Before using any open-source code, understand the types of licenses and their rules to stay compliant.
The Most Popular Types Of Open Source Solutions
Here are some of the most popular types of open-source software:
1. Open Source CRM
CRM (customer relationship management) software allows companies to manage customer interactions and meet their requirements easier.
In other words, it helps businesses improve customer care which is essential in boosting client satisfaction and bringing profitability.
This software makes it possible to stay organized and boost your productivity as well. There are different open-source examples of CRM and they are usually free to download.
However, they do require the technical ability to use and are customizable to your needs.
The best free open-source CRM solutions in 2023 are:
Freshworks software fits businesses of all sizes and it allows them to manage contacts and develop customer success strategies.
This is an open-source tool helping organizations boost customer engagement and drive more sales.
Some of its key features are lead management, email marketing, IT integration management, phone and email support.
The Flowly CRM software is a great match for small and large businesses in different industries.
Some of its unique features include quoting, invoicing, lead management, project management, API integration and more.
HubSpot is most suitable for small and medium-sized businesses in real estate, construction, retail and other niches.
Its key features are contact management, email scheduling, meeting management and live chat.
These top three software examples for CRM also offer paid versions that come with an extended list of features. You can visit their websites for more info.
2. Open Source Project Management
Open-source project management software can be of great assistance in keeping track of assignments and tasks.
They allow you to manage different projects at the same time and stay organized.
Most of the open-source project management tools on the market are free and offer paid versions as well.
Here are the top three of them:
Zoho is an open-source project management tool that allows companies to track their time, get customized reports and integrate with other services including Google.
It has a built-in chat which makes communication between team members easy and quick.
Monday covers a spectrum of project management tasks including email updates, personal and public boards, tagging people, visual display of progress and more.
Using this software, big teams can collaborate more effectively, customize their workflow, stay informed and analyze progress from a single dashboard.
Trello is a great tool for both individuals and small teams. It allows you to manage individual projects and ongoing workflows.
Some of the key features include adding due dates, attaching files and hyperlinks, custom dropdowns and more.
Open-source project management software is important in enhancing the business’ performance since it simplifies collaboration and delegating tasks.
3. Open Source Video Games
Most open-source video games are free to use and modify. Developers and game designers can freely share them across platforms.
Many of these games are also incorporated into Linux distributions by default. And, users can download and install the more popular ones on other platforms like Mac OS and Windows.
Some of the open-source video games may be under restrictive licenses as well.
Here are the best open-source software examples of video games in 2023:
- Battle for Wesnoth: This game can run on Windows, Android, Mac and iOS. It is a turn-based tactical strategy game that offers a large variety of maps, units, classes and campaigns.
- OpenTTD: This software video game is available on Windows and Android. It is actually a replica of Transport Tycoon Deluxe that has new features. Developers are able to create complicated rail networks while allowing the players to find their own solutions and designs.
- Xonotic: This game can run on Windows, Mac OS and Linux. It offers a variety of weapons to choose from and uses thrilling actions that game developers can modify to make it more exciting.
4. Blockchain Open Source
Blockchain open source is software that users run to record transactions between two parties.
So, every time someone makes a transaction, the information is documented on a spreadsheet to which all the participants have access.
However, its downside is that it cannot be modified and users actually agree via consensus to add data to the platform.
What’s great about this software, on the other hand, is that it is secure.
Blockchain software mainly targets the financial sector. But it is also widely used by eCommerce businesses, in online voting, e-governance, etc.
These are the most popular blockchain open-source software examples of 2023:
- Ethereum: This software brings businesses and users together while helping them to make smart contracts. Its development team constantly makes significant improvements to the protocol to increase the support and user experience.
- Hyperledger: This platform focuses on improving the wide array of cross-platform blockchain technology. It helps enterprise-level businesses in more secure globally conducted transactions.
- Ripple: This software also helps businesses manage various financial transactions. It connects corporates and banks with different service providers around the world while ensuring the security of data.
Pros and Cons of Open-Source Software
Like every other digital solution, open-source software has numerous advantages but also some downsides. Now that we know what they are and how they work, let’s analyze the pros and cons of open-source software.
Benefits of Open-Source Software
Here are the most notable benefits of open-source software:
- Lower cost. Open-source software is often free, which makes it an alternative to proprietary software that small and mid-sized businesses typically cannot afford.
- Bigger flexibility. Since the source code is available, users can use it in many different ways and modify the software to fit them specific business requirements.
- Great customizability. Users can modify the software to fit their individual needs.
- Enhanced security. Since the code is publicly available, many developers can review it, which increases the chances of identifying and fixing security vulnerabilities.
- Reliability. Because of its accessibility, open-source software is often used, tested and improved by a large community of developers, resulting in a more reliable and stable product.
- Transparency. Open-source software is transparent and allows users to see how the software works and what it does, which can build trust since users can monitor all software activities.
- Collaboration possibilities. Open-source software has active communities where members help each other and share knowledge and resources. This can all lead to better and more innovative solutions.
As you can see, open-source software offers many advantages; they are transparent, customizable and easy to supervise. At the same time, because of its great accessibility, open-source software has large communities of developers, so you can rest assured that your code is secure and reliable.
Open-Source Software Downsides
Although open-source software has many advantages, it also has some disadvantages that are worth mentioning:
- Security concerns. Transparency is a pro and con of open-source software. Since the source code is publicly available, it makes it easier for hackers to identify vulnerabilities and exploit them.
- Complexity. Some open-source software has complex interfaces and features that make them difficult to use for developers who are not familiar with it.
- Compatibility. Open-source software may not always be compatible with closed-source software or other tools you already use, which can create challenges with third-party integrations.
- Too many options are available. With so many open-source software available, it can be challenging to determine which one is the best for your needs. Some open-source software comes in different variations, making a choice even more complicated.
- Hidden costs. Although they appear free of charge initially, open-source software requires additional costs, such as hardware necessary to run the software, training for your personnel, third-party integrations, maintenance and more.
Open Source Software Takeaways
Open-source software matters to developers in building a career while allowing them to work on some of the biggest platforms around the globe.
However, it also unlocks the doors to innovators who like to contribute to open-source projects.
Last but not least, it makes the lives of many individuals and businesses easier by providing them with customized solutions.
And, the best open-source software examples we’ve provided above are just proof of how beneficial this software is.
Open Source Software FAQ
Open-source software vs. free-source software, what's the difference?
While many use the terms "open source" and "free" interchangeably, they characterize two different software categories. The main difference between open-source and free-source software is restrictions regarding their usage.
Open-source software has a source code that is publicly available and anyone can access, modify and distribute it. Although usually free, open-source software licenses may have some restrictions that don't make them entirely accessible. On the other hand, free-source software can be used, copied, modified and distributed without any restrictions.
Simply put, open-source software allows anyone to see and change the code, while free software means there are no restrictions on how to use it.
Open-source software vs. closed-source software, what's the difference?
The source code of open-source software is available to everyone and anyone with programming knowledge can read and modify it. Closed-source software, or proprietary software, does not permit access or modification of the source code.