50 Noteworthy New Open Source Projects

Friday Sep 19th 2014 by Cynthia Harvey

Open source projects for privacy, mobility, big data and the Internet of Things are key themes on this year's list.

About once a year or so, Datamation puts together a list of interesting new open source projects - anything from Android open source projects to Java open source projects. This year's list features quite a few cool open source projects that place an emphasis on security and privacy. In fact, many of the open source software project websites below reference government intelligence programs and Edward Snowden as their reasons for existence.

Big data also continues to be a major theme for top open source projects, particularly as it relates to analytics, machine learning and the Internet of Things (IoT). Another common focus is mobility, especially development tools for creating mobile apps. And cloud computing and virtualization continue to be very important as well – these hot areas can grow to be among the largest open source projects. Think OpenStack, for instance, which is clearly a new a top open source project.

The list of open source projects also includes a potpourri of top open source projects from other categories, including Web content management, software-defined networking, desktop publishing, games, IT management, electronic health records, operating systems and more. You want variety – All of these apps were released for the first time within the last couple of years and most of them haven't been featured on our lists in the past.

As always, if you know of other cool open source projects that you think should be on our list, feel free note them in the comments section below. An Python open source project, a Google open source project, even an open source Microsoft project (yes, there are such things) – pleas let us know!


1. Ghost

Downloaded more than 340,000 times, Ghost is an open source blogging platform based on Node.js. You can run it on your own Web server for free or use the hosted service, with prices starting at $10 a month. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.

Cloud Management

2. ManageIQ

Sponsored by organizations like Red hat, Booz Allen Hamilton, Chef and CloudSoft, ManageIQ is the open source project behind Red Hat CloudForms. It allows enterprises to control the lifecycle of virtualized applications by setting policies for workload scheduling. Operating System: Linux, VMware.

3. Roboconf

Roboconf makes it easier to deploy distributed applications, particularly in cloud computing environments. It's still in the early stages of development but aims to provide excellent scalability and flexibility. Operating System: OS Independent.


4. Docker

Although it's still very young, this containerization app has quickly developed an enormous following, particularly among enterprises with large data centers. An alternative to traditional virtualization, it speeds the development and deployment of apps. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.

Content Management

5. Fraym

Launched in 2014, Fraym is still in beta status. It promises "a new experience for creating and editing websites" and includes features like multi-language support, SEO, integrated caching, themes and drag and drop editing. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.

6. Okatea

This modular content management system strives to find a balance between simplicity and flexibility. It includes modules for news, pages, contact, galleries and more. Operating System: OS Independent.

7. Yellow

Yellow's claim to fame is its simplicity: "Just files and folders...Not much to learn." It's best for simple blogs and wiki-style websites. Operating System: OS Independent.


8. Apache Drill

This Apache incubator project allows companies to perform SQL queries on datasets stored in Hadoop and NoSQL databases. It aims to enable "day-zeo analytics and rapid application development," and the project website includes instructions for getting it up and running within ten minutes. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.

9. Hustle

Hustle describes itself as "A column-oriented, embarrassingly distributed relational event database." Based on Disco, it's designed to offer extremely fast queries for very large data sets. Operating System: Linux.

10. InfluxDB

InfluxDB is specifically designed to handle data related to a chronological series of events, such as log data, BI analytics and other metrics. Written in Go, it is horizontally scalable, has no external dependencies and is easy to install and manage. There's an online sandbox for trying it out and a hosted service that incorporates Grafana dashboards. Operating System: OS Independent.

11. Realm

Conceived as a replacement for Core Data and SQLite, Realm is a mobile database that aims to help developers build mobile apps faster. The software is open source, but enterprise services are available for a fee. Operating System: OS X, iOS.

12. WebScaleSQL

Based on MySQL, WebScaleSQL is a collaboration among Facebook, Google, LinkedIn and Twitter. Their goal is to create a SQL database that can offer the performance, reliability and scalability that these large Web companies need. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.

Desktop Publishing

13. ShareLatex

Although it was just launched in February 2014, ShareLatex already boasts more than 200,000 users at organizations including Harvard, Stanford, MIT, Oxford, Cambridge and NASA. It enables online collaboration on documents using LaTeX, an open source editor ideal for scientific and mathematical documentation. The open source code is available free, or you can pay for the hosted service. Operating System: OS X, iOS.

Development Tools

14. Apigility

Zend-owned Apigility humbly proclaims itself to be "the world's easiest way to create high-quality APIs." Key features include RESTful or RPC services, JSON, versioning, normalization and validation, and authentication via HTTP Basic/Digest or OAuth2. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.

15. Appium

With so many different mobile devices and operating systems on the market, it can be difficult to test apps to make sure they will work for all end users. Appium is an open source mobile testing framework that can automating the testing of native, mobile Web and hybrid applications. Operating System: OS Independent.

16. Crypton

Crypton is a JavaScript framework that allows developers to create applications that protect user privacy by preventing the developerr from accessing the data stored on the server. It's been featured in several publications, and it is owned by SpiderOak, a file-sharing service Edward Snowden has mentioned as a good alternative to Dropbox. Operating System: OS Independent.

17. Dirigible

Cloud-based Dirigible describes itself as an Integrated Development Environment as a Service (IDEaaS). SAP launched it in March 2014, and it is currently in beta trials. Operating System: OS Independent.

18. Falcon

This Python framework for building cloud APIs and web app back-ends claims it has been "Unburdening cloud apps for over 1.69 x 10-2 centuries" (or a little over a year and a half). It boasts very fast performance and very few dependencies. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.

19. Flight

Created by Twitter, Flight is a "lightweight, component-based JavaScript framework that maps behavior to DOM nodes." It's based on ES5-shim and jQuery, and Twitter uses it for its own Web apps. Operating System: OS Independent.

20. JHipster

JHipster describes itself as "Yeoman + Maven + Spring + AngularJS all working together in one handy generator." It helps simplify the process of creating modern Web apps, and it has quickly become very popular on GitHub. Operating System: OS Independent.

21. Ionic

Currently a beta release, Ionic is a front-end hybrid mobile app development framework. It focuses on the creation of great-looking interfaces and can work with other tools like PhoneGap and Cordova. Operating System: OS Independent.

22. LoopBack

Loopback is an open source Node.js framework that aims to make enterprise data available on mobile devices by facilitating the creation of dynamic REST APIs. It supports Android, iOS and HTML5 mobile Web apps. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X, Android, iOS.

23. Phaser

Phaser helps developers create desktop and mobile HTML5 games. It supports JavaScript and TypeScript, and it has been used to create hundreds of games played by millions of users every month. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X, Android, iOS.

24. THyM

Short for "The Hybrid Mobile Project," THyM is an Eclipse-based tool that enables cross-platform development through the Apache Cordova Framework. Supported by the Eclipse Foundation and Red Hat, it allows developers to use Web technologies to create mobile apps. The project is still in the very early stages of development. Operating System: OS Independent.

Electronic Health Record (EHR)

25. Neuron Health

Built on the Tolven Platform, Neuron is an EHR system created by software company Roberts-Hoffman. It was designed to adapt to provider workflows, communicate with other systems and use the latest technologies. Operating System: OS Independent.

File Synchronization

26. CloudStore

This alternative to Dropbox allows users to set up their own file storage servers that automatically sync content between devices. It eliminates the security and privacy concerns of entrusting sensitive data to third-party companies and aims to be "the most secure file synchronization tool available." (Note that this is not the UK government initiative of the same name.) Operating System: Linux.


27. Browsmos

Inspired by Osmos, Browsmos is a simple yet addictive browser-based game that challenges users to become the biggest blob on the screen by absorbing smaller blobs. Play online or download it through the Chrome Web store. Operating System: Windows, Linux.

28. Freeminer

If you're feeling nervous about Microsoft's purchase of Minecraft, check out Freeminer. Very similar to Minecraft, this game features a nearly infinite world where players can dig and build whatever they can imagine. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.

29. TaskWarload

This browser-based game has a deeper purpose than entertainment—teaching beginning programmers to code in the Lua programming language. Note that you'll need to be fairly technical and have access to a Web server in order to get the game up and running. Operating System: Windows, Linux.

Internet of Things (IoT)

30. Altair

Still under very active development, Altair focuses on creating what the project owners call "experiences of everything." Its goal is to orchestrate complex interactions among smart devices "n such a way as to blend the technology so beautifully into our lives that we don't even know that it's there. Not only that, but we should quickly begin to question how we ever lived without it." Operating System: Linux.

31. Eclipse Smarthome

Although it's still a beta release, this iot.eclipse.org project seems very promising. It aims to build a flexible, open framework for connecting smart devices in living spaces. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.

32. OpenIoT

This project offers middleware for a "sensing as a service" cloud that can integrate data from a wide variety of sensors and smart devices. Its sponsors include many noteworthy European universities and government agencies. Operating System: Linux.

IT Management

33. Difio

Difio tracks the open source code behind your applications. When that code changes, it lets you know what's different so that enterprise IT can make informed decisions about upgrading to the latest version. Supported languages include Python, Ruby, PHP, Perl, Node.js and Java. Operating System: Linux.

34. Serverspec

If your organization uses Puppet, Chef, CFEngine or another configuration management tool, Serverspec can double-check to make sure your servers are configured the way you want them to be. It's currently a beta release with a second beta due in October. Operating System: Linux.

Machine Learning

35. Oryx

Sponsored by Cloudera, Oryx brings predictive analytics and machine learning to Hadoop. There is also an Oryx 2 project that uses Spark and supports lambda architecture. Operating System: OS Independent.

36. PredictionIO

Developers can use this machine learning server to build personalization, recommendation or content discovery features into their applications. Download it to your own server or use the paid service in Amazon's cloud. Operating System: Linux.

Mobile Privacy

37. XPrivacy

XPrivacy locks down Android devices to prevent sensitive data from leaking from one applicaiton to another. You can download it for free from Google Play or use the paid Pro version to sync your settings across several devices. Operating System: Android.

Operating System

38. Nanolinux

This desktop Linux distribution is extremely small—just 14 MB—but still includes popular applications like a browser, text editor, spreadsheet, paint program, games and more. It can run from RAM, giving it extremely fast performance.

39. Raspberry Digital Signage

This project lets you use an inexpensive Raspberry Pi system to run your digital sign. It can play Web content or locally saved video or photo files.

40. RLSD

Short for "Retro Linux Small Distribution," RLSD takes you back to computing as it was in the 1990s. It's great for running legacy applications, reviving an old x86 PC or just experiencing "a nostalgic moment."

Password Manager

41. Entropass

Protect yourself online by using this browser add-on to generate and remember highly secure passwords. Unlike some other password managers, this one uses two-factor security: you choose any file to act as your private key when accessing a site, providing you with an extra layer of protection. Operating System: OS Independent.

42. Encryptr

Encryptr can function both as a password manager and as an e-wallet. Built on the Crypton framework, it stores encrypted sensitive data in the cloud, decrypting data only on your devices. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X, Android.

Secure Communication

43. GoldBug

This secure communication app offers encrypted instant messaging, e-mail, file sharing and IRC. It also has the ability to authenticate users and supports emoticons. Operating System: Windows, Linux.

44. Places

Places is a platform for sharing messages, photos and files securely. It encrypts information end-to-end so that only the intended recipients can view it. The source code is available, and for now, the beta service is completely free although the company does intend to add paid services in the future. Operating System: OS Independent.

45. Scotty

Scotty offers "a free open source proxy software for bypassing filter and censorship systems." To use it, you'll need a gateway (either your own Web server or one on Google App Engine) plus a Java executable on your local system which bypasses filters and encrypts communication. Operating System: OS Independent.

46. SUM

Short for "Secure Ultimate Messenger," SUM is a confidential, encrypted instant messaging program. Unlike many similar programs, it doesn't save messages on a server, providing an extra layer of security. Operating System: OS Independent.

47. Tox

If you're worried that government agencies might be snooping on your private communications, Tox is for you. It's a secure IM and video conferencing platform. Note that it's still under heavy development and some bugs remain. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.

Software-Defined Networking (SDN)

48. Mcrouter

The newest project on our list, Mcrouter was first released by Facebook on September 15, 2014. The company describes the project as "a memcached protocol router that is used at Facebook to handle all traffic to, from, and between thousands of cache servers across dozens of clusters distributed in our data centers around the world." It can reportedly handle up to 5 billion requests per second. Operating System: Linux.

49. Open Daylight

Open Daylight describes itself as "an open platform for network programmability to enable SDN and NFV for networks at any size and scale." Its first release is called Hydrogen, and it comes in three versions: Base, Virtualization and Service Provider. Operating System: Linux.


50. Aperture JS

This project was designed to help produce visualizations of data to aid analysts and other decision makers. It's a JavaScript library that takes a "unified layer based approach to visualization assembly" in order to create rich, powerful graphics. Operating System: OS Independent.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

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