Top 10 open source projects of 2015

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Top 10 open source projects of 2014 with lightbulb

CC0 Public Domain, modifications by Jen Wike Huger

We round up 10 editor's picks from the most popular projects this year. (Last year's list made a splash!

Top 10 open source projects of 2015

Apache Spark

When it comes to open source big data processing, Hadoop is no longer the only name in the game. Apache Spark is a general purpose distributed data processing tool that allows users to process gigantic datasets across many nodes, coordinating the processing so that users can concentrate on writing their queries in their language of choice. At the beginning of this year, we announced a new world record in data processing set by Apache Spark, 100 TB of data in just 23 minutes. In the months that followed, interest in Apache Spark has not slowed, and the project has gained many new contributors and adopters.


The Blender Foundation is on a mission "to build a free and open source complete 3D creation pipeline for artists and small teams." This year we’ve seen the power of Blender in the mix of Blender-related articles we've run on Writer and Blender aficionado Jason van Gumster (author of Blender for Dummies) shared the majority of those stories, including reports from the recent Blender Conference in Amsterdam.


When you are working with large amounts of raw data, sometimes a visualization is the best way to interpret what you’re looking at. When you make that visualization available on the web, you can add new levels of interactivity to display information for an audience in an easy-to-understand format. One tool for making this easy is D3, a JavaScript-based data visualization framework that provides options for showing data in charts, graphs, plots, maps, and more. We profiled D3 earlier this year as a part of our roundup of 8 excellent data visualization tools.


If you spend a lot of time managing files on your computer, you’re going to want a file manager that suit your needs and gives you features that let you quickly and easily take control of your file system. Dolphin, the default file manager in many KDE-based distributions, is a powerful tool to help you organize files. For more on Dolphin, take a look at community moderator David Both’s comprehensive review and guide to the Dolphin file manager from earlier this year. 


The world of version control sure has changed since git entered the scene 10 years ago as an open source alternative to BitKeeper for managing the Linux kernel’s source code. Since then, git has rapidly become the most popular tool for tracking changes to files, and not just for code. Git helps track changes to files where revisioning, branching, and collaborative development can help improve the workflow of a project. Are you still working with an older source code manager, but thinking of moving to git? Here are some great tips and resources for making the move.


To borrow from our review of this open source team chat alternative: 

"Mattermost is [a] very modern approach to team chat. Currently in its beta release, Mattermost is written in Golang with a good chunk of JavaScript under the React framework. It features private and public chats, including one on one communication, good archival support, and a very similar interface to Slack, including most of the features you've come to expect there. In fact, if you're already using Slack, there's an easy import function which lets you move over your current channels and archives. Mattermost also integrates into your organization's existing LDAP or Active Directory authentication systems."


Piwik is an open source alternative to Google Analytics, and according to writer Scott Nesbitt, chances are it packs the features you need.

Nesbitt writes: "Those features include metrics on the number of visitors hitting your site, data on where they come from (both on the web and geographically), from what pages they leave your site, and the ability to track search engine referrals. Piwik also has a number of reports and you can customize the dashboard to view the metrics that you want to see. To make your life easier, Piwik integrates with over 65 content management, ecommerce, and online forum systems like WordPress, Magneto, Joomla!, and vBulletin using plugins. With anything else, you just need to add a tracking code to a page on your site. A number of web hosting firms offer Piwik as part of their one-click install packages. You can test drive Piwik or use a hosted version."

Fun fact: Maker of the LulzBot 3D printer, Aleph Objects, uses Piwik to run their analytics.


In the era of big data, now may be the time to learn R, which has become the programming language of choice for data scientists and others interested in statistical computing and graphics, and is touted by influencers in big data like Revolution Analytics. Earlier this year, the R Consortium became a Linux Foundation Collaborative project, created to provide support for the development of R-Hub, a new code-hosting platform for developing and distributing packages for R.


SugarCRM is the 800-pound gorilla in the open source customer relationship management space, and has previously been featured as one of our top 5 CRM tools. The community edition of SugarCRM can be used out of the box as a complete solution for organizations hoping to do a better job of keeping their contacts manageable, or who want to turn a list of names into something actionable. Complete with huge list of features and a pluggable infrastructure that allows for even more customization, SugarCRM is a great solution for organizations that want to get a handle on their contacts. (Editor's note: SugarCRM 6.5 Community Edition is the most recent open source version of SugarCRM and is still widely used. Open source alternatives built on SugarCRM CE are growing in popularity.)


In a nutshell, Vagrant is a command-line tool for launching and configuring virtual machines. With Vagrant, environments are reproducible and portable, and the data that defines the environment is stored in text files, making it easy to version control your environments and manage your virtual machines just as you would code. Vagrant allows you to set up development environments on your local machine that are nearly identical to your production environment, regardless of what your host operating system is. Plus, learning how to get started with Vagrant is easy.

Thanks to Jason Baker for his help on this article.

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Jen leads a team of community managers for the Digital Communities team at Red Hat. She lives in Raleigh with her husband and daughters, June and Jewel.



WTF? You guys are positioning SugarCRM as the best of open source when tbey abandoned all work on their Community Edition in 2013.. If you have your finger on the pulse then the patient has rigor mortis. SugarCRM was forked in 2013 to SuiteCRM .. you should know, you wrote about it.

This is sloppy journalism!!

Greg, my fellow editor and I put this list together focused on projects that are a) open source and b) widely used this year, regardless of other criteria like latest release or activity of the project's developers. That might not have been clear. Additionally, as part of our end of year series, we have a list coming out soon that *is* focused on the recent activity of a project as part of the criteria.

In reply to by Greg Soper

You need to fix it. SugarCRM no longer belongs on this list, and you should have written about SuiteCRM instead. Just fix it and stop rationalizing your mistake.

In reply to by Jen Wike Huger

Jen, when you preface the first paragraph of the article with "Every year we look back at 10 of the hot open source projects from the past 12 months." and finish it with "we expect more great things from these projects in 2016."

I wonder what's hot about a dormant project and what other great things you expect from a project that has been dead for more than 2 years.

I am not being deliberately antagonistic. We have conversed in the past and I know you do good work.

But this, IMHO, is not your best.

In reply to by Jen Wike Huger

We removed "we expect more great things from these projects in 2016" and added an editor's note about the most recent release of SugarCRM CE.

In reply to by Greg Soper


Thank you for taking the feedback seriously and acting on it. It would have been preferable had you also dated the release as this is more important than the version number. Better still, if you had informed your readers that this product is no longer under active development.

My last comment on the matter is to invite you to consider the implications for readers who follow what is essentially an endorsement of a product by Red Hat.

They will be deploying a product that has no future. Worse, some of the underlying technologies, principally PHP, are now out of support by their respective vendors. Any security vulnerabilities will not be fixed. You may be encouraging them to install software that is increasingly vulnerable, for which there will be no updates.

I am surprised that Red Hat, a company I respect greatly, are comfortable with this.

In reply to by Rikki Endsley

Jen, it's true, SugarCRM says they're open source only as a medium to attract new clients. I've tried it before to find zero support. The have a lot of users because a CRM is an important thing for companies, but that doesn't mean they're big as open source, in the sense of a real community.
Openstack would be better, even the complex Vtiger.

In reply to by Jen Wike Huger

Can only agree with you Greg.

I wonder if the Editor's note was inserted after your correct spotting of this. (Editor's note: SugarCRM 6.5 Community Edition is the most recent open source version of SugarCRM and is still widely used. Open source alternatives built on SugarCRM CE are growing in popularity.)

The whole redirection taken by them, away from Community Edition in 2013 surely needs highlighting as you've done.


Gaz from downunder Oz.

In reply to by Greg Soper

Greg, I'm sure you could have said what you wanted to without being so mean. Jen is a sweetheart, and so what if she made a mistake? I can't remember what I ate for lunch yesterday let alone something I wrote 2 years ago. Give her a break! If she purposely tried to demolish something you cared about, I could see a reason for hostility.

Jen, have a wonderful Christmas. Thank you for keeping us up to date on everything. Greg, Merry Christmas to you too. You're probably going to get a lump of coal, but at least it will warm your heart.

@Cory - i have no evidence to suggest that Cory is not a sweetheart but that is not an excuse for poor journalism. If you are going to write an article in an "authoritative" journal then there is an accompanying responsibility to do the research. Otherwise you are presenting the readership with information that is of very low value. In this case, the readership is poorly informed. Presenting a project that has been dead in the water for more than 2 years as one of the top open source projects of 2015 does's readers no favours. I see no need to withdraw my comment.

As for my top list, I would include Docker - (it allows to promote the open source software around the world by simplifying the installation process) and OnlyOffice - as an alternative to "big brothers" like Google Docs and MS Office 365.

I moderated your comments that make personal attacks on a another person's appearance. You are welcome chime in on the popularity of CRMs on and off this list without making derogatory comments. (See our Terms of Use at:

that's cool it wasn't topic-relevant, even tho I think my comments about creepiness were accurate. o:)

In reply to by Rikki Endsley

"b) widely used this year, regardless of other criteria like latest release or activity of the project's developers. "

To me that is the key of what Jen was trying to point out. Thunderbird is a lost cause yet is still being used today-and it's open source. It's common sense that even though the project is dead, it is still being used today. Look at COBOL---still in use today and nothing in today's age is supporting it yet it is still popular with certain companies. Poor journalism? ---then you didn't get the point of the article. Just because the project is dead doesn't mean it isn't widely used in 2015.

That's not a suitable reason. The way this article is written suggests that SugarCE is still an active project, but it isn't.

People are going to google "best open source 2015" and they're going to be mislead by the errors in this article. It needs to be fixed.

In reply to by bmaynard

Err, so a "Hot languages for 2016" article would include Cobol, Pascal, Fortran ... there's still lots of that stuff out there too. I'm not sure that it's me that's missing the point.

In reply to by bmaynard

You would actually be right. My mentor would agree that although the dead languages are not being devolved for new projects, they are however a hot item. COBOL developers are still in high demand, even in 2015. Look, I am still very new in the open source world, let alone Linux, but I do understand what is still being used in the field today. It is like the GUI or Command Line for interfaces... Command-line is old school but guess what....still being used today.
Another way I can explain this.... carburetors vs. fuel injection. Fuel injection is the new technology but you still see carburetors being sold and even reviews on them. Still in use today.

Don't down an article just because it's about what is in use today just because it isn't the newest and greatest.

+1 SuiteCRM
+1 Docker

From an end-user perspective I think Raymond deserves plenty of recognition for his cross-platform browser plugins too!

I'd also give honourable mentions to web frameworks like Meteor and big data / compute proijects like ActiveEON Parallels too.

What about Swift 2.0? Open sourced just a few weeks ago

It was great that it became open source but this close to the end of the year.... I would have to say that not enough people have used it prior to it being open sourced....IMHO.

In reply to by Zig (not verified)

Disagree with Dolphin being on the list.

Why is Jupyter missing?

Never heard of it, it might not be that hot ;-)

Perhaps write an article about it and send it in?

In reply to by will (not verified)

+1 Docker
+1 OpenStack
+1 Angular
+1 Piwik
+1 D3

Hey, what about MAPS.ME ? Open-sourced offline maps for OpenStreetMaps is a good candidate for the top list!

I always look forward to these lists and I'm hoping to see there someday!

nice projects

Interesting projects.

I would (of course) add to the list. It's a Web Operating System that includes Appengine, NoSQL storage and Web CMS. It was released in February 2015.

Morten Ø. Eriksen
Co-founder Enonic

Why not android?

Where is Monodevelop, Chrome, Firefox, Eclipse?
If you include OSs,
Where is Linux, Android?

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