Well-known open source projects

May 14, 2015 2 min read

Someone asked me this week: “What are some examples of open source software that most non-technical people have heard of?” I had a few answers off the top of my head, but not nearly enough. Anyone that uses a computer likely interacts with hundreds of open source components every day.

What other open source projects are popular among common folks? Add your suggestion.

Mozilla Firefox

Mozilla Firefox is a web browser that descended from Netscape Navigator, which was released as open source in the late 90s.

Google Chrome

Google’s popular web browser is developed as open source software under the name Chromium. It was originally based on the the same code that powers Apple’s Safari web browser.


If you’ve used the internet, a modern TV, or the in-flight entertainment system on an airplane–as well as hundreds of other specialized devices–then you’ve interacted with a computer running Linux. Linux-based operating systems come in many different flavors, such as Ubuntu, and are all comprised of the Linux Kernel and a host of other open source utilities. The Linux Kernel, originally released in 1991, was an early example of the effectiveness of open source and remains one of the most successful open source projects to date.


Android is a special flavor of Linux-based operating system that runs on mobile phones. Phone makers like Samsung use the open source operating system as the core of most of their modern devices.


WordPress is an extremely popular content management system and blogging platform. It is completely open source, and is also built on top of many other open source components.

LibreOffice / Open Office

LibreOffice, a fork of Open Office, is an open source office productivity suite that offers an alternative to Microsoft Office.

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avatar of Brandon Keepers I am Brandon Keepers, and I work at GitHub on making Open Source more approachable, effective, and ubiquitous. I tend to think like an engineer, work like an artist, dream like an astronaut, love like a human, and sleep like a baby.