The world of open source is vast and ever-evolving. Over the years, countless projects have been introduced to the community, and while many have come and gone, some have stood the test of time. These are the stalwarts, the projects that have been around for decades and continue to see active development, proving their enduring value and adaptability. Let's delve into the top 10 oldest open source projects that are still active today.
GNU Project (1983)
Initiated by Richard Stallman, the GNU Project was the beginning of the free software movement. While its goal to create a free UNIX-like operating system hasn't been entirely fulfilled in isolation, the components it's brought forth (like the GNU Compiler Collection) form integral parts of other popular OSs, especially when combined with the Linux kernel.
Donald Knuth, a renowned computer scientist, began developing TeX as a typesetting system to produce high-quality digital typography. This software is still heavily used, especially in academia, for typesetting documents, articles, and books, especially those that contain complex mathematical formulas.
BIND (Berkeley Internet Name Domain, 1983)
BIND is a widely used Domain Name System (DNS) software. Initially developed at the University of California, Berkeley, it continues to be an essential part of the internet's infrastructure.
X Window System (1984)
This is a system for bitmap displays that's foundational to UNIX and UNIX-like systems. Many of today's graphical interfaces, such as those in Linux desktop environments, owe their existence to the X Window System.
GCC (GNU Compiler Collection, 1987)
Originally named the GNU C Compiler, it now supports various programming languages. It's a staple in the world of programming, responsible for compiling a vast amount of the software we use daily.
This versatile scripting language was created by Larry Wall. Known for its potency in text processing, Perl has been a foundational tool for system admins and developers.
Stemming from the Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD), NetBSD is a free and open-source UNIX-like operating system. Its focus on portability has seen it run on a wide variety of hardware architectures.
Apache HTTP Server (1995)
Often referred to simply as "Apache", this is one of the oldest and most reliable web server platforms. It played a pivotal role in the initial boom of the World Wide Web and remains widely used today.
One of the most popular relational database management systems (RDBMS), MySQL provides the database needs for countless web applications and platforms. Acquired by Oracle Corporation in 2010, it remains open source and an essential tool for many developers.
Originally created by Rasmus Lerdorf, PHP is a server-side scripting language mainly used for web development. Websites like WordPress, which powers a significant portion of the web, are built on PHP.
It's worth noting that "active" doesn't necessarily mean these projects are in their prime or widely adopted in their original form. Many have spun off derivatives or influenced newer projects. Their longevity and continued activity are a testament to the strength of the open-source ethos: a collaborative approach to problem-solving and development can lead to lasting, impactful solutions.
These projects represent just a small portion of the vast open-source landscape. Yet, they've made significant contributions to the digital world we interact with every day. Here's to many more years of active development and innovation from these pioneering projects!
About the author
Joff Tiquez, hailing from Manila, Philippines, is the individual behind the establishment of OSSPH. He is a web developer who strongly supports open source and has been overseeing projects like Vue Stripe for an extended period. To get in touch with Joff, you can visit https://bento.me/jofftiquez.