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Before we go any farther, we should define what we mean by "commercial open source software." As with many topics in the open source world, different people have very different opinions about what that phrase means.
Some argue that if an open source project has a commercial side it's not truly open source any more. Others hold that if you look hard enough, all open source software has some sort of commercial motive.
On this list, you'll find a variety of projects that are based on open source code and whose owners make money directly from their software. How they make that money varies: Many of the projects on the list have a "community" version that is available under an open source license and "professional" and/or "enterprise" versions that add features that are only available with a commercial, paid license.
Other projects offer the software for free, but require payment for support, maintenance, installation or other services. A few others charge for hardware products based on the software. And a growing group of organizations make money by hosting their open source software on a software-as-a-service (SaaS) basis.
This list doesn't include projects that simply request donations or those that make money only by selling hats, T-shirts and other gear emblazoned with their logo. We also left off projects that offered paid support as an afterthought or those with support and services available only from third parties.
Why put together a list of commercial open source projects at all? Many businesses find it preferable to acquire software under a commercial license because they are worried about some of the legal provisions of some open source licenses, particularly the GPL. In addition, many companies want reliable support and maintenance for their software and are willing to pay for it.
Home users are much less likely to pay for open source software, and as a result, the vast majority of the projects on this list are aimed at businesses rather than home users.
As always, if you would like to suggest a project that you think should be on our list, feel free to mention it in the comments section below.
Open Source Billing1) jBilling
This software for ISPs, telecoms, ASPs, media, software developers and other firms who charge for subscription services offers a highly scalable, robust and flexible Web-based billing solution. The complete software is available for free; support and other services are available for a fee. Operating System: OS Independent.
Open Source Business Intelligence2) Jaspersoft Jaspersoft's Web site boasts that it is "the world's most widely used business intelligence software." The company offers two separate products: JasperReports Server, which allows non-developers to create their own reports and dashboards, and Jaspersoft BI, which incorporates JasperReports Server with ETL and OLAP features. Both are available in free community editions or paid versions that add extra features and support. Operating System: OS Independent.
Used by more than 45,000 companies and downloaded more than 400 times a day, Palo adds online analytical processing capabilities to Microsoft Excel. It's available in either a community or a premium version, which includes more features and support. Operating System: OS Independent.
The "open source business intelligence leader," Pentaho offers enterprises the opportunity to cut their BI licensing costs by 90 percent. In addition to the free community edition, it's available in a variety of paid versions, including an on-demand SaaS version. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.
This Web-based reporting tool boasts an open architecture, ease of use, and powerful reporting capabilities. It's available in an open source version or in a professional version. Operating System: OS Independent.
"The world-leading open-source system for data and text mining," RapidMiner combines Data Integration, Analytical ETL, Data Analysis, and Reporting in a single solution. The enterprise versions offer an extended list of features, professional support and maintenance. Operating System: OS Independent.
Open Source Business Process Management7) Bonita Open Solution
Java-based Bonita Open Solution consists of three separate parts: a process modeling tool, a BPM and workflow engine, and the user interface. The full version of the software is free, with training and three different levels of support available for a fee. Operating System: OS Independent.
Available in open source, enterprise, or cloud editions, ProcessMaker helps companies like Toyota, Lenovo and Honeywell simplify and optimize workflows. It allows companies to reduce their paperwork, become more efficient and improve outcomes. Operating System: Windows, Linux.
Open Source Cloud Infrastructure9) Cloud.com CloudStack
Cloud.com provides CloudStack on an infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) basis to companies that want to build and deploy private clouds. While the community version of the software is available under a GPL license, the enterprise and service provider editions include some proprietary code. Operating System: Linux.
Similar to (but much less expensive than) RightScale, this open source cloud computing platform makes it easier to scale Web sites and Web apps up and down as needed. The development edition is available for free for those with one server farm and up to eight servers. Production and mission critical subscriptions are available for those with larger needs. Operating System: Linux.
Open Source Content Management11) Alfresco
Alfresco's open source solution offers document management, Web content management and collaboration features. It's commercial products add some records management features as well as enterprise-grade support. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.
Recently named the "most popular Java CMS," Liferay offers portal, publishing, content management and collaboration solutions. Well-known users include Cisco, Sesame Street, T-Mobile, Barclays and others. It offers both an open source and a supported enterprise version of its software. Operating System: OS Independent.
Like many of the other items on this list, this enterprise-focused Web content management software comes in a free open source version or a paid enterprise edition. The latest update offers excellent collaboration features, including concurrent editing, comparing revisions, deletion workflow, and content translation. Operating System: Windows, Linux.
With companies like HTC, the Washington Post, HP, Novell, Autodesk and others as clients, MindTouch claims that it "makes the world's most respected social knowledge base." The MindTouch Core product is available with an open source license, while a commercially licensed version is available in on-premise or hosted versions. Operating System: Windows, Linux.
Open Source Customer Relationship Management (CRM)15) ConcourseSuite
This java-based app combines CRM with web content management and team collaboration features. The software can be downloaded for free or used in the cloud on an SaaS basis. The company also offers service contracts for on-premise deployments. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.
16) Orange Leap
This app is designed to help non-profits manage their relationships with "constituents." The base software and the "Guru" reporting add-on are available in either community or supported versions. You can also purchase it on an SaaS basis or buy other paid add-ons. Operating System: Windows.
This very flexible sales force automation tool helps companies forecast sales, recognize trends, share information and close more deals. It offers dual licensing options, and it can also be purchased on an SaaS basis. Operating System: Windows, Linux.
Like many of the other apps on this list, SplendidCRM can be used on-premise or in the cloud. This Windows-centric software comes in community, professional or enterprise versions with different features and support levels for each. Operating System: Windows.
Sugar's client list includes Avis, Coca-Cola, the state of Oregon and 7,000 other organizations, making it one of the most popular open source CRM solutions. It's available in professional and enterprise editions, each of which add more functionality to the basic open source version. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.
vTiger offers a full range of sales force automation, customer service, marketing, inventory management and reporting features. The full version of the software with the complete list of features is available with an open source license; support and the hosted version are available for a fee. Operating System: Windows, Linux, iOS, Android.
Open Source Databases21) MySQL
Now owned by Oracle, MySQL is "the world's most popular open source database" and is used by well-known companies like Facebook, Google, Adobe, Alcatel Lucent and Zappos. The community edition is available for free, while the standard, enterprise and cluster carrier grade editions require support fees. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.
Open Source Data Warehouse (DW)
Apatar software helps companies integrate their data from various on-site and on-demand applications, including Salesforce.com, Quickbooks, and others. In addition to the free software, the company offers commercial support, training, and integration consulting services, as well as some on-demand integration services and some pre-built data integration solutions. Operating System: Windows, Linux.
This app helps organizations meet their compliance requirements for storing e-mails long term. The enterprise edition adds a number of features not available in the open source edition, as well as offering faster performance for companies with a lot of users. Operating System: Windows, Linux.
The "recognized market leader in open source data integration," Talend offers a unified platform for data management that includes data integration, data quality and master data management tools. In addition to the free community versions of its products, Talend also offers paid support, training, commercial versions with additional features, and other services. Operating System: Windows, Linux, Unix.
Open Source Developer Tools25) Mono
Novell's Mono project offers .NET developers a number of cross-platform, open source development tools. Professional and enterprise editions of the some of the tools are available for purchase at the site. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.
26) Sencha Touch
"The first HTML5 mobile Web app framework," SenchaTouch helps users create Web-based apps that look and feel like native iOS or Android apps. It's available under either a GPL or a commercial license depending on the needs of users. Operating System: OS independent.
Zend offers both a Web application server (Zend Server) and an IDE (ZendStudio) for PHP developers. Both are available in free, open source or paid versions, and the company also offers training and some additional commercial products and services. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.
Open Source Document Management Systems (DMS)
Web-based Epiware combines enterprise document management capabilities with groupware functionality like a calendar, wikis and some project management capabilities. The company offers paid support for enterprise users. Operating System: Windows, Linux.
Designed to be very user-friendly, LogicalDOC offers a Web-based interface and mobile versions for users with smartphones. The enterprise edition adds capabilities that aren't available in the open source community edition, and a hosted version is also available. Operating System: OS Independent.
OpenKM (short for" Open Knowledge Mangement") offers a Web-based interface for managing documents at organizations of all sizes. Professional support and training can be purchased for a fee. Operating System: OS Independent.
Open Source E-Commerce31) Magento
The "world's fastest-growing eCommerce platform," Magento boasts more than 2.5 million downloads and more than 25 billion transactions. Additional features not included in the open source community edition are available in the paid professional and enterprise editions. Operating System: Windows, Linux.
Open Source E-mail/Collaboration/Groupware32) Collabtive
Designed as an alternative to Bascamp, Collabtive offers project management, time tracking and reporting features. Like Basecamp, it's also available on an SaaS basis, and the company also offers some related services. Operating System: OS Independent.
Cyn.in aims to help teams collaborate and communicate more quickly through wikis, social networks, blogs, file sharing repositories, micro blogs, discussion boards and other communication applications. It comes in three flavors: the free community edition, the on-demand SaaS version and the on-premise appliance. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.
34) Feng Office
Used by more than 100,000 people, Feng Office offers e-mail, time tracking, notes, contacts, calendar, tasks, document sharing and more. Users can choose from the free open source version, an SaaS version called "FengSky," or a supported on-premise version that also includes some additional modules. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.
The paid versions (both hosted and on-premise) of Group-Office include calendar, CRM, project management, e-mail, file-sharing and synchronization. The open-source version offers slightly fewer features. Operating System: OS Independent.
Used by more than 1,300 corporations with more than 2 million mailboxes, Scalix offers an alternative to a Microsoft Exchange server. It offers e-mail and calendaring, with excellent Outlook support. It's available in a free community version or paid small business, enterprise or hosting versions. Operating System: Linux.
The Zimbra Collaboration Suite calls itself "the worlds most sophisticated web application suite" and describes itself as "a next-generation Microsoft Exchange server." The open source server and the desktop client are available for free; the appliance and network editions require a fee. Operating System: Linux, Unix, OS X.
Open Source Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)38) Compiere ERP + CRM Business Solution
This ERP solution for multi-site, multi-national corporations offers dashboards, reporting, customer history, and many other features. It can be deployed on-premise or in the cloud via Amazon's EC2. The community version is completely open source, while the professional and enterprise versions add more functionality and paid support with a commercial license. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.
39) Open ERP
This ERP suite offers CRM, purchasing, manufacturing, warehouse management, project management, accounting, human resources and marketing capabilities. Open ERP charges no fees for licenses, but does charge for support and on-site deployment services or SaaS subscriptions. Operating System: Windows, Linux.
Opentaps proclaims itself "the most advanced open source ERP + CRM solution." The full software is available with an open source license, or you can purchase a subscription to the Professional Edition, which includes updates and technical support. Operating System: Windows, Linux.
The most popular open source ERP solution in Germany, project-open combines ERP features with project management features. The base software is available on an open-source basis, while additional modules, support and other services are available for a fee. It's also available on an SaaS basis. Operating System: OS Independent.
xTuple's software helps businesses of all sizes keep track of sales, accounting, customers suppliers, inventory, manufacturing and distribution. The PostBooks edition of the software is available with an open source or a commercial license, and the Standard and Manufacturing editions are available with a commercial license only. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X, mobile OSes.
Open Source Gateway Security/UTM Appliances43) Endian Firewall
With Endian's open source software, you can turn any old PC into a unified threat management appliance to protect your network from all kinds of threats. Or you can purchase hardware or supported virtual appliances based on the same software. Operating System: Linux.
44) NetCop UTM
NetCop UTM combines the best open source security products into a single UTM solution. It comes in three versions: Free (for up to 5 users), SME (for less than 20 users) and Enterprise (for more than 20 users). Operating System: Linux.
Used by more than 30,000 organizations, Untangle includes a Web filter, virus blocker, spam blocker, ad blocker, firewall, QoS, intrusion prevention, protocol control, OpenVPN, and all the other capabilities you would expect in a UTM appliance. As with Endian, you can use it to build your own appliance, or you can purchase a hardware appliance or a software package that adds more features not found in the open source version. Operating System: Linux.
Open Source Human Resource Management (HRM)46) Open Applicant
Open Applicant helps HR professionals and hiring managers sort through potential candidates to find the best applicant for a job. The application is free to download, but enterprise level support, customization, an SaaS version, and other services can be purchased from the company. Operating System: OS Independent.
47) Orange HRM
With more than 1 million users, Orange calls itself "the worlds most popular open source human resource management software." The software itself is free, but Orange also offers commercial support, training, add-ons, customization and an SaaS version. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.
Open Source Middleware48) JBoss
Staking its claim as the "leader on-premise and in the cloud," RedHat's JBoss encompasses a variety of middleware offerings. The community versions are free, while enterprise subscriptions add support and other services.
Open Source Mind Mapper49) XMind
This brainstorming and mind mapping software makes it easy to see the connections between ideas. The professional version adds features for business users, like export tools and Gantt views, that aren't available in the free open source version. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.
Open Source Network Monitoring/Scanning/Intrusion Detection50) Nagios
The "industry standard in open source monitoring," Nagios provides alerts that can help IT respond to problems before they can cause costly outages. Well-known users include Unisys, Wells Fargo, BT, iRobot, and the Office of the President of the United States. Commercial support and maintenance packages are available from Nagios Enterprises. Operating system: Linux, Unix.
Opsview aims to "unify your monitoring" so that you can track your physical, cloud and hybrid infrastructure from one place. An enterprise version, additional enterprise modules, support, training and consulting services are available for a fee. Operating System: Linux.
The "most widely deployed IDS/IPS technology worldwide," Snort boasts more than 300,000 registered users. Project owner Sourcefire offers paid consulting and training, as well as commercial products based Snort and sister project ClamAV. Operating System: Linux, Unix, OS X.
Calling itself the "ultimate open source monitoring solution," Zabbix provides a huge range of monitoring, alerting and visualization features. Several different levels of commercial support are available, as well as training and other services. Operating System: Windows (agent only), Linux, OS X.
Open Source Operating System54) Red Hat
Perhaps the most well-known commercial open source software company, Red Hat's flagship enterprise Linux product for desktops and servers comes with commercial support and other services are also available. The company also offers virtualization products based on the operating system and JBoss Middleware that is available in community or enterprise versions.
Novell's version of Linux also comes with enterprise-grade service and support. The company also offers a variety of other software projects that extend the capabilities of SUSE, as well as servers pre-configured with SUSE Linus Enterprise Server.
Now one of the most popular versions of Linux, Ubuntu carries no licensing fees in any of its versions. Professional support and desktop, server or cloud services are available from owner Canonical.
Open Source Project Management57) Onepoint Project
This enterprise project management software is designed to be both highly scalable and easy to use. Features include the work breakdown structure, project pipeline, cost baseline, plan/actual comparisons, milestone trend analysis, resource utilization, and more. Onepoint comes in a wide variety of editions: basic and community are licensed under GPL and the professional, master, group and enterprise versions require a fee-based commercial license. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.
Open Source Router Software58) Vyatta
Vyatta's software and appliances offer enterprises an alternative to expensive networking hardware from companies like Cisco. The core software is available as an open source download, or you can purchase hardware, supported software or services from Vyatta. Operating System: Linux.
Open Source School Management59) openSIS
openSIS helps school officials keep track of student information, attendance, grades, schedules, report cards, and more. In addition to the free community edition, in comes in paid district or school editions which can be deployed on-premise or accessed in the cloud. Operating System: OS Independent.
Open Source Server Software60) ClearOS
This server software for small businesses combines a gateway security, server and networking features in a single download. Key features include multi-WAN, VPN, firewall, anti-malware, anti-spam, intrusion prevention, content filtering, file and print services, mail server, Web server, groupware, and more. While the full software can be downloaded for no charge, ClearCenter also offers paid support, services and hardware based on ClearOS. Operating System: Linux. 61)
Zentyal can act as a security gateway, infrastructure manager, unified threat manager, office server and/or unified communication server. The basic software is available for free, while professional and enterprise versions add support and more features for a fee. Operating System: Linux.
Open Source Time Tracking62) TimeTrex
TimeTrex claims to be "the world's most popular open source payroll and time management software." In addition to the free standard edition, it's available in several other versions that can be deployed on-site or used in the cloud. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.
Open Source User Authentication63) WiKID
WiKID offers open-source, two-factor authentication that utilizes software tokens for remote access, online banking and other applications that require strong authentication. The enterprise version adds some proprietary code not included in the community version, as well as support. Operating System: OS Independent.