Internet Forum Software

11 Best Free and Open Source Linux Internet Forum Software

An internet forum application is a discussion platform where individuals hold conversations in the form of posted messages. This type of software is a very powerful tool to run online communities, to disseminate information, share experiences and ideas, receive online support, interact with others learning new intercultural skills, and much more. Forums are online communities where people share thoughts, ideas and opinions. Organizations also use forums as a method of supporting their customers.

A forum can contain a number of subforums, each of which can have several topics. Within a forum’s topic, each new discussion started is called a thread.

There are two types of structure used in a discussion forum. The most commonly used is the flat message structure where it is only possible to add a message to the end of a thread. A threaded view structure is less commonly used, in part because it’s regarded as somewhat dated.

Messages are typically stored in a relational database such as MySQL, or PostgreSQL.

There is a good range of forum software that is released under an open source license. You may have heard of phpBB, one of the oldest and finest open source forum software. But there’s lots of good alternatives. Which is the best suited forum software largely depends on your requirements. For example, if you need a good Rails forum software, look no further than Discourse or Thredded. Alternatively, if you’re committed to WordPress, it may make sense to use bbPress.

The chart below captures our recommendations. All of the software featured here are free and open source goodness.

Ratings chart for the best free and open source internet forum software

Click the links below to learn more about each open source forum software. We detail the essential information about each application on a single page.

Internet Forum Software
DiscourseDiscussion forum, mailing list, and long-form chat room
NodeBBCommunity platform for the modern web
FlarumSimple discussion platform for your website
ForemPlatform for building modern, independent, and safe communities
phpBBFlat-forum bulletin board software solution
bbPressForum software with a twist from the creators of WordPress
MyBBIntuitive, extensible forum software
miniBBEasy, lite, and speedy quick forum
VanillaSimple and flexible forum software
ThreddedSimple and feature rich Rails forum engine
Simple Machines ForumElegant, effective, powerful forum software

This article has been revamped in line with our recent announcement.

Best Free and Open Source SoftwareRead our complete collection of recommended free and open source software. Our curated compilation covers all categories of software.

The software collection forms part of our series of informative articles for Linux enthusiasts. There are hundreds of in-depth reviews, open source alternatives to proprietary software from large corporations like Google, Microsoft, Apple, Adobe, IBM, Cisco, Oracle, and Autodesk.

There are also fun things to try, hardware, free programming books and tutorials, and much more.
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