Internet Forum Software

Vanilla – free modern community software

Vanilla is an open-source, pluggable, themable, multi-lingual community-building solution. It’s especially made to help small communities grow larger through SEO mojo, totally customizable social tools, and great user experience. It’s designed to be both simple to install and maintain, as well as offering some powerful functionality.

Vanilla is also built with integration at the forefront, so it can seamlessly integrate with your existing website, blog, or custom-built application.

Vanilla was born out of the desire to create customizable, and downright entertaining community solutions. Vanilla has been used to power over 400,000 community forums around the world.

Vanilla OSS has a very lightweight core with a number of optional plugins, including chat, private messages, “Who’s Online”, and attachments.

The latest version requires PHP 7.0 or higher.

Features include:

  • Dashboard, provides access to the control features of your Vanilla Forum.
  • Easily set up and maintain a full-featured discussion forum with unlimited categories
  • Blog comments.
  • Website widgets.
  • Social links.
  • Themes.
  • Ranks.
  • Category Following.
  • Badges which reward users for reaching certain milestones.
  • Plugins:
    • Custom Theme.
    • Embed Vanilla.
    • File Upload.
    • Feed Discussions.
    • Getting Started:
      • jsConnect.
    • Single Sign On – lets users sign on to a third-party system (like a Vanilla Forum) without needing a separate username and password.
      • SAML (cloud only).
      • OAuth 2.
      • jsConnect.
    • Facebook Connect.
    • Twitter Connect.
    • Google Connect & OpenID.
    • Vanilla Statistics.
  • OAuth2 integrations with these third-party services as ready-to-go addons:
    • Facebook.
    • Twitter.
    • LinkedIn.
    • Google+.
  • Search Engine Optimizations.
  • Native API (APIv2).
  • Full IPv6 support.
  • Embeddable forums.
  • Analytics allows forum administrators to review vital activity on their forums over a specific time period.
  • Import content from other forums – includes passwords, images, emoticons, uploaded files, private messages, banned users, and more.
  • Permissions – uses permissions to restrict access to particular content, options, or workflows.

Support: Documentation, GitHub code repository
Developer: Vanilla Forums Inc.
License: GNU General Public License v2.0

Vanilla is built on an MVC framework named Garden. Its purpose is to provide an extensible, pluggable platform on which to build all the addons.


Vanilla is written in PHP, TypeScript and JavaScript. Learn PHP with our recommended free books and free tutorials. Learn TypeScript with our recommended free books and free tutorials. Learn JavaScript with our recommended free books and free tutorials.

Return to Internet Forums

Popular series
Free and Open Source SoftwareThe largest compilation of the best free and open source software in the universe. Each article is supplied with a legendary ratings chart helping you to make informed decisions.
ReviewsHundreds of in-depth reviews offering our unbiased and expert opinion on software. We offer helpful and impartial information.
Alternatives to Proprietary SoftwareReplace proprietary software with open source alternatives: Google, Microsoft, Apple, Adobe, IBM, Autodesk, Oracle, Atlassian, Corel, Cisco, Intuit, and SAS.
GamesAwesome Free Linux Games Tools showcases a series of tools that making gaming on Linux a more pleasurable experience. This is a new series.
Artificial intelligence iconMachine Learning explores practical applications of machine learning and deep learning from a Linux perspective. We've written reviews of more than 40 self-hosted apps. All are free and open source.
Guide to LinuxNew to Linux? Read our Linux for Starters series. We start right at the basics and teach you everything you need to know to get started with Linux.
Alternatives to popular CLI tools showcases essential tools that are modern replacements for core Linux utilities.
System ToolsEssential Linux system tools focuses on small, indispensable utilities, useful for system administrators as well as regular users.
ProductivityLinux utilities to maximise your productivity. Small, indispensable tools, useful for anyone running a Linux machine.
AudioSurveys popular streaming services from a Linux perspective: Amazon Music Unlimited, Myuzi, Spotify, Deezer, Tidal.
Saving Money with LinuxSaving Money with Linux looks at how you can reduce your energy bills running Linux.
Home ComputersHome computers became commonplace in the 1980s. Emulate home computers including the Commodore 64, Amiga, Atari ST, ZX81, Amstrad CPC, and ZX Spectrum.
Now and ThenNow and Then examines how promising open source software fared over the years. It can be a bumpy ride.
Linux at HomeLinux at Home looks at a range of home activities where Linux can play its part, making the most of our time at home, keeping active and engaged.
Linux CandyLinux Candy reveals the lighter side of Linux. Have some fun and escape from the daily drudgery.
DockerGetting Started with Docker helps you master Docker, a set of platform as a service products that delivers software in packages called containers.
Android AppsBest Free Android Apps. We showcase free Android apps that are definitely worth downloading. There's a strict eligibility criteria for inclusion in this series.
Programming BooksThese best free books accelerate your learning of every programming language. Learn a new language today!
Programming TutorialsThese free tutorials offer the perfect tonic to our free programming books series.
Linux Around The WorldLinux Around The World showcases usergroups that are relevant to Linux enthusiasts. Great ways to meet up with fellow enthusiasts.
Stars and StripesStars and Stripes is an occasional series looking at the impact of Linux in the USA.
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments