Remarkable Real World Open Source Projects

Over the past decade, Open source software (OSS) has seen a surge in popularity. The combination of high coding standards, collaborative learning and minimal costs has attracted a new generation of users and developers, passionate about creating and sharing resources.

This newfound interest has led to crossovers in the application of open source ideas to real world projects; including everything from film making to fizzy drinks. But many of these non-software open source projects are met with skepticism by OSS purists. There’s a tendency to see this practice as a dilution of the original open source movement as well as a deviation from OSS guidelines maintained by organizations like the Open Source Initiative.

Should Open Source mean software only or should its ideas extend to all areas of life and creativity? The following list of real world open source projects should give you some great food for thought!

1. The OScar Project

The OScar Project began in 1999 with the aim of developing a car according to Open Source principles. In 2006 the project opened its doors to the general public and has since grown into a passionate community of designers and drivers out to push the boundaries of mobility.

Car Design From The OScar Project

2. Open Architecture Network

The tagline to The Open Architecture Network is “how do you improve the living standards of five billion people?” The aim of the project is to bring people together from all over the world, from all backgrounds and areas of expertise, to collaborate on innovative and sustainable designs that will improve the lives of the impoverished and marginalized. It is the ability to pass from online concept and design to real world application and practice that makes this project shine. The image below is an example of collaborative design project already underway in Tanzania. Read more about it here.

Design From The Open Architecture Network

3. Open Source Sewing Burdastyle

BurdaStyle was inspired by Burda Mode which was founded by Aenne Burda in 1949. The site was created to allow for the free exchange of designs and patterns and to provide a showcase for clothes designers from amateur to professional.

4. Open Cola

OpenCola defies all the laws of business by disclosing its ‘secret’ recipe to the public. Unlike the many mainstream soft drinks giants, Open Cola welcomes its consumers to experiment with the creation of new flavours, improvements and general learning through practice – the recipe is released under a GNU General Public license. The drink was originally made as a promotional tool to explain free and open source software, but it soon became popular and 150, 000 cans later, the drink took on a life of its own.

5. Open Prosthetics Project

The Open Prosthetics Project aims to innovate in the field of prosthetics through collaborations between users, designers and funders with the goal of making their creations available for anyone to use and build upon under Open Source licensing and ethics. The overall goal is to speed up and amplify the impact of innovation on the prosthetics industry and bring about positive change.

Open Prosthetics design

6. A Swarm of Angels (Open Source Movie)

A Swarm of Angels is a groundbreaking UK-based project that aims to create a 1 million Pound film and give it away to over 1 million people using the Internet. Anyone can sign up to the project and vote on major decisions, including which of two scripts goes into production. Members can contribute to development and production through script input, materials creation, or be part of the distributed film crew. The project is Creative Commons-licensed. View the trailer here.

Shot From A Swarm of Angels - Open Source Film Project

7. The open source sound project of CC mixter

CC Mixter ccMixter is a community music site featuring remixes licensed under Creative Commons where you can listen to, sample, mash-up, or interact with music in whatever way you want.

8. Open Journalism –

New Assignment‘s mission is to spark innovation in “open platform” journalism, distributed reporting and what’s now called “crowdsourcing”. These are forms made possible by the Web and by the falling costs for large numbers of people to locate each other, share information, and collaborate across distance. The goal of New Assignnment is to track developments in the field of journalism, and conduct pro-am, open source reporting projects with media partners.

9. Open Clip Art

Open Clip Art is a vast archive of user contributed clip art that can be freely used. All graphics submitted to the project are placed in the Public Domain under Creative Commons license. The site contains over 7000 graphic images free to download and manipulate. This is an incredible resource for anyone interested in design or creative art work.

Open Clip Art Weapons Illustration

10. Free Beer Project

Free Beer was the first brand of beer with a “free” recipe – free as in “freedom”, taken after the term “free software”. The beer was created by students at the IT-University in Copenhagen together with Superflex, a Copenhagen-based artist collective, to illustrate how concepts of the free software movement might be applied outside the digital world.

The Free Beer Project

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Comments 5 comments | Leave a comment »

Gravatar Icon
Jul 4th, 2009, 1:31 am | #

Thank you very much for sharing this article with us.

Some of this projects are really pleasing to see and makes us believe that open source IS the future……….

#1,2,4,6,8 are really great. And about the others : I'm really not sure…..They are a bit destracting…..But overall I think all of this projects are steps and milestones for the open source revolution.

Thanks again for sharing this article.

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Aug 30th, 2010, 8:26 pm | #

What about the RepRap 3D printer?

The software is Open Source, RepRap II:Mendel is Open Source hardware!

(I'm no expert on the RepRap, just a fan.)

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Sites We Like

SourceForge - one of the longest running portals devoted to housing projects from the Open Source community. A great place to find OSS projects to collaborate on.

Open Source Initiative - the OSI maintains the Open Source Definition and offers a range of information on OSS licensing and standards.

OSALT - a brilliant site devoted to open source alternatives. The site compares quality OSS with its commercial peers.

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