10 Best Open Source Forum Software for Linux

A forum is a discussion platform where related ideas and views on a particular issue can be exchanged. You can setup a forum for your site or blog, where your team, customers, fans, patrons, audience, users, advocates, supporters, or friends can hold public or private discussions, as a whole or in smaller groups.

If you are planning to launch a forum, and you can’t build your own software from scratch, you can opt for any of the existing forum applications out there. Some forum applications allow you to setup only a single discussion site on a single installation, while others support multiple-forums for a single installation instance.

In this article, we will review 10 best open source forum software for Linux systems. By the end of this article, you will know exactly which open source forum software best suites your needs.

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1. Discourse – Discussion Platform

Discourse is a free open source, simple, modern, incredibly powerful and feature-rich community discussion software.

Discourse Forum Software

Discourse Forum Software

It works as a mailing list, discussion forum, long-form chat room, and so much more. Its front-end is built using JavaScript and it is powered by the Ember.js framework; and the server side is developed using Ruby on Rails backed by a PostgreSQL database and Redis cache.

It is responsive (auto-switches to a mobile layout for small screens), it supports: dynamic notifications, community moderation, social login, spam blocking, reply via email, emojis and badges. It also comes with a trust system and so much more. Above all, Discourse is simple, modern, awesome and fun, and has a one-click upgrade feature, once installed.

2. phpBB – Bulletin Board Software

phpBB is a free open source, powerful, feature-rich and highly extensible forum or bulletin board software. There are numerous extensions and a styles database (with hundreds of style and image packages) for you to enhance its core functionality and to customize your board respectively.

phpBB Bulletin Board Forum

phpBB Bulletin Board Forum

It is secure and comes with various tools to protect your forum from unwanted users and spam. It supports: a search system, private messaging, multiple methods of notifying users of forum activities, conversation moderators, and user-groups. Importantly, it has an advanced caching system for increased performance. You can integrate it with other applications via multiple plugins and so much more.

3. Vanilla – Modern Community Forum

Vanilla is an open source, fully-featured, intuitive, robust cloud-based and multi-lingual community forum software. It is easy to use giving users a modern forum experience, allows users to post questions and polls; it has an advance editor for formating posts with html, markdown, or bbcode, and supports @ mentions.

Vanilla Community Forum

Vanilla Community Forum

It also supports user-profiles, notifications, auto-save, avatars, private messaging, real-time preview, a powerful search facility, user-groups, single sign on and so much more. Vanilla can be integrated with social networks for easy sharing, login and more. It comes with numerous plugins and themes to enhance its primary features and customize its look and feel.

4. SimpleMachinesForum (SMF)

SimpleMachinesForum is a free, open source, simple, beautiful and powerful forum software. It is available in over 45 different languages. SMF is easy to use and highly customizable, with a multitude of powerful and effective features. It comes with high quality and reliable support.

Simple Machines Forum

Simple Machines Forum

SMF is highly customizable; it has many extensions/packages (under various categories such as security, socialization, administration, permissions, posting, theme enhancements and more) to modify its core functionality, add or remove features, and lot more.

5. bbPress – Forum Software

bbPress is a free open source, simple, lightweight, fast and secure bulletin board software built in a WordPress-fashion. It is easy to install, and configure, fully integrated and supports setting up multiple forums on one site installation.

bbPress Forum Software

bbPress Forum Software

It is highly extensible and customizable, supports several plugins. It also supports RSS feeds and offers spam blocking functionality for additional security.

6. MyBB – Powerful Forum Software

MyBB is a free open source, simple, easy-to-use, intuitive yet powerful, and extremely efficient forum software. It is a discussion-oriented application that supports: user profiles, private messages, reputation, warnings, calenders and events, user promotion, moderation, and more.

MyBB Community Forum

MyBB Community Forum

It ships in with a number of plugins, and templates and themes to extend its core functionality and customize its default look and feel, allowing you to setup a fully customized and effective online community forum with ease.

7. miniBB – Community Discussion Forum

miniBB is a free open source, standalone, lightweight, fast, and highly customizable software for building a web forum. It is suitable and effective for setting up a simple and stable community discussion platform, especially for novices. It allows for dynamic and content-rich discussions, and you can enable it to be responsive via the mobile template.

MiniBB Community Discussion Forum

MiniBB Community Discussion Forum

It can easily be integrated with your website, allowing you to change its layout to the look of your website. In addition, miniBB offers facilities for you to synchronize with an existing membership system. Importantly, it supports guest posts and quick moderation.

8. Phorum – Forum Software

Phorum is a free open source, simple, highly-customizable, and easy-to-use PHP message board software. It has a very flexible hook and module system for you to customize your web community discussion platform.

Phorum Forum Software

Phorum Forum Software

You can easily changes its default using HTML templates that have simple to understand text commands in-built.

9. FluxBB – Forum Software

FluxBB is fast, light, easy-to-use, stable, secure, user-friendly and multi-lingual PHP forum software. It comes with a well organized administration interface and admin panel plugins, supports a flexible permission system, and it is XHTML compliant.

FluxBB Forum Software

FluxBB Forum Software

It supports user profiles, avatar, forum categories, announcements, topic search, post preview RSS/Atom feeds, user selectable CSS styles and language and so much more.

10. PunBB – Bulletin Board Software

PunBB is a free open source, lightweight and fast PHP bulletin board software. It has a simple layout and design, like most forum software listed above, it supports private messaging, polls, linking to off-site avatars, advanced text formatting commands, file attachments, multi-forums and so much more.

PunBB Bulletin Board Forum

PunBB Bulletin Board Forum

That’s all for now! In this article, we reviewed 10 best open source forum software for Linux. If you are interested in setting up a forum for your site or blog, by now, you should be knowing which open source software to use. If your favorite software is missing in the list, let us know via the feedback form below.

If you’re looking for someone to install Forum Software, consider us, because we offer wide range of Linux services at fair minimum rates with 14-days free support via email. Request Installation Now.

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Aaron Kili

Aaron Kili is a Linux and F.O.S.S enthusiast, an upcoming Linux SysAdmin, web developer, and currently a content creator for TecMint who loves working with computers and strongly believes in sharing knowledge.

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7 Responses

  1. Ivo says:


    The discourse forum is not free and is pretty expensive because the prices are per month. :)


    • Aaron Kili says:


      Discourse is 100% free, open-source forum software only if you set up and manage your own hosting server. Managed forum hosting comes at a price, however, you can apply for free hosting if you run an open-source project, as clearly indicated on the Discourse official site.

  2. Michael Biller says:

    While not quite ready for this list, Flarum is worth a serious look. It is currently still in beta but is definitely promising. Thanks for sharing this comprehensive list.

  3. Filmovi sa prevodom says:

    Where is Flarum? – a next-generation forum software :)

  4. Mark says:

    For me the best is userhorn, the best online ticketing service offers customer support.

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