9 open source forum software you can deploy on Linux servers

Want to have a community forum or customer support portal? This is some of the best open source forum software that can be deployed on the server.

Just like our FOSS community forum, it is important to always establish a platform where like-minded people can discuss, interact and seek support.

Forums provide users (or customers) with a space to access most of their content that is not easy to find on the Internet.

If you are a business, you can hire a team of developers and build your own forum in your own way, but this will increase your budget a lot.

Fortunately, there are many impressive open source forum software, you can deploy them on the server, and everything goes well! In the process, you will save a lot of money, but still get what you need.

Here, I made a list of the best open source forum software that can be installed on a Linux server.

The best open source forum software to build a community portal

If you have not yet established a website, you may want to look at some open source website creation tools before deploying the forum.

note: The list has no particular ranking order.

1. Discourse (modern and popular)

Itforth Community Discourse

Discourse is the most popular modern forum software that people use to build discussion platforms. In fact, our FOSS community forum uses the Discourse platform.

It provides most of the basic functions I know, including email notifications, review tools, style customization options, third-party integrations (such as Slack/WordPress) and more.

It is completely free and self-hosted, you can find the project in the following location GitHub Also, if you don’t need the hassle of deploying it on a self-service server, you can always choose Hosting Services Provided by Discourse Itself (it will definitely be expensive).


2. Talkyard (inspired by discourse and StackOverflow)

Talkyard Forum

Talkyard is an open source project that is completely free to use. It looks very close to “discourse”, but if you check, there will be a difference.

You can get most of the key features from StackOverflow here, as well as all the basic features you expect on the forum platform. It may not be a popular forum solution, but if you want features similar to Discourse and some interesting features, then it’s worth trying.

You can explore more related information on their website GitHub page .


3. NodeBB (modern and fully functional)


NodeBB is an open source forum software based on the following Node.js . Its goal is also simple, elegant and fast. First, it is for organizations and businesses that have hosting plans available. However, you can also choose to host it yourself.

You also get real-time local analysis capabilities and chat and notification support. If you want to integrate it with any existing products, it also provides an API. It also supports audit tools and tools to combat spam.

You can immediately get some third-party integration support, such as WordPress, Mailchimp, etc.

Explore more in their article GitHub page Or the official website.

Node BB

4. Vanilla Forum (Enterprise-centric)

Vanilla Forum

Vanilla Forums is mainly an enterprise-centric forum software. Its basic functions can brand your platform, provide questions and answers for customers, and vote on posts.

The user experience has a modern look and has been used by EA, Adobe and some other well-known companies.

Of course, if you want to try the cloud-based Vanilla forum managed by a team of experts and access to some advanced features, please feel free to request a demo. In either case, you can choose the community version, which can use most of the latest features for free and is responsible for hosting and managing it yourself.

You can find more information about it on their official website, GitHub page .

Vanilla Forum

Recommended reading:

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5. bbPress (from WordPress)


bbPress is a reliable forum software built by the creators of WordPress. It aims to provide a simple and lively forum experience.

The user interface looks very old, but easy to use and provides the basic functions you usually need in forum software. The audit tool is simple and easy to set up. You can use the available plug-ins to extend the functionality and choose from several available themes to adjust the appearance of the forum.

If you just want a simple forum platform without fancy features, bbPress should be perfect.You can also view their GitHub page Want more information.


6. phpBB (Classic Forum Software)


If you want a traditional forum design but only basic functions, phpBB software is a good choice. Of course, you may not get the best user experience or functionality, but as a traditional design forum platform, it is effective and very effective.

In particular, this will be a simple and effective solution for users who are accustomed to using traditional methods.

Not only limited to simplicity, but also easier to set up with a common hosting provider. You can get a one-click installation function on each shared hosting platform, so you don’t need too much technical knowledge to set it up.

You can go to their official website or GitHub page .


7. Simple Machine Forum (another classic)

Simple machine

Similar to php BB, the “simple machine” forum is another basic (or simple) implementation of the forum platform. You may not be able to customize the appearance for a long time (at least not easily), but the default appearance is clean and provides a good user experience.

Personally, I like it better than php BB, but you can go to their website Official website Explore more about it. In addition, you can easily install Simple Machines Forum on any shared hosting service using the one-click installation method.

Simple Machine Forum

8. FluxBB (Old School)


FluxBB is another simple and lightweight open source forum. Compared to some others, it may not be very actively maintained, but if you just want to deploy a basic forum consisting of a few users, you can easily try it.

You can go to their official website and GitHub page .

Flux BB

9. MyBB (not very popular, but worth seeing)

Mybb example

MyBB is a unique open source forum software, which provides a variety of styles and contains the basic functions you need.

Starting with plugin support and review tools, you will get everything you need to manage a large community. It also supports private messaging to individual users similar to Discourse and similar forum software.

It may not be a popular option, but it can check most use cases and is completely free.You may want to support and explore the project in the following locations GitHub The same


Reward: Flarum (beta)

Flarum screenshot

If you want something simpler and unique, take a look at Flarum. It is a lightweight forum software designed to be mobile first while providing a fast experience.

It supports certain third-party integrations, and you can also use extensions to extend functionality. Personally, it looks beautiful.I have no chance to try it, you can take a look at it document It is safe to assume that it has all the functions required by the forum.

It is worth noting that Flarum is quite new, so it is still in beta. You may need to deploy it on a test server before you can gain confidence in the production environment.Look at their GitHub page more details.


Can’t self-host?Let us help you

Deploying open source applications and managing Linux servers requires some expertise and time. If you lack and want to have your own examples of open source software, we can help you. With our new project, Yun Gao , You can leave the deployment and server management part to us when developing the community forum.

wrap up

Most open source forum software provides almost the same functionality for basic use cases. If you are looking for specific content, you may need to browse its documentation.

Personally, I recommend discourse. It is popular, modern in appearance, and has a large user base.

What do you think is the best open source forum software? Do I miss any of your favorites? Let me know in the comments below.

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