HFOSS Projects

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This page contains lists of HFOSS and FOSS applications that could possibly support student projects. The projects are at various levels of maturity and have a range of complexity.

In addition to applications lists, there are sections containing resources that will help you find other projects and resources for FOSS developers to help you get started. There are also external links to other helpful FOSS related resources.

NOTE: This page is continually under construction. Projects are added, some projects listed here may become inactive, and there are always HFOSS projects not yet on this list. Use this page as a starting point, but conduct your own search of the Web as well. Using a Web search engine, and searching for projects in major platforms such as GitHub and GitLab is likely to uncover additional HFOSS projects that may interest you.


HFOSS Projects by Application Area

This is a list of known HFOSS projects that are known to be active. The last comprehensive update of the table was April 2016.

Name Description Category Source Language
Tanaguru Asqatasun is a fork of this project. Tanaguru is an opensource (AGPL license) website assessment tool. It is dedicated to accessibility (a11y) audits, and focuses on reliability and high level of automation. Tanaguru automates 167 accessibility tests (WCAG, Section 508, AccessiWeb). Evaluating a page, an entire site or a web application is reliable, intuitive and self accessible. Accessibility GitHub Java
Asqatasun Asqatasun is the leading opensource software for web accessibility (#a11y) since 2007. Built with reliability in mind, it also addresses SEO concerns, and is extensible to any other domain.

Asqatasun provides a huge level of automation and can be included in Continuous Integration thanks to its Jenkins Plugin.

Accessibility GitHub Java
Tanaguru Contrast Finder Find valid background / foreground color contrast for accessibility (a11y, WCAG). Accessibility GitHub Java
Benetech Java projects A search on Benetech projects in GitHub. Benetech is a nonprofit that empowers communities in need by creating scalable technology solutions, Accessibility GitHub Java
Firefox Accessibility Plugins Not all of the Firefox extensions listed here were made for accessibility purposes, but they are all helpful in one way or another for those who may have specific needs in how web content is presented to them and how they interact with it. Accessibility Mozilla  ?
Amara Amara gives individuals, communities, and larger organizations the power to overcome accessibility and language barriers for online video. The tools are free and open source and make the work of subtitling and translating video simpler, more appealing, and, most of all, more collaborative. Accessibility GitHub Python
Empathy Messaging program which supports text, voice, and video chat and file transfers over many different protocols. You can tell it about your accounts on all those services and do all your chatting within one application. (Contributing guide) Accessibility GNOME Git C
Poet Image Description An application to increase the availability of image descriptions in textbooks for print disabled students. This image description web service will enable authors/content creators, publishers, social enterprises, such as Bookshare, educators and volunteers to easily add, enhance, moderate and share image descriptions to e-books and digital textbooks in the DAISY 3, EPUB and HTML standards. Accessibility GitHub Ruby
Wheelmap Wheelmap.org is an online map to search, find and mark wheelchair-accessible places. Wheelmap is built on Open Street Map. Accessibility GitHub Ruby
Humanitarian Emergency Lifeline Project HELP aims to overcome challenges facing humanitarian relief by empowering donors, communities and organizations to provide better assistance. HELP will establish a transparent and accountable system to connect donors with people affected by disasters. Humanitarian Relief
Helios A web-based comprehensive supply chain solution for the humanitarian and disaster relief sector which aims to provides better access to supply chain information to enhance decision-making at every level throughout the aid delivery process. Humanitarian Relief
Miradi A program that allows nature conservation practitioners to design, manage, monitor, and learn from their projects to more effectively meet their conservation goals. The program guides users through a series of step-by-step interview wizards, based on the Open Standards for the Practice of Conservation. Ecology GitHub Java
mWater Free Android app for low cost community based water quality monitoring. The site describes the app as "open source", but it's not clear whether additional project participants are wanted. Other FOSS project characteristics (source code, licensing, open project operations, etc.) are not visible. Ecology GitHub Java
Celestia "The free space simulation that lets you explore our universe in three dimensions." Education
Instructure Canvas Canvas is a learning management system distributed as a FOSS product by Instructure. Instructure is a relatively new company with venture capital backing. Canvas is distributed as FOSS and offered as a service for a fee. Education GitHub Ruby
OpenOffice for Kids A software (work in progress) designed for 7-12 children, based on OpenOffice.org source code, but simplified. This means OpenOffice.org has some features OOo4Kids has not. Education Java
Moodle "Moodle is a learning platform designed to provide educators, administrators and learners with a single robust, secure and integrated system to create personalised learning environments" Education GitHub PHP
openStudent A student information system for British Columbia Schools. Education
Apereo Sakai The Sakai Collaboration and Learning Environment is developed by a community that strives to enable exceptional teaching, learning and research. Sakai collaborators - ranging from educators to engineers - share in their successes and challenges, honing the community's collective expertise to drive rapid development of this enterprise-ready platform. Education GitHub Java
Sugar Labs Spin-off from OLPC (one laptop per child) that is doing software to create a learning environment for children. The award-winning Sugar Learning Platform promotes collaborative learning through Sugar Activities that encourage critical thinking, the heart of a quality education. Designed from the ground up especially for children, Sugar offers an alternative to traditional “office-desktop” software. Education GitHub Python
OpenArms (URL no longer works) An open-source software project that aims to help food banks match up donors with those in need. Organizers can use the software to create templates for hampers. Groups or individuals can choose to sponsor a family and then use the web site to manage the donations. Food Bank/Pantry
Open Pantry An Interactive Qualifying Project by two Worcester Polytechnic Institute students. This software aims to provide an efficient way to manage and organize clients, inventory, distribution and reporting for volunteers and employees at TEFAP and MEFAP funded food pantries. The solution is specifically aimed toward the needs of the Burlington Food Pantry, however it is designed in such a way that it should be reusable by other similar organizations. Food Bank/Pantry
Food Bank Markup Language FBML (Food Bank Markup Language) is written using XML, and will have an application written in Python to enable the use of FBML in the background; and will be OS agnostic. Food Bank/Pantry
OpenHealthMapper Project under Open Health, OpenHealthMapper is a user-friendly data management and mapping system customized specifically for public health users. The system facilitates data standardization, collection and updating of data on epidemiology and on interventions and provides immediate visualization of data in the form of maps, tables and charts. Healthcare
Nightscout "Nightscout (CGM in the Cloud) is an open source, DIY project that allows real time access to a CGM data via personal website, smartwatch viewers, or apps and widgets available for smartphones." Healthcare GitHub Java, Javascript
Glucosio "User-centered free and open source apps for diabetes management and research" Healthcare GitHub Java, Objective-C
X-Chart X-Chart is an XML-based open source health record. Since it uses an open source code, it is distributed free of charge by the Open Healthcare Group. Healthcare
Epidemiological Modeler (STEM) A tool designed to help scientists and public health officials create and use spatial and temporal models of emerging infectious diseases. These models can aid in understanding and potentially preventing the spread of such diseases. Healthcare Eclipse SVN Java
OpenVista OpenVista is a cost-effective, open, trusted and complete EHR which enhances patient safety, increases clinical and operational efficiency and provides an opportunity to improve quality of care delivery. Healthcare
OpenEPI Provides statistics for counts and measurements in descriptive and analytic studies, stratified analysis with exact confidence limits, matched pair and person-time analysis, sample size and power calculations, random numbers, sensitivity, specificity and other evaluation statistics, R x C tables, chi-square for dose-response, and links to other useful sites. Healthcare GitHub
OpenMRS Community-developed, open-source, enterprise electronic medical record system platform. We've come together to specifically respond to those actively building and managing health systems in the developing world, where AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria afflict the lives of millions. Our mission is to foster self-sustaining health information technology implementations in these environments through peer mentorship, proactive collaboration, and a code base that equals or surpasses proprietary equivalents. You are welcome to come participate in our community, whether by implementing our software, or contributing your efforts to our mission! Healthcare GitHub Java
Insight Segmentation and Registration Toolkit National Library of Medicine: ITK is an open-source, cross-platform system that provides developers with an extensive suite of software tools for image analysis. Developed through extreme programming methodologies, ITK employs leading-edge algorithms for registering and segmenting multidimensional data. Healthcare GitHub C++
iPath Telemedicine Platform Allows the sharing of images and medical information for collaboration in case-based studies (referred to there as "case based collaboration"). It has particular utility in remote areas which have limited access to a specialist, and appears to be used in (or designed for) Africa. It supports different languages and stores the full information as a "case" for later retrieval and discussion. It is different than a desktop sharing program because the other person is not just viewing the information/program but is interacting with it in specific ways relating to his/her expertise. Healthcare
EpiCollect Data collected by multiple field workers can be submitted by phone, together with GPS data, to a common web database and can be displayed and analysed, along with previously collected data, using Google Maps (or Google Earth). Similarly, data from the web database can be requested and displayed on the mobile phone, again using Google Maps. Healthcare
Drone 4 Dengue "Drone for Dengue (D4D) is a system for detecting dengue mosquito breeding sites via drone images." Healthcare GitHub JavaScript, HTML
Martus Martus, the Greek word for "witness," is a software tool that allows users to document incidents of abuse by creating bulletins, and storing them on redundant servers located around the world. Using Martus helps countries torn apart by civil conflicts come to a consensus and rational understanding of their histories, leading to reconciliation and reform processes. Human rights GitHub Java
OpenEvSys (REPLACED by UWAZI) A free and open source database application developed by HURIDOCS that human rights NGOs can use to: Record human rights violations and store related documents; Browse the history of a particular victim or perpetrator; Analyse trends and patterns of abuse; Track their interventions by status, impact, deadline, etc. Human rights GitHub PHP
Evergreen ILS Highly-scalable software for libraries that helps library patrons find library materials, and helps libraries manage, catalog, and circulate those materials, no matter how large or complex the libraries. Libraries GitHub Perl
Koha ILS Koha is a free software integrated library system (ILS). Libraries GitHub Perl
VuFind A library resource discovery portal designed and developed for libraries by libraries Libraries GitHub PHP
Mifos (Apache Fineract) Industry-wide initiative to address the microfinance industry's information management challenge. Using the open source paradigm, we are creating a new service model that will increase access to technology for all microfinance institutions, ultimately enabling them to extend their reach to the world’s poor. At the center of the initiative is the Mifos product, a freely available world-class management information system (MIS) that provides the core functionality required by microfinance institutions. Microfinance GitHub Java
Simple MFI An Android application built for microfinance loan officers, designed to help them be more efficient in the field, and to ultimately to be able to manage more loans more easily. Microfinance GitHub Java
OpenPetra.org A free and easy-to-use administration software package for non-profit organizations. Specifically designed to meet the administrative requirements of an international mission agency or other non-profit organisation, OpenPetra runs standalone or as a multi-user system in an office network or on the Internet. NGO Administration GitHub C#
Sigmah Free software developed to help international aid organizations manage the information from their projects: reports, indicators, schedules, documents etc. NGO Administration GitHub Java
ActivityInfo An online humanitarian project monitoring tool, which helps humanitarian organizations to collect, manage, map and analyze indicators. NGO Administration GitHub Java
Cadasta "Technology to help communities document their land rights around the world." Property Rights GitHub Python
Apertium (wiki) "Apertium is a free/open-source machine translation platform..." Translation Sourceforge

HFOSS Groups by Application Area

HFOSS groups are collections of projects that are being developed by the groups. You may find individual projects within these groups.


  • GNOME - Accessibility project Develops and fosters compelling free open source accessibility solutions for graphical user interfaces. Through a worldwide community of developers and users, we continue to empower everyone, regardless of physical or mental abilities. (TOS recommended)
  • The Global Ability Initiative (Last active in 2012) is a venture dedicated to the development of gratis, open source software for the disabled. We provide assistive software for a wide variety of people, suffering for example from Aphasia, MS, ALS, Cerebral Palsy and other disabilities as well.
  • Project Possibility (GitHub organization) - Nonprofit, community service project committed to creating groundbreaking software for the disabled community--for free. Our goal is to inspire software engineers to make a difference by inventing software that unlocks new areas of life for disabled persons, giving them access to experiences previously impossible to achieve. The software that is created through this project is open source: it cannot be sold for profit, and is freely available for use, distribution, and modification.
  • stark sketch plugin "Ensure your design is accessible and high contrast for every type of color blindness"

Ecology, Sustainability and Climate Change

  • Water Project - "Free and Open Source hardware, software, and reference designs for water monitoring applications." (Appears to be inactive as of 3/2019)
  • Open Waters "Web-based water quality data management software, for submitting WQX data to EPA using Exchange Network technologies."
  • Air Casting - "aims to build a platform for gathering, visualization and sharing of environmental data."
  • Open Energy Dashboard "The Open Energy Dashboard (OED) is a free, open source project that provides a web-based application to display energy information in a web browser. It was designed from the ground up to be portable so that is can be used at many organizations." OED is an instructor-led project with significant student contribution.


  • Wikimedia - is a global movement whose mission is to bring free, multilingual and educational content of its wiki-based projects to the world. This link provides instructions on how to get started contributing to Wikimedia.
  • Teammates - "a free online tool for managing peer evaluations and other feedback paths of your students"
  • Apereo (GitHub organization) is a non-profit organization that promotes open source projects for higher education. Apereo was created from a merger of the Sakai Foundation and jasig. Projects include Sakai and others.
  • Kuali.org Growing community of universities, colleges, businesses, and other organizations that have partnered to build and sustain open-source administrative software for higher education, by higher education. Kuali software is designed to meet the needs of all sizes of institutions, from land-grant reasearch universities to community colleges. The members of the Kuali Community share a common vision of open, modular, and distributed systems for their software requirements. Kuali software is released under the Educational Community License.
  • One laptop per child (OLPC) - Mission Statement: To create educational opportunities for the world's poorest children by providing each child with a rugged, low-cost, low-power, connected laptop with content and software designed for collaborative, joyful, self-empowered learning.
  • Shared Learning Collaborative "The SLC is working to make personalized learning a reality for every U.S. student by improving the usefulness, variety and affordability of education technology."
  • Runestone Interactive Provides open source tools for creating interactive textbooks. Also hosts free textbooks built with the tools
  • Blockly A visual program editor primarily used to teach programming concepts in K-12 environments.


  • kakoni - List of open source health care projects
  • OpenAPS "The Open Artificial Pancreas System project (#OpenAPS) is an open and transparent effort to make safe and effective basic Artificial Pancreas System (APS) technology widely available to more quickly improve and save as many lives as possible and reduce the burden of Type 1 diabetes."
  • OpenHospital "Open Hospital is a free and open source software for healthcare data management."
  • Tidepool "Tidepool is an open source, not-for-profit company focused on liberating data from diabetes devices, supporting researchers, and providing great, free software to people with diabetes and their care teams. "
  • CommCare "CommCare is a leading open source mobile data collection platform that is supported by a global community of contributors." CommCare is a set of projects primarily built by Dimagi, a social benefit corporation. A high percentage of contributions come from employees of the company.
  • OpenLMIS A logistics management information system designed for the health care providers with particular focus on developing nations
  • LibreHealth "LibreHealth is an umbrella organization where multiple health information technology projects collaborate"
  • Multi-Level Healthcare Information Modeling (GitHub organization) Evolved out of OpenEHR, this is a group of frameworks, applications and tools used in developing health care applications and the governance of knowledge artifacts using multi-level information models vs. data model approaches. Based on more than 20 years of research and development projects on three continents. These specifications came together in the early 2000's under the auspices of the openEHR Foundation.
  • Trusted Opensource Records for Care and Health (TORCH) (no longer active) Project under Multi-Level Healthcare Information Modeling, Trusted Open Source Records for Care and Health - TORCH is a web enabled electronic health record (EHR) application. TORCH is usable in single practitioner offices and scalable up to multi-site practices.
  • OpenHealth (no longer active) Platform that brings together interoperable public health applications targeting district, national and global health management. The Public Health Information Toolkit (PHIT) is meant to be a self-contained USB pendrive that makes public health tools and frameworks available “out of the box”, including content developed by leading public health organizations and networked communities of practice. The starter suite of tools brings together OpenMRS, iHRIS, DHIS2 and OpenHealthMapper (OHM)
  • DIHS2 (GitHub organization) Project under Open Health, DHIS2 is a tool for collection, validation, analysis, and presentation of aggregate statistical data, tailored (but not limited) to integrated health information management activities. It is a generic tool rather than a pre-configured database application, with an open meta-data model and a flexible user interface that allows the user to design the contents of a specific information system without the need for programming. DHIS 2 and upwards is a modular web-based software package built with free and open source Java frameworks.
  • Tolven Health Record Tolven is focused on delivering the following products: An electronic Personal Health Record (ePHR) to enable consumers to record and selectively share healthcare information about themselves and their loved ones. An electronic Clinician Health Record (eCHR) to enable healthcare providers to securely access healthcare information collated from any number of trusted sources. A Healthcare Informatics Platform to enable all healthcare data to be stored and accessed via the ePHR and eCHR solutions. The platform is based on industry-standard technologies and data models. A Health Analytics solution that enables all data stored in the Tolven Platformto be extracted or analyzed for statistical purposes.
  • VistA WorldVistA EHR is an open source electronic health record (EHR) based on the highly acclaimed VistA system of the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The foundation for WorldVistA EHR was developed as part of the VistA-Office project, a collaborative effort funded by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), an agency of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). The overall goal of the VistA-Office EHR (VOE) project was to encourage the broader adoption and effective use of EHRs among physicians by making a robust, flexible EHR solution alternative available. After completion of the VOE project in March 2007, WorldVistA made additional enhancements and submitted WorldVistA EHR for certification by theCertification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology(CCHITSM). WorldVistA EHR, Verison VOE/1.0 achieved full CCHITSM EHR.
  • Global Health Observatory The Global Health Observatory project aims to make statistical data that has been collected and processed by the World Health Organization available to the general public. This is the GHO application set intended for installation on the WHO production tomcat hosting servers.
  • iHRIS (Contributing) The Capacity Project has developed three free and Open Source core software solutions, each addressing a specific human resources for health (HRH) leadership issue.
  • Open Healthcare Framework Project (no longer active) The Eclipse Open Healthcare Framework (OHF) is a project within Eclipse formed for the purpose of expediting healthcare informatics technology. The project is composed of extensible frameworks and tools which emphasize the use of existing and emerging standards in order to encourage interoperable open source infrastructure, thereby lowering integration barriers. We currently provide tools and Frameworks for HL7, IHE, Terminology, Devices, and Public Healthcare Maintenance.
  • OpenAPS "The Open Artificial Pancreas System project (#OpenAPS) is an open and transparent effort to make safe and effective basic Artificial Pancreas System (APS) technology widely available to more quickly improve and save as many lives as possible and reduce the burden of Type 1 diabetes."
  • pyGeno "pyGeno is (to our knowledge) the only tool available that will gladly build your specific genomes for you."
  • cBioPortal "The cBioPortal for Cancer Genomics provides visualization, analysis, and download of large-scale cancer genomics data sets."
  • cognoma "Putting machine learning in the hands of cancer biologists.", "Project Cognoma is an open source project to create a webapp for analyzing cancer data."


  • allReady "brings together community members, volunteers, humanitarian and community organizations to make our communities more resilient to the effects of disasters by making preparedness activities more visible and effective to the communities they serve and the volunteers who support them."
  • Sahana "Making high quality information management systems for emergency preparedness, response, recovery and resilience-building accessible to all."
  • Open Shelter Database (GitHub Here). "An overview of 151 shelters which have been built throughout the world in response to disasters"


  • Sangam Pro (micro finance) Perhaps not open source. The Ecumenical Sangam's Microfinance (mF) scheme started in July 2008 and since then the Sangam has provided “refundable financial aid” to its former students of the Sangam’s technical and sewing classes. This financial aid is meant to be used for the start-up of small businesses such as tailoring shops and repair businesses. The initial funds to start this Microfinance scheme have been made available through the Sangam's German Partner DIZ who in turn obtained a grant from the Hessian State Ministry of Economic Affairs. Site that might be of interest: www.sksfoundation.org/ The SKS Ultra Poor Program works to address the challenges of extreme poverty through three linked interventions: economic, social and health, and aims to work with members so that they have the capacity to participate in mainstream microfinance after a period of 18 months. After the program is over, most members will choose to take a microfinance loan to grow their existing business or diversify income sources by starting new businesses.
  • openCBS "OpenCBS is an open-source loan tracking software for microfinance institutions."
  • mangoO "mangoO Microfinance Management is a lightweight, yet powerful software solution for small microfinance institutions. It uses web technologies like PHP, MySQL, JavaScript (with jQuery), and CSS."
  • MicroPryamid "Full featured completely customizable software for Microfinanace Institutes"

Privacy, Security, and Human Rights

  • Privacy Tools Maintains a list of privacy related open source projects
  • Guardian Project creates easy-to-use apps, mobile OS security enhancements, and customized mobile devices for people around the world to help them communicate more freely, and protect themselves from intrusion and monitoring.
  • The FreeNet Project Free software which lets you anonymously share files, browse and publish "freesites" (web sites accessible only through Freenet) and chat on forums, without fear of censorship. Freenet is decentralised to make it less vulnerable to attack, and if used in "darknet" mode, where users only connect to their friends, is very difficult to detect.
  • Tor Free software and an open network that helps you defend against a form of network surveillance that threatens personal freedom and privacy, confidential business activities and relationships, and state security known as traffic analysis. Hundreds of thousands of people around the world use Tor for a wide variety of reasons: journalists and bloggers, human rights workers, law enforcement officers, soldiers, corporations, citizens of repressive regimes, and just ordinary citizens.
  • Open Technology Institute promotes "universal access to communications technologies that are both open and secure, using a multidisciplinary approach that brings together advocates, researchers, organizers, and innovators." OTI does policy work, but also has some open source projects including Commotion Wireless
  • Uwazi "Uwazi is a flexible database application designed for human rights defenders to capture and organise collections of information. This web-based platform, developed by HURIDOCS, can be customised for a variety of needs. The code is available on GitHub."

Food and Hunger

  • Growstuff "Growstuff is a community of food gardeners. We're building an open source platform to help you learn about growing food, track what you plant and harvest, and swap seeds and produce with other gardeners near you." (growstuff website).
  • openfoodnetwork "The Open Food Network is an online marketplace for local food. It enables a network of independent online food stores that connect farmers and food hubs (including coops, online farmers' markets, independent food businesses etc); with individuals and local businesses. It gives farmers and food hubs an easier and fairer way to distribute their food." International project started in Australia. Still active as of 6/2018.
  • Open Food Source "Open Food Source (OFS) is free software that provides food hubs with web-based management and logistical support for their sales operations. This website provides a central access point and communications hub for OFS users and developers and for the Open Food Federation (OFF), a burgeoning community of developers, local food hubs, and other interested parties who work together to meet their needs." Well set up site, but as of 6/2018, there seems to be no activity since about 2015. Email inquiry did produce a response.

Language conservation

  • endangered-languages "Resources for conservation, development, and documentation of endangered, minority, and low or under-resourced human languages."

ICT for Development and Non-Profits

This section lists FOSS projects that are more general in nature, including ones that address ICT infrastructure areas such as communication, but that either have a clear humanitarian goal or have come to have some clear humanitarian application.

MySociety has two missions. The first is to be a charitable project which builds websites that give people simple, tangible benefits in the civic and community aspects of their lives. The second is to teach the public and voluntary sectors, through demonstration, how to use the internet most efficiently to improve lives.

The Magilas Project for the Philippines aims to cover every area of its 7,107 islands and 42,000 barangays - and the 34,580-feet-deep Philippine Trench. The word "magilas" means, among many other good things, "agile, clever, dynamic, quick-witted, sharp, smart, spirited, vigorous, and winged." The goal is to make breakthroughs by keeping things simple and "fitly joined together." We will use free or user-friendly resources. We will "baranganize" (relate to, apply to barangays) as many things as we effectively can. HE: This project aims to add technology to all parts of Philippine society, including health.

The Arches Project "is an open-source, geospatially-enabled software platform for cultural heritage inventory and management, developed jointly by the Getty Conservation Institute and World Monuments Fund."


CiviCRM Customer Relationship Management (CRM) specifically geared to the needs of non-profit organizations. "A key measure of our success will always be the social good that CiviCRM generates"

Awaaz.De Awaaz.De (“Give your voice”) is a software platform enabling organizations to engage with poor, remote, and marginal communities by providing on-demand, many-to-many information access through mobile phones. People access Awaaz.De applications by dialing regular phone numbers to create, browse,and share voice content through automated voice interfaces. Voice makes it easy to provide services in local languages, overcomes literacy constraints, and offers a low barrier to content creation: one only needs to know how to speak into a phone.

Freedom Fone Freedom Fone addresses the need for simple, affordable, uncensored communication technology. It allows for frequently-updated, short segment audio programming. It removes the technical challenge of hosting and setting up the back-end, allowing users to concentrate on content.

FrontlineSMS Award-winning free, open source software that turns a laptop and a mobile phone into a central communications hub. Once installed, the program enables users to send and receive text messages with groups of people through mobile phones. What is communicated is up to the user, making FrontlineSMS useful in many different ways.

Managing News Managing News originated as a news aggregation and republishing platform heavily integrated with RSS/Atom. Users can track a diverse set of RSS/Atom feeds, visualize them, and republish selected reports on a platform that allows for mapping and pluggable visualizations. Managing News has subsequently added SMS functionality to the system. The system is based on Drupal, and integrates several open source projects including OpenLayers, SimplePie, and many Drupal plug-ins.

RapidSMS Free and open-source framework for dynamic data collection, logistics coordination and communication, leveraging basic short message service (SMS) mobile phone technology.

GeoChat Geochat emerged from a simple concept - can I send an SMS message and see it on a map? From there the concept has evolved, and geochat has become a project to build a collaboration platform for the lowest common denominator communication tools, considering as highest priorities the needs of workers of humantiarian aid, international health and disaster response. The main drivers for the project are the feedback of the InSTEDD programs in South East Asia, exercises such as GoldenShadow, and a growing community of humanitarian and health workers who spend their days in technologically austere environments.

Data Collection and Management

Ushahidi Ushahidi is a platform that allows anyone around the world to set up their own way to gather reports by mobile phone, email and the web - and visualize and map them. It is being built so that it can grow with the changing environment of the web, and to work with other websites and online tools.

Martus Allows users to create a secure database that can be backed up remotely. Used world-wide by organizations to protect information on human rights abuses.

OpenXData is a community-developed, open-source, enterprise end-to-end software solution for handling virtually any type of forms based data collection and management using mobile devices and web forms (online or offline).Can us both high- and low-end mobile devices and mobile phones as well as in a regular web-browser to show and capture forms based data.

OpenROSA A consortium formed to create open source, standards-based tools for mobile data collection, aggregation, analysis, and reporting. By developing open source solutions and conforming to standards based on the XForms specification, our different projects can easily share code, data, ideas and infrastructure.

Open Data Kit A suite of tools to help organizations collect, aggregate and visualize their data. Our goals are to make open-source and standards-based tools which are easy to try, easy to use, easy to modify and easy to scale. To this end, we are proud members of the OpenMobile Consortium, the OpenRosa Consortium, and active participants in the JavaRosa project.

INSTEDD - Mesh4X A data mesh which allows information to be synchronized in a peer-to-peer way, allowing offline work, and synchronizing with whoever is available, not just a central database or a service on the internet. This makes it a perfect fit for situation where there is little/no connectivity or where the synchronization has to happen between different applications and services.

OpenStreetMap "OpenStreetMap is built by a community of mappers that contribute and maintain data about roads, trails, cafés, railway stations, and much more, all over the world." While not strictly HFOSS, OpenStreetMap provides mapping for HFOSS projects such as Ushahidi.

Humanitarian Open Street Map "Free, up-to-date maps are a critical resource when relief organizations are responding to disasters or political crises. The Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) creates and provides those maps."

Cadasta "Technical tools and services to support the documentation of land and resource rights to build stronger, more sustainable communities." NOTE: need more investigation as to whether all the Cadasta software is FOSS. Cadasta.org indicates that they build on ArcGIS which has open aspects but does not appear to have an open core.

HFOSS Applications Created by Students

Ronald McDonald House project

Finding HFOSS

This section identifies sites that are useful in locating HFOSS projects, and groups connected to HFOSS efforts.

Black Duck Open Hub - The Black Duck Open Hub (formerly Ohloh.net) is an online community and public directory of free and open source software (FOSS), offering analytics and search services for discovering, evaluating, tracking, and comparing open source code and projects. Open Hub Code Search is free code search engine indexing over 21,000,000,000 lines of open source code from projects on the Black Duck Open Hub.

Beaversource - A student-oriented FOSS hosting/social networking site located at Oregon State University - 12/16/2017 - appears to be gone

PhoenixForge A space for University of Chicago community members to host and organize open source software projects

The Global Health Information Network Site serves as an interactive online forum where professionals involved in procurement and HIS management can exchange views and information. The “Tools” tab lists commonly used tools, some of which are FOSS.

Social Source Commons A “knowledge commons” that provides users with: a directory of software applications; links to relevant documentation, localization tools, services, user reviews; and a place to request tools/features.

Software Freedom Conservancy "is a not-for-profit charity that helps promote, improve, develop, and defend Free, Libre, and Open Source Software (FLOSS) projects. Conservancy provides a non-profit home and infrastructure for FLOSS projects." SFC is the fiscal sponsor for Teachingopensource.org.

Idealist Project of Action Without Borders, a nonprofit organization founded in 1995 with offices in the United States and Argentina. Idealist is an interactive site where people and organizations can exchange resources and ideas, locate opportunities and supporters, and take steps toward building a world where all people can lead free and dignified lives.

Code for America "We're on a mission to make government work in the digital age." Applies technology to improve government including via HFOSS projects.

Hackontest List of FOSS projects that were worked on during a contest held during the 2008 Logo OpenExpo Swiss Open Source Software Conference & Exposition.

OWASP The Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) is a 501c3 not-for-profit worldwide charitable organization focused on improving the security of application software.

Center for OSS investigation

OS for america reportcard

Open Data for Social Good

This section identifies sites where people can contribute data that has some general societal value. This may provide an opportunity for people to learn principles of openness without needing much technical knowledge, and in particular, not needing to know how to program.

Common Voice - "Common Voice is Mozilla's initiative to help teach machines how real people speak."

Humanitarian Open Streetmap - "HOT is an international team dedicated to humanitarian action and community development through open mapping."

Wikpedia - Improve or create an entry

Computing for Social Good

The projects and organizations below fall into the broader category of "computing for social good" or "IT for social good". Some of them include HFOSS projects while others provide services or have software that may or may not be HFOSS.

AnnieCannons - "Transforming survivors of human trafficking into software professionals to sustain a lifetime free of exploitation"

MobileActive's mDirectory Searchable directory of mobile HFOSS projects.

Humanitarian-ICT Project (Appears to be inactive - 2/2014)

24 Hours of Good

InSTEDD "At InSTEDD we design and use open source technology tools to help partners enhance collaboration and improve information flow to better deliver critical services to vulnerable populations."

PeaceTech Lab "We work at the intersection of TECHNOLOGY, MEDIA, and DATA to help reduce violent conflict around the world."

Fast Forward "We look for product­-driven nonprofits that leverage open source software, always connected mobile devices, open APIs, and inexpensive variable cost web infrastructure to solve education, environmental, health, and human rights issues. Fast Forward then provides financial and human capital to help scale these technology solutions and maximize impact." Has a directory of tech non-profits.

Eddmaps- early detection and distribution system - a platform for tracking and reporting invasive species. This project is run by the Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health which is part of the U of Georgia. At least one application of Eddmaps was done as an open source project (Wavyleaf Grass), but the parent project doesn't make clear that this is their approach in general. MobileActive's mDirectory Searchable directory of mobile HFOSS projects.

Random Hacks of Kindness "Random Hacks of Kindness is a community of innovation focused on developing practical open source solutions to disaster risk management and climate change adaptation challenges."

Public Lab "is a community where you can learn how to investigate environmental concerns. Using inexpensive DIY techniques, we seek to change how people see the world in environmental, social, and political terms. "

UN humanitarian data organization


Many HFOSS projects are hosted by the general FOSS hosting sites which are commonly known as "forges". The larger forges are useful places to search for HFOSS projects.

Name Description
GitHub Fork, send pull requests and manage all your public and private git repositories.
GitLab "The complete DevOps platform" and an open source project itself.
Launchpad A software collaboration platform that provides bug tracking, code hosting using Bazaar, code reviews, Ubuntu package building and hosting, translations, mailing lists, answer tracking and FAQ, and specification tracking.
SourceForge Find, create, and publish Open Source software for free.
Bitbucket Bitbucket is the Git solution for professional teams. Collaborate on code with inline comments and pull requests.
CodePlex Microsoft's open source project hosting web site. CodePlex was discontinued in 2017

License analysis tools

FOSSology Analyze all of the source code for a given project and intelligently report all of the licenses being used, based on the license declarations and tell-tale phrases that identify software licensing.

OSS Discovery finds the open source software embedded in applications and installed on computers. OSS Discovery helps enterprises better manage open source usage and remain compliant with internal policies, regulations, and software license terms.

Ninka is a lightweight license identification tool for source code. It is sentence-based, and provides a simple way to identify open source licenses in a source code file. It is capable of identifying several dozen different licenses (and their variations).

Other Open Source Groups

Digital Freedom Foundation "The mission of the DFF is to meet a tremendous need for technology in today's society by providing computes equipped with Free Software, content and a curriculum which can equally serve young children in needs, adult looking for a knowledge upgrade or anyone else interested." Organizers of "Free Software Day" and other "Free" days.

Community Bridge Linux Foundation effort to help fund FOSS

Tidelift - "managed open source" - subscription to support open source projects and reduce risk for open source customers

Sonatype OSS Index - "OSS Index is a free catalogue of open source components and scanning tools to help developers identify vulnerabilities, understand risk, and keep their software safe."

Open Usage Commons - "The Open Usage Commons helps projects protect their project identity through programs such as trademark management and usage guidelines. We are guided by a dedication to open source, a passion for open use, and a commitment to being an organization created in service to open source projects."

Open Collective - "We are on a mission to help collaborative groups collect and spend money transparently." Provides fiscal sponsorship for open collectives, so broader than, but inclusive of, open source.

Open Source News and Industry Tracking

FOSS Force - "a news site offering insight into the goings on in the IT world, focusing on the interests of the Open Source community."

Distro Watch - "a website dedicated to talking about, reviewing and keeping up to date with open source operating systems."

Open Source Watch - "OSS Watch provides unbiased advice and guidance on the use, development, and licensing of free software, open source software, and open source hardware." July 2020 note: Not much activity in recent years.

It's FOSS - Linux and Open Source articles. "It’s FOSS specifically focuses on beginners to Linux world. Its motto is to make your desktop Linux experience better"

External Links

List of free and open source software packages

List of free software project directories

List of FSF approved software licenses

Getting Started

These sites try to help people get started as open source contributors. The focus is open source, not just humanitarian open source, but some of the material and suggestions apply generally.


Sites that provide an introduction to open source with emphasis on helping people become contributors:

Open Source Guides provide easy to read overview material with lots of pointers to additional sources

First Timers Only provides pointers to sites for getting started, including some in this list

Getting Started with Open Source provides a short introduction plus brief comments on how to get started with some large FOSS projects

Open Hatch provides instructional materials and a collection of defects marked as "easy" for new contributors. Open Hatch also runs events to help people get started in FOSS --- Note: This site is currently not being maintained

First Contributions

Sites that help identify ideas for initial contributions:

Up for Grabs provides lists of GitHub defects with an "up for grabs" or "Easy" tag

Your First Pull Request provides pointers to easy defects and some information about how to get started

First Contributions provides a short description of a GitHub workflow and links to lots of projects. The links point to the project's issue tracker, and specifically to issues labelled as "easy" or "beginner".

Awesome for Beginners provides links to projects with a "first-timers" or similar issue tag. Organizes links by programming language

Awesome for Non-programmers provides links to projects where contributions do not require being able to code

Get Started

First Contributions outlines a basic GitHub contribution workflow

Code Triage allows you to "Pick your favorite repos to receive a different open issue in your inbox every day"

Personal tools
Learning Resources
HFOSS Projects