Taking your coding skills to the internet is a great step to collaborate, improve, and get help. However, relying on only one closed source tool isn’t a smart idea, no matter how good the tool is.
GitHub is a great solution for everyone who started coding using Git and having everything stored in the cloud is great. However, I believe that there are better options and more benefits on the market.
Therefore, in this article, you’ll find 10 of the best open-source GitHub alternatives. On top of that, you’ll learn the advantage of replacing GitHub and why going for an open-source option is a very wise idea.
Just like any other tool on the market, GitHub has its pros and cons. Pros might be more than enough for GitHub users, but cons might be the real issue if they’re changing the way you or your team code and collaborate.
I am not saying GitHub isn’t a decent tool, but competition is higher than ever before, and as a result, there are better options available on the market.
But why would you even consider selecting a GitHub alternative?
Pricing is often one of the biggest reasons why you might need an alternative. But if budget isn’t a problem, you might need security improvements, more adjustability, or you lack some features.
Flexibility is just one of many reasons why you might need a GitHub alternative. Relying on one closed source tool can bring lots of advantages, but it can also limit or even change the way you work with your team.
There is no perfect software, but there are always better options to fit the user’s custom needs.
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Open-source alternatives always tend to provide a decent service at a lower price point with increased security and lots of customizability.
GitHub alternatives tend to provide more “freedom” to users who want more flexibility in handling their work.
Avoiding vendor lock-in is one of the biggest benefits of open-source GitHub alternatives. You might have a hard time migrating away from GitHub. However, this won’t ever happen with open-source alternatives.
You will always have clear access to the copy of your data without having to keep a local copy of your code on your computer manually.
Even though GitHub has great features, it is not an open-source tool, and this won’t leave users with the chance to change or upgrade the code.
Open-source GitHub alternatives are easily modified, and if you’re skilled enough, you can take the code to upgrade it to fit your custom needs.
While these benefits might not make a difference for all GitHub users, they can make a huge difference for others.
If you’re missing something from GitHub or if you’d like to improve and even change the way you use GitHub, these open-source GitHub alternatives are a great choice.
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Creating open projects, changing the way you work, improving security, and even implementing new features or writing more code to the open-source code you’re using are some of the things you can do with these 10 best open-source GitHub alternatives.
GitLab is probably the best open-source GitHub alternative since it is very similar to GitHub, yet it is based on open-source code.
It’s full of additional features that you won’t find in GitHub, yet the main benefits of an open-source code are included. As a result, you’ll benefit from increased security, better efficiency, the ability to customize and develop the code, and all added or improved features.
You can expect to see branching tools, time tracking, file locking, an easy way to merge requests, confidential sections, charts, and much more from added features.
With these features, you can collaborate better, be more efficient, and stay organized without looking for third-party options to take care of some of your needs.
Even though GitLab is based on open-source, it is still a robust software that you can use to handle DevOps.
What I like the most about GitLab is that it integrates well with third-party options. For example, you can create issues directly from email and then preview all required changes within the GitLab app with the help of review apps.
What’s also great about GitLab is that you can host it yourself or host it on third-party hosting. If you decide to host it yourself, GitLab won’t cost you a single penny.
But what’s even better is that you can easily migrate all your GitHub repositories to GitLab.
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Gitolite is a great lightweight open-source alternative to GitHub that’s very minimalistic, and yet it provides all the features you might ever need.
With Gitolite, you won’t have an interface, and you won’t have a client. What you will have is a very minimal amount of code required to set up Gitolite and get started.
In fact, Gitolite is run on Git, yet it comes with smaller improvements with plenty of freedom to customize and build on Gitolite further. So if you’re an experienced coder or you’re a company that would like to create custom software for their needs, Gitolite is a great open-source alternative to build on.
If you’ve been struggling with permissions or had security issues with GitHub, Gitolite is a great alternative.
Gitolite makes permissions and grants simple, and you won’t have to spend a lot of time doing this manually. Gitolite creates login information with permission that you can share with your team members.
From there, Gitolite manages users’ access, gives permission if the key is successfully used, and takes care of security and permission levels for you (once you set it up).
Even though Gitolite doesn’t have an interface, it is still a great alternative because it is open-source, and it solves some of GitHub’s most time-consuming issues.
Gitea is a great open-source GitHub alternative because it is a project based on GitHub, and yet it provides users with the code they can run on their server.
When you run Gitea on your server, you can create user logins, set permissions, create your repositories, start working on code, and much more. Gitea provides almost all the same features as GitHub, and yet it gives you freedom of having full control over your code, projects, and even features.
Even the interface is very similar to GitHub, so making the transition won’t be hard.
Interestingly, Gitea is also very similar to the Gogs project as it arose from the Gogs code.
Therefore, you can use either Gitea or Gogs, and you will have pretty much the same user experience.
Uploading the code, navigating through the code, merging codes, or managing security via SSH keys is very simple. On top of that, you can expect features such as bug tracking, code review, or issue management.
Interestingly, Gitea is hosted on GitHub, where you can get it directly from the source, and all you need is either a Windows, Linux, or macOS server to set it up.
I’ve noticed that Gitea also comes with a very vibrant community that is always helpful, yet this open-source GitHub alternative still gets frequent updates which is just one of many benefits.
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What’s so great about open-source GitHub alternatives is that they’re built around GitHub to provide all the same features, same user experience, and yet add missing features.
GitBucket is a GitHub clone created on Scala, and it is a tool that’s easy to install and is compatible with all GitHub APIs.
Migration from GitHub is simple thanks to the repository hosting via HTTPS or SSH. When you have all your code in GitBucket, the repository viewer makes things visual while issues and tracking provide ease of use.
On top of the integrated features, GitBucket comes with a plugin system that helps you add any additional features you might have been missing without having to code them directly into the open-source code.
GitBucket even features a list of plugins you can integrate directly into the software, and you can get all of them on the official GitBucket website.
Plugins range from notifications, analysis, maintenance, CI/CD, or utilities, all the way to UI and even project manager. So modification and improvements won’t be an issue, and you will be able to adjust GitBucket to your team’s needs.
What’s also great is that GitBucket’s community can upload any custom-made plugins, so new plugins are always added.
With about 100 releases, GitBucket is getting regular updates, and its user database is only increasing, which means that a GitBucket community is on the rise.
In my opinion, GitBucket is a “bulked-up” GitHub version that gives you better features and more freedom, and yet it saves you a lot of money.
RhodeCode is a great open-source code management option that provides a unified approach. It helps connect Git, Mercurial, and Subversion with enterprises who need a source code management tool that visually represents all features they might require.
This open-source tool provides a centralized control through an interface for all of your distributed repositories. All you have to do is import them into RhodeCode and you’ll be able to manage all of your codes “under one roof”.
With this approach, RhodeCode provides better collaboration tools for teams, gives more control over code (no matter the repository), improves workflow automation, and even increases the interaction time.
RhodeCode is very secure and it comes with in-built permission management to assign access levels to all your team members. So no matter how much code you have in RhodeCode, it will work well at all times.
When you decide to migrate to RhodeCode, all you need to decide is whether you’ll host RhodeCode on-premise or have RhodeCode host it in their cloud for you.
The open-source RhodeCode version is free for everyone who wants to host it on-premise. However, if you would like to host RhodeCode in the cloud, this will cost you $8/user/month.
Rhodecode also has a paid Enterprise pricing plan which adds more features and it costs $75/user/year.
If you’re a professional team who needs a high-performance alternative to GitHub that’s based on an open-source and yet gives more options, Bitbucket is a great option.
Bitbucket is a platform designed for teams of any size to easily import repositories from GitHub in only six steps.
In comparison to GitHub, Bitbucket adds more features that improve workflow, such as smart monitoring, flexible deployments, and issue tracking.
Bitbucket even increases security by offering an IP whitelisting feature and raising the security a notch with the help of an integrated Snyk security scan.
What I like the most about Bitbucket is that it provides more features, allows easy switching from GitHub, and yet on top of that, it provides a great place for team collaboration.
This is one of the biggest advantages that’s missing from GitHub. If building high-quality software using GitHub as a team was hard, Bitbucket is here to make things easier.
Bitbucket is built on open-source code which leaves a lot of room for upgrades and improvements. However, Bitbucket supports third-party integrations to integrate Bitbucket with tools such as Jira or even connect it with different frameworks.
Price-wise, Bitbucket is free for teams of up to five users. However, if you have a team of up to 100 users, Bitbucket will cost you $3/user/month for the Standard version, while the Premium version will cost you $6/user/month.
If you are not satisfied with GitHub, let alone the whole Git system, Fossil is a great replacement that replaces the whole Git system.
Fossil comes with a built-in interface built around the project management system to easily import repositories from Git. Thus, you can think of Fossil as an all-in-one tool that is very easy to self-host, yet is robust and highly secure to use.
Just like other distributed versions such as Git or Mercurial, Fossil also features the most standard features such as bug tracking, wiki, forum, chat, and it even has a community that’s on the rise.
In the interface, Fossil features various information pages that will help you get used to the interface. However, the new interface shouldn’t worry you since Fossil’s interface is as simple as GitHub’s interface.
Fossil made this simple by featuring standard HTTPS or SSH communications between networks when it comes down to networking.
I’ve also learned that it’s very easy to compile source code using Fossil, as well as great storing capability (thanks to the auto-sync and SQLite database combination), which is super quick that even power cuts won’t damage your work.
Fossil is based on open-source code and it is free for everyone.
8. GNU Savannah
GNU Savannah is a great open-source GitHub alternative because it is compatible with Git, GNU, Subversion, Mercurial, and a couple of other tools. It also features everything from web hosting, to bug tracking services, to mailing lists, to direct file hosting.
It’s a tool based on free open-source code. Even though installation and the steeper learning curve can slow down beginners, GNU Savannah can become a valuable asset to any business once mastered.
Not only is it free and can save a lot of money, it is also a great fit for everyone who needs a tool to develop code, build software, and maintain the product.
The biggest advantage of GNU Savannah in comparison to GitHub is free hosting that’s provided to all projects that follow the strict rules that apply. Of course, you can only host free software, but that’s perfect for everyone on a budget, needs a server, and is looking to take advantage of free open-source tools.
Even though the platform can be restrictive, you can have a great open-source GitHub alternative for free as long as you follow the rules.
Included with GNU Savannah, you will get access to the community in the forum, help from the support, and even access a list of other free projects hosted at GNU Savannah.
Beanstalk is a web-based open-source GitHub alternative known as a powerful, reliable, and secure platform for managing code repositories.
If you like how GitHub allows you to review code, you won’t have difficulty switching from GitHub to Beanstalk. Beanstalk includes features such as issues tracker, email digests, comparison review, history of commits & files, and more to help with code review.
This is one of the rare open-source GitHub alternatives that implement two-factor authentication as a part of security. Security is also guaranteed through IP records and by enforcing strong password creations for accounts with level permissions.
Even though Beanstalk is a web-based tool, it can be deployed in a couple of different ways. This is just another benefit and probably why Beanstalk is used by world-known brands such as Intel, Phillips, and others.
Beanstalk is also great for teams as it has a section where you can form a team, assign permissions, and keep an eye on the entire team and work in progress through notifications, history of commits, and more.
I like the statistics feature, which isn’t very common, as it gives short and quick insights into code stats for the desired time frame.
You can also directly deploy code anywhere within Beanstalk, so you will never be limited or need to find third-party options.
GitPrep is another great open-source GitHub alternative because it is a clone designed after GitHub, and it is made to be free and accessible to everyone.
It’s made with the idea of providing a lightweight and portable GitHub system that you can install on any Linux/Unix system.
GitPrep supports CGI, has a built-in server, reverse proxy support, and the only thing needed to run this open-source alternative is Perl 5.8.7+.
Another reason why GitPrep is a great open-source GitHub alternative is because importing GitHub’s repositories is very simple. With an integrated pull & push repository system (via HTTP), you can directly pull your GitHub repositories.
And since GitPrep is a clone, there is no learning curve if you switch from GitHub.
All you need to install GitPrep is your server to host it, and the installation requires only two commands.
With CGI and SSL support, Smart HTTP support, and GitPrep support, you won’t have to think twice before switching to GitHub.
Each one of these open-source GitHub alternatives is a great pick. However, not all of them work in the same way or provide the same features.
The best alternative is GitLab as it is very similar (almost clone-like) with added additional features that GitHub users might have been missing. In addition, it is free to use, and it’s very easy to migrate your code repositories from GitHub to GitLab.
However, if you don’t find GitLab a great fit, I strongly believe that at least one of the other nine alternatives will be a great choice.
Switching procedures are often very simple and straightforward. While you can save a lot of money because you won’t have to pay for software, keep in mind that you will have to spend a little bit of money on a hosted server.
However, compared to the price of the closed source software, this won’t get you anywhere near to breaking the bank.
Tom loves to write on technology, e-commerce & internet marketing.
Tom has been a full-time internet marketer for two decades now, earning millions of dollars while living life on his own terms. Along the way, he’s also coached thousands of other people to success.