For many years, the world’s largest open-source project was the Linux kernel and its ecosystem. With Linus Torvalds at the center and thousands of developers working on the code around the world, the power of open-source development managed to push Linux from geeky toy in the 1990s to enterprise IT mainstay by 2013.

But the days when Linux was the largest, most complex open-source project are now over. Projects like Apache Hadoop and OpenStack are gaining more and more contributions every day, and any day now, either of these projects could surpass Linux as the largest and most prolific open-source project in the world.

Hadoop has dominated in the growing data capture and analysis world. Today, its name is almost synonymous with the term Big Data. It’s become so popular and influential that it gets its own year-end review.

OpenStack, on the other hand, has the potential to be even larger than Hadoop. With Red Hat and Mirantis now fighting for the leadership role in the project, and IBM coming into the game with Mirantis on its side, it won’t be long before OpenStack becomes a standard data center component: the free way to build your own cloud.

But that’s not to say that OpenStack is ready for common consumption just yet. 2013 saw the first commercial distributions of the platform come to market, but it’s still a DIY platform, requiring customizations and plenty of care and handling.

Of course, the Linux kernel hasn’t been standing. Over the past 10 years, every change in the core of the kernel has been leading up to the empowerment of Linux Containers (LXC). Containers allow applications to be packaged up for hosting on a Linux server, which can separate and isolate other container applications. The end result is better server consolidation coupled with easier deployment, as containers are single artifacts.

Docker.io took the LXC idea and ran with it, and in 2013, it broke out into the development community. Docker allows developers to package their applications as Linux containers quickly and easily, simplifying deployment. 2014 Should be a big year for Linux containers, and for Docker.

The actual open-source world in 2013 coalesced even more around GitHub. The site remains the most popular place to host your software. But Bitbucket also changed its offerings in 2013 to make private repositories available for free, so GitHub is not without its challengers.

About Alex Handy