The 5 Best Open-Source Social Networking Software

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Previously, Abhijeet has highlighted three awesome sites where you can create your own social network easily. However, if you are one of those who wants more control of the site, including the branding, the domain name, the features, the design, the community rule, or even the database, the best way is to install and run a social networking software on your server.

While there are plenty of scripts (both free and paid) that you can use to run your own social network, there are only a few that are stable, good and easy to use.

Here we have handpicked 5 of the best open-source social networking software for you to choose from.

1. Elgg

elgg - open source social networking

Elgg has just won the best open source social networking platform for the year 2008, so there is no doubt about the usability of this software. Overall, Elgg is a powerful software that offers blog, networking, community, collection of news using feeds aggregation and file sharing features. In fact, it is one of the most versatile pieces of software that offers almost everything you need to start a social networking site.

Elgg operates on a LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySql and Php) environment and it is easy to install and configure. With a little php knowledge, you can get your social networking site up and running in no time.

Before you install Elgg, try out its demo site.

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2. Mahara

mahara - open source social networking platfom

Unlike the rest of the social networking software that is meant for general use, Mahara is designed as a platform to allow its users to demonstrate their life-long learning, skills and development to selected audiences. With Mahara, you can create an e-Portfolio platform and set up an online learner community. Features in the software include blogs, a resume builder, a file manager, institutions detail and the social networking aspect where you can add and maintain your list of friends.

Mahara runs on LAMP, although Postgres is preferred over MySql.

Check out the demo site

3. Lovd by Less

lovdbyless - open source social network software

Lovd by Less is among the first and only few open-source social networking platforms built on Ruby on Rails. Some features of Lovd by Less include blogs, photo gallery with captions, site search for friends, activity update and user-to-user messaging. Other things that are built into the software include Flickr and YouTube integration.

One thing good about Lovd by Less is that it is easy to use and contains most of the applications that you need. For those who prefer Ruby on Rail rather than php, this would be a good alternative.

Try out the demo site.

4. Xoops with Yogurt extension

xoops - best open source social network script

XOOPS is an extensible CMS that allows you to build sites based on your needs. You can first start off as a personal blog and expand later to include social networking, forum and much more via the use of appropriate modules.

Yogurt is the particular module that allows you to build a social networking site with XOOPS. You can setup your personal album of pictures, videos from YouTube, mp3 files, add your list of friends, a public wall for messages (scraps), to create communities (tribes) and many more useful features.

XOOPS and Yogurt are based on php and work well in the LAMP environment.



AROUNDMe is slightly different from the others. Instead of building a social networking site, it allows you to create your own collaboration server which enables your users to setup their own social networking site, community or webspace (like Ning, Google Groups, Snappville, CollectiveX).

With AROUNDMe, your users can have access to a guestbook (a wall), a group blog, a forum and a wiki which they can drop into web pages. Every single group is fully customizable using xHTML, CSS, Javascript and PHP and the user can decide if the group is private or public.

Other Candidates

Here are some of the candidates that didn’t make it to the top 5:

Phpizabi – works fine for a small network, but could become buggy as your network get bigger.
Dolphin – while it is free to download, you will have to pay to get the ad module removed.
Insoshi – a new social network software built on Ruby on Rails released only early April this year. It could have be better if some of its features are more polished.

Have you built your own social networking site before? Which software did you use? Which one would you recommend?

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Comments (77)
  • Oliver


    Good article. However, currently I use pH7CMS ->
    It is quite new but very powerful and has a very nice template by default, that’s why I use it.

  • Jackie

    I am thinking of starting a social networking place. I am new to face book but I had one in NING and Flickr. I want to be the owner of one the one in control. What would you recomend me to do for a beginner. I know start small. I have been researching today on google.And came across this page. I am thinking of buying the software for the licence and running it off my website. I am looking for sugestions and a way to beat fb at thier own game by keeping it clean.
    I have the money to use. I don’t know where to start and I just came off of 2 bad business promoting things Text Ads and Traffic Exchanges. Like just this week. So I want something for me to run and make people happy and feel safe.
    Where do I go from here email me at
    Thank you Jackie Popp/ Arkansas

  • Julian

    I don’t know anything about this technology. I’m wondering about the possibility of an open source SN site to compete with Facebook, one that would have similar features but much better privacy settings, be free of advertising, being supported by low-cost subscriptions (such as $10 a year).

  • Noam

    Don’t forget SocialEngine ( SocialEngine is a strong player in the white-label social networking market and allows you to setup a PHP-based network on your website.

  • James

    One of the best and most stable site is

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Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.
Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.