Top 5 Open Source Version Control Software In 2020

Version control software enables developers to collaborate, share and work together on the same project. We have compiled list of top 5 free and open source version control systems used in year 2020.

Top 5 Open Source Version Control Software In 2020

Version control systems helps software development teams to record changes to files over the time. Developers use VCS for collaboration, sharing and working together on the same project. This makes it possible for you to restore files back to the previous version. It also allows the entire project to be rolled back to a previous version. Moreover, you can compare files to older versions and track changes as well.

There are two type of version control systems: Centralerlized Version Control Systems (CVCS) and Distributed Version Control Systems (DVCS). In centralerlized version control system, single server holds all the files and number of clients checkout files from the server. Whereas in distributed version control system, clients have a full repository with a complete history.

We will cover the following open source version control systems.


Git is one of the most popular free and open source distributed version control system. It is very fast, efficient and cross-platform. Git supports for non-linear development and protocols such as HTTP, FTP, ssh. Developers can easily make changes to the code and keep track of history. It also helps developers clone and fork repository quickly. You can easily create feature branches and merge them into main branch.

Here are some key features of Git are:

  • Open Source
  • Distributed system
  • Compatibility
  • Non-linear development
  • Branching

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One of the leading free and open source centralized version control system is Subversion. For a long time, it was a big option before the distributed version control system gained popularity. It can be used by anyone from individuals to a large-scale corporation. Subversion supports empty directories and symbolic links with Versioned. Compared to Git, it has stronger support for Windows and developers can use GUI software like TortoiseSVN.

Above all, some of the important features of Subversion are:

  • Branches and tags
  • Secure and reliable
  • Executable flag is preserved
  • Binary files handled efficiently
  • Bindings to programming languages

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GitLab is one of the leading free and open source version control software. It is a full DevOps open source platform and its core feature is version control. You can run on most Linux distributions, except Windows. In addition to VCS, you can use it for issue tracking, code review, CI/CD, and many more.

Above all, here are the some popular features of GitLab:

  • Commit graph and reporting tools
  • Jira integration
  • Powerful branching
  • Authentication and authorization
  • Compliance management

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Mercurial is an outstanding free and open source distributed version control software like Git. It is cross-platform and can be run on Linux, Windows and MacOS. Mercurial is fast, lightweight and scalable. It robustly supports both plain text and binary files. Mercurial has a robust web interface and also supports advanced branching.

Here are some key features of Mercurial:

  • High performance and scalability
  • Branching and merging
  • Supports plain text and binary files
  • Distributed architecture
  • Platform independent

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Bazaar is another open source version control tool based on a centralized and distributed repository model. This implies that it can be used with or without a central server by developers. It supports directories tracking. However, this feature is not available in tools such as Git and Mercurial. Bazaar has an outstanding plugin architecture and existing plugins can be set up by the developer to expand the functionality or build their own plugin. Many top projects use Bazaar such as Ubuntu, MySQL, Mailman, MariaDB, and many more.

On the other hand, some cool features of Bazaar include:

  • Support cross-platform
  • Central and distributed
  • Fast and efficient
  • Pluggable storage formats
  • Lightweight and flexible

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We have discussed best free and open source version control systems in this post. Both VCS have pros and cons but major difference between centralized and distributed version control is the number of repositories. In centralized version control, you have only one repository. But, in distributed version control, you have multiple repositories.