Version control software helps teams to keep track and control the versions of code. This is a concise review of the top 5 open source version control systems.

version control systems

Version control systems help software development teams to record changes to files over 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 types of source code management tools: Centralized Version Control Systems (CVCS) and Distributed Version Control Systems (DVCS). In the centralized version control system, the single server holds all the files, and the number of clients checks out files from the server. Whereas in the distributed version control system, clients have a full repository with complete history.

We will cover the following best version control software in this post.


Git is one of the most popular free and open source distributed version control systems. It is very fast, efficient, and cross-platform. Git supports 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 repositories quickly. This source code manager lets you easily create feature branches and merge them into the main branch. There are a variety of Git clients for various platforms, but we’ll focus on the best GUI tools. You can use Git tools for windows including Sourcetree and Tortoise Git. If you have a GitHub repository, you can also use the GitHub Desktop GUI client. On Linux, you can utilize Git GUI clients like QGit, Gitg, and Git Force. Moreover, you can use GitUp, GitBox, and Git-Xdiv on a Mac.

Here are some key features of Git version control are:

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

Learn more about Git


One of the leading free and open source centralized version control systems is Subversion. For a long time, this source code manager was a big option before the distributed version control system gained popularity. It can be used by anyone from individuals to large-scale corporations. 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

Learn more about Subversion


GitLab is one of the top 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. It allows software development teams to interact more effectively and increase efficiency. GitLab is built with cutting-edge technologies like Ruby, Go, and Vue.js. The information is stored in a PostgreSQL database server. The license for this source code management tool is MIT.

Above all, here are some popular features of GitLab:

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

Learn more about GitLab


Mercurial is an outstanding free and open source distributed version control system 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

Learn more about Mercurial


Bazaar is another version control tool that is free and open source. It is 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

Learn more about Bazaar


This brings us to the end of this blog post. We have discussed the best free and open source version control tools in this post. Both version control systems have pros and cons but the 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. Moreover, this blog post will really help you if you are looking to opt for a free source code manager for your production and staging applications. In addition, there are many free source code management tools mentioned in the explore section below along with the relevant tutorial articles.

Finally, is in a consistent process of writing blog posts on further latest open source products. Therefore, stay in touch with this Version Control Software category for the latest updates.


You may find the following links relevant: