8 Popular Products You Didn't Know Were Built with Open Source

A popular streaming service, video games consoles, and mobile messaging all owe a debt to FreeBSD.
  • A popular streaming service, video games consoles, and mobile messaging all owe a debt to FreeBSD, an open-source operating system developed from Unix. First introduced on June 19, 1993 (now dubbed FreeBSD Day in the developer community), FreeBSD has since become one of the most popular open source options for networking and storage applications in particular.

    Due to its very friendly licensing terms, FreeBSD has found its way into some very popular consumer products and apps – even in recent years.

    Click through the slideshow to see a few popular products based on the open-source OS.

  • Mac OS

    The core of Mac OS and iOS is based on Darwin, an open-source, Unix-like OS that incorporates elements of FreeBSD into its kernal. It was originally developed at NeXT, the company Steve Job's founded in the 1980s after he was fired from Apple. When Apple later acquired NeXT, the latter's operating system development work was incorporated into creating the operating system for Mac computers.

    (Image source: Apple)

  • NetApp

    NetApp, one of the largest cloud data service and management companies, uses FreeBSD in many of its networking and cloud-based products including its Data ONTAP GX line of storage appliances.

    (Image source: NetApp)

  • Netflix

    Netflix uses FreeBSD to stream millions of hours of video content to its users every day. Rather than purchase a commercial, third-party content delivery network (CDN) to stream its content from locations all over the world, Netflix has leveraged FreeBSD to create its own custom solution called Open Connect.

    (Image source: Netflix)

  • Nintendo Switch

    Nintendo's latest console runs elements of FreeBSD at its core. Though Nintendo itself has not officially confirmed its use of FreeBSD, researchers who have reverse-engineered the Switch, the gaming system's operating system (called Horizon) utilizes code from the FreeBSD kernal. The Switch's software licensing information also includes references to FreeBSD.

    (Image source: Nintendo)

  • Panasonic TVs

    Savvy users who have scanned Panasonic's license agreements have noted that Panasonic's Viera model of TV use FreeBSD. The TVs also use the Unix File System (UFS) supported by FreeBSD for storing files and video recordings.

    (Image source: Panasonic)

  • PlayStation 4

    The Nintendo Switch isn't the only console on the market using FreeBSD. Sony has confirmed in reports that the Orbis OS, the operating system for the PlayStation 4, is a modified version of FreeBSD. Sony has also used versions of FreeBSD in the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita consoles.

    (Image source: Sony)

  • Trivago

    If you've booked a trip on Trivago you have FreeBSD to thank. The Germany-based travel site uses FreeBSD in its server infrastructure. The company also maintains an active repository on GitHub, the online database for open-source code.

    (Image source: Trivago)

  • WhatsApp

    The now-Facebook-owned WhatsApp, one of the world' most popular mobile messaging apps, is built using FreeBSD and the Erlang programming language. WhatsApp founder Jan Koum was exposed to FreeBSD early in his career as a developer at Yahoo. Once he moved on to develop WhatsApp he opted to leverage his experience with FreeBSD to create the app. The use of FreeBSD plays a big part in WhatsApp being able to keep its engineering team lean despite its massive user base.

    (Image source: WhatsApp)

Chris Wiltz is a Senior Editor at    Design News   covering emerging technologies including AI, VR/AR, blockchain, and robotics.

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