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What it is and why to use it

OpenACS, the Open Architecture Community System, is a web application platform designed for high traffic community websites. Overview of Advantages

OpenACS is a web application toolkit in a very crowded field of systems that purport to offer similar features. However, OpenACS offers a number of advantages over competing platforms.

Community in a Box

The OpenACS is a community system that is ready out-of-the-box for collaborative web sites. It provides functionality for discussions, content management, personalization and other mechanisms for users to communicate. In addition, the utilities available to extend this core functionality are easy to learn and to use.

There are many more advantages, that can be read here:

rich variety of already built, high quality applications
  • Workflow
  • CMS
  • Bug/Issue tracker,
  • E-commerce
  • Blogger
  • Chat
  • Forums
  • Project-manager
  • Calendar
  • Webmail
  • many many many more

The OpenACS Technology

OpenACS is built on a completely free and open source foundation. OpenACS runs on AOLserver and uses either the Oracle (which is not open-source) or PostgreSQL relational databases. AOLserver is used in the some of the most demanding, high-traffic web applications in the world. Its use is advised where you want to plan for scalable, demanding websites.

No license fees will be incurred throughout the life of the system. All components, each of which has been tested in extremely high-demand environments, are freely available for download from the Internet. These components are:

GNU/Linux – The most well-known open source software system, GNU/Linux is an enterprise class server operating system. It is highly tested, supremely stable and extremely scalable. In addition, it has an enormous base of knowledge and a wealth of qualified users and administrators. GNU/Linux is currently running sites such as, EBay and You can also run OpenACS on Windows or other UNIX variants, of course.

AOLserver – The middle tier of the OpenACS is the high performance web application server AOLserver. Used by America Online to power the busiest sites on the internet such as,, and AOLserver is similar in scope to servers such as BEA Weblogic, IBM's Websphere and Apache's Tomcat. The features that make it a strong server include:

  • a multi-threaded architecture for extremely efficient performance in high demand environments;
  • native database APIs for simplified database access
  • pooled database connections for fast, readily available database connectivity;
  • and an embedded scripting language (Tcl) for rapid development of business logic.

AOLserver is also open source and is freely available from

PostgreSQL – PostgreSQL is the most advanced open source relational database available and was the first such database to be fully ACID-compliant (the requirements for a database to be called relational.) Begun as a project at the University of California at Berkeley, PostgreSQL has been in development for over 30 years. Until recently it was the database for Source Forge, premier repository of open source projects. Currently is it the database running the .INFO and .ORG registries.

OpenACS – Enterprise class toolkit for community oriented web applications. (See above)


One users review of OpenACS, comparing it to LAMP, .NET, and the competition.

See also