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A fork is a divergence in a software project where one codebase becomes two. The second codebase is said to have forked from the first.

This usually happens when the original project makes changes that a significant number of users/developers dislike. e.g. Palemoon forked Firefox, Cinnamon forked Gnome Shell and MATE forked Gnome2. Forks may be also caused by the closure of the forked project as the users of the original software want to continue supporting the software. An example of a closed project being forked is the OpenOffice project, which had its final release in 2011. Although OpenOffice was continued as Apache OpenOffice, LibreOffice is seen as a succeeding fork of the original OpenOffice.

How to fork a piece of software?

The first step of forking a piece of software is getting the source code of the software. The source code will be the codebase that you'll be modifying, making the modifications a separate piece of software but not creating the software from scratch, thus making it a fork. The source code will be most likely in a public Git repository if it's an Open-source project, so using git clone will copy the contents of the repository to your computer. After using git clone to copy the source code to your computer, you can use Programming resources and Programming concepts as a reference while modifying the source code and creating new code for the fork. Happy hacking!

Popular forks

  • Sneedacity and Tenacity, both forks of Audacity created after Audacity announced the introduction of telemetry. Originally Sneedacity and Tenacity were one singular fork, but disputes over the name ("Sneedacity" won but the project was named "Tenacity", thus having the supporters of Sneedacity to create Sneedacity as a separate project.
  • Cinnamon and MATE are popular forks of GNOME 2 that are developed by the Linux Mint developer team and are popular DEs within and outside of the Linux Mint community.