Despite the advances made by distributions such as Ubuntu, desktop Linux is still miles behind Windows and OS X in terms of the look, the feel and the slickness that most office workers have come to expect. The vast majority of companies simply aren’t prepared to make office workers use an open source OS — and most office workers aren’t prepared to use them, either.
Even if you want to stick with a closed source operating system (or, the case of OS X, partially closed source), your business can still take advantage of a vast amount of open source software. It is possible to run a business entirely on software that can be downloaded for free. And below we are listing few of them that can save you a lot of money on licensing.
Open Source Office Productivity Suites
While Microsoft Office is the industry standard in terms of , integrated applications for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, database management, email and desktop publishing. However, it’s important for small business owners to know that these types of office applications are also available in free and open source office productivity applications.
Here are some alternatives:
- Apache OpenOffice, a comprehensive suite for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux;
- Open Document Foundation’s Libre Office, a fork of Open Office for Windows, OS X and Linux;
- NeoOffice, a Java-based fork of OpenOffice for OS X, and
- Calligra, which runs on Windows, Linux, FreeBSD and OS X.
Open Source Finance and Accounting Applications
You can choose from dozens of excellent open source accounting programs for everything from simple basic ledger bookkeeping to invoicing, inventory tracking, point of sale, payroll, taxes, and reporting and forecasting, and this roundup highlights five of the best.
We listed some of them to help grow your business:
- GnuCash (Windows, OS X and Linux) helps very small businesses apply professional accounting principles and track bank accounts, income and expenses to help ensure balanced books and accurate financial reports.
- TurboCASH (Windows), aimed at the small to medium-sized business market, provides a general ledger and offers core functionality such as posting transactions into accounts and producing financial reports. The product supports 80 tax regimes, including the United States and the United Kingdom.
- Finally, xTuple offers both a free and commercial supported version of Postbooks (Windows, OS X, Linux, BSD) to medium and larger companies. It includes accounting (general ledger, accounts receivable and payable, bank reconciliation and financial reporting) as well as sales, CRM, inventory and distribution, and other business management functions.
Open Source ERP Software Systems
Businesses with more than a handful of employees have a lot to balance including pricing, product planning, accounting and finance, managing payroll, dealing with inventory, and more. Stitching together a set of disparate tools to handle those jobs is a quick, cheap, and dirty way to get things done.
We are listing alternatives to SAP or Microsoft Dynamics:
The popular and comprehensive open source ERP package ADempiere(Windows, OS X, Linux and Unix) offers accounting, manufacturing management, material management, finance, human resource, project management and maintenance management features.
OFBiz is the Apache Foundation’s Java-based, multi-platform enterprise business package. It includes ERP, accounting, CRM, supply chain management, manufacturing resource management and enterprise asset management functionality.
OpenERP (Windows and Linux) provides a full suite of applications, including sales management, accounting and finance, recruitment, purchase management and manufacturing resource management. A paid version — which includes support, automated updates and an unlimited bug fix guarantee — is available for € 35 (about $50) per user per month.
Open Source Communications and Telephony Software
For many businesses, open source VoIP programs and apps offer a great way to save thousands of dollars every year in telephony costs. Better yet, open source programs are fully customizable to a business’ specific needs, making them a popular solution that often just can’t be beat. This popularity hasn’t just helped business, but has also driven many open source programs to the forefront of their industry.
AsteriskNOW (Linux) is an easy-to-install IP PBX that comes with the FreePBX administrative GUI. The Asterisk project is sponsored by Digium, which also offers a commercial version of the PBX.
Elastix (Linux) is based on Asterisk telephony software, but it also integrates fax, instant messaging and email functionality from other open source projects. Features include voicemail, fax-to-email, support for softphones, virtual conference rooms and call recording.