Open Source Apps For Small Businesses

Open Source Apps For Small Businesses

Open Source Apps For Small Businesses - Benefits Of Open Source Apps For Small BusinessFor startup owners, limited resources are the biggest constraint and they are constantly looking for options to control costs without compromising on quality. With technology playing a dominant role in all types of businesses now, the cost of hardware and software is very often a considerable chunk of the budget of a business. Open Source Software (OSS) can possibly help in reducing software costs without compromising on quality. Let us see how open source software applications can be used effectively by small businesses.

How OSS Helps?

Most of us have come across discussions about open source software but we often have a misconception that it is limited only to the Unix and more specifically Linux community. The basic concept behind the OSS moment is that application developers distribute their software for free, providing the source code for review and customization.

Such applications are now available for both Windows and Unix taking care of compatibility issues, though Windows itself is not free and requires a license. Such applications are generally quite secure, robust and provide you with all the comparable features of their paid counterparts. It is simply a matter of moving out of your comfort zone and getting used to new software.

Small businesses are perhaps the most suitable environment for OSS apps. Many users are worried about lack of maintenance and support contracts for OSS software. But options do exist where support is available at a fraction of the cost of licensed software. Also the entire paradigm of open source is based on the concept of users giving their feedback and the developer updating and fixing the application based on that. Also when you buy licensed software often you have to go in for the full fledged version while your requirement is only a subset of those functions.

So you end up buying a fairly complex product with features that may possibly make the application more difficult to use when you don’t need all that. Of course open source products also range from simple to complex, but you have the choice to picking the one suitable for you.

Since you do not buy any of the OSS applications, you always have the freedom to switch to an alternative if you find that it does not serve your purpose. You will not get this kind of flexibility when you sign up for licensed software. Also you can download and install such software on as many numbers of computers as you wish, without having to worry about running out of licenses.

Commonly Used OSS Apps

Many of use Mozilla Firefox as our preferred web browser which is an OSS offering. Statistics show that it is one of the most downloaded web apps, so we can see that such applications are as good as or even better than their paid competitors. Almost all of the requirements of a business startup can be taken care of using open source software, everything from accounting packages, word processing software, spreadsheets, graphics editors to mail applications are available for free download. You need to sit and list down your requirements and then search on the internet for the matching application.

Open Office

Any office, small or big, requires the MS Office suite to kick off work. Open Office is an open source alternative to Microsoft’s product and amongst the most credible options. The application interface is similar to MS Office and users will not have a problem adapting to it.

Open Source Apps For Small Businesses - Benefits Of Open Source Apps For Small Business

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The Open Office package has been developed over the last 20 years and has now become a mature and stable product. It is compatible with other office software, so you will not have problems opening files sent by others who do not use it. It includes applications for word processing, graphics, spreadsheets, databases and presentations.

PDFCreator

PDF documents are an industry standard for sharing documents. The majority of us think of PDF and Adobe Acrobat in the same breath, but it is a misconception that the PDF format is proprietary to Adobe. PDFCreator is an easy to use alternative to Adobe Acrobat and reduces creating a PDF to the mere click of a button. It supports a lot of formats for documents as well as graphics and also gives the option of encrypting documents.

GIMPshop

For those who need the functionality of Adobe Photoshop, GIMPshop is very successful in creating nearly the same look and feel along with the same set of features. Most users who switch to this from Photoshop will find that all the menu options and user interface is almost unchanged.

Inkscape

Inkscape is an alternative to CorelDraw. For those who need to work with advanced graphics features such as tracing bitmaps, cloning a blending this is a simple and powerful application.

ThunderBird

Mozilla Thunderbird is a fully functional and secure email client where you can configure multiple IMAP and POP email accounts. It comes with an advanced spam filtering utility which eliminates all your junk email. It streamlines your mails and makes searching for mails quite faster even with huge number of messages. It provides you all the functionalities of Microsoft Outlook and much more, for free.

Ekiga

Ekiga takes care of your communication needs, it provides video conferencing, VoIP and IP telephony solutions. So you can make audio and video phone calls, organize video conferencing, instant messaging using text chat and supports all popular audio and video formats.

Pidgin

Pidgin is an instant messaging client that can be integrated with Yahoo, MSN Messenger, AOL Instant Messenger and ICQ, MSN Messenger and others, so it facilitates using the same program to log in to multiple networks.

GNUCash

This is financial accounting software targeted for home and small business owners. The main features include tracking your portfolio, monitoring inflows and outflows of bank accounts, raising and tracking invoices, generating reports. It supports different accounting standards such as double entry, split transactions, chart of accounts and general ledger. For the budget conscious small business owner, adapting OSS apps will be a smart choice. Not only small businesses, large corporates are also taking to OSS in a big way for obvious cost benefits.

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