Open source software is a free software that allows for it’s source code to be available, readable, and changeable. With many traditional softwares the source code is hidden, and license agreements prevent the user from decompiling it and looking at the source code. However, with open source, anyone can download it, and change it to make it functional for their own personal end use.
The Standish Group, an IT investment consultancy, estimates that adoption of open-source software models has meant consumers are able to save around $60 billion a year.
If you want to start making savings on your software licensing for your business, here are five of the best open source business software available today for very little cost or even free.
Open Office 3.0
Open Office 3.0 is a great alternative to current commercial office productivity suites. The core package includes a word processor (Writer), a spreadsheet (Calc), a presentation program (Impress), a drawing and charting application (Draw), a scientific tool for creating equations and formulae (Math), and finally a database system with in-built reports and forms (Base). Every component of OpenOffice 3.0 is multi-platform and multi-lingual, with development sponsored by Sun Microsystems.
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Alfresco 2.1 is an enterprise content management (ECM) system with features that rival more expensive platforms, provides better quality, all at a much reduced cost. Alfresco 2.1 functionality includes document and knowledge management, records and web content management, workflow development, collaboration and imaging tools. All these ECM capabilities are stored in a single, scalable repository, which is its unique selling point as other ECM products require multiple repositories to work. This powerful single repository model can also replace problematic shared network drives.
SugarCRM 5.2 is an open source customer relationship management (CRM) system. It is used to help you track and share opportunities for new customers, manage current customers, track your customer pipeline and much more. SugarCRM 5.2 even has offline capabilities with support for mobile devices used by the sales force on customer premises, conference venues, and other out of office locations. It is fully customizable and integrates to Microsoft Outlook and other groupware software systems.
Gimp 2.6 is probably the most well-known and oldest open source graphics application. Short for GNU Image Manipulation Program, it began life back in 1995 and has built up a reputation and status as a solid competitor to all commercial bitmap graphics programs on the market today. Gimp 2.6 supports many powerful features such as complex painting tools, multiple undo/redos, channel and layers support and editable text layers. Able to read scalable vector graphics (SVG) files and capable of importing files from Photoshop (PSD) directly, Gimp 2.6 also has a scripting engine and plug-in architecture to allow customizations and extensions to core functionality. There are already more than 100 plug-ins and scripts available for use.
Evolution is a capable email client built to replace Outlook on Linux. It supports advanced features such as calendar support, encryption using GnuPG, virus and spam filtering and search folders. Backed by Novell, Evolution can act as a Novell GroupWise or Microsoft Exchange client.