Open solutions

Brian
January 4, 2009

It's no secret that great software can increase productivity, especially for small businesses and freelancers that do not have a large hiring budget and are seeking to automate and streamline business processes. Even so, many robust software packages carry a hefty price tag that renders their purchase prohibitive. Enter open-source software -- software that is distributed free of charge. Almost every commercial software suite has a mirror open-source application that will do the job nearly as well, and sometimes even better, than its expensive counterpart.  Here's a list of some of the most popular open-source software available: Design

  • GIMP:  A graphic editor much like Photoshop.
  • Inkscape:  A vector program in the spirit of Illustrator
  • Scribus:  Think Quarkxpress and InDesign

Productivity

  • Open Office:  Comparable to MS Word, includes word processor, spreadsheet, database, presentation and drawing programs.

Web

  • NVU: Dreamweaver-esque WYSIWYG HTML editor
  • Firefox:  Browser that can replace Internet Explorer
  • Thunderbird:  E-mail client much like Outlook
  • Joomla, Drupal and OSCommerce:  Website-building platforms/content management systems

The advantages are evident for low-budget sole proprietorships and startups, but open-source software also brings many benefits to larger enterprises. For one, these applications are not bound by clandestine, proprietary code and therefore can be customized to any business environment. Support is not limited to what the developer offers, either, so you are free to choose from many service vendors to fulfill this need. Why do people spend so much time and effort creating programs they're going to give away for free? Giving something away for free is a great way to attract potential customers. Not only can your business take advantage of the cost savings afforded through open-source software, your marketing team can take a hint from this successful business model: Give something away that's truly great, and people will come back to see what else you have to offer. What open-source solutions have you used?

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About Brian Morris

Brian Morris serves in various capacities as a freelance writer, content developer and public relations specialist for growing small businesses. When he’s not writing, he can be found on the racquetball court - usually getting his tail kicked by guys 20 years older.

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