How about an Open Sourced office?
If you’re looking forward to start up a small business enterprise, investment happens to be a key concern. How much, how less and where exactly; these are the preliminary encounters.
Open source software has a lot of options for the business world, alongside the home user bandwagon. Apart from the other generic features, Open Source Software at times have a greater degree of customization as compared to their proprietary counterparts. This very fact is pretty evident with the fact that several large companies like – Google, Amazon, Yahoo, etc. run their servers on Linux, again an Open Source OS.
The idea behind this article is not to force start you to follow the Open Source path, but to make you look at the same as an alternative before you shell out a few hundred or thousand dollars for a close source and non-free product which does pretty much the same as it’s Open Source and free alternative.
Before we move on, I would like to clear out that free software and Open Source Software are two different entities, though they often come as a bundle!
Today, we shall have a look at a few Open Source Software which may just help you kick start your business.
The first need shall be to have a robust, secure and customizable operating system, both for the server(s) and the workstation(s). There are a lot of options available when it comes to Linux. Have a look at them at one of our previous posts - Which Linux distro is right for you?
I would recommend Fedora for free, or RedHat, if you can pay a bit for a great enterprise support. They have a cutting edge robustness and come with a lot of applications like OpenOffice, Firefox, Thunderbird, etc. as pre-loaded, catering your major necessities.
The next big thing is an office suite which shall help you with word processing, spreadsheets, presentation, databases, vector drawing, mathematical formulas, etc. OpenOffice is the best of all under this segment.
You’ll be looking for a good Instant Messaging client for your Internet chat and of course a good Email application for your official mail domain.
Evolution is one of the best email clients available as free and Open Source. It provides you with an integrated email, an address book and calender to mark your appointments/schedules.
Thunderbird is a another cool desktop email client from Mozilla. It supports great customization, easy search, and enhanced security and privacy measures that keeps your information safe.
Jabber is the best known open source instant messenger. Apart from generic chat features, it gives you the ability to have VoIP conversations and transfer files.
Tomboy is one tool which I love a lot! It makes taking and tracking notes pretty easily. It can help people at work while looking for websites, emails or a few striking ideas during the day as they may jot them down by using Tomboy notes. One push and the Tomboy pops out!
Desktop search helps you find a document/email/note/music or a calender entry in a jiffy! Beagle is one such desktop search application which may help people at work. Thus making a disorganized desktop belong to an organized executive!
Though not always, but you might need to burn some DVD’s once in a while to backup your data. K3B shall help your business with an easy and free way to burn those disks.
Thinking of an sharing your desktop remotely? I know that’s a much desired feature in today’s connected world. RDesktop is a popular remote desktop client. It lets you share information remotely, or access your own workstation while being away from the office. What more, it can help interface Linux with desktops that are still running Windows!
PDF’s, you’ll need to read them every now and then! Evince provides an open source alternative to the propriety softwares, allowing you to view documents in a wide variety of formats in a much lighter and quicker way.
Imaging and Design
Depending on the kind of work you’re involved with, you might need to edit a few images at times.
GIMP is the Photoshop of open source world, though it is not as feature rich and friendly as Photoshop. Though it lacks some of the more advanced productivity tools found in Photoshop, but comes without the frills or a heavy price tag!
Inkscape is a great open source program for vector drawing, with its capabilities comparable to those of Illustrator or CorelDraw.
Once you look up to have an organized data flow in office, you need a Content Management System. We shall look for some good options under this segment.
Joomla! is an open source content management software (CMS), that allows easily upload and creation a variety of web pages. Features include page caching, RSS feeds, blogs, polls, website search, news flashes, making it a great tool for entrepreneurs doing business on the web.
Exponent is a good solution for the technologically challenged entrepreneurs. One can make great websites using Exponent. You don’t need to code web pages or manage site navigation directly. Instead, you can create a web page as you would see it on the web by typing, editing and rearranging the options in a window.
Wordpress! I can not miss this. One tool that has changed the way people look into the web. A robust, neat and fast growing CMS built on php, which again is an Open Source scripting language. The kind of support WordPress has, both official and unofficial is matchless.
Network and Server Management
When we talk about communication within an office, we need to look at the network management. Let’s figure it out the open source way!
Asterisk is a PBX (Private Branch eXchange) software that can facilitates an easily and cheaply control of the telephone system in your office. It works with both VoIP telephony as well as generic telephone systems with the addition of some inexpensive hardware. It has some great features which you might get on heavy shelling of cash, otherwise.
Zabbix Zabbix lets you easily monitor and track the status of network services, servers, and other network based hardware. If your business needs to track and report status on network systems, Zabbix’s easy-to-use mapping and graphing visualizations shall by no means disappoint you.
Apache supports a large number of web servers, worldwide, in an open source fashion. It provides some of the most widely used and stable HTTP servers available . It supports a lot of features including virtual hosting, SSL and TSL support, custom log files, proxy module, etc. It can be used as a secure server for web pages or to safely share files across the Internet.
GnuCash helps you keep track of your finances easily and efficiently. This free tool allows you to track bank accounts, stocks, income and expenses with a lot of features to create reports, make calculations, schedule transactions, etc.
SureInvoice facilitates an easy system for creating and managing invoices. You will find it useful in time entry, automated invoice generation, customer self-service, etc.
These were a few inevitable tools for your office from the Open Source world. I would like to repeat that OSS is an alternative to the propriety softwares, you may not necessarily stick to them or follow an OSS regime.
Stay tuned for more!