ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Opesource Computing

Updated on October 11, 2009

Opensource computing

Is it possible to run a business purely using free software?.

Your average business IT vendor will tell you that a business needs a server running 'Microsoft Server 2xxx', with clients running Windows XP Pro, or Windows 7 Pro, and, by the way, don't forget MS Office, MS Exchange and various other pieces of commercial software in order to make your business run smoothly.

I dissagree with this. I believe that it should be possable to run a company (no matter how large) using free and opensource software solutions.

Any company network usually consists of at least one server and several clients. With tasks ranging from accounts through to CAD, sales and HR. So, is it possable to find free or opensource programs to cover all the requirements of a large establishment?. Well, in a word, yes. How about a server running Linux?. 'Expensive, complicated and hard to get to grips with'. That's the view proffered by most vendors, however the truth is far from this. There are several Linux distros purpose-made to install a fully-working server complete with web-browser based administration. The main one being 'Red Hat Enterprise Server', although this can be bought as a commercial package complete with technical support, it can be downloaded and built yourself, or if you don't fancy this, then 'BSEL (Business Server Enterprise Linux)' may be more to your liking. For those in education, there is 'Karoshi', a fully-featured single/multi-server distro built by Paul Sharrad and Jo Harris from their experiance from working within the IT department of a large school. Like BSEL, it is built on PCLinuxOS 2009, which is extremely quick. Using custom Linux distros has the advantage that someone has already done the hard work, leaving you to download the .iso image, burn it to disc, and install it on the server.

Linux Servers can connect Windows clients as well as Linux ones. But as we are concentrating on free and opensource, we will concentrate on linux for the clients as well. There are probably more than 50 distros to choose from, but the main 'aimed-at-business' distros tend to be SUSE (owned by Novell), Red Hat, Mandriva and PCLinuxOS2009 (a faster build of Mandriva). Any Linux distro can be used as a client (or, for the more experianced user, server as well) as all distros work the same underneath. Basically, they may use their own methods for installation or desktop gui's, but underneath the interface everything is the same. My preferences are for PCLinuxOS2009, as it is easier to install than Windows, and, with no licence fees to pay, much cheaper to boot.

With both the server and client sorted-out, what about the day-to-day software that is essential to a company?. Lets start with office suites. Most companies use MS Office in one of it's various guises, but there is an alternative. Openoffice. this is now the defacto standard office suite for many goverment departments across the globe, from the 'Department for homeland security' in the USA, to the entire Thai goverment. Openoffice consists of 'Writer' (same as 'Word', 'Calc' (excel), 'Base' (Access), 'Impress' (powerpoint), 'Math' and 'Draw'. Openoffice has no MS Publisher support, but it can export a document as a pdf without the need for an external program. Also, the odf format used is accessable to over 140 other programs, so it is truly a file format for the future. It is also  worth mentioning that the 'Base' module can access many differant database formats, and can even edit Thunderbird adress books.

For the accounts department, there is 'GnU Cash', and it's point-of-sale add-on 'GnuPOS'. Gnucash is fully-functional double-entry accounting program capable of handling multiple accounts and multiple currencies. It's GnuPOS add-on allows multi-site sales control, with full inventory database and ability to automatically update a central accounting system make it a program on par with the most advance electronic point of sale systems. Gnu POS can also be used for stock control within the stores department.

For the production of brochures and magazines, there is 'Scribus', designed from the ground up to be a serious DTP program, Scribus is now capable-enough for one magazine to use it to typeset one issue to see how it compared with their normal Quarkexpress layout. The result was exactly the same. However, it does differ significantly from Quark in its use so will require a good deal of hands-on use to get the most out of it.

The drawing and design department is easily catered for with LinuxCAD, a full-on 2d/3d CAD application. It can be used for designing anything from engines to houses. I have not used this program myself, but according to those that have, it behaves just like AutoCAD and Radan.

Need to work on a collaborative project?, 'openproj' fits the bill. With versions for all the major operating systems, even Windows users can work on a project with their Linux counterparts.

Other useful programs include 'Asterisk' is a PBX & Telephony system aimed at putting your communications on to your network.

As you can see, it IS possable to run an entire business using open source software. Microsoft ran a campaign a year or two back pointing-out the total cost of ownership of their systems against those powered by Linux. According to them, theirs was by far the chaepest. I would argue that with all the free technical assistance now available on the web, operating an open source system must surely be less than 10% of the TCO of an MS based one. After all, you pay nothing for the O/S, and the software is free as well. If the total cost per seat is £0.00, then by definition, it must be cheaper.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)