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Build Your Business With Open Source 305

PCM2 writes "InfoWorld this week is running a ten-page guide to building your business entirely with OSS. The guide highlights OSS alternatives for many enterprise applications categories such as CRM, ERP, content management, and so on. It's not exhaustive, but where it skips the obvious categories like databases and Web servers it includes some others that you might not expect."
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Build Your Business With Open Source

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  • woo (Score:4, Funny)

    by grub ( 11606 ) <> on Wednesday August 10, 2005 @10:34AM (#13286031) Homepage Journal

    "Build Your Business With Open Source"
    By Darl McBride & Chris Sontag
  • I'm stuck with my current crippled version of QuickBooks. Any open source equivalents out there that you'd recommend?
    • by tzanger ( 1575 )

      I'm stuck with my current crippled version of QuickBooks. Any open source equivalents out there that you'd recommend?

      Appgen MyBooks Professional []. Not affiliated with them, just a customer who's also looking at their AccPAC killer for his day job, Appgen Custom Suite.

    • by ch-chuck ( 9622 )
      there's this [] - I don't know if they're equivalent tho.
    • by UnderScan ( 470605 ) <jjp6893&netscape,net> on Wednesday August 10, 2005 @10:57AM (#13286213)
      The only quickbooks that I have used was a version for DOS back in 1995, so take my advice with a grain of salt. I haven't used this product myself, but Linux Canada [] makes Quasar [] a GPL'd accounting program. If you need it, you can buy tech support [] from them & if necessary you can buy the close source edition too.
    • TurboCash (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      free and open source [] []

    • Honestly, I wouldn't recommend open source for this. Unless there's a really great hidden business model here, there likely isn't going to be enough revenue generated to support the team of developers needed to add all the boring stuff like... keeping up with the myriad tax changes from year to year. Sure, it'd be nice if a bunch of skilled developers with nothing better to do with their time donated their efforts to poring over tax volumes and writing the code to make sure everything is properly implemen
      • there likely isn't going to be enough revenue generated to support the team of developers needed to add all the boring stuff like... keeping up with the myriad tax changes from year to year

        Sounds like a good case for a framework and a scripting language designed to be accountant-friendly. Geeks design the framework, gui, and report innterface, and you get an accountant, probably a retired one with an interest in IT to write the initial accountancy stuff and to consult on the script language design.


      • by sribe ( 304414 )
        I think you're confusing accounting software with tax preparation software. FYI, my use of QuickBooks has almost zero connection to the tax code. There's the matter of how I relate my categories to tax items, which I control completely, and that's it. (Obviously, I'm not using it for payroll.) I haven't updated this software in 5 years, and haven't gotten a paid upgrade in 9 years. The fundamentals of accounting don't change often, especially for simple small businesses.
  • but where it skips the obvious categories like databases and Web servers

    Do any businesses that would NEED software to do business NOT use at least one of these?
    • Re:Huh? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ucahg ( 898110 )
      The solutions are as obvious as the categories.

      Does anybody with the required knowledge of databases not know about Apache and Postgres/My/whatever SQL?
      • Still, I would think that this book might appear "imcomplete" to PHBs and the likes.
      • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Wednesday August 10, 2005 @11:04AM (#13286262) Journal
        Actually, yes. I was recently (peripherally) involved with a project that is going to use MS SQL as the backend and IIS as the front-end. The reason? They didn't know there were alternatives other than Oracle (which they couldn't afford). Even pointing out the lower TCO and lack of vendor lock-in, they still went with the MS solution because they'd heard of MS, and not of the other projects.

        Not all businesses have competent IT people.

        • Re:Huh? (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Total_Wimp ( 564548 )
          Not all businesses have competent IT people.

          To go with something you know will do the job and that additionally your IT staff is familiar with is the very definition of competence. On the other hand, going with something you've never heard of just because it's 'free' is an incompetent thing to do.

          I use Apache and MySQL, but I'd hesitate to recommend them to someone who has never heard of them. If they're not even familiar enough with open source to know the big players then it's questionable they'll get t
          • going with something you've never heard of just because it's 'free' is an incompetent thing to do.

            This is true, of course. In this particular case, PostgreSQL + Apache would have been a far better choice. They were hiring half a dozen additional staff anyway for this project, so it would have been no harder for them to pick people with relevant experience.

            This system was for an area of their business which is relatively low-margin and is likely to need to scale significantly in the next few years.

          • Re:Huh? (Score:3, Insightful)

            by AVee ( 557523 )
            To go with something you know will do the job and that additionally your IT staff is familiar with is the very definition of competence. On the other hand, going with something you've never heard of just because it's 'free' is an incompetent thing to do.

            This is an often forgotten truth in IT, but I would argue that not knowing about product with a high marketshare in your bussiness is at least close to incompetence. And the ability to adapt to other solutions then the one 'you know' is a very important
    • The article seems more aimed at the software packages and inter-office communication. The web server software is often outsourced to those with more reliable internet connections.
      Running 'front-line' servers isn't for everyone.

    • Actually, if you llook at most of the apps mentioned in the article, they all use MySQL and Apache, where applicable.

      There's never really been a shortage of MySQL/Apache apps out there, at least in the last few years.

      Now if only we had as much enthusiasm for PostgreSQL/Apache. There's SQL-Ledger and Mambo that come to mind, but nowhere near the number of apps for PostgreSQL as there are for MySQL.

  • by rob_squared ( 821479 ) <.moc.derauqs-bor. .ta. .bor.> on Wednesday August 10, 2005 @10:37AM (#13286060)
    I've dealt with management at different companies I've worked for and the biggest issue they seem to have is that it will upset "the order of things." It seems that this is the perfect market for F/OSS. If you're already using it, its not as big of a headache to start. Now you just have to worry about the technical level of those that are starting their own business.
  • Who is listening? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bogaboga ( 793279 ) on Wednesday August 10, 2005 @10:37AM (#13286062)
    While I appreciate Infoworld's piece, I wonder whether anyone relevant is listening. My boss for example will not even take a look. He says, M$ products have been doing fine for him for more than a decade and can still do more for another few years.

    Question is: Are the people who matter reading these kinds of reports?

    • Re:Who is listening? (Score:4, Informative)

      by TripMaster Monkey ( 862126 ) * on Wednesday August 10, 2005 @10:43AM (#13286107)

      Actually, I've recommended a few open-source alternatives to my management, and so far we've saved a few grand. My boss will do just about anything to save on the bottom line, and when I tell him that I can fill a particular need with OSS and get out cheaper, he's beside himself wth joy.
    • Re:Who is listening? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Chibi ( 232518 ) on Wednesday August 10, 2005 @11:10AM (#13286306) Journal
      My boss for example will not even take a look. He says, M$ products have been doing fine for him for more than a decade and can still do more for another few years.

      Well, you have to consider that there will be costs associated with switching over. There's manpower to actually install and configure the software, and then there's training and learning curve. All for what? To be doing the same stuff you were before. So, it might not be appealing to your boss from that perspective (this is assuming that you guys aren't constantly upgrading MS apps).

      Your best opportunity with your boss might be when contracts/licenses are being renewed, or when you guys need a new application, and an open source solution might work out better.

      Note: Of course, it's entirely possible your boss is just an ass, although the two are probably not mutually exclusive. :)

      • If you're talking about databases, there's also the costs of rewriting and debugging all those SQL Server queries and stored procedures. Not an inconsequential task at all.

        If someone like mySQL or postgres REALLY wanted to make an impact, they'd add a SQL Server and/or Oracle emulation mode that used [ instead of " (ss), the same function names, the same date formats, and so on. I mean really. Can NO one use the same date function names and parameters?

    • by Brigadier ( 12956 ) on Wednesday August 10, 2005 @11:38AM (#13286507)

      My boss knows nothing about computers and doesn't care to. Once they allow him to meet his bottom line he will never change a thing. I've learned that whenever I speak to him instead of dicussing details and technical mumbo jumbo I break it down into profit and loss. I explain to him that by moving to a linux based OS server we can reduce our number of servers and downtime, and that the productivity incurred will = profit. Our P200 firewall/vpn/ftp/www servers have been running straight for over a year. While our windows boxen have brought the company to a hault on more than one occasion.
    • by hikerhat ( 678157 ) on Wednesday August 10, 2005 @11:56AM (#13286662)
      Your boss could be right. Transitioning from one platform to another can be incredibly expensive. It doesn't matter what kind of license the software has. Invariably, the new software doesn't do something the old software did, so you have to re-implement existing functionality. Data gets lost in the transition. The customer might see a few delays as you work the kinks out of the new system, costing very valuable customer confidence.

      Replacing existing working software is a huge risk. If the transition doesn't go perfectly you've racked up more costs fixing the problems than two or three years of licensing the old product (compare the cost of a few IT people working on a problem full time over a few days to a one year MSDN subscription, for example).

      • by guacamolefoo ( 577448 ) on Wednesday August 10, 2005 @03:31PM (#13288405) Homepage Journal
        Transitioning from one platform to another can be incredibly expensive. It doesn't matter what kind of license the software has.

        Bingo. I had the option of starting my business from scratch. Nothing was in place, and I picked and chose from OSS and traditional software. I run a law office, and I ended up with the following:

        1. Windows XP (needed it for my accounting package, plus training my minions on LInux was not an appealing idea)
        2. Server OS: GNU/Linux
        3. Website/Content management: PHP-Nuke
        4. File server: Samba
        5. Search tool for office network: Swish-e
        6. Mail: Thunderbird
        7. Office suite: Open Office
        8. Browser: Firefox
        9. Accounting: Quickbooks
        10. AV: AVG

        That's really all I need. I have a few pieces here and there: Paperport (which came OEM with my MFC machine) and Palm Desktop (came OEM with my Treo) for instance. I tried to mix and match based on my needs, budget, and consideration of implementation costs (that killed the idea of Linux on the desktop, though that's not out the window (so to speak) just yet -- I may ultimately make that move).

        My standard rule in-house is to look OSS first, commercial second. I am clearly the exception in my community right now, by I am spreading the word. I'm not taking a ideological standpoint, simply a cost/beneift approach when spreading the word. I know OSS wins on initial cost (which is important to me now) and my staff has transitioned to Open Office pretty easily since there isn't a huge installed base of MS Office forms in place. In other areas, if an OSS app scratches an itch, I go that route if the software works inthe manner I need it to. If there is no OSS option, or there is a bad one, I do not hesitate to go commercial, and I don't feel badly about it.

        FWIW, I know people who still run their offices on DOS Wordperfect versions, and these folks are giving serious consideration to OOO right now as a way to upgrade to a GUI office suite. They don't want to shell out hundreds per seat for MS Office.

        YMMV, but ultimately, I think OSS will win/lose on the merits of the software rather than any ideological notion about how software should be created/licensed/distributed, etc. Upfront costs are a significant issue for me as well, but if the OSS software was not good, I wouldn't use it, even if it were free.

    • I am (Score:2, Interesting)

      by DogDude ( 805747 )
      Actually, I'm one business owner who's a geek and who does pay attention. I can tell you from my point of view (small company... ~5 employees, growing quickly), the *vast* majority of the OSS offerings out there are embarassing when compared to what's already out there are regular proprietary software. I'd *love* to make the leap, but the quality and functionality of most of the things I've seen is laughable, really. About all we use is VNC, and while it's a great program, what we use it for isn't missio
  • The list of packages seems to be the sort of stuff that PHBs piss company money away on after they already have the bare essentials.

    How about a list of the bare essentials instead?
    • Re:Fluff (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Bimo_Dude ( 178966 )
      The list of packages seems to be the sort of stuff that PHBs piss company money away on after they already have the bare essentials.
      How about a list of the bare essentials instead?

      So are you implying that ERP (specifically Financial), telephony, and CRM are not part of the bare essentials? Retailers don't need POS? Every business where I've worked has had many of these types of applications. What, in your mind, is critical (bare essentials) to business that is not on the list (besides database, and web - w

  • "build or buy" (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ir0b0t ( 727703 ) * <> on Wednesday August 10, 2005 @10:44AM (#13286108) Homepage Journal
    I've wondered for a *long* time why coders do not prefer a build-it model to servicing mass-produced proprietary code.

    The profession of coding would be stronger as a profession if coders kept the source open and sold time to build individuals what they needed. There is little danger that non-coders will suddenly wean themselves from the need to hire coders just because the source is available.

    Doctors generally don't keep their medical knowledge secret to make money. They share knowledge and concentrate on practicing.
    • I don't think it is as much coders as it is PHB's. PHB's look at in-house or contracted 'build-it' projects and are frightened since:
      1) They do not know how to manage them
      2) It amounts to R&D and is therefore high risk.
      3) If your home brew application mangles data, it is the PHB which takes the heat. WHile if the 'off the shelf' application breaks, you blame the vendor.
      4) There is a good argument for cost sharing. 5 Companies sharing the cost of an application end up paying 1/5 (in theory) of what the i
    • time to build individuals what they needed

      The coders may prefer it, but the market definitely does not.

      The problem is that it costs more than many markets will bear. If it costs me $10,000 to build a Shipping system, there are many fewer potential customers than if it cost $200. But if I build that $10,000 system, keep it proprietary, and sell it for $200, my market is much larger. Instead of a single $10k sale, I can make hundreds of $200 sales.
    • IANADoctor, but I would imagine that most doctors who share their research and knowledge do so because:

      a) They are paid to do so through grants.

      b) They want the ego/recognition/opportunties that come from being published in a journal.

      Just my hunch though.
    • Idea! (Score:3, Interesting)

      by serutan ( 259622 )
      What would be really cool is to go to a website and create your own custom distro by selecting from a list of apps and features. Then the server would generate an ISO and burn it for you, and you get it in the mail or download it. There could be a few templates for starting points, or you could start from scratch. Linux installation programs usually let you select which apps to install. A smorgasboard distro generator would just move that step upstream. I wonder if a pay service like this would make money.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 10, 2005 @10:46AM (#13286119)
    Keep this in mind: a big-ass list of "open-source replacement alternatives" sort of implies that the closed-source path is the "normal way to do it" in the first place. If you're starting from there you've already lost. Every alternative choice will need to be justified to death and most will lose.

    Better to bring the philosophy in this way: "We will use the best tool for the job. We strongly prefer open source for reliability and flexibility reasons; we will consider commercial products where appropriate." And then do the best job you can do with the tools you've chosen. A record of excellent results, even a very short one, is the best way to give open source a toehold.
    • "We will use the best tool for the job. We strongly prefer open source for reliability and flexibility reasons; we will consider commercial products where appropriate."

      Are you saying that Open Source can't be commercial? Red Hat, MySQL, QT etc. anyone? If you mean non-free then say so.
  • vertical market apps (Score:3, Interesting)

    by danheskett ( 178529 ) <> on Wednesday August 10, 2005 @10:51AM (#13286158)
    Most business need a line-of-business or vertical market application for day to day use. General purpose apps are great for general purposes, but many many many businesses are based of regional vertical market applications. Stuff like point of sale systems for stores, software for furniture stores to schedule deliveries and inventory, medical billing software which is highly regionalized, software for denists offices, software for small banks, software for warehouse management, software for small movie rental stores, etc. General purpose computing is doing great. But for vertical markets small niche vendors are doing great.
  • And I was under the assumption that LDAP servers were dinosaurs quickly heading to extinction. Other SSO solutions work too with just a simple database behind it and not the added complexity of LDAP maintenance.
  • Until something doesn't work, then who do you call?
    Personal computers are one thing, since at the moment the only people that use open source software are geeks, but in a corporate(business) environment, if something goes down, it has to be back up fast and without support, how does one accomplish that if it isn't withing that admin's realm of expertise?
    • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF ( 813746 ) on Wednesday August 10, 2005 @11:21AM (#13286385)

      Until something doesn't work, then who do you call?

      Umm, your vendor or whomever you contracted for support. a corporate(business) environment, if something goes down, it has to be back up fast and without support, how does one accomplish that if it isn't withing that admin's realm of expertise?

      If your admin can't manage a recovery plan and/or can't figure out how to run and install the software you need then you need a new admin. This has nothing to do with open vs. closed source or commercial vs. free software. Do you work for the government or something? That is the only place I've heard of where decisions are made that way. "We wanted to build a concrete building but the contractor we hired only knows how to build log cabins, so the building will be made out of logs." You choose your employees and your software based upon their strengths and weaknesses. If you can save 100K a year by using Apache instead of IIS across your whole enterprise, but your systems administrator can't figure out Apache, fire his ass pronto. He's got to be incompetent. It's as bad as those correspondence school programmers who want a job at a real development shop but can only program in visual basic and are completely unable to learn any other languages. It's just sad.

    • That's what you're buying, and yes you are correct about corporate people not being tech saavy.

      My dad is the best example. He doesn't want to bother with do-it-yourself or free software because in reality, it's cheaper for him to buy something with support than it is to get something for free and it may not work exactly.

      Of course I load up his work computer with firefox, thunderbird etc, but when it comes to his website, he'd be more interested in a company that would do everything for him, which is the ri
    • You don't deploy until you know what you're doing with it, same as with MS stuff.

      When MS stuff breaks, what do you do? Call MS and pay them $250 for each problem?

      When OSS stuff breaks, what do you do? Call someone with expertise on the subject (a consultant?) or ensure you have someone on site who knows what the hells going on! :)
      • Yes, but presumably your expert is rather expensive, either to keep on site (expertise costs) or to have consult (external expertise really costs).

        Either way it's facile to imply that it's somehow more expensive to have Microsoft software break down on you. Or was your point that you'd have to pay Microsoft, specifically?
    • Open source or Closed source have nothing to do with operating software and engaging responsability on installation and services.

      Imagine you run a wood factory and need accouning software and stock application.

      Your domain is wood, not IT. So you Hire someone or you buy service to an IT company to provide you with proper software that feets your computing needs.

      Wether the provided software is open source or closed source is not your business. You just like it to do the intended work. If something's wrong you
  • Home Office (Score:4, Insightful)

    by doombob ( 717921 ) on Wednesday August 10, 2005 @10:58AM (#13286218) Homepage
    The company I work for always provides me with Non-OSS supplies like Fireworks, Dreamweaver, Frontpage, MS Office, and Windows XP. But my work at home involves various types of media projects including audio, video, and web. Right now I use Nvu [] for development, Audacity [] for my audio editing, and I'm trying out Jahshaka [] for video editing. And of course Open Office [] for everything else.
  • by Linker3000 ( 626634 ) on Wednesday August 10, 2005 @10:59AM (#13286226) Journal
    Almost as confirmation of an 'ask Slashdot' question of mine a while back, there still seems to be a big hole in the area of Employee/Human Resources Management.
  • by MarkEst1973 ( 769601 ) on Wednesday August 10, 2005 @11:01AM (#13286237)
    ... they wouldn't need this kind of thing. It's kind of like Paul Graham when he mused about his competitors and how it didn't really matter whether they knew he was using Lisp or not because, in the words of Robert Morris: "If they were that smart they'd already be programming in Lisp."

    If a business was smart, they'd already be using open source as a competitive advantage. Google knows about servers and handling load. Your local PHB does not. Your PHB wants to buy Windows Server 2003. Google customized their own Linux distro.

    I know enough to follow the really really smart people, like the ones at Google.

    • Actually... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by bobalu ( 1921 ) on Wednesday August 10, 2005 @11:27AM (#13286427)
      if they're smart they do what works for them given their employees, time requirements and other resources, regardless of the prevailing fashion.
    • by YrWrstNtmr ( 564987 ) on Wednesday August 10, 2005 @11:32AM (#13286459)
      If my company was in the 'insanely huge search engine' business, I'd likely do it pretty much like Google does it.

      As we're not in that business, what works for Google (customized Linux distros running 10's of thousands of servers) may not work for me.

    • If you envision needing lots of servers, you go open source: It may not be "the best" for service, but it scales financially in a way that purchasing stuff does not.

      If you are a small shop, with part time tech support that is paid on a per-incident basis - MS is a good solution. Why? Because you avoid loss of productivity for a learning curve (for apps you have), and because if your tech gets hit by a bus - lots of monkeys can do the job mimimally.

      I may love Open Office, and use it at home and work. Howeve
  • Missing items (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Wednesday August 10, 2005 @11:06AM (#13286277) Homepage
    and many times it's specific to what industry you are in but overall Sales and marketing tools are always missing from OSS. Where are tools for customer prospecting? how about tools for industry research off of aggregate databases available for purchase? Let alone a decent 4gl accounting package that exists as OSS.. dont get me wrong, I can buy a closed source real accounting,Inventory,and POS system for linux (no not that newbie crap like quickbooks or peachtree, a REAL accounting system) but there is no OSS stuff available that has a nice set of modules and Open scripting programming language set like 4gl so I can whip up a nice custom shipping module.

    hen we get into the specalized apps, where can I get an OSS program to mine my Scaroborough or Nielsen databases I get sent monthly? How about a Traffic and Billing system for commercial sales in broadcast?

    It's a neat idea, and with crossover office I can run those "special apps" but you can not realistically run your entire business on OSS. your accounting system at a minimum still needs to be a closed source app.. No commercial quality Accounting system exists in a useable state yet.

    • Part of this is probably due to the lack of fun / demand. Typically people doing OSS projects are doing it because either they enjoy it, or because they feel that it helps fill a need of some sorts. Commercial grade accounting systems and the programs you mentioned simply do not help to scratch this itch. IMHO, the only way these programs will evolve as open source is if a company says "What I'm paying to ____ I could use to write my own software," does it, open sources it, and then other industry inside
    • I'm looking for a project to work on.

      What are the big commercial packages in the 4gl accounting space? Are you talking about software like Microsoft Great Plains' offerings?

      What do you consider the most critical features of these packages? What would a new package need to offer to be considered as a possible replacement to the established players?

      Thanks for a reply, it'll give me something to work on now that I just finished some other projects.

  • I actually read the article (talk about good reading in bed...) and actually found it a bit interesting and useful. Not only did the have a section for each application of OSS, but there was a list at the end. That way we didn't have to go through the whole article and find the applications again. Hey, time is precious. I ended up tearing out that last page and some day I'll get down to checking them all out.
  • Some other factors (Score:5, Interesting)

    by plopez ( 54068 ) on Wednesday August 10, 2005 @11:12AM (#13286314) Journal
    I read the article but if it is mentioned, I missed it; but there are 2 factors which should be considered in the 'build or buy' equation:

    1) Lower risk of orphaned applications. If your vendor goes casters up or is bought out you may find your most useful application(s) unsupported.

    2) I have a real problem with the 'one size fits all' ERP model. Suppose you have a business process which gives you a real advantage over your competitors. If you go with an ERP package which requires you change to the same business processes your competitors use, you just lost an important advantage. There is nothing to differentiate you from the competition (not to mention the fact that all real software should model the business process, not vice versa).

    1) seems to be poorly understood by most PHB's, the thought never seems to come up.

    2) I think this is due to PHB's being trained in an industrial paradigm. A paradigm which says it does not matter, all 'widgets' are the same and so the process should also be the same. Which may be true when building dishwahers and refigerators, but since most of the US economy is now a services economy this does not work in a services based industry. Services should be unique, otherwise you are *only* competing on price, which is insane.

  • Excellent Fit... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by wgray8231 ( 905984 ) on Wednesday August 10, 2005 @11:13AM (#13286327)
    My department at a research hospital/university was recently (almost 2 years ago) formed. (Formerlly a division in another department.) The new chair moved everyone to GNU\Linux (Debian) because he hates everythin M$ stands for. It works out great with limited funding b/c the department spends less on software and many of the tools used in the field are available as OSS anyway.

    What doess XPPro and Office cost for 20 or so computers, anyway?
    • The new chair moved everyone to GNU\Linux (Debian) because he hates everythin M$ stands for.

      ... And everybody knows that personal feelings are the best justification for business decisions.
      • God, so right! At one company I used to work for, they moved from cc:mail to Lotus Notes as the email application, simply because the admin hated MS.

        Meanwhile, we all wanted an email app that worked and was easy to use (this was in the days before thunderbird, and OSS in general) and we had to use Notes. pathetic.
    • ...many of the tools used in the field are available as OSS anyway

      And the tools that aren't avaiable as OSS? Too bad...find a workaround?

  • by lkcl ( 517947 ) [] is missing from the list of ERP solutions in the article.
  • Don't forget that Hollywood is a big user of open source software such as CinePaint, which is basically a "Son of GIMP". Hollywood studios like DreamWorks, Sony, ILM use CinePaint. A bit ironic if you think about it -- the most profit-driven business, Hollywood, uses free open-source software.

    Personally, I use GIMP extensively to create graphics for my blog ( []), and have written a blog entry in praise of the good old GIMP ( f []
  • by cca93014 ( 466820 ) on Wednesday August 10, 2005 @11:27AM (#13286425) Homepage
    Until someone comes up with an all-in-one replacement for Exchange Server, there will be no rest.

    I run a small (5 person) business, and we try to use FOSS as much as possible. I could not find anything out there to replace our Exchange Server. It works, it's stable (2003 is, anyway), it syncs with our PDAs etc. etc. etc...
    • OpenConnector.Org (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Kunta Kinte ( 323399 ) on Wednesday August 10, 2005 @12:02PM (#13286709) Journal
      We're working on it at OpenConnector.Org []

      But help is always needed. The code is still in alpha, though I'd like to release the first public Beta in November, in time for the projects 3 year aniversary.

      Problem is that this is not a simple piece of software; there's a reason it hasn't been done. Very few people understand MAPI, and those who do, understablely want to get paid for doing it.

      We need people experienced in MAPI, funds to offset coding time, etc.

    • the hearsay mill says openexchange. You will prob have to compile ldap for it though. (Man, I wish they would get pre-built packages for it. I'm pretty sure it was opened like six months ago...)
  • by Zarquil ( 187770 ) on Wednesday August 10, 2005 @11:42AM (#13286534)
    I've been searching for a small shared calendaring option for a while.

    I'm not looking for a full-blown groupware suite - our email is done off-site by our ISP. I only need something I can tie everyone's calendar's together with - I want it small and focused on just a single task.

    Boss is married to Outhouse, one guy has a Mac, I'm using Sunbird (although I'll adapt if I *have* to), so we have to tie in a bunch of platforms.

    My current leanings are to Kolab with the Toltec connector (Note to OS naysayers: I'm not averse to spending money here! I would prefer Open Source.)

    I'm reading TFA in the hopes of finding something - but I've seen nothing on a quick scan through it. Any other tips I could be following up on?
  • A few tips... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Saggi ( 462624 ) on Wednesday August 10, 2005 @11:56AM (#13286660) Homepage
    The article provide a very good set of entries for those who wish to use (on not) open source.

    I have quite a few times (I work as an IT Consultant) met clients who did use open source. I my opinion there was some base indicators when it was useful:

    You'll need in-house support.
    For those who wish to use open source in the desktop environment, it usually requires some in-house supporters. Most employees are use to MS Windows from home and can therefore more easily engage with a windows environment. But after a learning period, it's possible to switch entirely to OS.

    If anyone tries to switch their software to OS without the in-house support will often fail... but a lot of companies out there already has an in-house support team in place to help with daily routines (printers, new mousse etc...)

    So a good rule is; if it's possible to "upgrade" your in-house support team to OS, you may "upgrade" the company desktop environment. (Do expect the cost of a learning period, compared to license savings).

    Servers are often very expensive, but the operational users are usually less than the full range of desktop users in the companies. Therefore it's often more easy to switch servers, and use OS.

    It still requires some fairly good administrators, but that issue goes for commercial products as well.

    As most commercial server software is fairly expensive, good savings can be made here.

    But check out for various issues. The basic stuff like mySql is much easier to hack than MSSql. (I know as I have been working with security on several projects). This is often not due to the product limitations, but the lack of knowledge by the administrators and developers using these platforms.

    Sadly I have often seen sites that allow for SQL-insertions. In an MSSql environment, you just dictate the use of stored procedures, and your safe...

    Other stuff
    There are some other parameters any company needs to consider, but they are often not as general as the two above. Basically it all comes down to a simple return of investment calculation: Is the expenses in regards to OS, less than the licenses?

    My own site uses OS (see link above). Why not? In my spare time I can be nerdish enough to play around, and here the OS world have it all... the only other option was to use pirate copies. So in a sense the really smart consultants and developers are forced to train and us OS. (Oh, yes I do have access to MSDN, but that's an other story).
  • by Kozz ( 7764 ) on Wednesday August 10, 2005 @12:35PM (#13286955)
    This past weekend I had a discussion with my aunt who works as a sales person for Oracle (and is also a qualified DBA). We were discussing my resume and she claimed that all the Open Source-related skills on it would scare potential employers.

    She basically tells me that no business operator with brains would deploy OSS, because there's nobody to "stand behind it". I countered, I thought brilliantly, by offering the example of Apache, the most shining and long-running example of Open Source. She replies that Oracle and others take Apache and create their own customized versions, suggesting additional code audits, etc, so that versions that Oracle might run are NOT your average downloads.

    I was just flabbergasted, speechless, and clearly unprepared for an attack on OSS which I feel most certainly have proven themselves in numerous software packages.

    Was I simply battling the "sales-droid" mentality? Is this a battle worth engaging in, or should I nod, smile, and slowly back away? ;)
    • I don't know much about Apache, but as a business owner, I tend to agree with her. The apps we run, especially as a small company are the definition of "Mission Critical". If the apps that we use stop working for any reason, we're shut down, and people don't get paid. It's that serious. With my proprietary point-of-sale system, for example, if I have a register go down at rush hour, I call the manufacturer's help desk, and get it fixed on the spot. The service may not always be exceptional, but they ha
  • We are on our way to another record year of growth, and our entire system is built on OSS, taken and customized by our in-house engineering team. We have a full customer support, order management, and warehouse-inventory-shipping process built out.

    The servers run RHEL, and the ERP runs on various bits and peices of OSS. By this time next year, I hope to migrate the entire staff of 150+ over to OpenSuSE or Fedora for their desktops, but I have already given the order that all new desktops come in OS-free (

Our business in life is not to succeed but to continue to fail in high spirits. -- Robert Louis Stevenson