Open Source Business Software

Linux Means Business – Best Free Business Apps

Last Updated on December 10, 2018

Best Open Source Business Apps

A business application refers to any application that is important to running a business. The best business applications help an organization to improve how they run their operations, minimize costs, and improve workplace productivity. Sometimes business applications are thought to relate to office software suites which offer word processing, spreadsheet, database, presentation, and email applications. While office suites are very common, business applications extend far further afield.

Let’s deal with the issue of cost up front. Every single application featured in this article is available to download without payment. This, in itself, helps to keep IT costs within a tight budget. And cost can be a very important driver when seeking an IT solution for firms – particularly for freelancers, entrepreneurs, start-ups, small businesses, and educational establishments. Naturally, these types of people and organizations will have some sort of IT budget. From a business perspective, open source business applications won’t necessarily be zero cost. Using unfamiliar software entails training costs for a firm — the costs are not limited to time itself. And then there’s the expense of obtaining support for the software, or even hiring development time to customize certain aspects of the software to add additional functionality. Off-the-shelf software is unlikely to completely address a company’s needs. But if a proprietary solution is sought, it’s likely that this development will be more expensive.

It is sometimes thought that Linux software cannot rival Microsoft applications in a commercial setting because the strength of Linux comes from its price. In fact, Linux’s strength derives from other considerations such as flexibility, stability, security, cutting-edge technology, and ease of use. Additionally, the virtues of open source software are invaluable to commercial organizations whatever their size. With full access to source code, companies can easily develop extensions to the software, tailor made to their own specific needs and requirements. Moreover they are not reliant on the goodwill of a single vendor in order to do business: Linux is about freedom and choice and that is just as important to an organisation as to an individual.

This round-up covers a wide range of software essential to the running of any business. We offer three recommendations for each category. Some of the selections were Herculean, as the best software is often dictated by an organization’s specific requirements. So please share your thoughts in the comments section. When making our recommendations, we are mindful businesses have a specific set of requirements that an application must meet. The software must be compatible with industry standards. If the company needs to issue reports to its clients, they must be in a format their client can understand.

The vast majority of the recommended applications are cross-platform running on Linux, Windows, OS X, and sometimes other operating systems as well.

Best Open Source Business Apps
CRMTurn customer data into useful, actionable insight.
ERPThis software offers functionality that extends to other categories here.
AccountingKeep everything in order for the tax man.
GroupwareCollaboration is essential to the efficiency of a business.
Project ManagementManage any type of project throughout its life cycle.
Document ManagementEffectively manage your documents.
Office SuiteThe cornerstone of the business world.
Business IntelligenceBusiness Intelligence tools make sense of complex big data.
SecurityProtect your systems with a variety of defenses.
Database Management SystemsData is the currency of enterprise, web, mobile, social, and cloud applications.
Data MiningDiscover interesting knowledge from large quantities of data.
Human ResourcesManage your people data across the whole employee lifecycle.
Video ConferencingCommunicate with all your contacts.
MessagingInstant messaging oils the business communication channels.
Service ManagementImprove the delivery of information technology.
Central FileshareActive Directory, LDAP and more.

The software categories above are not intended to be an exhaustive list covering every type of software that a business may need. For example, we don’t cover web server software / web hosting solutions here. Obviously, businesses need websites to promote their goods and services, and interact with their customers. And the speed and stability of the web site will be paramount to the organization’s success. It’s likely the website is powered by an open source web server, such as Apache or nginx. So why aren’t these covered? Typically, organizations will outsource the hosting of a customer-facing web server. This article focuses on self-hosted solutions. Businesses may also need other software to compliment our recommendations e.g. asset management software, or desktop publishing programs. As the requirements of a business are very specific, a single article cannot feasibly cover every eventuality. But this should be a great start!

The open source software featured in this article are just the tip of the iceberg. We curate a software directory with more than 20,000 open source applications. “Open source” means that the source code of the software is freely available, so that anyone can download, use, modify, and redistribute it.

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