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77 Open Source Replacements for Expensive Applications

This update on a popular list reveals a changing relationship between proprietary and open source software, due to cloud computing's influence.
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For several years now, Datamation has compiled an annual list of open source software projects that can replace very expensive software. In years past, the prices for the proprietary software generally climbed from year to year, but this year, we noticed a major change.

Much of the software that has a reputation for being very expensive has switched to a software as a service (SaaS) pricing model, which looks less expensive because it's based on a monthly subscription rather than a flat fee. (Whether it's actually less expensive depends on a number of factors.) In addition, some proprietary software actually decreased in price in this year, and at least one "expensive" software package we've featured in the past is now available for free.

These lower prices are good news for application users. However, many still find open source software to be a better deal overall when they compare it to proprietary software. In some cases, the lack of licensing costs gives open source software a lower total cost of ownership. In others, the open source alternatives offer features that provide a better match for the user's needs, and sometimes users want the flexibility to be able to customize the source code themselves.

If you're considering purchasing software with a particularly high price tag, you may want to compare it to one of the open source alternatives on our list before purchasing. Note that not every open source replacement has exactly the same features as the comparable proprietary software listed, but they are designed to accomplish the same tasks.

As always, if you'd like to add an open source application that you think should have been on our list, please make a note in the comments section below.

Accounting

1. Edoceo Imperium

Replaces QuickBooks Pro ($249.95 or $12.95 per month), Sage Peachtree Complete Accounting ($379.99 and up)

This Web-based application tracks quotes, work orders, invoices, contacts, customers and vendors, as well as offering double-entry accounting capabilities. It also integrates with Google Calendar and other apps. Operating System: OS Independent

2. FrontAccounting

Replaces QuickBooks Pro ($249.95 or $12.95 per month), Sage Peachtree Complete Accounting ($379.99 and up)

FrontAccounting includes both accounting and basic ERP planning that are suitable for small businesses. It supports multiple languages and currencies, as well as multiple businesses. Operating System: OS Independent

3. TurboCASH

Replaces QuickBooks Pro ($249.95 or $12.95 per month), Sage Peachtree Complete Accounting ($379.99 and up)

Another accounting package built for SMBs, TurboCASH features stock control, general ledger, accounts receivable and payable, reporting and analysis capabilities. The site offers a great deal of guidance for those new to accounting, including a book available for purchase. Operating System: Windows

4. XIWA

Replaces QuickBooks Pro ($249.95 or $12.95 per month), Sage Peachtree Complete Accounting ($379.99 and up)

Short for "Xiwa Is Web Accounting," this mature, Linux-only accounting program has been around since 1999. Key features include multi-user support, multi-company support, payroll, stock/investment tracking, reporting and more. Operating System: Linux

Audio Recording/Editing

5. Audacity

Replaces Apple LogicPro ($199.99), FL Studio Producer Edition ($199)

While not as full-featured as some of the commercial recording software available, Audacity does a great job of allowing amateur musicians to record and edit multi-track recordings. The latest version adds an improved reverb tool, the ability to record computer playback and several new commands that simplify the editing process. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X

6. Frinika

Replaces Apple LogicPro ($199.99), FL Studio Producer Edition ($199)

Java-based Frinika bills itself as a "complete music workstation." Like Audacity, it's not quite as advanced as some other options, but it does include a sequencer, midi support, soft synthesizers, audio recorder, piano roll/tracker/notation editing and more. Operating System: OS Independent

7. Linux MultiMedia Studio

Replaces Apple LogicPro ($199.99), FL Studio Producer Edition ($199)

Also known as LMMS, this tool aims to make it easy to compose and/or produce your own music. It offers a song editor, beat+bassline editor, piano roll, 64-channel FX mixer, standards support and more. Operating System: Windows, Linux

Business Intelligence

8. Jaspersoft

Replaces Oracle Business Intelligence Standard ($5,000+), Microsoft Dynamics ($27,150 or $178 per month per user), IBM Cognos Express ($25 per user per month and up)

Open source business intelligence software compares very favorably with the closed source versions, and Jaspersoft is one of the most popular. According to the company, more than 500 customers are using its business intelligence tools on Amazon's cloud for a total cost of less than $1 per hour. Operating System: OS Independent

9. Jedox

Replaces Oracle Business Intelligence Standard ($5,000+), Microsoft Dynamics ($27,150 or $178 per month per user), IBM Cognos Express ($25 per user per month and up)

Formerly known as Palo BI, Jedox provides planning and forecasting, reporting and analysis, sales management, procurement management and project management. The open source "Base" version is available with a free license, and more full-featured commercial versions are also available. Operating System: OS Independent.

10. Pentaho

Replaces Oracle Business Intelligence Standard ($5,000+), Microsoft Dynamics ($27,150 or $178 per month per user), IBM Cognos Express ($25 per user per month and up)

Pentaho offers a range of commercial analytics and big data products, and counts Lufthansa, Telefonica and Marketo among its customers. Information about the open source community version can be found at community.pentaho.com. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X

Business Process Management

11. ProcessMaker

Replaces IBM Business Process Manager Express ($45,100+)

ProcessMaker bills itself as the "#1 open source workflow and BPM software." It's available in paid cloud, on-premise enterprise and SugarCRM editions, as well as the free community version. Operating System: Windows, Linux

CAD

12. BRL-CAD

Replaces AutoCAD ($4,195 and up)

Used by the U.S. military for more than twenty years, BRL-CAD is a mature solid geometry modeling and editing package. It includes more than 400 tools, utilities, and applications that assist with design and analysis of vehicles, mechanical parts, and architecture, as well as radiation dose planning, medical visualization and education. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X, others.

13. FreeCAD

Replaces AutoCAD ($4,195 and up)

This parametric modeling tool was built with mechanical engineers and product designers in mind. It supports most industry-standard CAD file formats. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X, others

14. Archimedes

Replaces AutoCAD ($4,195 and up)

Java-based Archimedes is a bare-bones CAD system that's suitable for some architects and students. Note that it's not nearly as full featured as either AutoCAD or BRL-CAD. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X

Customer Relationship Management

15. Sugar Community Edition

Replaces Sage ACT! ($269.99 and up), Microsoft Dynamics CRM ($65 per user per month and up), Oracle CRM on Demand ($75 per user per month and up)

SugarCRM boasts millions of users, including personnel at Coca-Cola, Chevrolet, Men's Wearhouse, ThyssenKrupp System Engineering and others. The link above will take you to the free community version, but it's also available on a SaaS basis. Operating System: OS Independent

16. vTiger

Replaces Sage ACT! ($269.99 and up), Microsoft Dynamics CRM ($65 per user per month and up), Oracle CRM on Demand ($75 per user per month and up)

With more than 10,000 customers, vTiger aims to help enterprises "get organized, grow sales, boost marketing ROI, and deliver delightful customer experiences." In addition to the free community edition, it's also available on demand starting at $12 per user per month. Operating System: Windows, Linux, iOS, Android.

17. Orange Leap

Replaces Sage ACT! ($269.99 and up), Microsoft Dynamics CRM ($65 per user per month and up), Oracle CRM on Demand ($75 per user per month and up)

A good option for non-profits, Orange Leap aims to make managing contacts, particularly fundraising contacts, much easier. The website doesn't make it obvious that the software is available on an open source basis, but you can download the source code from SourceForge. Operating System: Windows.

18. SourceTap

Replaces Sage ACT! ($269.99 and up), Microsoft Dynamics CRM ($65 per user per month and up), Oracle CRM on Demand ($75 per user per month and up)

Designed primarily for sales team members, SourceTap offers lead, account and opportunity management tools, as well as planning and reporting capabilities for managers. It's available under a variety of licenses, both free and paid, including open source and on demand options. Operating System: Windows, Linux.


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Tags: open source, Linux, enterprise software


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