So why don't more small businesses opt for open source?
First, many small business owners simply aren't aware of the number and variety of high quality open source software available for them. Because open source projects generally don't have the same kind of marketing dollars behind them as commercial options, they can be a lot tougher to find.
To make it easier, Datamation is updating our list of open source replacements for small business applications that we first published last year. This year's list contains a number of new products in categories likely to be of interest to small businesses.
Second, even if they're aware of open source software, some small business owners are hesitant to deploy open source options because of support concerns. After all, if your IT department is small or non-existent, being able to get help when something goes wrong is a big worry.
Fortunately, many of the applications on this list now offer paid support and a large and growing percentage are now available on a software-as-a-service (SaaS) basis. Although these offerings aren't cost-free, they're generally still much less expensive than their commercial counterparts because users don't have to pay licensing fees.
We hope you find this list of open source replacements for popular small business applications helpful. If you know of open source projects we've missed, please feel free to suggest them in the comments section below.
With more than 80,000 users, this popular bookkeeping app offers a full lineup of features and is very flexible. The Web site offers a comparison chart that shows how TurboCASH's features line up with QuickBooks and Sage. Operating System: Windows.
For owners of very small businesses, GnuCash offers a step up from Quicken (and it will import your existing Quicken data), but it's not quite as full-featured as QuickBooks and similar products. In addition to the features you'd find in a personal financial manager, it includes modules for tracking customers, vendors, jobs, invoices, accounts payable, accounts receivable and more. Operating System: W
indows, Linux, OS X. 3. Front Accounting
This Web-based accounting package allows for multiple users and can track multiple companies or divisions of companies. It also incorporates some basic ERP and POS functions, including tracking inventory and manufacturing work orders. Operating System: OS Independent.
4. Lazy8 Ledger
Designed for SOHO business owners who do their accounting by hand or with a simple spreadsheet, Lazy8 automates some accounting tasks while still providing a lot of flexibility. It's best for people who have a good basic understanding of accounting and aren't looking for a lot of bells and whistles in their financial software. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.
Another Web-based accounting system, Imperium incorporates some basic CRM and ERP functions, and it also integrates with Google Apps. The Web site has a helpful demo so that you can try the software before you download. Operating System: OS Independent.
This accounting software was specifically designed for small businesses and offers basic general ledger, accounts payable and accounts receivable capabilities. Note that while it "works" on Windows, it offers better stability and performance on Linux or OS X. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.
For very small businesses with just one or a few systems to backup, Areca makes the task easy. Key features include compression, encryption, filtering, as of data recovery and more. Operating System: Windows, Linux.
For larger businesses, Bacula offers network backup and recovery capabilities. Although it's an enterprise-grade program, it's easy enough to set up and use that it's appropriate for small businesses as well. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.
Protecting more than a half a million systems, Amanda claims to be the "most popular open source backup and recovery software in the world." It's available in a variety of free and commercially supported versions, including a cloud-based solution from Zmanda. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.
Replaces: Internet Explorer
Now in version 4, Mozilla's Firefox continues to be the most popular alternative to Microsoft's Internet Explorer. The latest update features an improved interface, more HTML 5 support, fast performance and advanced security. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.
If you need to compress a file for e-mailing or any other purpose, 7-zip can make your files 30-70 percent smaller than WinZip. In addition, 7-zip can also read and write WinZip files, as well as several other compression formats. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.
This versatile compression utility can extract from 129 different types of compression formats, and it can create 11 different types of files, including .7z and .zip files. Other key features include the creation of self-extracting files, strong encryption and portability. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.
Alfresco adds a social element to standard Web content management and document management functionality. It's high-profile users include Toyota, Sony Pictures ImageWorks, the Sesame Workshop, Merck, NASA, Land's End, Fox, Cisco and many others. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.
Cited by Forrester as the "best product alternative to IBM Lotus and Microsoft SharePoint," MindTouch says its collaboration products can help companies reduce their documentation costs up to 50 percent. The core software is available in a free community version or a supported, faster commercial version. Operating System: Windows, Linux.
15. Get Simple
Downloaded more than 60,000 times, Get Simple aims to make it very easy for small businesses to manage their own Web sites. It relies on XML instead of a MySQL database, which eliminates much of the complexity of other systems, but still provides all the functionality that most small Web sites need. Operating System: Linux.
Replaces: SalesForce.com Used by more than 50,000 companies, Sugar offers companies a great deal of flexibility and fast performance. In addition to the free community version, it's also available on a SaaS basis, like SalesForce.com. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.
Tailored for the needs of small and medium-sized businesses, vTiger offers sales force automation, customer service and support, marketing management, and the other capabilities you would expect from a CRM solution. Like SalesForce.com and Sugar, it's also available in the cloud with a $12 per user per month subscription. Operating System: Windows, Linux.
SplendidCRM tracks accounts, sales, leads, e-mail marketing campaigns, projects, tasks and more. For Windows users only, it can be deployed on-premise in free or commercial versions or used in the cloud on an SaaS basis. Operating System: Windows.
Java-based ConcourseSuite combines CRM with Web content management and collaboration capabilities. In addition to the free community download, it's also available on a paid basis in the cloud. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.