Open Source Replacements for Popular Small Business Software

The best open source applications for office productivity, accounting, collaboration, ERP, security and more.


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For small and medium-sized businesses looking to save money, open source applications offer an easy way to reduce expenses related to software licensing and subscriptions. In addition, many open source applications offer additional features or better usability when compared with their closed source counterparts.

This month, we've updated our list of open source software that are good options for SMBs. Many businesses have their first open source experience when they deploy a Linux-based server, and our list includes a wide variety of server software, such as operating systems, accounting, ERP and mail and groupware solutions.

Many organizations have also experimented with running some open source applications on their Windows or OS X desktops. And a small but growing number of SMBs run Linux on desktop systems. Our list also includes popular open source desktop applications, including browsers, office productivity software and related tools, and we've noted which operating systems they support.

As always, if you know of additional software that you think should be on our list, please feel free to make a note in the comments section below.

For more, check out our ultimate open source software list.


1. Edoceo Imperium

Replaces: QuickBooks, Sage

This Web-based software combines accounting capabilities with some basic business management functionality, including CRM and scheduling. Note that in order to use it, you'll need a Linux Web server. Operating System: OS Independent.

2. GnuCash

Replaces: Quicken, QuickBooks

Most accounting software is designed either for business or for home use, but GnuCash can track both small business and personal finances. It offers double-entry accounting, investment tracking, Quicken data import, scheduled transactions and more. It also now has an accompanying app on Android that can help you keep track of expenses. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X, Android (partial feature list only).

3. LedgerSMB

Replaces: QuickBooks, Sage

Web-based, LedgerSMB (also known as LSMB) offers an extensive list of features, including point of sale and inventory management. Paid support, training and hosting is available through third-party partners. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.

4. TurboCASH

Replaces: QuickBooks, Sage

Designed for small businesses, TurboCASH provides the accounting features growing companies need. It supports multiple users and multiple companies, and its key features include easy setup wizards, support for up to 12,000 accounts, batch entry system, invoice/quotation system, point-of-sale, extensive reporting and more. Paid support is available. Operating System: Windows.


5. Amanda

Replaces: Simpana Backup and Recovery , Dell NetVault

Used on more than a million systems, Amanda claims to be "the most popular open source backup and recovery software in the world." It can back up both standalone systems and networks, and it comes in both free and paid versions, including cloud-based Zmanda. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.

6. ArecaBackup

Replaces: NovaBackup

If your business is so small that it only has one or two standalone PCs, Area Backup might be a good choice for you. It's easy to set up but also versatile and full-featured. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.

7. Bacula

Replaces: Simpana Backup and Recovery , Dell NetVault

For companies large enough to have their own network and an IT person, Bacula can back up and recover multiple systems. Supported enterprise and cloud-based versions of the same software are also available through Bacula Systems.Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.


8. Firefox

Replaces: Internet Explorer

Firefox touts its speed and its privacy protection as key reasons to choose it over other browsers. It's made by Mozilla, which has been ranked number one as the "Most Trusted Internet Company for Privacy." Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X, Android, iOS.

9. Chromium

Replaces: Internet Explorer

Chromium is the open source project behind Google Chrome. Like Firefox, it boasts excellent speed and security. In order to use Chromium, you'll need to be fairly technically savvy, but anyone can download and use Chrome, which is closely related. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X, Android, iOS.


10. 7-zip

Replaces: WinZip

Many small businesses have used WinZip to compress files, but 7-zip offers better compression, can open WinZip files and is completely free. It also supports encryption and the creation of self-extracting files. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.

11. PeaZip

Replaces: WinZip

Something of a Swiss Army knife for compression, PeaZip supports more than 150 different archive file formats, including .ZIP files. It can also convert, split, encrypt and secure delete files, and it comes in 32-bit, 64-bit and portable versions. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.

Content Management

12. Alfresco

Replaces: Sharepoint, Documentum, Open Text

Alfresco combines document management with simple Web content management. The community version is suitable for very small organizations, but those who need better scalability and reliability may want to look into the paid enterprise versions. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.

13. Drupal

Replaces SitecoreCMS, Kentico

Every small business needs a website, and Drupal makes it easy to set up a site for your organization. It has a community of more than a million developers, users and supporters, and it boasts thousands of distributions, modules and extensions that allow you to set up a site that's as simple or complex as you need. Operating System: OS Independent.

14. Get Simple

Replaces: Sharepoint, IBM Lotus

Downloaded more than 120,000 times, Get Simple aims to be "The simplest content management system. Ever." It promises users can get a basic site up and running in just five minutes. Operating System: Linux.

15. Joomla

Replaces: Sharepoint, IBM Lotus

Like Drupal, Joomla is an extremely popular Web content management solution. It boasts more than 50 million downloads and a user base that includes Ebay, the United Nations, Barnes & Noble, GE and Ikea. Operating System: OS Independent.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

16. ConcourseSuite

Replaces: SalesForce.com

Web-based CouncourseSuite includes modules for leads, marketing, customer service and enterprise document management. In addition to the free open source version, it also comes in paid on-premise and hosted versions. Operating System:Windows, Linux, OS X.

17. SplendidCRM

Replaces: SalesForce.com

Splendid comes in three different versions—community, professional and enterprise—all of which can be deployed on-premises or used live in the cloud. Recently added features include Twitter tracking, Asterisk integration, PayTrace integration, surveys and Google Apps Synchronization. Operating System: Windows.

18. SugarCRM

Replaces: SalesForce.com

Used by more than 1.5 million people in 120 countries, SugarCRM is an award-winning full-featured CRM solution. The open source community version is available for free, and it is also available through a cloud-based subscription priced on a per-user basis. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.

19. vTiger

Replaces: SalesForce.com

Used by more than 10,000 companies, vTiger includes email marketing, project management, customer portal, calendar, reporting, document management and inventory management capabilities. The link above will take you to the open source version, but a paid, cloud-based version is also available. Operating System: Windows, Linux.

Desktop Publishing

20. Scribus

Replaces: InDesign, QuarkXPress, MicrosoftOffice Publisher

Paid desktop publishing software can be prohibitively expensive for many small businesses. However, Scribus allows businesses to create their own high-quality brochures, newsletters, business cards, flyers and other materials using free software. It's professional-quality software with features like color separations, PDF creation and more. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.

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Tags: open source, Linux, small business, small business IT support, Open Source App

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