Monday, June 17, 2024

Open Source Replacements for Popular Small Business Software

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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


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


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


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


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.


21. Collabtive

Replaces: Basecamp

Ideal for small businesses, Collabtive is a project management and collaboration tool that’s very, very similar to Basecamp. Download and run it on your own server for free or use a hosted version for a fee. Operating System: OS Independent.

22. Evolution

Replaces: Microsoft Office Outlook

Known as “the Outlook of Linux,” Evolution offers a very familiar interface for joint email, calendar and address book. It’s popular among Linux users and integrates with many other open source applications. Operating System: Linux.

23. Group-Office

Replaces: Microsoft Office Outlook

This app brings together CRM features and groupware features in a package that’s a good fit for many SMBs. The free community version offer basic functionality, and the paid professional version adds helpdesk, time tracking, mobile sync, projects and document editing, with billing and document search available for an additional fee. Operating System: OS Independent.

24. Thunderbird with Lightning

Replaces: Microsoft Office Outlook

Thunderbird is an email client; Lightning is a calendar that integrates with Thunderbird. Both were created by Mozilla, the organization behind the Firefox browser, and together they can replace Outlook. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.

25. Zimbra

Replaces: Microsoft Exchange

For organizations large enough to need their own mail server, Zimbra provides an alternative to Exchange, along with a desktop client for messaging and collaboration. The company offers a number of related products, some of which are free and open source and some of which require a fee. Operating System: Linux, Unix,OS X.


26. Zen Cart

Replaces: BigCommerce, Volusion, Yahoo Merchant

Zen Cart aims to “put the dream of your own business within reach of anyone.” It’s a user-friendly shopping cart solution that requires only basic computer skills to manage. Operating System: OS Independent.

27. PrestaShop

Replaces: BigCommerce, Volusion, Yahoo Merchant

With nearly 4 million downloads, PrestaShop is an incredibly popular option for setting up your own retail Website. It boasts more than 310 different features and 3,500 modules and templates that simplify the process of building a site. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.

28. Magento

Replaces: BigCommerce, Volusion, Yahoo Merchant

Used by more than 240,000 online stores, Ebay-owned Magento is an enterprise-class solution that is suitable for growing businesses. It comes in both a free and a paid version. Note that Magento Go, the cloud-based version formerly used by some small businesses, has been shut down. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.

29. osCommerce

Replaces: BigCommerce, Volusion, Yahoo Merchant

With a community of more than 260,000 behind it, osCommerce is another popular open source e-commerce solution. It’s been around for more than fourteen years and offers a library of more than 7,000 add-ons that makes it easy to customize your store. Paid services, including hosting and support, are available through third-party partners. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.

30. Broadleaf Commerce

Replaces: BigCommerce, Volusion, Yahoo Merchant

Broadleaf counts well-known brands like the Pep Boys, Ganz, the Container Store and Vology among its users, and it promises “eCommerce without limits.” In addition to the free community edition, it also comes in a paid enterprise edition. Operating System:Windows, Linux, OS X.

31. nopCommerce

Replaces: BigCommerce, Volusion, Yahoo Merchant

Designed for businesses that have outgrown an entry-level e-commerce solution, nopCommerce boasts that it is full-featured and PCI DSS-compliant. Paid support is available. Operating System: Windows.


32. ADempiere

Replaces: NetSuite, Microsoft Dynamics

ADempiere is a 100% free, community-oriented fork of Compiere (see below). It’s robust enough to meet the needs of larger businesses, but offers plenty of documentation and help for small and growing businesses. It also integrates with several other open source business applications. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.

33. Apache OFBiz

Replaces: NetSuite, Microsoft Dynamics

Short for “Open For Business,” OFBiz brings together ERP, CRM, e-commerce, supply chain management, MRP, POS and more into a single package. It’s designed for flexibility and low cost of ownership. Operating System: OS Independent

34. Compiere

Replaces: NetSuite, Microsoft Dynamics

Award-winning Compiere offers multi-site ERP, CRM and performance management capabilities. In addition to the free community version, it comes in a paid enterprise version that can be run on-site or on Amazon’s cloud. Operating System: OS Independent.

35. OpenbravoERP

Replaces: NetSuite, Microsoft Dynamics

This popular ERP solution has a long list of customer success stories as well as an online demo available on its website. In addition to the free community versions (one for retailers and one for other SMBs), it also comes in paid standard, enterprise and on demand (cloud-based) versions. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.

36. webERP

Replaces: NetSuite, Microsoft Dynamics

This mature accounting and business management solution gets thousands of downloads every month. It integrates with point-of-sale and e-commerce solutions, and support is available through several third-party providers. Operating System: OS Independent.

37. xTuplePostBooks

Replaces: NetSuite, Microsoft Dynamics

Calling itself the “world’s #1 open source ERP,” xTuple offers multiple paid and free ERP solutions. The PostBooks version is the free, open source edition that is suitable for small businesses. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.

Gateway Security Appliances

38. Endian Firewall Community

Replaces: CheckPoint Security Gateways, Barracuda Networks Appliances, Dell SonicWall Network Security Appliances, Cyberoam Security Appliances

If you don’t want to purchase an expensive network security appliance, you can build your own using the Endian software and any standard PC. It includes firewall, application-level proxies for various protocols (HTTP, FTP, POP3, SMTP) with antivirus support, virus and spam-filtering for email traffic, content filtering of Web traffic and VPN capabilities. The company also offers several paid products based on the same software. Operating System: Linux.

39. Untangle Firewall Free

Replaces: CheckPoint Security Gateways, Barracuda Networks Appliances, Dell SonicWall Network Security Appliances, Cyberoam Security Appliances

Formerly marketed as “Untangle Lite,” this is another option for SMBs that want to build their own gateway security appliance. As with Endian, the company also sells related products. Operating System: Windows, Linux.


40. Dia

Replaces: Visio

“Roughly inspired by” Visio, Dia is a basic drawing program that’s great for creating org charts, network diagrams, flowcharts and other simple diagrams. It doesn’t have as many bells and whistles as Viso, but it’s very good for small businesses that need to create charts only occasionally. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.

41. Gimp

Replaces: Photoshop

Gimp is a professional-quality photo manipulation tool with a full feature set that rivals Photoshop. It’s a very good choice for small businesses creating their own websites, brochures, reports, sales flyers and other materials. Operating System: Windows, Linux.

42. Inkscape

Replaces: Illustrator, CorelDraw

Like Gimp, Inkscape is suitable for use by professionals, but it is a vector graphics program rather than a photo editing tool. Use it to create logos and other simple artwork or to edit existing clip art. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.

Human Resource Management (HRM)

43. OrangeHRM

Replaces: Halogen software, iCIMS, Ascentis

Used by organizations like Lufthansa, Sandals, Red Hat and Stanley/Black & Decker, Orange calls itself the “world’s most popular HR software.” It comes in open source, professional (meant for SMBs) and enterprise versions. Operating System: Windows, Linux, Unix, OS X.

44. WaypointHR

Replaces: Halogen software, iCIMS, Ascentis

Designed by experienced HR managers, Waypoint aims to be secure, flexible and easy to use. It comes in a free community download or in a subscription-based cloud version. Operating System: OS Independent.


45. Simple Invoices

Replaces: FreshBooks,

This Web-based invoicing solution makes it easy for small organizations to send PDF invoices and track finances. Host it on your own Web server or use one of the service providers listed on the site. Operating System: OS Independent.

46. Siwapp

Replaces: FreshBooks,

Another Web-based invoicing option, Siwapp allows users to create professional-looking, secure invoices with a minimum amount of hassle. Check out the screenshots and demo on the site to get a feel for how easy it is to use. Operating System: OS Independent.

Office Productivity

47. AbiWord

Replaces: Microsoft Word

Similar to Microsoft Word, AbiWord is a word processing program that can open and save .doc files. The latest versions include a number of collaboration features. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.

48. Calligra

Replaces: Microsoft Office

Formerly known as KOffice, this office suite for the KDE desktop includes Words (word processor), Sheets (spreadsheet), Stage (presentations), Plan (project management), Krita (drawing and painting), Kexi (database), Karbon (vector graphics), Flow (diagramming) and Braindump (mind mapping). It can import and export Microsoft Office documents, and it has a very easy-to-use interface. Operating System: Windows, Linux.

49. FreeMind

Replaces: MindJet MindManager

This mind mapping tool is like a whiteboard for your computer. It’s great for brainstorming sessions and for organizing many different kinds of information. Once you try it, you’ll likely find lots of different uses for it. Operating System: OS Independent.

50. Gnumeric

Replaces: Microsoft Excel

Free, fast and accurate, Gnumeric is an intuitive spreadsheet application that can import and export files from many similar programs, including Excel. The online user manual has a wealth of information to help both beginners and advanced users. Operating System: Windows, Linux.

51. LibreOffice

Replaces: Microsoft Office

Forked from OpenOffice (see below), LibreOffice has quickly become extremely popular among Linux users. Like its predecessor it offers Microsoft-compatible word processor (Writer), spreadsheet (Calc), presentation (Impress), database (Base), graphics (Draw) software and math formula editing (Math) software. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.

Replaces: Microsoft Office

Downloaded more than 100 million times, OpenOffice is a very popular office productivity suite that offers the same applications as LibreOffice (see above). Because it can open and save to Microsoft file formats it’s a good option for small businesses who don’t want to purchase Microsoft Office. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.

53. PDFCreator

Replaces: AdobeAcrobat

Working with PDF files can be frustrating for small businesses that don’t want to spend money on the full Adobe Acrobat package. PDFCreator offers an easy way to create, merge, encrypt, sign and make small changes to PDF files. Operating System: Windows.

Operating System

54. Debian

Replaces: Windows

A good choice for technically savvy users, the Debian distribution of Linux comes with more than 37500 packages of pre-compiled software. It’s popular among long-time Linux users and has been used as the foundation for many other Linux distributions.

55. Fedora

Replaces: Windows

Many larger businesses run Red Hat EnterpriseLinux, but Red Hat requires a subscription fee. Fedora is the open source version of the same software, and it does not require a support subscription.

56. Linux Mint

Replaces: Windows

If you’re looking for a very user-friendly version of Linux for a desktop computer, Linux Mint is a great option, and has recently been growing in popularity. It offers four different interface options, including a couple that should feel very familiar for Windows XP users who don’t want to upgrade to Windows 8.

57. openSUSE

Replaces: Windows

Like Red Hat, Novell’s SUSE is very popular with large enterprises, and it also requires a support subscription. OpenSUSE, which comes in both desktop and server versions, is the free, community-supported version of SUSE.

58. Ubuntu

Replaces: Windows

By most counts, Ubuntu is the most popular desktop distribution of Linux, and it also comes in server and cloud versions. It’s fast and easy to use, and it comes with thousands of free applications built in.

Point-of-Sale (POS)

59. OpenbravoPOS

Replaces: Epicor POS System, RetailSTAR

This POS solution integrates with Openbravo’s other business software. It runs on touchscreens and supports standard receipt printers, displays and scanners. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.

60. UniCenta

Replaces: QuickBooksPoint of Sale, AccuPOS

Downloaded more than 130,000 times last year alone, this easy-to-use point of sale solution boasts that users can get it up and running in minutes. It works for retail establishments of all kinds and includes extensions for restaurants and bars. Operating System: Linux.

Project Management

61. Achievo

Replaces: Microsoft Project, Oracle Primavera

Built for medium-sized businesses, Web-based Acheivo includes scheduling, project management, time tracking and basic CRM and human resources management capabilities. Check out the demo on the website to see it in action. Operating System: OS Independent.

62. GanttProject

Replaces: Microsoft Project, Oracle Primavera

This project management solution offers the ability to create Gantt charts, resource load charts and PERT charts. It can import files from Microsoft Project and export data to spreadsheets, image files, PDFs or HTML. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.

63. openXprocess

Replaces: Microsoft Project, Oracle Primavera

If your small business is a development firm, you might want to check out openXprocess, which includes special Scrum and Agile methodology features. Paid support and other services are available. Operating System: Windows, Linux

64. Plandora

Replaces: Microsoft Project, Oracle Primavera

Like openXprocess, Plandora is best for application or software development groups. Key features include time tracking, request management, customized reports, customized KPIs, dashboard gadgets, knowledge base, risk management, budget management, agile board, resource capacity, surveys, SVN integration, and Gantt charts. Operating System: OS Independent.

65. Project Libre

Replaces: Microsoft Project, Oracle Primavera

OpenProj is no longer under development, but the team behind it is carrying on with Project Libre. Already, this young project has racked up more than 1 million downloads and snagged several high-profile awards. The project calls itself “the leading alternative to Microsoft Project.” Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.

66. TaskJuggler

Replaces: Microsoft Project, Oracle Primavera

Designed for “serious project managers,” TaskJuggler claims to be “more flexible and superior to the commonly used Gantt chart editing tools.” Key features include an optimizing scheduler, resource balancer, consistency checker, accounting and reporting capabilities. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.

Server Software

67. ClearOS

Replaces: Windows Server Essentials

ClearOS combines a server, network and gateway security appliance into one package. It comes in both a free community version and a paid professional version. Operating System: Linux.

68. SMEServer

Replaces: Windows Server Essentials

Based on the CentOS distribution of Linux, SMEServer is designed for small and medium enterprises. Key features include a file and print sharing, email server, firewall, remote access, RAID storage, backup, remote access and more. Operating System: Linux.

69. Zentyal

Replaces: Windows Server Essentials

Zentyal describes itself as “a drop-in replacement for Microsoft Small Business Server and Microsoft Exchange Server that you can set up in less than 30 minutes.” Now that Microsoft has discontinued Small Business Server in favor of Windows Server Essentials, Zentyal offers an excellent alternative that offers a very full list of features. Operating System: Linux

Time Tracking

70. eHour

Replaces: Replicon,

eHour provides a good option for firms that bill clients by the hour. It tracks time spent per project, and it supports multiple users, multiple projects and multiple clients. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.

71. TimeTrex

Replaces: Replicon,

This Web-based time tracking system includes modules for scheduling, attendance, job costing and payroll. Download the free version to use onsite or use the free or paid cloud-based versions. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.

Web Design

72. BlueGriffon

Replaces: Adobe Dreamweaver

Winner of multiple awards, BlueGriffon is a newer Web editor based on the Gecko engine that powers Firefox. It boasts an easy-to-use interface and support for the latest HTML5 standards. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.

73. Kompozer

Replaces: Adobe Dreamweaver

Kompozer makes it easy for small businesses to set up and manage their own websites. It includes a WYSIWYG editor, HTML editor, a file manager and more in an intuitive interface. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

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