It is a question that not many businesses ask themselves, but could switching to open-source software actually be a good thing for your business?
What Is Open Source
Open-source software has been around since the very first days of computing and relies on the source code, the building blocks of software, to be available for public viewing. This software uses the GNU General Public License approach to licensing.
In most cases, open-source software is actually free to use and free to download, but there may be some licensing requirements if the software is used by companies for profit.
Using open-source software in a business is not as far-fetched as it sounds, in fact many companies run servers based on the Linux Red Hat system, which is open-source at its core, and many more are looking at ways to swap out their expensive licensed software for even cheaper alternatives.
Open Source software can be installed on practically any system and any machine. Whether you use Apple desktops or lenovo laptops, there is a good chance you are already using software that is open source and falls under the GNU license.
Popular Open Source Applications
There is a huge list of popular open-source programs and many of the programs your business is using may already fall into the open-source category without you even knowing it.
Some of the most popular open-source programs used by businesses include:
- WordPress – the web’s most popular content management system (CMS) onto which nearly 40% of the internet’s websites are built.
- Magento – one of the biggest eCommerce platforms on the internet, used by some of the biggest eCommerce names across multiple industries.
- FileZilla – a hugely popular FTP (File Transfer Protocol) client used by millions of people every day.
- GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP) – a popular and slightly more basic alternative to Photoshop.
- OpenOffice – The most popular alternative to Microsoft Office, giving rise to the popular .ost filetype.
- VLC Media Player – an incredibly lightweight media player alternative that can handle a wide variety of filetypes for both audio and video.
- Freemind – an excellent piece of software dedicated to making mind maps, a popular project visualization technique for creative teams.
A Whole Open Source Operating System
Working with open source software does not have to be limited to just using specific programs that are open source, it is actually possible to get entire operating systems that are open source.
Linux is the most famous open source operating system. Based on the Unix architecture (just like Apple), there are many different versions of Linux Distributions to choose from, with the most popular and user friendly being Linux Ubuntu Enterprise, favored by companies like Netflix.
Switching to open source software has the chance to cut your licensing fees dramatically, leading to a higher ROI for your business. Most packages are very similar to their closed-source counterparts, but some may require extra training for users who are not used to change.