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Open Source: Your Software Alternative

written by: MiAGon•edited by: Ronda Bowen•updated: 6/28/2011

Running an efficient home office is more than the use of your hardware, but rather, the software you come to depend on daily. But many of us are unable to fulfill many aspects of our business operation needs due to the high cost of mainstream software. Open Source is changing all that.

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    Open Source Alternative

    Whether you are establishing a home office, or perhaps expanding or upgrading your existing one, software is usually at the top of your shopping list, following your PC and all necessary hardware components. The cost of all your hardware and supplies usually depletes your expense budget, leaving you with a limited supply of funds to purchase the software your need. it is during the shopping phases for software that you realize just how costly your basic applications can be. So what do you do? Limit your purchases to the bare essentials? Or compromise with low quality programs? There is an alternative: Open Source.

    The Open Source community has been providing quality software for years, many of which are an exceptional alternative to popular mainstream products. And the best news is their cost. While most are free of charge, some are obtainable at a very low price: usually at a fraction of their conventional comptetitor. In the end, you acquire an exceptional product without putting a dent on your budget.

    Is Open Source for me?

    While the concept of free or affordable software is the greatest advantage to this wonderful alternative, you need to consider every aspect of your choice. Some environments have strict and specific requirements for a product where there may not be an Open Source alternative. This is especially true when a program is designed to interact with a specific program.

    Another aspect of Open Source to consider is support. Because Open Source applications are usually achieved through a collective group of programmers, there is no single source of contact. In fact, some products offer no support, other than the documentation provided by the application. But, if you are savvy enough, an Open Source software as an alternative is just the ticket.

    The Essentials

    The list of Open Source software is vast, and growing at a steady pace. Here is a small list of popular applications that are free to download and use:

    • OpenOffice is the perfect alternative to Microsoft Office, and boasts an impressive collection of applications with a few extras not commonly found in its counterpart, like the ability to create a PDF file.
    • PDFCreator replaces Adobe Acrobat to generate PDF files. Sometimes there are other applications outside of the office suite that require conversion to a PDF format. This is your solution.
    • GIMP is a perfect image/photo editing replacement, sporting a very familiar look and feel to its competitor, Adobe Photoshop.
    • GnuCash is an alternative personal and small business financial/accounting alternative to Microsoft Money or Quicken.
    • OpenProj provides the essential project planning for your business, avoiding the expense of Microsoft Project.

    This is just a small sample of the most popular and truly essential business applications you can acquire, for free. A more comprehensive listing can be found at the Open Source as Alternative website.