About Linux, free software and SMEs

Linux and free software are essential tools for SMEs

In the next article I will list some reasons why SMEs should use Linux and free software instead of proprietary operating systems, programs or cloud services. In this I want to explain some introductory concepts about Linux, free software and SMEs.
I am going, to the best of my ability, to avoid the typical moralistic discourse that some free software disseminators are so fond of (It is not by chance that the term evangelists is used (*)) I think it is best to approach it in terms of cost and benefit.

About Linux, free software and SMEs. Some introductory concepts

In the context of the following article, the word cost will mean any sacrifice necessary to obtain a benefit. That sacrifice may or may not consist of the outlay of money. As to profit is what you get for the sacrifice and, that may or may not also consist of earning money.

Let me explain this with an example. There are cloud services that allow you to create attractive presentations with multiple templates. This is not to mention the classic Powerpoint. I know an entrepreneur who prefers to draw and paint his presentations on cardboard including bar and pie charts (which means various calculations and measurements for an accurate representation) then photographs them, transfers the photos to the computer and assembles the presentation on the Program.

The sacrifice is the time you spend drawing the presentation, much more than you would spend using templates and software, the benefit is that doing that manually gives you a better understanding of the message you're trying to communicate. Take the test. Choose any text and copy it by hand, choose another more or less similar and copy it in the word processor. Which one do you remember best?

Of course, I'm anticipating your objection. Diego, what you're saying is very interesting, but where does free software come into all of this?

I am not going to take the easy way out of saying that he uses The Gimp to enhance the photographs and the LibreOffice presentation program to put them together (Which he does indeed) I resorted to the most extreme story I knew to illustrate what I meant by cost and benefit.

As we will see later, free software can be adapted to the needs of each user, this means not only learning how to do it but also understanding what you need it to do. It takes time, but when the process is complete there is not only a saving in the cost of the license, but also a greater understanding of the reality of the business.

Differences between free and proprietary software

This is an introductory article, I clarify this because in the free software world we have our share of orthodox who are adamant about the nomenclature we should all use. I use the words Linux and free software in a broad sense because this is not the time to get into the subtleties of the different licenses that allow access to the code and its free modification and distribution, not to mention the different components of a Linux distribution.

Anyway, in the shortest possible way, I am going to give some general definitions so that everyone understands what I am talking about.

Computer applications are intangible products. It is true that in the past they were distributed on physical support, butor what you were actually (and still are) buying is the right to use.

If you buy a Ferrari you are free to do whatever you want with it, from using it as a taxi, working for Glovo or painting it furious pink. At most the factory can void your warranty.

With software, on the other hand, you can use it on the terms that the developer says you can use it.For example, you do not have the right to sell your Windows 8.1 DVD if you upgraded to version 10, nor to lend your Adobe Creative Cloud username and password to your graphic designer friend.

I am referring of course to proprietary software. With free software you have the right to modify it and share it as many times as you want.

*I use the term evangelist in the sense of a person who spreads a gospel and not as an indication of a person who is active in a certain branch of Christianity.

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