Today there are many possibilities when choosing free software for SMEs and freelancers. It is a field that has advanced a lot and we have numerous applications within the reach of a click.
In fact, any company, no matter how large, could work perfectly with FOSS, but we will focus on SMEs or freelancers who do not know where to start when creating the computer system of their company. In addition, a large company does not usually allow itself too many freedoms when making technology changes in its daily work.
Possibly the reason is that the learning curve is assumed to be long (although it does not have to be that way), compatibility problems and migration are interpreted as "a problem" and companies already have enough problems to take on new risks. In exchange for this immobility, they pay licenses for the use of the software, and suffer countless problems with viruses, malware and other annoying fauna on Windows platforms. In the long run, this technological conservatism pays dearly. A shame.
But focusing on the topic of this article, the main -and obvious- advantage that an SME or self-employed person has when deciding to use FOSS is undoubtedly the economic savings that this supposes, since most free software is free, and licenses are not paid for its use as is the case with commercial software. Undoubtedly, this advantage will make the small entrepreneur or self-employed person focus their economic efforts on improving the hardware of their computers, on training their employees, or on anything else.
It has already been spoken on many occasions of the difference between free software and free software, and not all FOSS it has to be free, although they almost always go hand in hand, this is not always the case.
Another advantage is that being FOSS, the source code is available and the applications can be customized so that the software fits us, and not us the software. Logically, most people are not capable of doing this, but you can always pay someone to do it, and it will certainly be a better investment than paying for software licenses that cannot be customized.
For example if you use a CRM management software or a ERP and you entrust it to a computer company, you are usually "tied" with them since you always end up depending on this company for any improvement or modification. With FOSS You choose the IT specialist (or company) that interests you the most, and they will be in charge of adapting and customizing the application to your needs. It will charge you for the IT consulting, but not for the software.
Here is a summary of the free software applications most important that a small entrepreneur or freelancer could use in their company to start (although there are many alternatives for each type of software, we will cite just one example):
- Operating System: Linux
- Office Package: LibreOffice
- Web navigator: Mozilla Firefox
- E-mail: Mozilla Thunderbird
- Graphic Design: The Gimp
- Instant messaging: Pidgin
- Video player: VLC
- File transfer (ftp): fileZilla
- ERP software: Openbravo
- CRM software: SugarCRM
- Content manager: WordPress
- Project management: OpenProj
- Electronic commerce: oscommerce
As we said, they are just examples to get an idea of where an SME or self-employed person could start working with FOSS, but there are countless projects and alternatives for any application that we can think of. To see what we are talking about you can visit, for example, the website of SourceForge, where we will find more than 300.000 free software projects.
Unfortunately there is still a certain ignorance and also a certain fear on the part of SMEs and self-employed professionals about the file and document compatibility between Linux-based and Windows-based systems. And the truth is that it is understandable, although it does not reflect reality, since there are practically no compatibility problems today.
A comment, leave yours
The information provided by this article is very interesting, I appreciate that this type of content is shared. When reading the article I was presented with a question. What would happen if tomorrow a company with sufficient monetary value decides to buy free software of any kind? Would it go from free to private? o Would you only buy the rights to be in your name and remain free despite this transaction?