Top Open Source and Free Software to Look at when Starting a Business

open source software logos
Top free software for your startup

This is my first blog post here on and I wanted to start with something that is really close to my heart.

What are the Main Benefits of Open Source Software?

  • Well first off it’s generally free.
  • Secondly and more importantly you can change the software to work how you want.

Our whole business has been built on Open Source Software. From our website that runs on Joomla! and Virtuemart to our Blog that runs on WordPress. Right down to Open Office that we use internally. I personally believe you have a lot more freedom using open source software and a lot more versatility to alter and change things as your business develops, open source software has great scalability.

Take our main promo gifts website for instance. We run the main site on Joomla 1.5 and the whole shop system is run on Virtuemart. Both pieces of software are released on the GNU Licence (General Public Licence) and both come with a huge amount of both free and commercial add ons and plugins. You can make your site do whatever you want, however you want. For next to nothing.

Most Hosts These Days Offer Automated Setup For A Lot Of The Major Open Source Applications.

We started with a base install of virtuemart and over the years we have hired a developer from Odesk to alter and change the way it works within our business. The whole system now functions as a wholesale quotation system which provides invoices and online order tracking. It even handles our Purchase Orders and runs alongside sage (not open source). But that’s the beauty of using open source software, you can tailor it to suit your needs. When we have finished this software we intend to release it as open source, under the GNU Licence, so that others can benefit from the work we have done. Lets call it “paying it back”.

Open office as I mentioned before is basically Microsoft office for free. Minus Outlook. (but if your setting up Google Apps as below you don’t need outlook anyway) I use the spreadsheet program (Calc) on my mac more than I use Excel, as far as I have been able to tell so far is that instead of using commas in formulas you use semi-colons.

What other free software is out there?

google apps logo

A few years ago we bought a copy of Microsoft Exchange. I can’t remember the exact figure but I remember it being nearly GBP 2000 for our 10 licences. I wish when I bought this I knew about Google Apps.

So what is Google Apps? Basically Google Apps is an Exchange server, that you don’t have to host yourself, you don’t need a server and you don’t really need an IT person to set it all up. When you get upto 10 users you have to pay $5 per user per month. If you want below 10 users and can keep down to 10gb mailboxes then you can get it all setup for free. And trust me it’s a good system (especially for free.)

What Types of Open Source Software do you use? What other Free Software can you Recommend?

david dawson

About the Author:

David Dawson Works at PromoNet Ltd as Technical Director.

He builds and maintains the website and deals with all the Artwork and Visuals that are produced in house.

If you have a technical query or a problem to be solved at Promo Gifts it’s generally David you will speak to.