The world of open source software offers free alternatives to just about any expensive commercial package you might care to name, but there's no denying that some of them are better than others.
Aiming to recognize some of the best of the open source breed, InfoWorld on Tuesday announced the winners of its sixth annual Best of Open Source Software Awards, also known as the "Bossies."
Among 125 winning products in seven award categories are a variety of open source business and desktop apps. They include several of the usual suspects, of course--including Ubuntu Linux, WordPress, and LibreOffice, to name just a few--but also some interesting lesser-known packages.
According to a recent report commissioned by Amadeus IT Group, it's a smart move to consider open source software first. Here are a few packages you should know about.
Comparable in many ways to Adobe Illustrator, Inkscape is an open source vector graphics editor designed to make it easy to edit nodes, perform complex path operations, trace bitmaps, and more. The software can also export to formats including PostScript, PNG, and SVG.
For those who need to work with audio, Audacity is free, cross-platform software for recording and editing sounds. It can import, export, and manipulate sound files in virtually every common format.
For content management, Plone is what InfoWorld calls an "industrial-strength" alternative to WordPress and Movable Type. Blogging, dashboard views, and calendaring are all among its standard features, while an array of extensions are available that can add even more.
KeePass, meanwhile, is an open source package that spares you from having to remember a multitude of passwords. Instead, you can use the software to store passwords in a heavily secured database with top-tier encryption. Then, all you must remember is the master password to the database itself.
Gallery is a Web-based photo album organizer designed to deliver an intuitive way to blend photo management seamlessly into your own website. Features include geotagging and batch editing support.
6. Feng Office
For professional service businesses like law firms and ad agencies, Feng Office is a Web-based package that integrates project management, client relationship management, billing, and financing.
Magento, meanwhile, is an e-commerce platform with solutions for small, medium, and large businesses.
Targeting health-care practitioners, OpenEMR is a free and open source electronic health records and medical practice management application that can run on Windows, Linux, Mac OS X, and more.
Already a familiar name to many fans of open source software, GnuCash is personal and small-business financial-accounting software that allows you to track bank accounts, stocks, income, and expenses.
Last but not least, FrontAccounting specifically targets small businesses with a Web-based package for "the entire ERP chain," in the project's own words. Version 2.3.12 was just released a few days ago.