Which software are we using and recommending?

We read with interest this recent article on computing.co.uk. The first paragraph is very encouraging:

The uptake of open source software within businesses has increased considerably over the past 10 years, almost to the point, say analysts, where there are more organisations now using some form of open source tool than not.

Good news, even if you bear in mind that many of those companies may be using free applications unaware that they’re open source, so it isn’t necessarily an informed choice but this is good too, it shows that good open source software is just seen as good software and we view this as a positive thing; it’s not always necessarily or desirable to bang the drum.

The second paragraph starts on a cautionary note however:

But it is important to remember that not all open source software is the same – quality, cost and support resources vary considerably from one application or operating system to another…

We couldn’t agree more, and it fits in with a comment made later in the article by Mark Driver of Gartner about open source obsessives advocating its use on idealogical and ethical grounds alone. When open source is pushed on idealogical grounds alone, the business argument is lost.

Every application that we use to run our services and our offices, and the applications that we recommend to clients and implement on their behalf, has been researched by us extensively, tested on our systems and in many cases used happily for several years – don’t forget that open source is not the newcomer many think it is, it’s been around for decades. If an application proves unsuitable for a client or develops beyond its usefulness to us or, as occasionally happens, is withdrawn, we find an alternative. We put a lot of time into tracking software developments and ensuring we’re well-placed to advise clients old and new on the best set-up for their company.

So what are we using? We won’t bore you to tears with an exhaustive list, but to run our servers we use packages including Debian, Ubuntu, Red Hat, MySQL, Postgre SQL, Apache, Zimbra and PostFix.

To run our daily office functions we mainly use WordPress for website creation and editing, Libre Office for the usual office suite applications, Gedit as a notepad and useful tool to strip out formatting, Zimbra for email, calendars and collaboration, Piwik for web stats, Chromium for browsing, GIMP for graphics, Empathy for instant messaging and Scribus for desktop publishing. We’d happily recommend these to any client, as well as many more applications including FireFox, Chrome, Thunderbird email, Open Office office suite and Feng Office web-based collaboration. We’ve also firted with EtherPad simple real-time document collaboration. Many of these tried, tested and reliable programs are available to download from our Downloads page as well as via the links above.

What we recommend depends on how our clients work and their needs, desires and openness to change. If you’d like more details of how we use any of the programs mentioned above or have a query about an open source alternative to a proprietary application please contact us.

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