I was sitting in a coffee house several months ago looking at new computers on a major manufacturers website. I saw you could get the latest windows version or something called Ubuntu with your purchase. I read a little more and found out that Ubuntu is based on Linux, an open source operating system. I went to the reviews section and found that users liked this operating system for lots of varying reasons. The system also priced out less with Ubuntu.
According to Ubuntu Hacks the first release of Ubuntu, the Warty Warthog was introduced to the world in 2004. Yes I swear Warty Warthog is the first release name. In Macedonia, Ubuntu was installed in 468 schools and 182 computer labs. In South Africa HP is offering desktops and laptops with Ubuntu installed. All major manufacturers are now offering Ubuntu instead of Microsoft as an option in the United States. Maybe its time more users in the United States starting looking at the advantages of open source software as an alternative to traditional manufacturers?
Open Source Software
First we should define what constitutes open source software. According to the Open Source Initiative, open source is a software development method that harnesses the power of distributed peer review and transparency of process. This method lends itself to stability, strength, and of course an inexpensive way to achieve monetary goals. It is also the path less traveled. But with financial times being what they are, a lot of small businesses are searching for better ways to cut cost and boost the bottom line.
Is open source something a small business can use easily and will it help to achieve their needs? And of course is it robust enough to run a commercial desktop in a working environment?
My Initial Impression with Open Source Software
My first reaction was how do I start working with Ubuntu. When I booted it up the first time I had a blank desktop with a picture or image of a vineyard. No icons to click to start or initiate an application. I quickly searched around and found a small funny looking icon in the top left hand corner that dropped down a menu that helped me get started.
I managed to get online with Mozilla Firefox a new browser for me since I always used Avant Browser another open source program. I learned quickly to use the bookmarks and open multiple tabs to check some of my outstanding articles.
I had to first login to my wireless router using Ubuntu, which was a little tricky until I found a little icon in the sys tray that popped up the wireless properties page. All in all, I was proud that I got through the initial setup of the internet piece.
I then proceeded to setup Evolution as my open source email editor. Except for some education of certain unfamiliar phrases, I was easily downloading my email in a matter of minutes.
Now I am writing this article using OpenOffice.org word processor. So the transition so far on the desktop has been easy.
Actually I am enjoying the new features and the relative ease in navigation. I have to admit it’s fun and satisfying to know it wasn’t as bad as I thought it might be. So it is answering my first question, is it something easy to use? It is. Is it something that I feel will meet my needs. I do.
Downloading More Software
After running Ubuntu for several months I noticed my browser starting to bog down and it was taking longer to boot up and down. I came across another software package called BleachBit, which is a program for searching out and eliminating unwanted files such as temporary internet files.
I downloaded it, got up to speed and its been smooth sailing every since. My computer is zippy and working like the well worn machine it is thanks to BleachBit.
As I continually add more complex software I realize it is functional as a commercial desktop. This answers my second question about can it work in a commercial environment. The answer is yes.
Small Businesses Wake-Up!
If you are tired of paying subscription fees every year join the many that are making the journey to open source software. Its really exciting to know there are other options available.
The lesson we small business people need to take away from this is a monetary one. Will our competitors start using the open source applications and operating systems? Does that mean they will have a competitive advantage? The future for small businesses software is making the switch to open source software. Will you make the switch?
Ubuntu Hacks, Jonathan Oxer, Kyle Rankin and Bill Childers, 2006 O’Reilly Media, Inc.
The Open Source Initiative, http://www.opensource.org/docs/osd