Many capital owners and managers in companies and institutions want to establish their own technical projects, but they are surprised by the many complexities of the subject; From the high prices of software that they need to rely on, in addition to the difficulty of finding and hiring experts to work on their projects, and the need to build software from scratch in many cases.
But open source software solves a large part of these problems for entrepreneurs, and today we will learn how to use and benefit from it to establish our businesses.
What is open source software?
When programmers write programs, they do not write them directly in the language that the machine understands (Binary Language) or the binary language, which is the language of zeros and ones, but they first write the source code and then from that code the binary code that computers can run immediately .
Programmers may or may not give you a copy of this source code, and when they don’t, we call this software Closed Source Software or Proprietary Software , which means that they give you the right to use the software in its binary form only . You may not copy, modify or distribute this software to others.
But open software is quite the opposite, providing you with:
- Freedom to modify and use the Software for any purpose, including commercial use.
- The freedom to distribute the modified program in an unlimited number of copies.
- See the full source code of the program.
- Build new programs derived from the original source code of the required program.
Open software may be free or it may be paid, but in 99% of cases it is actually completely free. Which means that we can use it to a large extent in our commercial projects.
The most famous examples of open source software are Linux, Firefox, some parts of the Android operating system, and the Python programming language. Most software libraries and server management tools are free and open source tools.
Open Source Licenses are the legal relationships between you and the developer of the software and the software code. For example, some open software licenses may require you to produce derivative software exclusively under the same license, while others may not. Some may allow you to close the source code of your modified program from others’ programs, while others may not. The most popular open software licenses are the GPL, MIT, and BSD licenses.
Why is open source software better than others?
Open source software gives us the following benefits over closed source software:
- Huge cost savings, as we mentioned that most open software is also free software in most cases. This means that we do not need to purchase a license to use each year for the software we use, but we can download and use this software immediately.
- We can modify the source code of these programs to get new uses from them or to make them fit our needs whenever we want and without the need for permission from anyone.
- We can also use this software for commercial uses (company, organization, etc.) and even sell this software itself without the need for permission from anyone.
- Since we can see the source code, we can check for ourselves that it is free of malware and spyware, unlike closed source software.
There are many benefits that you will discover using open software on your own.
Some useful open source software for projects
We will learn about some open source software that is useful to us in building our own businesses; Whether it is software service to run computers or infrastructure software.
Office software and systems
The most prominent open source software is the Linux operating system ; It is a free and open source system that comes in the form of different “Distributions”, each of which comes with different features and software, allowing you to choose the distribution that best suits your needs and the needs of your services.
For example, if you have a group of devices in your company or organization, instead of paying exorbitant amounts to buy Microsoft Windows licenses, you can use a Linux distribution such as Ubuntu or Linux Mint , and it will cover most of your needs easily and comfortably.
Another popular software is the LibreOffice office suite . It is an alternative office package for Microsoft Office, completely free and open source. You can use it to create documents, books, presentations, data processing and other uses in your business, which will save you from buying Microsoft Office licenses as well.
Enterprise and project management software
When you run a company or organization, you need a software system for managing resources, employees, processes, customers and other various things in your company, which is the software that we call Enterprise Resource Planning, known as ERP.
There are a lot of open source ERP software, most notably Odoo , which is a wonderful system that allows you to manage everything small and large in your company or organization, and it is a modular system, which means that you can activate new units from the unit market or even develop them yourself to suit The different needs of your business.
There are many other than Odoo, such as ERPNext , Flectra , etc., and they differ from each other in the features they provide and the core services they target. You can use this software to easily manage your organization or company instead of buying proprietary software.
There are other programs that are more specialized in the field of project management; If your work style depends on getting tasks done by projects and available teams more, then this software may be more suitable for you than ERP software. Among these software are Leantime , Open Project , and many others as well.
Using a mixture of these software together will enable you to easily manage and monitor your business in your company and organization without the need to purchase software licenses, and you are able to adapt and modify it according to your needs whenever you need it.
Content Management Systems
The creation of websites is a basic requirement for all companies, institutions and commercial projects, as the use of the Internet has become essential today to attract customers and users.
Contrary to what is common to some people, you don’t just need to hire a web developer to create a website, it’s easier than that. You can use one of the popular content management systems like WordPress , Joomla , and Drupal to create all kinds of websites you can imagine.
These systems – like WordPress – are open source systems that can be modified and adapted, and they also support the plugin system by default. For example, you can easily create an online store with WordPress and WooCommerce , or you can use any free or paid template on the network to create a website with all the types of content you want to show to your visitors and customers.
Most of these useful plugins and themes are already available online, but if you want, you can hire freelancers to develop plugins and themes that suit your needs to work with these systems instead of building from scratch.
Other open software
Open software is not limited to the above, but there are many others:
- Design software: There are many open source software in the field of design and drawing such as GIMP for editing and creating images, Inkscape for vector drawing (Vector) and Krita for normal drawing. We also have the giant Blender for 2D and 3D design, the latter of which is even used in filmmaking even though it’s completely free and open source.
- Montage software: There is no need to purchase an expensive Adobe software package to perform the basic and simple tasks of editing, you can rely on open source software to do so. Like Kdenlive , OpenShot , and others. We also have OBS program for recording audio and pictures and making educational explanations.
- Communication software: Zoom has been widely used since the beginning of the Corona pandemic to communicate between users remotely, but there are many open source alternatives to Zoom as well. We mention Jitsi and BigBlueButton , and you can install them on your own server to create the private video and audio meetings you want instead of relying on costly Zoom services that require an annual subscription.
Recruiting experts with open software
Since open source software allows you to modify it and create add-ons or software derived from it, you can hire a freelancer on popular freelance sites to make these modifications for you and then use the resulting new software or add-ons to meet your needs and requirements. You can also hire experts to teach you how to use and install it.
For example, the Odoo system supports the modules feature. If you want to develop a new module that takes data from a specific source, for example, and automatically adds it to the system, you can hire a freelancer to program a new software module and give it to you to use in your company or organization.
You can find these good developers of open source software development on popular freelance websites like Fiverr, where you can place a new request in the Non-Existent Services or Freelance Projects section and explain exactly what you need with the budget you have.
The option of using open software and modifying it slightly to suit your needs may be better for you in the long run due to time and cost factors; Instead of hiring multiple programmers to build systems for your needs from scratch, you can instead use open software that is already available for use with a few simple modifications that you make to it.
Such use and modification, as a reminder, do not require approval or permission from the developers of this software; You can directly download any open source software and begin modifying it to suit your needs as long as you respect the essential terms of that software’s license.
Open source software is one of the best useful technical inventions of our time. Unfortunately, company managers and decision makers in the world often view it as just low-quality free software, but that is not true at all. Open source software is the essential software in many sectors around the world such as mobile phones, server management, embedded systems, websites, and many more fields.
Don’t forget in the end that the experience doesn’t cost you anything; You can gradually start trying to rely on open source software to build your business and consider the overall results and costs instead of relying on what others say for it.