Open Source Software in Business & Government

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Lots of Open Source in use in mainland Europe, including EU member states, very little in the UK and less still in the USA.

Open Source is a very wide field and for the purpose of this article we shall be talking just about operating systems such as Linux and applications and not Web technology.

When it comes to Open Source Operating Systems the most “common” one is Linux in its various distros, whether Fedora (Red Hat), SUSE, Ubuntu, etc., and while both governments and businesses in a great number of European Union member states on the European mainland have taken up such operating systems, including the most popular Linux in carnation, Ubuntu, against what is being offered by a certain company based in Redwood in the USA or even Apple, Britain lags very much behind here. The USA, so I am led to believe is worth even in that field.

The same is also true in government and, to a great degree also in business, as to other Open Source programs, whether those be office suites, photo editing programs, PDF creators and even PDF readers, etc.

It appears that most choose proprietary software over Open Source rather; this despite the fact that Open Source software such as, for instance, Open Office, a basically complete replacement for Microsoft Office, is free; no license required to buy and it can be installed without incurring costs on as many PCs as one would wish. The same with PDF creators and many other such pieces of software.

In a downturn-cum-depression as far as the economy is concerned both business and government should take a much closer and much more serious look at those options.

Open Office, in my opinion, is many ways far superior to MS Office as it can read most formats and can be defaulted to save everything in MS Windows format, for instance, thus making for great interoperability.

The learning curve is very flat as there are but very few differences between Open Office and MS Office; mostly only some keyboard shortcuts are different and some terms.

Users of Open Office's PowerPoint equivalent have told me – though I cannot judge as I do not normally use presentation programs; no need – that Open Office's version is more powerful that that of MS Office, that is too say PowerPoint.

The only thing that Open Office so far has not offered is an Outlook equivalent but it is possible, so I understand, to integrate Evolution Mail as an Outlook equivalent.

Personally I have been using Open Office 2.0 now ever since I fired up Ubuntu”Dapper Drake” and I have never looked back. The only shame is that the likes of Avery with their templates for labels and such are still locked into MS Word.
Templates are also, in general, in rather sort supply, unfortunately, for Open Office and it does not have a ClipArt collection either.
But, having said that, I must admit that I prefer Open Office to MS Office.

Is Open Office suitable for business and government? Yes, definitely, and it interoperability is much better.

All I am wondering is what everyone is waiting for...

© 2009