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Open Source Software can it help you?
What is it?

In general, open source refers to any program whose source code is made available for
use or modification as users or other developers see fit. (Historically, the makers of
proprietary software have generally not made source code available). Open source
software is usually developed as a public collaboration and made freely available.
Open source software can really open up the full working potential of your organization
without costing as much as you may think.
As an example some of you may have heard of Exchange or the term 'an Exchange
Server' this is a software platform that runs on a Microsoft server based environment
allowing the exchange of various messaging systems e.g. centralised email services, web
mail, shared calendars and tasks and contacts. The software for running Microsoft
Exchange can cost upwards of £950 for the necessary software on top of heavy server
hardware requirements to run.

Microsoft Exchange is classed as Groupware - software designed to allow a group of
users on a network to work simultaneously on a project. Groupware may provide
services for communicating (such as email), group document development, scheduling,
and tracking. Documents can include text, images, or other types of data.
Now on top of the costs for the software a server may cost you upwards of £800 for a
small business then you have additional windows licensing costs of around £100 per
workstation and before you know it your small 10 person organisation is running into
thousands of pounds just for basic functionality.

However there is an alternative that many of you will have never even considered, and
that is a combination of Linux or Unix with some carefully selected open source
packages giving you exactly the same functionality with more efficiency at perhaps only
40% of the overall cost.

As an example there is an open source product called Open Xchange that does just as
much as Microsoft's Exchange server and more, but best of all its available free of charge
and can be deployed on almost any Linux / Unix based server, to buy a new server
capable of running this would cost you upwards of £500 or another option which may
suite you depending on circumstances is to get your hands on an older server perhaps
donated by a local collage or company or even second hand on Ebay for around £200
which would be more than capable of taking the strain while running a Unix or Linux
based server operating system.

What is Linux?
Linux is an open source operating system within the Unix family. Because of its
robustness and availability, Linux has won popularity in the open source community and
among commercial application developers
What is Unix ?

A multi-user multi-tasking computer operating system. UNIX is designed to be used by
many people at the same time (it is multi-user) and can do multiple tasks or operations
at the same time (multi-tasking). It is one of the most common operating systems for
servers on the Internet.
Switching to open source does not have to mean you must get rid of your windows
based machines altogether - it is quite possible to have a combination of both, in many
cases to avoid the cost of training or the time it could take to get used to another
desktop environment many users instead opt for a combination which may include a
Linux or Unix based server running your groupware package of choice allowing greater
collaboration on many levels, while keeping Microsoft Windows running on your user’s
desktop computers.
Many advances have been made and it is now a seamless integration of Linux/Unix and
windows.
Some examples of possible open source applications you could run within your
organisation are outlined below and I would greatly encourage you to take a look.

Open Xchange
URL: http://mirror.open-xchange.org/ox/EN/community/
Live Demo: http://demo.open-xchange.org/cgi-bin/login.pl
User name: neo
Password: matrix

Dot Project
URL: http://www.dotproject.net/
Live Demo: http://www.dotproject.net/demo/
User name: admin
Password: admin

Phprojekt
URL: http://www.phprojekt.com/
Live Demo: http://www.phprojekt.com/demo/index.php
User name: english
Password: english
All of the above are open source based groupware packages and are free to download
and install on your Linux or Unix based servers.

Microsoft Exchange
URL: http://www.microsoft.com/exchange/default.mspx
Video Demos: http://www.microsoft.com/exchange/evaluation/demos/default.mspx

While both platforms can greatly benefit your organisation and perhaps Microsoft based
applications are considered easier to deploy, the open source way is worth your
consideration.
Got an old server and think its had its day? Or perhaps a computer sitting doing
nothing? Maybe it would be worth your while talking to someone to see if it can be put
to use.
A full definition of open source is available at:
http://www.opensource.org/docs/definition.php

				
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