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Thread: GNU/Linux for Small Business

  1. #1
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    Question GNU/Linux for Small Business

    Hi all,

    I was wondering if there is an all-in-one solution for small business owners looking into linux. I understand that they can install Ubuntu and set it up but how many business owners have the know-how, time, patience, or contacts to do it. From what I understand now there are technologies available for business owners but they are scattered and not well known. My thought is this, Is it viable to create a derivative of Ubuntu that focus on providing a stable platform aimed solely for small to medium business owners? It could be based on LTS versions of Ubuntu and provide packages specific for business owners. There should be a desktop and server version that communicate as flawless as possible to store and encrypt business documents. Of course this would be difficult because you would have to identify what most businesses would need and find a solution that can be packaged in linux. I do believe that this can be a great opportunity for linux to be exposed to more people and be present in a market that may need such a platform. Many small businesses still use Windows XP for various reasons ranging from dislike of Vista/7/8 to cost of upgrading. I think there should be a discussion on how to turn Linux more into a business solution for a market that may need such a solution.

    I will admit that I am no small business owner but I am friends and family to some. I think the first thing we should look at is what are some of the types of programs they may need.

    Here are some obvious ones I can think of off the top of my head:



    I'm sure I'm missing alot of important things but that is why I'm opening this topic to all of you. Is it possible to gather all these software together into one easy to use Linux based OS like Ubuntu and market it to small business owners? With the recent NSA mess brought on by Mr. Snowden and slow adoption of Windows 8 this could be prime time for such an OS. One of the features you can tout is no NSA backdoors. I know alot of work would be needed in packaging and maintaining the packages but once it gets started I think the community can only make it better. There would also need to be available an easy to use and understand tutorial on how to use this software that comes with the OS.

    Please share your thoughts on this idea. I admit that I am not a small business owner at this time though I frequent them often. I also admit that I have limited time and resources to undertake this project right now but look forward to the discussions that can come from this and hope to undertake it in the future. Also I apologize in advanced for my late replies since I have limited internet access.
    Last edited by mcglowca; October 14th, 2013 at 10:09 AM.

  2. #2
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    Ubuntu 9.04 Jaunty Jackalope

    Re: GNU/Linux for Small Business

    I run a small business on a couple of Linux boxes using some of the software you mention, and have done so for years.
    A few points. Gnucash is good for accounts keeping but it does not do quotations. If you send a quotation to a customer, once you make the sale, you will have to reenter all the data into Gnucash. I have found no easy way to do this.
    Also, the invoices side of Gnucash is not very versatile, and as far as I can tell, FusionInvoice and SimpleInvoices do not get their data from Gnucash or its backend database. What you want is to enter the invoice data into Gnucash (once) and generate a printed invoice from that. Currently I use some Perl to generate a LibreOffice document, that I can convert to PDF and then send to the customer.
    A separate CRM module may be a good idea but again I don't see how that integrates with Gnucash. This may need a lot of "glue" before the CRM screen can tell me, for example, how much revenue customer X has generated for me, data that should be easily available from the accounting software.
    For project planning and time management, I have built a couple of simple tools in Perl that run on an Apache webserver. Again, these tools use the Gnucash data wherever possible. So perhaps Apache should be in your list as well.

    I wouldn't focus too much on security. In my opinion, of all the troubles that vex small business owners, government snooping is not the most important.

  3. #3
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    Re: GNU/Linux for Small Business

    josgeluk,

    It looks like communication is a big problem for you when it comes to the software. I'm glad you replied because I suspected that it would be an issue. So the problem that needs to be solved is how to get all the software to "talk" to each other and use the same database. It can be rather difficult if all of them use their own unique formats. Maybe a few email requests to the developers with some modified code attachments and cash could be enough to get some unity. Having an ecosystem where everything is in harmony and stable would be important for a business owner. I'm interested in hearing other problems or needs from business owners.

  4. #4
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    Re: GNU/Linux for Small Business

    different businesses have different requirements. some of which you wrote are useless.

    i am not sure what this would accomplish. one size won't fit all. businesses even now install windows and then add things they like or need.

    also it depends on business size.
    Easy to understand Ubuntu manual with lots of pics: http://ubuntu-manual.org/
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  5. #5
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    Re: GNU/Linux for Small Business

    would it be worth having a ubuntu-business-desktop meta-package, so that the above packages could be installed in one go. From there its easy to make a custom install cd that uses that meta-package. Likely you will need a few like ubuntu-accountant-desktop, ubuntu-admin-desktop ...

  6. #6
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    Re: GNU/Linux for Small Business

    Canonical has already tried this

    http://www.omgubuntu.co.uk/2012/02/u...d-by-canonical

    But

    http://www.ubuntu.com/business/desktop/remix

    Yet click on the links at the bottom of the page and any business leader with a head for business would learn a lot about what Canonical has to offer.

    Desktop management

    http://www.ubuntu.com/desktop/management

    Systems Management

    http://www.ubuntu.com/management

    I think that the OP is touting for business. It is another form of cold calling.

    Regards.
    Last edited by grahammechanical; October 14th, 2013 at 03:54 PM.
    It is a machine. It is more stupid than we are. It will not stop us from doing stupid things.
    Ubuntu user #33,200. Linux user #530,530


  7. #7
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    Re: GNU/Linux for Small Business

    It seems that the Canonical version is for large corporations that can afford dedicated people to customize the packages for their business. I'm thinking something along the lines of CAELinux. It uses Ubuntu as a base and have various packages preinstalled and configured that are specific for computer aided engineering. The problem is creating a list of packages that are useful for most small businesses. Like mastablasta pointed out every business is different but at the same time at some level every small business have a set of basic needs, like accounting and customer relationship management, that they all have in common. If we can identify and address those needs then we can build a package and offer it to them.

  8. #8
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    Re: GNU/Linux for Small Business

    the thing is if you have for example webshop - invoicing, CRM and such is available wihtin that tool. and some are very good at this. add a few plugins and it's good to go.

    but for example we have accounting on i think windows (i dont' know now anymore all i know is that it's web based) - a proprietary programme. however that programme gives output for yearly and monthly tax report, and i can use some of output to import it directly into online back to do the necessary tax payments (i know the bank is windows locked, but it is very easy to use). the output in various accounting porgrammes available is more tailored for american market and more or less useless. sure we could modify them to fit our needs, but it would porbably cost quite a bit.
    Easy to understand Ubuntu manual with lots of pics: http://ubuntu-manual.org/
    Do i need antivirus/firewall in linux?
    User friendly disk backup: Redobackup

  9. #9
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    Re: GNU/Linux for Small Business

    VERY IMPORTANT GNUCASH WARNING FOR SMALL BUSINESS!!!!!!!!

    I've been using Ubuntu to run my practice since 8.10. For a long time, I ran quickbooks in a VM for my accounting needs, but then I decided to simplify things by going with GnuCash.

    What nobody tells you is that GnuCash cannot produce reports on a cash basis, only an accrual basis. So if you are in the USA, and use GnuCash for AR and AP, and you file taxes on a cash basis (as most small businesses do) you are royally screwed. You, or your bookkeeper or your accountant ($$$) has to go through and manually produce the reports.

    HEED MY ADVICE: DO NOT use GnuCash if you file taxes on a cash basis!

    I cannot even tell you how many thousands of dollars this mistake cost me. It makes me cry every time.

    Otherwise, it's a nice program. Does my home finances just fine.


    EDIT: I've never done a post with so much formatting. Kind of fun, even if it does make me look like a crazy cat lady. But, seriously, I wish someone had warned me about this.
    Last edited by Docaltmed; October 18th, 2013 at 09:09 PM.

  10. #10
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    Re: GNU/Linux for Small Business

    This subject has been discussed several (many!) times before.

    "Business" covers a huge variety of organizations and needs.
    No single business metapackage or distro can cover enough of that variety to be useful, and the blowback from ill-fitting business packages will harm Ubuntu's reputation more than it attracts business users.

    This iteration of the discussion did not start with looking at those needs. Merely throwing a bunch of already-existing applications into a tin, and labelling that tin to be "business-friendly" is not a substitute for researching the needs of the target communities.

    Docaltmed's point is a great example of free software not yet meeting a business need. In this case, there are a couple really good reasons why free cash-basis bookkeeping and accounting is not available for Ubuntu.

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