Running a business without Microsoft

Leading from my last post about using skype to run phones, it seems to me as if these days business infrastructure can be almost entirely run on open source or free products.  I am quite tempted to give these options a go, but I do use a lot of software and services which are only available to windows…..

Operating system


Ubuntu, is user friendly version of Linux, an open source operating system.  I reckon that using this would be fine as long as the user had limited software requirements (i.e. they did not need any software only available for windows)


Open office (and for that matter Google Docs) provides functionality to cover about 99% of office functions such as spreadsheet and word processor. I think that using Open Office would be sufficient for the needs of any worker who only needed to communicate within the company, as outside the company their could be compatibility problems with MS office users.

Email and Calendar

Instead of using microsoft exchange, it would be possible to use Gmail and Google Calendar.  Google in fact has a service called apps for you domain which offers enterprise services at a fraction of the cost of building an infrastrure using MS products.

I think the Gmail is great as it allows POP mail to be received into the gmail client, giving a single online email store.



As mentioned in a previous post, Skype can be used to build a phone system of sorts.

Are there any businesses out there that have gone entirely open source?


  1. Sam Barton says:

    Don’t get me started!
    I represent the peoples front of Linux lovers, a movement to avoid (where possible) lining the pockets of Mr Gates.

    At we have a number of Linux servers for our website (built in Ruby on Rails – not .Net) but Linux for web is not new. As you point out there are many ways to take this concept into the office.

    For example, rather than MS Exchange for our email we use SME ( which does the same thing (Imap mail, VPN user access to the network, intranet, Webmail access etc) but is FREE. The bottom end MS version cost the last company I worked at £5K to set up for a smaller solution than we have here. The big cost with MS is the user licenses at £50 a pop!! – No user licenses with Linux.

    As for communication – our phone bill would be the four figure kind if we didn’t have Skype. Thanks to Skype our international calls cost as much as our Email 🙂

    Have to mention Mantis the support ticket software and also an old fav of mine DotProject which is an online project management tool. DotProject is perhaps a bit dusty now compared to the shiny new MS Project but it does the same thing and again is tad cheaper.

    And yes Gmail is the best, I have stopped using my Hotmail account as it takes too long to load in all the extra features.

    I converted from a PC to a Mac for my home office and run XP in Bootcamp. Perhaps you should do the same for Ubuntu?

    I am not normally this ranty but your post caught an open wound. Good job Trevor.

  2. Stephen Fry writes on his blog on this subject:

  3. Margo says:

    Just wanted to add that OpenOffice is the best PDF converter I’ve found, having tested plenty, both online and via downloaded software. And it’s free! And very simple – just one click of a button. All hyperlinks and anchors are retained, unlike most of them.
    Cheers, Margo

  4. Liz says:

    Open Office saved my life. There is nothing I can’t do with open office! You can find open source everything. I wish their was a better open source photoshop though. Gimp is OK.

  5. Margo says:

    Liz, try PhotoPlus 6 from, it’s free, and produces nice quality pics.

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