When choosing open source software for business, you should first research and evaluate your options. Many applications are available and most are free to download, so you should be able to try and test different solutions relatively easily.
How to evaluate open source software
When evaluating your options, make sure that you assess:
- all the available features of the software
- the stability of the product
- its compatibility with your existing systems and equipment
It's also worth checking that:
- regular and timely security updates or patches are available for the software
- there is enough documentation to support installation, setup and software troubleshooting
Other factors to consider to minimise risks when using open source software
You may also want to:
- check if the software has its own website where you can learn more about its uses
- learn about the team behind the application, and their plans for its future
- seek recommendations from other businesses or through the community support group (if there is one)
- find out if there is an IT support company with specialist knowledge of the software
- bring in a consultant to help you determine if the software will suit your needs
- understand the licence in use - read more about open source licensing and legal issues
- contact your local university to see if they can offer any advice - many use open source software and some may even have a commercial open source operation
Most importantly, check on the internet for reviews to get an idea of what other people think about the software. Visit any relevant online support forums to find out about any issues you may come across.
Most of these tips apply to evaluating any software - be it open source or a proprietary solution. For more best practice, see how to choose an IT supplier for your business.