Seven Open-Source Mac Apps You Need Right Now

"Free business Macintosh applications" is not a contradiction in terms. Here are several open-source enterprise Mac OS X applications that you can put right to work.

By Lisa Hoover
Fri, June 13, 2008

CIO — Your company—or your users—have decided that at least one department's computing needs are best met with shiny new Macs. Or perhaps you've seen the financial benefits of adopting Apple products. Now, what applications are you going to put on them? There are loads of options that are tailor-made for the enterprise, but seven open-source solutions really stand out from the pack as must-haves for the Mac users in your workplace.

Need advice about choosing enterprise-ready open-source solutions? Our experts shared tips on evaluating business open-source applications. Also, see the results from CIO.com's own open-source survey, which showed that more than half of enterprises use open-source software today.

1. Even the best-laid business plan can stall or die without attention to detail, but managing every nuance of a project is a lot of work. OpenProj is a robust project manager that's capable of producing charts, graphs and all kinds of reports to help keep your ship running smoothly. OpenProj handles budget data, time lines and Gantt charts, resource management, and it can compute a variety of different metrics. Though OpenProj is still a youngster in a market that's been dominated by Microsoft Project, according to the company's website, the software has been downloaded over 500,000 times since its launch less than a year ago.

2. Moodle has long been heralded as a superior open-source course management system for educators, but it certainly has a place in the corporate environment as well. Because it was designed for online learning communities, Moodle is a perfect solution for managing your company training classes or professional development sessions.

Moodle scales amazingly well. It handles classroom settings with 10,000 participants just as smoothly as it serves a small class of ten. Because it's open source, Moodle is completely customizable to a company's needs. Dozens of additional modules and plug-ins add extra functionality, such as podcasting and video conferencing. You may never be able to fully convince your staff that company in-services are fun, but Moodle can at least help you make it less of a chore.

3. AbiWord is the often overlooked word processing app that's everything a company could want. AbiWord costs less than iWork for the Mac (it's free), it's easier to customize than the native text editor (it's open source), and it's less bloated than OpenOffice.org (AbiWord is 9MB versus OpenOffice.org's 158MB). Though it lacks the presentation and spreadsheets of a complete software suite, AbiWord is a robust word processor that's speedy and packed with useful features including spell check and advanced document layout options.

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