Great Open Source Desktop,Laptops and Servers for your business

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We have been wondering how can we lead small business down a path were they can save money on much needed new hardware and at the same time get their work done. By getting their work done we mean having the basic default software requirements that most businesses would use such as an office suite, minor graphics, publishing applications.

On the hardware side we currently have a company called System76(www.system76.com) which provides most hardware that small businesses may require such as desktops, laptops and servers. They offer pretty good systems at a very low price compare to most major hardware vendors such as Dell, Acer or HP.

They currently have desktops/Nettops starting at $239 called the Meerkat NetTop(http://www.system76.com/product_info.php?cPath=27&products_id=91). For the amount of money this baby is going for it is pretty decent to get all of your work done and it comes with pretty much all the default software you would need to run your business or get some much needed work done. This particular NetTop comes with Ubuntu 10.04(64-Bit) and it also has the Open Office suite installed as default. It also comes with the Ubuntu Software Center by default so that you can download any additional software you may need such as the GIMP/inkscape(Graphics Design) or Scribus(Desktop Publishing) all are equivalents to Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, MS Publisher or Quark Express. We personally use these applications in-house for all of our needs and they work very well if not excellent, they are a total substitute to the above mentioned software packages.

On the portable/laptop side of things System76 also offers some pretty low priced systems that are pretty powerful for most basic business needs. For example there is the Starling Netbook(http://www.system76.com/product_info.php?cPath=28&products_id=105) for $389.00 and the Lemur Ultra thin(http://www.system76.com/product_info.php?cPath=28&products_id=106) for $729.00. These netbooks/laptops are pretty powerful for the price.

On the server side they offer the Eland Pedestal(http://www.system76.com/product_info.php?cPath=29&products_id=62) starting at $798.00 with 8GB of ram, an Intel processors(2.2GHZ Duo Core – Upgradeable) plus 250GB of storage space(upgradeable to 2TB). I say for that amount this server can be more than sufficient for any small business which requires an office server. The one thing about this particular server is that it requires some space as it is a tower and not rack mountable. However for those of you who require rack mounted servers and or have little room to spare you can always get the Jackal 1U(http://www.system76.com/product_info.php?cPath=29&products_id=64) with the same specifications for $898.00. If you require more power there are other offers you small business owners can take advantage of click here to view their line of servers.

As a reminder System76 is not the only vendor which provides a powerful operating system such as Ubuntu; Zareason is also another Hardware provider(http://zareason.com/shop/home.php). Dell offers Ubuntu as well for home users although their offerings is not as vast as System76. On the server side Dell can provide different variations of Linux. The difference once again is the price. System76 beats them in pricing and to some extend in features and component quality.

As a side note we recently performed some server installs of the Ubuntu 10.04 LTS server operating system along with some Ubuntu desktops for one of our clients and we were able to provide them with a complete scalable office solution which compensates for active directory, Microsoft office suites, desktop/web calendar solutions and document sharing. Our setup also included a complete configuration of the MYSQL Database server and the Postfix email/spam assassin server. All of this was configured on System76 hardware which included servers, laptops and desktops. If you are in need of setting up a complete office environment but can’t afford the Microsoft/Dell,HP(Insert Vendor here) high prices then consider using smaller vendors and using reliable open source solutions.

For more information on Ubuntu vendor support please visit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ubuntu_%28operating_system%29#Vendor_support

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Google Sites a good way to start a small business web site

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Here at SBN we are always looking for ways to get small business owners on to the web be it a one man show or a small business with 5-10 people. We have been exploring some services from Google which can provide a small business some way to get their business presence on to the web. Google Sites is such a tool; It is basically FREE for those of you whom are on a budget and need site up and running fairly quickly.

Google Sites

Benefits

Google Sites offers a variety of templates to easily build your site and get it on-line. This service also allows you to make it public or private and it can integrate with Google Docs(http://docs.google.com) to share information across your entire business(meaning you can allow documents to be shared or edited by other people). You can also access all the information from home since the service is cloud based; which means you wont have to worry about your home PC or office PC crashing as all your documents will be stored on-line. It also gives you statistical data on the site’s recent activity.

The site service also allows you to access the Google Web masters tools(http://www.google.com/webmasters/) which gives you access to on-line marketing tools such as Google Ad words and Ad Sense. This can be beneficial for small businesses since it gives them a way to quickly advertise a product or a service.

Site Templates

The service offers tons of customized templates for you to use such as:

These are only a few of the templates which you can use. Google also offers a premier version on the service which allows you access to customize the sites even further. However if you don’t mind using the templates then the free service is just fine until you can get your business off the ground. We think that this service can benefit any starting business as it cuts the cost of having to get web hosting, hired a web designer or buy an office suite. Speaking of office suite this service has an excellent editor tool which behaves very much like your typical word processor and can allow you to quickly add different pages/sections to your site all without having to write any complex code, but if you do require to edit HTML code you can.

You can also use an existing domain for your google sites, which means that you wont have to just use sites.google.com/your company name but you can actually use http://www.yourcompanyname.com

You can take a look at a quick video introduction here: http://www.google.com/sites/help/intl/en/overview.html

Here are some screenshots of what the administration tools look like.

Now by no means are we saying that you should not use a good web design agency or web designer/developer not at all. But what we are saying is that when on a tight budget and the need to quickly put your business on the web arises then this is surely the way to go without too much of a hassle. The one thing you will have to do is create a Google account. But by creating one you will also get access to tons of tools that can and will benefit your business.