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The sites you should check first:
If you don't find the Open Source code you are looking for there. Then try a Google search "<Generic Term of what I am looking for> + PHP" or add any open source technology keywords that you think would be used to create it. Like "+ MySQL". If someone has written the program in open source software then they generally make the program available for free.
hmm..... i think it's wise to point out here that free doesn't always mean best. yes, there is some excellent free open source software, but there are also many poorly coded examples. even if an open source software product has a huge following and a large community, it can still be a poor product.
take your time, try several products and try to find one that fits your needs. once you have chosen your product, check the site you obtained the code from frequently for updates, especially security updates. be prepared to upgrade to more recent releases if there are any security issues. spend time learning the code used (PHP or ASP or whatever) so you can understand how the software works - this makes life a lot easier should you need to modify it at any time.
if you don't have time to try lots of different software or to learn the coding used, you might (not will, just might) be better off purchasing a commercial product from a well known company. these have often been more thoroughly tested prior to release than some open source products, will normally come with better instructions than open source products, are better coded than open source products, and are more flexible than open source products. a commercial product can save you a lot of hassle in the long run.
However, if you aren't a coder, buying off the shelf can be the best option
>> You should sit down and learn about what you want and begin to code it.
Not everyone has the time/skills to do it, unfortunately. Documentation (or rather, the lack of it) can be an issue too. I am in favour of open source personally, but the same as most things it has its limitations. These are usually far outwieghed by the benefits though
What I usually do is sit down and write up all of the requirements of what i need done. Then, once I thoroughly understand those I shop around for a product.
Open source or not is irrelevent to my process. I want a match to the project requirements not a product which falls under the popular buzz-word of the day.
Of course, one of the requirements might be support, cost, functions and any number of other things.
Open sourcesolutions can give you more options. As they are generally free or cheap, you initial spend should be low.
As they are open, if they need some tweaking, and you have access to the relevant development skills (which you can afford to pay for if necessary, as you haven't shelled out $$$ on an initial licence), you can stop looking for the "best fit" solution, and start thinking about "perfect fit".
For those of us who operate at the smaller end of the market, low initial costs, and low total costs of ownership can be a deal maker
I certainly would have found the concept of Linux, PHP, MySql, etc, far too intimidating at the beginning of the steep web development learning curve. Indeed, it is only now that I am more comfortable with basic development concepts, that I am starting to experiment with all of the above.
Despite the fact that I can now look back and say that it may have been better for me at the start to sit down with the O'Reilly and Wrox CSS, HTML and PHP books, I seriously doubt whether I would have lasted at that time had it not been for the help I received from (in my case) commercial WYSIWYG and graphics editors.
I would also say that the online communities devoted to the commercial software I have used have tended to be a touch more tolerant of new user questions than some equivalent open-source forums and lists. Whilst someone who has spent some time dealing with people online might take flames with a pinch of salt, again someone who is new may well be adversely affected at an early stage of their web experience.
Stick with the brand names for mission critical systems. Open source is fine for many things, but excluding the "big products" such as Mozilla, Apache and so forth, I am leery of it.
I would never even consider open source for the important things such as payroll, general ledger, accounting, warehouse operations and SCADA. These are the applications which companies actually use and need to stay in business.
I have never found anything that even approaches Office XP feature-for-feature. Office XP is rock solid, doesn't crash and is very secure. I cannot say the same for Staroffice, Wordperfect and the other competitors.
Windows 2000 and Windows XP are unmatched in quality as far as their market is concerned. Windows 2000 server is rock solid stable, has an incredible number of features and, most important of all, is supported and well documented.
Windows 2000 also has a security model which is unmatched in the industry. This model came from the VAX (Digital Equipment) and Novell, both of which were (and are) excellent. Linux and Unix don't really have a security model in comparison (I am referring, of course, to active directory and NTFS).
Of course, Windows has the well known issue of security exploits (a different issue than the security model). I currently manage quite an extensive farm of IIS servers, and I've found it's not that much work to keep these systems completely up-to-date. We just have to do our jobs as administrators.
IIS and Apache are equivilent in functionality. IIS performs better than Apache (I've done the testing myself on the same machine) for straight HTML pages. IIS also has a better security model than Apache by far (based on NTFS as it is). IIS is also a heck of a lot easier to use than Apache, although you can certainly purchase gui's for apache which make it usable for the average person. And the first major problems (including security) with Apache 2.0 have started appearing, and they are just as nasty as anything found in IIS.
To my way of thinking the main reason to prefer Apache over IIS is (a) initial cost, and (b) knowledge of your people. If you and your group already know apache, then that is the best choice for you. If you already know IIS, then that is probably the best choice.
Browsers? IE won the browser wars for a good reason (besides ruthlessness) - it's far superior to Netscape 6 and before. Now that Mozilla and Opera have had a couple of years, it looks like they might give IE a run for it's money. Even now, though, I've found IE is superior to the competition and I'm sure there is a new version in the works.
But all of this is not as relevent as the cost of modifications. I've found the initial cost of the software, regardless of what it is, is puny compared to the cost of modifications. I would never even consider hiring programmers, for example, to modify the OS, the browser, or the web server, so the availability of sources is not relevent. As far as an application system is concerned, I am interested in modifying the business rules, not the application itself. In fact, if my accounting system requires me to modify it's primary code just to change a business rule, I'll find something else.
There are many companies which provide good application systems, including SAP, Ultipro and hundreds of others. To date, not one open-source version of these (the really important things) has even made it to the initial RFP.
Not for the end user. Apache gives the webmaster a lot more options/freedom to do what s/he wants -- take the WebmasterWorld forum as an example. It is 99% dynamic, yet the SEs slurp it up like it was static content.
>IIS performs better than Apache
You have to try Galeon -- *nix only.
There is the the model, and then there is the application. MS as a corporation has failed miserably at pro-actively plugging holes before they become a problem. In contrast Apache had a patch ready in 24 hours for the latest security hole.
What I personally like to do is ignore the hype and rumors and so forth and do my own analysis. And yes, I ignore Microsoft hype as well ... they have more PR skills than any hundred other organizations. But PR does not make for a good product.
The decision to use or not use a product should depend upon rational facts, not opinions and noise. Apache is in many ways better than IIS, and IIS is in many ways better than Apache. Which is better? Depends upon what you are using it for, the goals of your organization and many other things. Same with Windows Vs Linux, or any other argument.
Our business relies on being able to serve web pages, without that we are dead in the water. We are not a "multi-billion dollar company" just a micro set up who all the same will do a 7 figure sum this year, I just wish I'd looked at the alternatives in the beginning, when we had time.
Internally we have gone platform independent, Mac, Linux and Windows machines all co-exsist in the office. As time goes on we are slowly but surely moving over to open source software, developing our own in house browser based apps that can be accessed from any platform. The main reason COST, we are as small-time as you can get but we estimate we will save a min of $30,000 this year.
I have only just installed Apache 2.0 on a windows platform and so have not formed any opinions on this product yet. In a few months, perhaps, I will have some solid data about what appears to be a great new release of Apache.
Cost, however, should never be the primary criteria of this kind of decision. Cost is the least important of many different factors which go into a decision. I have found over my career that when I chose something based upon cost as a primary factor I wound up with that sore behind feeling. Yet when I chose something based upon features and requirements and a good analysis, then picked the product which fit the best, then and only then was it comfortable sitting down.
I have found that Apache (with a good front-end gui) is superior for a hosting solution. I like Apache in this environment because it gives the users (webmasters for small and medium sized shared hosting web sites) more flexibility without the server admin needing to get involved.
Linux is a great server platform, although we have found the cost to support, train and maintain is higher than windows 2000. As a desktop, though, Linux isn't even on the same planet as Windows XP. Linux has a long way (and I mean light years) to go before it is anywhere near Windows XP as a desktop solution for corporations.
I find the "religious wars" about this subject fascinating.
But now that we have managed to completely sidetrack this thread, have you tried KDE3?
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[edited by: littleman at 9:01 pm (utc) on June 26, 2002]
richlowe I'm not sure if you are taking the micky or not but; we design real simple systems for staff to use, we call it train tracking, put them on the rails and only allow them to deviate at certain points. For the life of me I can't think of one single reason why Windows products would be better than Linux in this respect.