As IDC recently reported, business adoption of free, open-source software is rapidly on the rise. It’s also true that many open-source applications are being launched as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) appls, free to try online, where you often don’t need to download or install anything. Recently, on the OStatic blog, we covered a site called Click2Try, where you can immediately try out many open-source applications and Linux distributions online by running them in a virtual environment. I’ve been using the site, and it’s a really easy (and eye-opening) way to dive into useful applications before deciding to download and install them on my own machine.
Click2Try offers several categories of free applications and platforms, all available via the links down the left-hand side of the home page. There are several types of business software, office/productivity applications, web development tools and more. As long as you have a supported browser and an updated version of Java 1.6, following a brief wait for a virtual machine to load, you should be able to jump right into applications that you want to try without having to install anything on your own machine. Currently Click2Try supports Internet Explorer 6 & 7, Safari 3, and Firefox 3 and 3.5, and you can run it on Windows XP and Vista, Mac OS X or Linux.
Among the many business applications that Click2Try offers, you may want to try dotProject or Gantt Project for project management. You can also try Knowledge Tree’s widely used document management platform, or the OWL document repository. There are quite a few other categories of business applications, including e-commerce, accounting, human resources, CRM/ERP and groupware.
Although Linux distributions have become much more graphical and easy to use in recent years, I still find that some people on Windows and Mac OS X shy away from them because they perceive them to be “technical” and difficult. One of the nicest features of Click2Try is you can try multiple Linux environments without going through the hassle of downloading and installing them. You can try OpenSUSE, CentOS or the ever-popular Ubuntu.
Click2Try isn’t the only site that allows you to dive into popular free, open-source applications and environments. I’ve written about OpenSourceCMS before, which allows you to “play” administrator of many popular content management systems, such as Drupal and Joomla. If you’re looking to start a site or blog, it’s an excellent way to investigate platform software before you jump in.
Have you discovered any interesting open source apps through sites like Click2Try?