In this final section, let's do an exercise. Let's imagine The Free and Open Nonprofit, an idealized nonprofit that relies totally on free and open source software.
We asked members of the nonprofit FOSS community to recommend software that would be appropriate, asking for packages that:
Are stable and mature – where there have been several releases and updates
Can be used out of the box
Have a healthy development community around it
Doesn't rely on a lot of internet bandwidth
We also told them the following parameters for the Free and Open Nonprofit itself:
Size: Small, 8 Staff people plus a team of maybe 10 volunteers they work with
Bandwidth: decent but not good enough to download large files
Tech culture: they have a small training/set-up budget but, ultimately they would want things that they can use easily after they install
Here's what our community members recommended:
Operating System – the package of software that allows you to interact with your computer.
FOSS Choice: Ubuntu – a very mature distro aimed at the average user. Has a large community around it and lots of skills.
Office Suite - word processing, spreadsheet, presentations, etc
FOSS Choice: Libre Office – has a passionate community around it.
Email Client - for downloading, organizing and storing emails on your computer
FOSS Choice: Thunderbird – though this package is no longer in development, it remains the only viable email client.
Calendar/To Do Client – to keep track of appointments, tasks and deadlines
FOSS Choice: Thunderbird w/ Lightning plug-in.
FOSS Choice: GNU Cash or Ledger SMB – These packages are far from perfect however and this is an area that could really use some attention from the FOSS community.
Web-browser – for conducting research, etc.
FOSS Choice: FireFox – already a leading browser, whether you're a FOSS devotee or not.
Image editor - for modifying photos
FOSS Choice: GIMP – certainly a mature package, though has some issues with stability.
Instant messaging client – for text based internet communications, such as GTalk, Yahoo Messenger, AOL Instant Messenger
FOSS Choice: Pidgin
Media Player – for viewing movies and listening to audio files
FOSS Choice: VLC – certainly though it's worth considering Nightingale for audio
Back Up – for assuring important data/files are copied to media that can be secured and access if they are accidentally erased
FOSS Choice: Rsync – you may need external expertise to set up and get going. Use Déjà Dup, if you are using Ubuntu, it's a graphical front end that also utilizes Rsync.
Anti-Virus – for assuring you aren't picking up malicious files and software and passing them on to others.
FOSS Choice: Clam AV (manual scanning only)
Shared Organizational Apps
Project Management: including shared calendar, task/to-do management, & resource management
FOSS Choice: Open Atrium
Contacts Database: to allow shared access to the relationships that the organization develops, including volunteers, members, donors, etc
FOSS Choice: CiviCRM - very mature, designed for nonprofits. Plenty of support.
Content Management System – to support staff contributing and organizing content on the organizational website
FOSS Choice: Wordpress – unless you are integrating CiviCRM (than you may want to consider Drupal)
Website analytics – to measure and analyze website traffic
FOSS Choice: Jetpack