Linux Productivity and Creative Software
You don't have to mortgage your firstborn buying Adobe's creative software, because Linux offers a full range of first-class alternatives. The Krita painting and illustration program is one of the absolute best for creating original drawings and illustrations. Krita Sketch is a new version designed especially for touch-screen devices.
Want to make your own promotional videos? Try OpenShot, which is a wonderful video editor that combines ease-of-use with sophisticated functionality. You can blend video files, still images, and audio files, and apply standard special effects like fades and scrolling titles and credits.
Figure 2: The OpenShot video editor.
It's hard to beat the quality and stability of the Ardour digital audio workstation for high-end audio production, and Audacity is a powerful, fairly easy-to-use audio recorder and editor. (Shameless Plug: You might like my authoritative Audacity how-to, The Book of Audacity.)
For sophisticated, beautiful desktop publishing try Scribus.
Digikam gets my Number One vote as best all-around digital photo archive manager and editor, and LibreOffice is a great replacement for Microsoft Office. You can also use it for desktop publishing, and it includes an excellent PDF creator.
Android is a game-changing phenomenon, going from zero to dominating smartphones in just four years. It's expanding to all touch-screen devices such as tablets and point-of-sale terminals. The Android app store provides opportunity for independent software developers. It's hard to over-estimate the impact of Android for small businesses -- it is ultimate in mobility and productivity wrapped in one sleek little package. And it's an open platform that fosters the development of useful applications.
Figure 3: Android mobile OS (Skateboard Androids courtesy Wikimedia Commons, CC-BY-3.0)
Business Intelligence for Small Business
The landscape for retail businesses has changed radically. It's harder than ever to build a distinct brand and identity because of Internet shopping. Amazon is the store; Google is the store; and no matter how many thousands of individual shops reside inside these giant platforms, to most customers they're just Amazon and Google.
Business intelligence is more important than ever to help small business owners understand what works and what doesn't for their business. Fortunately, open source once again comes to the rescue with superior, affordable offerings. Read all about them in 5 Best Linux Business Intelligence Suites.
We've talked about accounting software before in 5 Best Open Source Accounting Software for Small Business. These are still good choices, and they range from standalone bookkeeping applications to integrated customer relations management (CRM) suites.
What else is coming in 2013? It's either more open source options or more disruption, depending on how you look at it. Cloud technologies and mobile are the big two, because they go together -- cloud technologies give you many options for delivering services over the network to any endpoint: smartphone, PC, servers, tablets, laptops, retail terminals, you name it. The future is mobile.
Carla Schroder is the author of The Book of Audacity, Linux Cookbook, Linux Networking Cookbook,and hundreds of Linux how-to articles. She's the former managing editor of Linux Planet and Linux Today.
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