PCLinuxOS Small Business Edition

Merlin Whitewolf

"Small office and home office."
How often do we see or hear that phrase or its acronym SOHO? There are lots of software offerings that proclaim they are SOHO editions of business applications. Some of these are the same programs as the enterprise editions with some functionality removed, or that are limited in some other way. Yet, many of the small business owners need the full functionality of the enterprise editions. It is our goal to provide those users a free and open source solution.

First, let us define what a small business is. Some definitions include those businesses with fifty to one hundred employees, others will go lower. But, definitions with lower numbers are leaving out a large number of businesses, the single business owner, and the 'Mom and Pop' businesses of the world. Many of those businesses go unprovided for or make extreme sacrifices to acquire the software they need. They may be using older hardware that does not run newer proprietary applications very well, if at all. The amount of capital they have to spend is usually limited, so solutions without a need for an immediate cash outlay are important.

From one of our team members, BigBearOmaha:

"I would like to clarify a little about the goal of the project, which is to bring a tool to a much overlooked segment of the business community, the SOHO/SMB.

Much of the server solutions available now are ideal and aimed toward the 10 + SMB's or larger, actually, I may be minimizing that.

The ideal of Linux and PCLOS, in my estimation, is to bring a product to the community and it's varying aspects that will empower the user. It will present the user with an accessible, functional, powerful resource, and a set of tools that would otherwise only be available for the more financially endowed users.

For the SOHO/SMB user, starting up a business from your home or small office/shop is an enormous and expensive task. Computers bring to any business, great tools that will help a business grow, maximize investment, and bring a level of professionalism to that business that would otherwise be unavailable to them. It can also catapult them into a more competitive position, thereby increasing growth potential.

The money to do this for the SOHO/SMB owner is hard to come by, as expenses for products, support materials, and service take up the lion's share of the initial investment.

Bringing this version of PCLOS SMB/SOHO into being fills a need that affects the largest business market (in the United States at least), the SOHO/SMB. Bringing these financially restrained and hard working people a tool that they can use on their own, empowers them to learn and expand further.

So I have these people in mind when I discuss this project. PCLOS is the template that works best, the format of simple and minimal is key to making these users functional.

I tend to be highly idealistic and I have high expectations for everything I do. That's why I do not just jump into anything I do not think I can do justice to."

The Desktop:
PCLOS SOHO aims to provide the most functional applications in their full versions. Open Office, gnucash, and other standard packages will be included with the release, as well as other programs that may be helpful to the small business. Careful planning is needed to include as many useful applications as possible, while keeping the overall size down to a limit that will fit on a single CD. Other applications will be made available through Synaptic as they become available.

The Server:
Though there are many server distributions available, one that is specifically designed for small businesses does not appear to be currently available. This is a need that the SOHO team feels is important to meet.

The server operating system will include applications to meet the needs for a variety of server environments, plus as many other applications as will fit onto a single CD.

The CDs:
adThe CDs will be Live CDs so that the owners of those small businesses may test the OS and its compatibility with their hardware prior to installation. We consider this an important feature. Running a Live CD assists in getting over the learning curve without first making changes to their hard disk drive. Learning the system and becoming comfortable with it before installation will result in fewer problems for the business owner.

This project is in the early stages and we're expecting the first test version to be available soon. Careful planning is being taken by the design team to produce a complete and usable system. Official announcements about this project will be made as we progress.