Is Open Source Software Ready?

December 21, 2004

Yes, it is.

Open source software is free. It is supported by communities of developers, not corporations. And it is ready.

Sure, sometimes, it doesn't work. Development can stop abruptly on a project, and support can be limited — because it's free.

But often, open source software is better than the overloaded, buggy programs put out by the big guys (Intel, Microsoft, Cisco, etc.).

With a little bit of online research, there is often an open-source alternative to expensive programs that are needed for programs in rural/poor/developing areas.

What open source gives you (besides a free or cheap program) is a connection with software develpers that are, typically, committed to a cause that appears to be very much in line with the general philosophies underlying ICT and development work.

Power to the people.

Here's a bit from recent BBC article describing the use of open source software in Manchester schools, and the government research that supports its use. (Hard not to like thousands of Pounds in savings, right?)

I say, if it's good enough for Manchester, it's good enough for the world. Now if only there were open source programs comparable to Intel's Teach to the Future Program, which claims to have trained 2 million teachers. Too bad they're all trained in super-expensive proprietary software.

Software licenses cost Parrs Wood [elementary school] about 30,000 pounds each year, less than half the cost if no OSS [open source software] were deployed, according to figures in the recent Becta [UK education research group] report.

Only recently has the school become satisfied that OSS is now sufficiently well developed to meet classroom and office needs and provides a viable alternative to licensed software.

With governors' support and encouragement, the school is adopting OSS more completely over the next three years, including the eventual replacement of Windows by an OSS desktop, which will be a significant change.

Read the entire article: BBC NEWS | Education | How schools can get free software