Open Source Software

Free Software!

Why spend a lot of money on proprietary software when there are FREE alternatives of similar or better standard? Any person or organisation on a tight budget should consider Open Source software, links to some of which are on the right of the page. Stuart Hatch is a strong advocate of such software and uses it extensively.

What’s it all about?

There is a growing trend to move away from commercial software to what is called “Open Source Software” (OSS). Using the power of the Internet, programmers from all over the world are able to collaborate on producing high-quality software which is in the public domain and therefore free to the end-user. “Open Source” indicates that the actual source computer program is not a commercial, copyrighted secret but freely available to anyone for scrutiny and/or modification.

Why go Open Source?

The biggest advantage, of course, is the cost. Instead of buying software or buying a licence for several computers, Open Source Software is simply downloaded from the Internet and installed on as many computers as necessary. A second advantage is that the user is no longer tied to a particular manufacturer who is at liberty to change the software periodically, necessitating expensive upgrades. Instead, upgrades are downloaded free, like the original software, and any documents produced are to an independent, open standard which is not a commercial secret. Thirdly, open source promotes software reliability and quality by supporting independent peer review and rapid development of source code.

Is Open Source Software credible?

The Cabinet Office has published the Government's policy on open source software. It includes the statement "UK Government will consider OSS solutions alongside proprietary ones in IT procurements. Contracts will be awarded on a value for money basis."

The Office of Government Commerce has produced its final report on open source software in Government. One of its conclusions is "Open Source software is a viable and credible alternative to proprietary software for infrastructure implementations, and for meeting the requirements of the majority of desktop users." This report contains many case studies, some cost/savings comparisons and is thoroughly recommended as an authoritative, independent and balanced assessment of open source software.

Much of the Internet is powered by the Linux operating system, Apache server software and MySQL databases - the site being an example - all of which are Open Source. And if you want more convincing, try OSS Watch for its further and higher education perspective, the BBC and the experiences of the Beaumont Hospital (look for the words "astonishing cost savings"!).

Specifically, the open-source office productivity suite OpenOffice is the office suite used on the British Army's Bowman deployable tactical communications system. Other large scale users of OpenOffice include Singapore's Ministry of Defense, and Bristol City Council in the UK. In France, OpenOffice has attracted the attention of both local and national government administrations who wish to rationalise their software procurement, as well as have stable, standard file formats for archival purposes. It is now the official office suite for the Gendarmerie. The Supreme Court of India, which also uses the Linux operating system, completely relies on OpenOffice.

What are you selling?

Nothing! It's free! Stuart Hatch has long recognised the benefits of Open Source Software and is actively committed to promoting it as widely as possible. I support OpenOffice, the free office productivity suite, as well as other applications. Although you can download and use the software without cost, I hope you will choose Stuart Hatch to install the software and train you in its use if you do not have the necessary technical skills. This only applies, of course, if you are in the Northumberland area of the UK; outside that area please contact us for remote help (or you could pay my travelling expenses and accommodation ... especially to Australia or the USA ...) There is no charge for the software, but I will charge you for my time and expertise.