This document aimed at public sector organisations is an OpenUK & OFE / COIS initiative supported by contributions from FSFE, EU and UK Open Source communities. Editorial provided by Stuart J Mackintosh, Basil Cousins and Martin Callinan SFE, EU and UK Open Source communities.
This document is designed to:
• Enable the reader to gain a balanced view of how and when to use Free & Open Source (FOSS) solutions
• Inform the reader about the wide freedom of choice of software applications and vendors
• Increase value delivered by existing technology providers and increase return on investment
• Help find resources, case studies, applications and tools
• Highlight risks associated with closed and proprietary software, and strategies to manage these risks
The need to reduce operating costs, demand to become more efficient, and to provide more integrated services causes challenges for the public sector. This publication proposes that one strategy is to implement methods and approaches that enable re-use of technology investments, best practice, design and intellectual capital. The key enabler for this re-use is the integration of FOSS coupled with Open Standard interfaces. The intention of this publication is to help the reader understand that these tools are proven, are in every day use, are mature and capable, and to explain how they can be professionally implemented within an organisation.
– Stuart Mackintosh, Chair, OpenUK – The UK Open Source Industry Association.
Proprietary or FOSS for re-usable software in public sector?
Proprietary software is defined as having an owner with exclusive title to the code and that the code is
protected or concealed. Software provided as FOSS also has an originator but is distributed with the principle that the recipient should have the choice to inspect, run, modify and in most cases
re-distribute the code.
Business models in the proprietary space typically focus on models of mass distribution with extensive
sales and marketing investments. These models potentially restrict the freedom of an end user organisation through restrictive license terms. Conversely, suppliers in the Open Source space focus on the outcomes of a project and pass on unencumbered access and use of the software to the customer.
FOSS is provided with a variety of licences for example the General Public License GPL, some of which ensure the recipient shares
the software with at least the openness that they received it. For this reason, Open Source software
is generally designed for re-use where proprietary software models are designed around further