Open source given the thumbs up as viable alternative by Whitehall

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Open source given the thumbs up as viable alternative by Whitehall

John Riley

Open source software has been given the green light for the public sector in an influential report due to be launched today (28 June) by the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology.

The Open Source Software Report is aimed at policy makers in parliament and government. It sets out the official Whitehall view that 0pen source is now a viable and credible alternative to proprietary software for infrastructure and most desktop users.

Open source software should be considered alongside proprietary software in IT procurements and a combination of both open source and proprietary approaches should stimulate creativity and innovation, the report said.

The report sets a new benchmark and reference point on open source for ministers and senior civil servants

It highlighted examples of successful open source implementations in government, including the Ministry of Defence's Defence Academy, where open source was chosen for its functionality, and Powys Council, which had "dramatically reduced" the number of its servers.

The report warned that the main downside of open source software at the present was that its complex development structure could result in weak project management, and applications could be difficult to use.

The report also raised concerns that open source software could suffer from a lack of support and contain unauthorised intellectual property belonging to third parties. However, the report pointed out that the open source software community was addressing all these issues.

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