open source software

Written by Ed Beckmann Tuesday, 23 October 2012 02:55

What is Open Source Software (OSS)?

There is a good definition guidance on wikipedia here, but here is our version. Sadly if you are in the UK, you are amongst the least likely people in Europe or the US to have heard about it. All of the software used for our business is open source (i.e. not Microsoft or Apple).

Open Source Software is generally available free of charge and exists because:

  1. it normally runs on most hardware, and is particularly efficient so you keep hardware for longer
  2. you (or someone you hire) can alter the way the program works to suit your needs
  3. being able to alter it means that you can benefit from everyone else’s ideas and improvements – you do not have to wait for what one manufacturer deems is a worthwhile annual upgrade
  4. you can often benefit from a very niche programme that someone has written because their business needs it, but is happy to share it thus share the workload of maintenance
  5. for office work there are few problems exchanging documents, spreadsheets and presentations with the main big name. Unlike your problems when people using newer versions force you to upgrade!

It can often take a while for the penny to drop regarding open source, because it is common in business not to share ideas with others (therefore missing out on their input) or give something away with no strings attached rather than sell it. Likewise it is much easier to stick with the norm rather than make your own decisions.

Well, over half the web runs on open source software, as do most car computers and electronic devices like TVs, DVDs etc. You are likely to have heard of Firefox and Opera browsers which are also open source.

It is true that fewer companies at the small business end of the market support open source, but given they can do almost all of your maintenance remotely you do not need one in every high street. Equally be aware that if you ask an “IT expert” about open source you may not get a balanced view – just like going into a Ford garage and asking what they think of Renault cars.

more details here …


We are still a commercial business, so if a piece of proprietary software is the best tool for the job, we will use it! We just do not limit ourselves to one option or 2 big brands.