Open Source Software

A sub-group of EURIM's Modernising Government Working Group investigated the issues surrounding Open Source Software during 2003. This was (and still is) a very emotive subject that attracted a great deal of debate.  Opinions were polarised and there was much confusion.  The Working Group's remit was to produce an overview of Open Source Software itself and an analysis of the debate that was as objective as possible so that parliamentarians had a background understanding of the issues when debating or when called upon to make decisions in this area.  

As of Autumn 2004 the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology are undertaking a study of Open Source and a POST Note  report will be published at the end of November 2004. Members of the EURIM Sub-Group that wrote the OSS overview are helping David Berry of POST with his research.  When published, links to the POST Note will be displayed below.  In the meantime, the calling notice for information is below and further information can be found on POST's website at

POST Note on Open Source Software - June 2005
This 4 page briefing gives objective and succinct information on Open Source Software. It covers definitions, history, applications, legal and cultural issues and document formats.  Hard copies are available from 
EURIM meeting with POST - 13 October 2004
This briefing meeting included a candid exchange of views on OSS, where each member gave their own perspective on what they felt to be the most important aspects of OSS.  This was followed by a question and answer session in which specific issues were explored in more detail.  The transcript is available to those present as an aide memoire but is not for general circulation.  A synopsis, summarising the main points of discussion, will be available shortly.  If you would like a copy of the meeting outputs, please contact
Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST) request for information, September 2004

Summary Request for Information as at 6th September 2004: 

The paper will  be written specifically for MPs and Lords in the House of Commons and  House of Lords in Parliament in the UK to explain what Open Source is and  its benefits and drawbacks.

Submissions on this subject are requested from interested parties and POST will be interested in taking views on the subject. The finished report will be a four page précis and analysis of submissions from Government including comments and interviews from Governmental bodies and departments, Non-Governmental organisations, Industry, Academia and  other interested parties. 

EURIM Working Group Status Report on Open Source Software - November 2003

This paper sets out to explain the background to Open Source Software (OSS) - what it is, what it is not, how it developed, and how it differs from proprietary software. The paper gives an overview of the debate on OSS, summarises some recent developments in both the policy arena and the marketplace, and takes a look at the different business models.   Contributors include BSI, Fujitsu, IBM, Microsoft, OeE, OpenForum Europe, The Corporate IT Forum (tif).

There is a wide spectrum of very strongly held views in this arena and whilst this paper attempts to characterise some of the main actors in the debate and summarise their arguments and views, it has been necessary to generalise and simplify these positions to a great extent. The detail required to give a comprehensive account is beyond the scope of our activity.  There are many excellent sources of further information, which set this material into context and these references are given in the paper.


Other Relevant documents and links on Open Source Software

Links to Relevant Organisations
Open Source Initiative (OSI)-

Free Software Federation (FSF)

eGovernment Unit (eGU) (was Office of the e-Envoy):

Office of Government Commerce (OGC):

Open Source definition (OSI)

Free Software definition (FSF):

BECTA Information Sheet on Open Source Software:



Glossaries and Indexes




Open Source Initiative -

Open Source Software: OGC Case Studies and Proof of Concept Trials

OGC - Open Source Software Trials in Government - Final Report: October 2004


QinetiQ Analysis of Open Source Solution Implementation Methodologies -  QOSSIModo Feb 2003 (RTF): 


OGC Covering Note to QinetiQ Report,  March 2003:


Open Source Software Use in Government - OeE Consultation and policy documents

Latest policy update from the eGU: (Oct 28 2004) 

OeE Report / Consultation:  Open Source Software- Use within Government, Version 2, March 2004

UK Government Policy on Open Source Software:  Summary Points

OeE Status Report, Feb 2003: Implementation of UK Government's OSS Policy and other developments

OeE - Open Source Software Use within Government - Policy: Version 1, July 2002


Responses to OeE Consultation

Intellect Response to OeE Consultation Draft Version 2:  Open Source Software - Use within Government.  Draft Version 2 - Redraft responding to public consultation (March to June 2004) Intellect's Comments

Open Forum Europe: Response to UK Government Consultation Document "Open Source Software - Use within UK Government"

Open Source Software (OSS) as a Possible Default Exploitation Route for Government Funded Software - Comments from Intellect

Business Software Alliance- Principles for Software Innovation

Tim Jackson: Draft Policy on the Use of Open Source Software (OSS) in UK Government:  Tim Jackson's Response

Andrew Hardie:- Open Source for Open Government - A Strategic View, November 2002


Market Reports

Open Forum Europe:  Market Perception Analysis of Open Source Software - Follow up Study one Year On - Management Summary

QinetiQ - Analysis of the Impact of Open Source Software, October 2001


Pros and Cons

Anon: Pros and Cons of Linux adoption in the Public Sector

My IT Adviser, 22/03/03: Debunking the top ten Open Source Myths.

Microsoft Shared Source: Some Questions Every Business Should Ask about the GNU General Public License (GPL)

Robert Frances Group - Total Cost of Ownership for Linux in the Enterprise

Information Age Oct 2002; Wide Open Source - Does access to open source code help malicious hackers attack open source applications? (Article by Graeme Burton from Infoconomy)


Opinions and articles

New Scientist - The Great Giveaway:

Computer Weekly - Finding out the hidden costs of Open Source:

VNUnet:  Windows better value than Linux, says IDC:

ZDNet news - UK Government backs Open Source:

Newsforge: Open Source - A case for e-Government:

Indymedia - Copyleft:

Bruce Perens article: Avoid repeating UNIX mistakes:,39020381,2127045,00.htm

Eric Steven Raymond:  The Cathedral and the Bazaar;

FSF - Why Free Software is better than Open Source:



Office of Government Commerce (OGC):  Guidance on implementing Open Source Software, September 2002, also known as: Office of Government Commerce (OGC): Open Source Software: Guidance on implementing Government Policy.


Documents that are not available online are available as hard copies.  Members should contact for hard copy versions. 



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