Not Open Source, Better Source

I was pointed at an article about a report on Open Source adoption and use in the dutch government, which reminded me of an interview my co-authors and me gave to Specifially, we were asked why organisations should use open source in preference to closed source software.

It's nice to have our opinion vindicated by the following quote from the preamble of the dutch report:

"Opvallend is dat de ministeries geen voorkeur (b)lijken te hebben voor open of closed source software: het gaat voor hen om de beste source. Een gedachte waar we op zich mee kunnen leven, want open source blijkt steeds vaker ‘best source’."

Or, in english:

"It is striking that the departments seem to not have a preference for open or closed source software: they want the best source. This is an idea we can live with, because open source increasingly turns out to be 'best source'."

After some summaries and case studies, the report presents a few reasons why open source is a better choice. Amongst these are:

  • No licence costs
    The money saved on software licences can be spent on more deserving projects.
  • Pay only once to develop software
    New projects can build on and extend existing open source software.
  • Avoids monopolies and dependency on specific suppliers
  • Security
    An increasing number of people refuses to trust software without access to the source code.
  • Stimulate the local economy and local innovation
  • More interesting to work with
    It is more engaging and challenging for software developers and administrators to work with software they can completely access and understand.
  • Philosophical reasons
    We live in a knowledge society and access to information is of strategic importance. We should refuse to accept not being allowed to know how our software works. This fits into a broader social movement that wants to know where foods are from and that products are made in a socially responsible manner.
  • Low threshold goverment
    A democratic government will want its citizens to be able to communicate with it without incurring costs.

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