Open Source Software

This page provides details of and links to one of the important movements in the development of software or e-tools to have impacted on, and continue to impact on, the educational community.

Using open source software enables web developers to avoid the dangers of "lock-in" - where once you start using a certain piece of proprietary software you are locked in to using it on a continuing basis. It also avoids the expense of licensing and permits adaptation of the software to local needs. It is this last aspect of open source software that appeals to many educators - the ability to modify the source code so at make the software fit the actual needs of the user.

Many users are now turning to Free and 0pen Source Software (FOSS), as more software developers join the movement to make software available free of charge to everyone. This clearly has important implications for developing countries that are unable to afford expensive software or software in the large quantities required for educational purposes. The availability of the source code also makes it easier for such countries to develop local expertise and establish a local software industry.

Because of the numbers of developers working on each product, high quality can be achieved, e.g., Mozilla Firefox browser Firefox 3 .

In the News

Yochai Benkler: Open-source economics

In this Ted Talk on "Open-source economics" Law professor Yochai Benkler explains how collaborative projects like Wikipedia and Linux represent the next stage of human organization. By disrupting traditional economic production, copyright law and established competition, they're paving the way for a new set of economic laws, where empowered individuals are put on a level playing field with industry giants.

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Firefox 3
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