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February 10, 2010updated 19 Aug 2016 10:05am

Will the government now act on open source?

Since early 2004, it has been the government's stated policy to use open source software in the public sector wherever possible, as long as it offers the best value for money.To date, the policy has had little impact. So will the latest tweaks to

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Since early 2004, it has been the government’s stated policy to use open source software in the public sector wherever possible, as long as it offers the best value for money.

To date, the policy has had little impact. So will the latest tweaks to its open source Action Plan make a difference?

Software is “open source” when the source code is freely available to be viewed, shared or changed – things that you can’t do with more traditional proprietary software. Crucially, open source is also the cheaper option in many cases.

So how good is the government’s record on using open source so far?

In its latest Action Plan, it gives three key examples of how it has increased its use of open source. First, it says that over 25 per cent of secondary schools use the Linux operating system on at least one computer: small beer, given that the government first published its policy on open source in 2004.

Second, the series of NHS databases known as “Spine” use an open source operating system; and thirdly, Birmingham City Council has been rolling out open source software across their library services since 2005.

These last two instances would be more compelling if they didn’t also serve to show just how few projects there have been to date. Click here to read the rest of this entry.

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Gordon Brown, January 2010. Getty Images.

CBR took an in-depth look at open source in the UK in the May 2008 issue. To read that article click here.

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