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UK Universities Love Open Source

Sunday, January 1, 2006

Abstract

According to a survey by Open Source Software Advisory Service (OSS Watch), open source software on campuses in the United Kingdom has moved out of the shadows and into legitimate contention with proprietary software solutions. Results of the survey indicated that although only one-quarter of institutions include open source in their IT policies, 77 percent at least consider open source during procurement. Randy Metcalfe of OSS Watch said, "It's not about explaining what open source is any more, but how to compare open source and proprietary software." The increase in use of Moodle, an open source learning management system, has been especially significant, according to Metcalfe. "To reach 56 percent in two and a half years is amazing," he said. In addition, Firefox, an open source browsers, is reportedly available on 68 percent of university computers (all have Internet Explorer). Of concern to some observers, however, is the fact that very few universities share changes they make to open source software. Many universities have policies dictating that developments are the property of the institution, preventing their being submitted to the open source community for broader use.

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