Use open source software - it makes things better, says UK

Toby Wolpe | ZDNet | March 18, 2013

Open source gets the official seal of approval from the UK government in new guidelines that mandate its use over proprietary products.

Open-source software must be the first choice for all new UK government projects, instead of proprietary or closed-source alternatives, according to new guidelines.Even in the "rare or specific" cases where managers can choose proprietary or on-demand software, they should ensure open standards are available for interfaces, to cut the risk of vendor lock-in, the Government Service Design Manual stipulates.

The manual, which comes into force in April, sets out the standards for new and redesigned public digital services.The UK government has discussed increasing its use of open source since October 2004, when a study of its open-source software trials concluded that computers running Linux generated substantial long-term software and hardware savings.However, the new manual is the first time the Westminster government has mandated open-source software over proprietary alternatives for new public service projects.

It sets out its rationale for increasing the use of open source in a subsection in the manual entitled Why we do this. "Free and open-source software has a number of architectural benefits over closed-source and proprietary alternatives and is the basis of our 10th design principle — Make things open: it makes things better," the manual says...