Open Source

We strongly believe that it is in our clients' best interests for us to use open source software solutions wherever possible.

There has been a lot of FUD (fear uncertainty and doubt) regarding open source, much of it spread by the marketing departments of certain large software companies.  We'd like to put the record straight...

Open source is about having public access to the original “source code” used to create a program, and the legal right to make changes to it.  This enables programmers to find and fix bugs or even add entirely new features.  Not just the original programmers, but anybody can do this.  If somebody finds a bug or wants a new feature, they can make the change themselves, or hire a programmer to do so.  Given the large number of people that would benefit from a bug fix or useful new feature, there is a strong incentive for the user community to co-operate.  In this way bug fixes and new features become freely incorporated into the software, once they have passed the strict peer-review process of the program maintainers.

The foundation of the business case for open-source is high reliability. Open-source software is peer-reviewed software; it is more reliable than closed, proprietary software.  Mature open-source code is as bulletproof as software ever gets.  Bugs get found and fixed quicker.

See open source - the case for business for more details.

Because you can get access to the source code, you can survive the collapse of your vendor.  You're no longer totally at the mercy of unfixed bugs.  If your vendor's support fees become exorbitant, you can buy support from elsewhere.

See for more details.

Using most commercial software involves software licenses, and tracking software copies and usage.  This demands record keeping, and legal exposure.  Most open source software can be freely copied and used. There are no licenses to track and thus no related costs, or legal risks.

Even the UK government has said it will accelerate the use of open source software in public services. See UK government backs open source for details.

Some of our open source favourites are:

  • Linux - The free operating system.  For email and web servers, RedHat is very popular and is commercially supported.  For a reliable desktop, we believe that Ubuntu is an excellent choice.
  • Apache - The web server software that powers the vast majority (around 70%) of all web sites.
  • MySQL - The database behind many of the world's most popular web sites, including Yahoo, Wikipedia, Ticketmaster and even NASA.
  • PHP - The leading web programming language.  When combined with Linux, Apache and MySQL this forms the powerful “LAMP” web platform.
  • IPCOP - A robust Linux-based firewall.  An essential part of any network.
  • Drupal - A content management system that makes it quick and easy to develop and maintain great looking web sites.
  • Firefox - Superior web browsing. Better security and far less bugs than Internet Explorer. Try it once and you'll never want to go back!
  • Thunderbird - Superior email. Better security and far less bugs than Outlook. Built-in spam blocker. Try it today.
  • ClamWin - A free Windows version of the open source ClamAV anti-virus program.
  • OpenOffice - A free alternative to Microsoft Office, with word processing, spreadsheets and presentations. Full read/write file format compatibility.