1. Finding and Selecting
Free and Open Source Softwares
By Dong B. Calmada
PANACeA FOSS Training
4 February 2010
Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-
Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
● Learning Objectives
● Some Considerations in Selecting Softwares
● Steps in Finding and Selecting Softwares
● Final Words
3. Learning Objectives
● For participants to:
– Understand some considerations in selecting FOSS
– Know how to find and select free and open source
● In general, we select softwares based on usability.
– Do they meet the needs of the
– Are they affordable/do they fit the budget?
● The free and open source software (FOSS)
ecosystem provides an essential source for softwares
that meet these general criteria.
● However, particularly for those just starting to
migrate to FOSS, the process in selecting softwares
must be paid attention to. This is a very important
component of FOSS migration.
5. Some Considerations in Selecting
● Reputation (for performance, reliability, etc.)
– Seek the opinion of FOSS experts and advocates
– How well is the product adopted by users? (word of
mouth, mailing lists, user group sites, etc.)
● Development roadmap and ongoing efforts for development
– Is there roadmap for the software's development?
– Is the software's web site/mailing list active?
– Are users' feedbacks valued?
– Is the software up-to-date?
– Is security (against vulnerabilities) taken seriously?
6. Some Considerations in Selecting
● Adoption of and support for open standards that make for
– For example: Can the data produced by the software at
least be readable by other software?
● Strength of the community (governance, membership, etc.)
– Look for mailing list archives and find out how active is
the user community.
– How many members? How many developers?
– How is the governance structure?
– Try to join a mailing list or software user site and find
out how an issue you submitted will be addressed.
7. Some Considerations in Selecting
● Commercial support.
– If software is for mission-critical operations, then
you will need third-party support 24x7 in terms of
customization, troubleshooting, maintenance,
● Development documentation.
– Tracing the history of bug fixes, feature changes,
among others, help you evaluate whether the
software fits your needs
– The documentation (including manuals/howtos) is
helpful for your capacity-building activities.
8. Some Considerations in Selecting
● Required skills set and resources.
– Can you deploy and maintain the software given your
organization's resources (people and equipment)?
– Do you have funds for the cost of training/capacity
building for the deployment, customization and
maintenance of the software as well as procuring
equipment to run the software?
– Is the license open source?
– What is the range of freedoms do you have in the use of
9. Steps in Finding and Selecting
● Identify your requirements
– Clarify and prioritize your list of overall criteria in
– Identify an aspect or function or a set of functions in your
organization/business that you think a software can perform
– For example:
● Office suite (package of wordprocessing, spreadsheet,
presentation, among others)
● Desktop publishing
● Customer relationship
● Video production
10. Steps in Finding and Selecting
– List down the sub-functions or tasks, features, and
requirements under the function or aspect you
identified previously. Mark those that are
mandatory or required and those that are not
mandatory but are desirable and useful. For
● Mandatory: Producing communication letters with a
template letterhead; writing reports with templates;
portability/interoperability of documents produced; not
prone to virus.
● Optional (desirable and useful): Calculating numeric data
from within a document; easy production and printing
of mailing labels.
11. Steps in Finding and Selecting
● Search for software applications that more or less
satisfy your requirements:
– Visit sites that host, aggregate news and updates on
open source softwares, and provide open source
alternative to proprietary software. To name a few:
● sourceforge.net, freshmeat.net, savannah.gnu.org,
– Use package search tools built into your Linux or
*BSD system. For example, Synaptic for Debian
and Debian derivatives.
12. Steps in Finding and Selecting
● Based on the sites and desktop search tools you used to find
software applications, list down all software applications
that more or less satisfy your requirements.
● Use an evaluation sheet to assess the short-list of software
applications you've chosen.
● Total the scores garnered by each of the applications and
identify the one/s that rank first.
● In case of a tie between two or more applications, go back to
the “Overall Criteria” and determine which application got
the highest overall score or the highest score in particular
criteria you most prefer.
13. Steps in Finding and Selecting
Note: Identification and prioritization of overall criteria vary from organization to organization.
14. Steps in Finding and Selecting
15. Steps in Finding and Selecting
16. Final Words
● The selection procedure discussed here is just one of
the many out there, from the simplest to the most
complex to accommodate various types of
organizations going FOSS.
● Finding and selecting software may be a one-person
endeavor. But for medium to large organizations, the
participatory approach is imperative. Otherwise, the
FOSS migration process would fail eventually.
● Everyone is encouraged to share their experiences
(through the foss-for-health.org portal) as far as
software selection is concerned.
● 10 questions to ask when selecting open source
● Top Tips for Selecting Open Source Software -
● Finding and Selecting Software -