Free and open source software (FOSS) for NGOs (Sky Croeser - Internet Studies, Curtin University & Bluestocking Institute)
Free/Libre and Open Source
Software for Non-Profits
The Bluestocking Institute
Curtin University of Technology, Department
of Internet Studies
What is Free/Libre and Open Source Software?
The ideals behind F/LOSS.
Some practical reasons to use F/LOSS.
What is Proprietary
Owned by the individual or company which
created it, and uses are restricted.
Usually (but not always) sold rather than
shared for free.
Examples: Microsoft Windows & Microsoft
Word, Adobe Flash, many (but not all)
components of Mac operating systems.
What is F/LOSS?
Licensed under the General Public License
(GPL) or other similar licenses, which
generally garuantee that users can study,
share, and modify software as long as they
use the same license.
Examples: Ubuntu, Firefox,
"Free as in speech, not as in beer."
Open Source Software
"there are enormous benefits to be gained by opening up
one's technology and making it available under the same
terms as Linux and a host of other inventions. ... The GPL
and open source model allows for the creation of the best
technology. It's that simple."
Torvalds & Diamond,
2001, Just For Fun, p. 194
Why use F/LOSS? (Part 1)
Because we're idealists, and F/LOSS is all
controlling technology ourselves,
valuing (relatively) democratic decision-
making and peer evaluation,
sustaining and building the cultural commons.
Why use F/LOSS? (Part 2)
Because we're pragmatists, and F/LOSS is
built to meet our needs,
more regularly updated,
friendlier to open formats.
Where to start?
Ubuntu as my operating system.
Open Office for word-processing,
spreadsheets, and presentations.
Gimp for image editing.
Firefox for the web.
Zotero to keep track of
Tools for Non-Profits
The basics: Open Office and Firefox are a
good place to start.
NGO-in-a-box from the Tactical Technology
Conclusion: where to begin?
Find existing strengths within your
organisation or in your support base.
Use support communities online.
Be realistic about what you need and what
you can sustain.