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Free and open source software (FOSS) for NGOs (Sky Croeser - Internet Studies, Curtin University & Bluestocking Institute)

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Presentation at Making Links Conference 2010 in Perth, Western Australia....

Presentation at Making Links Conference 2010 in Perth, Western Australia.


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  • 1. Free/Libre and Open Source Software for Non-Profits sky croeser The Bluestocking Institute & Curtin University of Technology, Department of Internet Studies
  • 2.  What is Free/Libre and Open Source Software?  The ideals behind F/LOSS.  Some practical reasons to use F/LOSS.  Useful tools.
  • 3. What is Proprietary Software?  Proprietary software:  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.
  • 4. 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, Open Office.
  • 5. Free/Libre Software "Free as in speech, not as in beer."
  • 6. 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
  • 7. Why use F/LOSS? (Part 1)  Because we're idealists, and F/LOSS is all about:  controlling technology ourselves,  valuing (relatively) democratic decision- making and peer evaluation,  community  sustaining and building the cultural commons.
  • 8. Why use F/LOSS? (Part 2)  Because we're pragmatists, and F/LOSS is (potentially):  cheaper,  built to meet our needs,  more secure,  more regularly updated,  friendlier to open formats.
  • 9. Where to start?  I use:  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 my research.
  • 10. Tools for Non-Profits  The basics: Open Office and Firefox are a good place to start.  NGO-in-a-box from the Tactical Technology Collective.  CiviCRM.  Crabgrass.
  • 11. 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.