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Free and Open Source Software

Don't want to change to Windows™ 8 or 10. Worried about support for Windows™ XP™

Apple™ is not the only alternative. Millions of people use Linux instead, despite the fact that is ignored by 'The media'.

Open Standards

The Government has chosen Open Document Format (ODF) for sharing or collaborating on government documents. This is the native format of LibreOffice and OpenOffice the leading free office software.

Android

Android (which is based on Linux) dominated the smartphone market with an 82.8% share in 2015 Q2.

Free Software News

(Aug 2016) Italy's Ministry of Defence has announced that it will transition 150,000 PCs to LibreOffice, following a law passed in 2012 which states that free and open source software should be the default option in the country's public administration bodies.

[Spring 2016] The new HMRC digital tax platform makes use of modern open source software, including Scala, Play and MongoDB. They support the open source community, contributing to products and publishing their coding whenever possible.

The French police are migrating 37,000 PCs to Linux.

The City of Munich has installed Linux on its 14,000 desktop computers and has begun to implement LibreOffice for its word processing and spreadsheets.

The Australian Government has chosen Open Document Format (ODF) for government documents. ODF is the native format of LibreOffice and OpenOffice.

The International Space Station now uses Linux on all its laptop computers.

Free Software Q&A

Q.What is software ?
A.Software is the stuff that transforms a computer from a lump of metal into a useful tool.

Q.What is free software ?
A.Software that you can copy and give to your friends without breaking any laws.

Q.Does that mean I don't have to part with any cash ?
A.Not necessarily; you can buy a CD or DVD of free software, but you are only paying for the cost of the disc and the time of the person who made the copy. Most people 'download' it over the Internet if they have a fast Internet connection.

Q.My neighbour uses Microsoft Windows XP™, Microsoft Word™, Excel™ and some games. Can I get a free copy of these ?
A.No, but you can get free software of the same quality (or better) to perform the same functions.

Q.Where do I get it from ?
A.There are many sources for free software (see the links at the end of this page). You may know someone who is already using free software. There are magazines devoted to the subject and lots of information on the Internet.

Q.What is the difference between the 'World Wide Web' and the Internet ?
A.The Internet is the infrastructure. The World Wide Web (or web for short) is the vast store of information that is organized in such a way that you can access it through software known as a 'web browser'.

Q.What is a web browser ?
A.A piece of software that allows you to display information stored in 'web sites'. Many people use Microsoft Internet Explorer™ which although it costs nothing is not free software (see link to definition of free software). Firefox is the most popular 'free' browser and will run on Microsoft Windows™ and Gnu/Linux

Q.I have an old computer that is not powerful enough to run Windows 7™ or Windows 8™, can I get free software to run on it ?
A.Almost certainly yes. There are many variants of Gnu/Linux and software packages that are designed to provide a modern interface on old hardware.

Q.Surely this free software cannot be much good if it is given away, is it ?
A.Most free software goes through rigorous testing and it is supported by a small army of professionals, some paid, some giving their time for free. Many large corporations provide infrastructure and developers. Examples are IBM, HP, Google, CERN, Intel, Texas Instruments and many governments and most educational institutions.

Q.If I get this free software and have problems with it, how do I get help ?
A.You can get help over the Internet using your browser or email. Businesses using free software may prefer to use a paid support service.

Q.Is there a linux equivalent of an app store ?
A.Each version of linux is known as a distribution (or distro for short) and has a repository which is another name for an app store, but of course the apps are free.

Popular Free Software

The above software come as part of a complete system on a single DVD or can be downloaded individually from the Internet.

Definition of Free Software

The GNU project

Free Gnu/linux operating system


Magazines and Information Sources


Did you know ? Google and Amazon run almost their whole operation using free software. 96% of the top 500 supercomputers run Linux. Most of the 'Cloud' runs on Linux.