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Selecting FOSS Softwares

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Selecting FOSS Softwares

  1. 1. Finding and Selecting Free and Open Source Softwares By Dong B. Calmada PANACeA FOSS Training 4 February 2010 Bangkok, Thailand Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial- Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
  2. 2. Outline ● Introduction ● Learning Objectives ● Some Considerations in Selecting Softwares ● Steps in Finding and Selecting Softwares ● Final Words
  3. 3. Learning Objectives ● For participants to: – Understand some considerations in selecting FOSS software/applications – Know how to find and select free and open source softwares
  4. 4. Introduction ● In general, we select softwares based on usability. – Do they meet the needs of the organization/company? – 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. 5. Some Considerations in Selecting Softwares ● 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 and maintenance. – 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. 6. Some Considerations in Selecting Softwares (2) ● Adoption of and support for open standards that make for interoperability – 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. 7. Some Considerations in Selecting Softwares (3) ● Commercial support. – If software is for mission-critical operations, then you will need third-party support 24x7 in terms of customization, troubleshooting, maintenance, among others ● 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. 8. Some Considerations in Selecting Softwares (4) ● 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? ● License. – Is the license open source? – What is the range of freedoms do you have in the use of the software?
  9. 9. Steps in Finding and Selecting Softwares ● Identify your requirements – Clarify and prioritize your list of overall criteria in selecting software – Identify an aspect or function or a set of functions in your organization/business that you think a software can perform or facilitate. – For example: ● Office suite (package of wordprocessing, spreadsheet, presentation, among others) ● Desktop publishing ● Customer relationship ● Point-of-sale ● Video production
  10. 10. Steps in Finding and Selecting Softwares (2) – 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 example: ● 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. 11. Steps in Finding and Selecting Softwares (3) ● 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: ●,,, – Use package search tools built into your Linux or *BSD system. For example, Synaptic for Debian and Debian derivatives.
  12. 12. Steps in Finding and Selecting Softwares (4) ● 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. 13. Steps in Finding and Selecting Softwares (5) Note: Identification and prioritization of overall criteria vary from organization to organization.
  14. 14. Steps in Finding and Selecting Softwares (6)
  15. 15. Steps in Finding and Selecting Softwares (7)
  16. 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 portal) as far as software selection is concerned.
  17. 17. References ● 10 questions to ask when selecting open source products -,3 9044899,62060424,00.htm ● Top Tips for Selecting Open Source Software - http://www.foss-for- urce_Software ● Finding and Selecting Software - title=4._Finding_and_selecting_software
  18. 18. Thank you!