The use of free software instead of proprietary software can give institutions better control over information technology. Therefore, a growing number of public institutions started a transition to free software solutions. This does not only grant independence but can address the often argued need for public access to publicly funded developments. In addition, this is the only way that public services can ensure that citizen data is handled in a trustworthy manner since non-free software wouldn’t allow total control (or even knowledge) over the employed functions of the needed programs.



The Government of Kerala, India, announced its official support for free/open-source software in its State IT Policy of 2001.[3] This was formulated after the first-ever free software conference in India, “Freedom First!”, held in July 2001 in Thiruvananthapuram, the capital of Kerala, where Richard Stallman inaugurated the Free Software Foundation of India.[4] Kerala’s Government’s support for Free Software in 2001 is perhaps the earliest instance of a Government supporting the use of Free Software.


In January 2010, the Government of Jordan announced that it has formed a partnership with Ingres Corporation, a leading open source database management company based in the United States that is now known as Actian Corporation, to promote the use of open-source software starting with university systems in Jordan.[5]


Malaysia launched the “Malaysian Public Sector Open Source Software Program”, saving millions on proprietary software licences till 2008.[6][7]



In March, the French Gendarmerie Nationale announced it will totally switch to Ubuntu by 2015.[8][needs update]


The German City of Munich announced its intention to switch from Microsoft Windows-based operating systems to an open-source implementation of SuSE Linux in March 2003,[9][10] having achieved an adoption rate of 20% by 2010.[11]


The Portuguese Vieira do Minho Municipality began switching to free and open source software in 2000. [12]

North America

United States

In September, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts announced its formal adoption of the OpenDocument standard for all Commonwealth entities.[9]

In February 2009, the United States White House moved its website to Linux servers using Drupal for content management.[13]

In August 2016, the United States government announced a new federal source code policy. This policy mandates that at least 20% of custom source code developed by or for any agency of the federal government must be released as open-source software (OSS).[14] In addition, the policy requires that all source code be shared between agencies. The public release is under a three year pilot program and agencies are obliged to collect data on this pilot to gauge its performance. The overall policy aims to reduce duplication, avoid vendor ‘lock-in’, and stimulate collaborative development. A new website provides “an online collection of tools, best practices, and schemas to help agencies implement this policy”, the policy announcement stated. It also provides the “primary discoverability portal for custom-developed software intended both for Government-wide reuse and for release as OSS”.[14] As yet unspecified OSS licenses will be added to the code.[15] The US Chief Information Officer Tony Scott, co-author of the policy, blogged “This is, after all, the People’s code. Explore it. Learn from it. Improve it. Use it to propel America’s next breakthrough in innovation.”[16]

South America


In 2006, the Brazilian government has simultaneously encouraged the distribution of cheap computers running Linux throughout its poorer communities by subsidizing their purchase with tax breaks.[9]


In April, Ecuador passed a similar law, Decree 1014, designed to migrate the public sector to Libre Software.[17]


In 2005 the Government of Peru voted to adopt open source across all its bodies.[18] The 2002 response to Microsoft’s critique is available online. In the preamble to the bill, the Peruvian government stressed that the choice was made to ensure that key pillars of democracy were safeguarded: “The basic principles which inspire the Bill are linked to the basic guarantees of a state of law.”[19]


In 2004, a law in Venezuela (Decree 3390) went into effect, mandating a two-year transition to open source in all public agencies. As of June 2009 this ambitious transition is still under way.[20][21]

See also

  • Free software adoption cases
  • OpenDocument adoption


  1. Jump up^ Gunter, Joel (May 10, 2013). “International Space Station to boldly go with Linux over Windows”. The Telegraph.
  2. Jump up^ Bridgewater, Adrian (May 13, 2013). “International Space Station adopts Debian Linux, drops Windows & Red Hat into airlock”. Computer Weekly.
  3. Jump up^ “”Role of Open or Free Software”, Section 15, page 20, of the State IT Policy (2001) of the Government of Kerala, copy available at the UN Public Administration Network (UNPAN) site” (PDF).
  4. Jump up^ “Press release from GNU Project, July 2001”.
  5. Jump up^ “Jordan Information Ministry signs deal on open source – Government – News & Features”. Retrieved 2012-04-23.
  6. Jump up^ “”. Retrieved 23 October 2011.
  7. Jump up^ “”. Retrieved 23 October 2011.
  8. Jump up^ “Ars Technica – French police: we saved millions of euros by adopting Ubuntu”.
  9. ^ Jump up to:a b c Casson, Tony; Ryan, Patrick S. (1 May 2006). “Open Standards, Open Source Adoption in the Public Sector, and Their Relationship to Microsoft’s Market Dominance”. In Bolin, Sherrie. Standards Edge: Unifier or Divider?. Sheridan Books. p. 87. SSRN 1656616 .
  10. Jump up^ “Declaration of Independence: The LiMux Project in Munich”. Retrieved 23 October 2011.
  11. Jump up^ “Official LiMux page”. Retrieved 23 October2011.
  12. Jump up^ “Vieira do Minho – citizens and administrators profit from open source”. European Commission. 2013-05-31.
  13. Jump up^ Vaughan-Nichols, Steven J. “Obama Invites Open Source into the White House” in PCWorld, 29 October 2009.
  14. ^ Jump up to:a b Scott, Tony; Rung, Anne E (8 August 2016). Federal Source Code Policy: Achieving Efficiency, Transparency, and Innovation through Reusable and Open Source Software — Memorandum for the Heads of Departments and Agencies — M-16-21 (PDF). Washington DC, USA: Office of Budget and Management, Executive Office of the President. Retrieved 2016-09-14. Also available as HTML at:
  15. Jump up^ New, William (22 August 2016). “New US Government Source Code Policy Could Provide Model For Europe”. Intellectual Property Watch. Geneva, Switzerland. Retrieved 2016-09-14.
  16. Jump up^ Scott, Tony (8 August 2016). “The People’s Code”. The White House / President Obama. Washington DC, USA. Retrieved 2016-09-14.
  17. Jump up^ (in Spanish), Decree 1014
  18. Jump up^ Clarke, Gavin (29 September 2005). “”. Retrieved 23 October 2011.
  19. Jump up^ National Advisory Council on Innovation Open Software Working Group (July 2004). “Free/Libre & Open Source Software and Open Standards in South Africa”. Archived from the original(PDF) on 2013-08-10. Retrieved 31 May 2008.
  20. Jump up^ (in Spanish) Venezuela Open Source Archived February 16, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  21. Jump up^ Chavez, Hugo F. (December 2004). “Publicado en la Gaceta oficial No 38.095 de fecha 28/ 12/ 2004”. Archived from the original on 9 August 2011. Retrieved 23 October 2011.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *