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Show your love for free software on Valentine’s Day

The whiff of romance is in the air as restaurants, the cards business and florist gird their loins for Valentine’s Day on February 14th.

The Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) is asking all free software romantics to do something different on Valentine’s Day: use the day as an opportunity to say “thank you” to one of the dedicated hard-working people in the free software community.

I love free software banner
Love free software? Show it on February 14th

“Every day, we use free software and often take it for granted. We write bug reports, tell others how they should improve their software, or ask them for new features – and often we are not shy about criticising. So, to let the people in Free Software receive a positive feedback at least once a year, there is the ‘I love Free Software day’.” says Matthias Kirschner, who initiated the FSFE’s #ilovefs campaign.

For the”I love Free Software Day” the FSFE has several suggestions for showing your love to the people behind Free Software, including:

  • write an e-mail/letter, (micro-)blog post, to contributors expressing how much you like what they are doing;
  • buying your favourite contributor a drink. Or buy someone else a drink and while enjoying it, tell her/him about your favourite free software application;
  • give a contributor a hug (ask for permission first!);
  • take a picture of yourself showing your feelings for free software and post them online;
  • making a donation to the FSFE or another free software initiative to express your gratitude. They depend on your contributions to continue their work;
  • Finally, you can help spread the love by sharing the campaign banners, by e-mail, (micro)blog or by spreading through any social network using the hashtag #ilovefs.

    “We want you to help us, to make this day the day where everybody says ‘thank you’ to the people behind free software”, adds Matthias Kirschner.

Human population soon to be outnumbered by its mobile devices

glassy wifi symbolOne of the major developments of recent years has been the growth in mobile internet-capable devices and a new mobile traffic forecast update by Cisco now predicts that the human population of planet Earth will be outnumbered by internet-connected mobile devices – smartphones, laptops and tablets – by the end of the current year.

That means more than 7 bn. mobile devices will be in use.

However, the rapid growth in connected devices will put the existing infrastructure under increasing strain, forcing ISPs to move their customers and networks over to the next-generation IPv6 system.

Cisco expects there to be huge growth in the use of mobile devices in Asia, the Pacific and Africa.

The Cisco report highlights the dramatic change that is already happening in the field of mobile connectivity:

  • Mobile video already makes up more than half of the data transmitted worldwide. According to Cisco, two-thirds of data transmitted will be mobile video.
  • The average amount of data consumed by smartphone users increased by 81% from 189MB per month in 2011 to 342MB per month in 2012.
  • smartphones consumed 92% of global mobile data traffic, despite accounting for only 18% of the handsets in use globally. The typical “featurephone” only consumed 6.8MB of data traffic per month – 2% of the amount that the typical smartphone did.

According to Cisco, the rapid growth in 4G connections (for which auctions are now underway in the UK) generated a 19-fold larger amount of data traffic than a non-4G connection. Despite accounting for only 0.9% of all mobile connections – mostly of them in the USA – 4G connections already make up 19% of data traffic. Moreover, it is anticipated that the expected rise in such connections will contribute to huge increases in data consumption.

Coming soon: control Impress presentations from Android phone

Online tech news website The H reports that the developers of LibreOffice, whose version 4.0 is due for release within days (posts passim), are also planning to release the “Impress Android Remote” application that will enable the office suite’s presentations to be controlled from Android smartphones.

LibreOffice screenshot
LibreOffice Impress screenshot

Communication between the phone and the presentation rendering system will be handled via Bluetooth, according to a presentation given by LibreOffice developer Michael Meeks to FOSDEM 2013 in Brussels over the last weekend.

Draft EUPL v1.2 updated after public consultation

“What has the EU ever done for us?” is a popular question raised by the right-wing print media in the UK. Well, in addition to the exhaustive list supplied by Simon Sweeney of the University of York in a recent letter to The Guardian, the EU has in recent years developed the EUPL – European Union Public Licence, an open source licence for use by European public sector organisations (news passim).

The EU’s public sector open source news site Joinup reports that the EUPL v1.2 draft and its Working Paper were updated on 31st January 2012 to take account of remarks received to date in the consultation for v1.2 of the EUPL.

The consultation itself continues until 31st March 2013 and the updated draft EUPL v1.2 is available as a PDF.

The EUPL is the first multi-lingual (it is available in the 22 official languages of the European Union) open source licence to have been approved by the Open Source Initiative (OSI).

FixMyStreet to become FixaMinGata in Sweden

Over the years, MySociety, an e-democracy project of the charity UK Citizens Online Democracy, whose aim is to build “socially focused tools with offline impacts”, has designed some great online tools. By way of an example, these include:

  • TheyWorkForYou to enable electors to track the work of their constituency MPs;
  • WriteToThem to help electors write to MPs;
  • WhatDoTheyKnow to assist UK citizens in submitting Freedom of Information Act (FoI) requests to UK public bodies.

One MySociety tool which is having an international impact is FixMyStreet, where people can report, view, or discuss local problems like potholes, graffiti, fly tipping, broken paving slabs or street lighting.

EU open source public sector news website Joinup reports today that Swedish local authorities will soon unveil their version of FixMyStreet, to be named FixMinGata. The developers expect that a pilot version of the FixaMinGata site will become operational in March or April 2013.

image of site banner for FixaMinGata
Fix My Street coming soon to Sweden as Fixa Min Gata

The service is being developed by three organisations – Sambruk, Kivos and FFKP – but will be made available to all Swedish councils as a single, national service. Kivos is a network of mainly western Swedish local authorities promoting the use of free and open source software and open standards. Sambruk represents more than one hundred co-operating local authorities, focussing on local e-government and business development. FFKP is a non-profit organisation that ‘promotes a free society, built on free culture and free software’.

The project received support of some Kr. 3 mn. (approx. € 380,000) from the Swedish Agency for Innovation Systems in November last year. With this money it is building a portal that can host, share and allow the re-use of electronic services like FixaMinGata. By running such applications from a ‘cloud platform’, the innovation agency aims to offer services that can be used by all Sweden’s local authorities.

A beta of FixMinGata was launched last year and is running Debian GNU/Linux servers and the Apache open source web server.

FixMyStreet has been available in Norway for some time where it is known as FiksGataMi.

Half Life released for Linux after 14 years

After a delay of 14 years since it was first released for proprietary operating systems, the first version of Half Life, one of the most popular and influential first person shooter games of recent times, has now been released for the Linux platform, according to Softpedia.

A screenshot from Half Life.
A screenshot from Half Life.

Half Life is based on a heavily modified Quake engine and has both open source OpenGL and proprietary Direct3D capabilities. Softpedia believes a Linux release would have been possible a long time ago, but was probably never considered.

Half Life for Linux can be downloaded from Steam and costs £5.99.

2 TBit/s over Vodafone’s German backbone

image of fibre optic cableWhile the UK government is content with ensuring UK ‘broadband’ customers are guaranteed a modest 2 MB/s over their domestic connections, news arrives of blistering data transmission rates being achieved in Germany.

IT news site Heise Online reports today that the Chinese network technology group Huawei and the ISP Vodafone have been able to transmit 2 terabits per second over a distance of 3,325 km in a field trial over a circular section of the network in central and southern Germany using Vodafone’s existing backbone network. This was reported yesterday by Huawei, who said it “marks an important step forward for optical transport technology advances beyond 100G”.

This provides a data highway capacity 20-times higher than current commercially deployed 100Gbit/s systems and has a speed equivalent to downloading 40 HD videos in one second.

There’s one thing that can be said for definite about this achievement by Huawei and Vodafone: it does leave the UK government’s ambitions for equipping the UK with “the best broadband in Europe” (© HM Government. Ed.) looking somewhat hollow and the UK’s current ‘superfast’ broadband of 40 Mbit/s distinctly mediocre.

An update from Kalamarià

ODF_textdocument_48x48George Georgiadis, head of IT at the Greek municipality of Kalamarià, has commented that the almost ubiquitous use of MS Office in the Greek public sector is hindering the adoption of open source alternatives, according to a report on Joinup, the EU’s public sector open source news website.

Kalamarià is drawing to the close of switching all of the council’s 170 desktops to LibreOffice and is one of the few Greek local authorities to have adopted an open source office suite (news passim). Part of the reason is financial: the council cannot afford to renew proprietary software licences and insists on using properly licensed software on its machines.

As regards the ubiquity of MS Office, Georgiadis is planning to contact all public sector organisations that have institutional links to Kalamarià, to explain how their IT choice is limiting technological options of others. “We’re planning to help the Greek Linux User Group in organising a conference on this topic. We would like to invite all municipalities, the regions and the central government and universities, to tell them how useful it is to switch to free and open source,” he said.

Georgiadis and his IT colleagues are ready to help their fellow workers to switch smoothly to LibreOffice, he says. “We’ve made sure that we know how to use it ourselves, so we can teach others.” Kalamarià’s IT department will be using the open source e-learning tool Moodle to provide training and are very enthusiastic about the very good courses available in Greek on Freemoodle for LibreOffice.

Spanish council saves thousands with LibreOffice

Spanish IT services company ElkarMedia S.L. reports (Spanish) that the municipality of Azpeitia in Spain’s Basque Country will be avoiding the maintenance costs involved in using Microsoft Office and saving up to €30,000-40,000 in 3-4 years since the company installed the free and open source LibreOffice office suite on the council’s computers.

LibreOffice screenshot
LibreOffice screenshot

In addition, ElkarMedia also provided training for council employees to enable them to use the new software.

The council has also made the following two decisions:

  • Any computers bought in the future will have a free and open source operating system. This will result in a saving of €100 per machine by avoiding the cost of a Microsoft Windows licence;
  • Servers will also use a free operating system; the council’s servers are replaced every 4-5 years and this will produce a saving of €5,000.

University in challenge

image of screen with magnifying glass & word 'password' highlightedBristol University announced yesterday that it is taking part in a unique code-breaking competition as part of this year’s Cyber Security Challenge UK. Four UK university computer science departments have accepted the challenge to develop their own cipher – a puzzle based on encrypted messages – that will be released to other participating universities and Challenge candidates to break.

The four-week virtual tournament started on Monday 21st January with a cipher from Bristol University and a new cipher will be released each week. The aim of the challenge is to inspire students who are particularly interested in cyber security careers and practising their skills. It will also act as a proof of concept for a series of inter-university competitions that the Cyber Security Challenge expects to run in the future.

The University Cipher Challenge is being co-ordinated by the Cyber Security Challenge UK and PwC. A scoring system has been developed by cyber security professionals at PwC and each university will be marked in 3 categories: ingenuity of cipher design; successful cracking of another university’s cipher; and least number of “cracks” by other Challenge candidates.

Stephanie Daman, the CEO of Cyber Security Challenge UK, said: “The University Cipher Challenge is something completely new. This is the first time that universities have been asked to develop their own cipher, putting the skills of their students in competition with those from a rival.

“The UK has a world-class academic base in cyber security and this tournament represents a great opportunity for existing Challenge candidates and new players to test the hard, code breaking skills and out-the-box thinking that the cyber security profession requires. We are running this as a pilot with the ambition to encourage more university departments to take part in 2013/14 as we embark on a dedicated education programme featuring university based cyber camps and a set of competitions specifically designed for students.”

GNU Press now selling GNU/Linux Inside stickers

image of GNU/Linux Inside laptop sticker
Show your support on your laptop
The Free Software Foundation (FSF) blog reports that the GNU/Linux Inside sticker pack is now being sold.

The stickers are high-quality and durable; they won’t fade away or scratch off your computer, making it the ideal way to advocate your use of free software! They are perfect for replacing those *other* stickers that may come on laptops when they are purchased. For $15, purchasers will receive 10 GNU/Linux stickers.

Purchasing the stickers will help the FSF reach its Winter fundraising goal of $350k by 31st January.

Hat tip: Dr Roy Schestowitz

OSS Watch publishes list of open source options for schools

Tux graduate - image of Tux wearing a mortar boardOSS Watch, a service for higher and further education institutions in the UK, has this week published a list of open source alternatives to proprietary software for schools, according to a report posted today on Joinup, the EU’s public sector open source news website.

“Where possible, we’ve included real-world examples of their usage,” said OSS Watch development manager Mark Johnson.

The list itself is divided into 7 sections, including E-Learning, Assessment and Classroom Tools. In addition, the list contains open source options for subjects such as Music, Film and Media production, Theatre and Drama, Design and Technology. In the E-Learning section, for example, it lists Moodle, Sakai and Canvas as open source alternatives to proprietary products.

Mark Johnson announced the OSS Watch list yesterday in a post on the OSS Watch Team blog, stating that the OSS Watch ‘Open Source Options For Education’ complements the UK Cabinet Office’s Open Source Options (PDF), which was made public last April.

OSS Watch compiled the list by working with the educational community and the open source communities involved in many of the featured projects. Johnson writes that the list contains several generic packages, but OSS Watch “looked at them specifically in the context of their application to an educational situation, such as using an office package to author e-books”.

View OSS Watch’s open source educational software list.

Next Wednesday is CiviDay 2013

CiviCRM logoNext Wednesday, 23rd January, has been designated CiviDay 2013 and 2 meet-ups have been arranged in London and Bristol respectively for users of CiviCRM, the open source CRM package, as used by Bristol Wireless.

The meet-ups are described as a great way to:

  • network with the CiviCRM community;
  • find out about how people are making the most of CiviCRM;
  • learn about what is coming up in future CiviCRM releases.

The London meet-up will be held at Skills Matter,116-120 Goswell Road, London EC1V 7DP (map). It will feature 2 sessions: from 5.30 to 6.30 pm there’ll be a CiviCRM Drop in session, where users can get their questions answered and receive individual help; this will be followed by the meet-up itself from 6.30 to 8.30 pm. As regards the meet-up’s agenda, the following items have been scheduled to date:

  • Google hang out with CiviCRM’s Dave and Lobo;
  • Website integration – options for linking CiviCRM to your website with Andy Pearson of WhiteFuseMedia;
  • Just Giving Integration – a case study in integrating with external payment processors with Parvez Saleh of Veda Consulting;
  • Meet CiviHR – an update from Zing on their new HR project – designed to integrate with CiviCRM from Chris White of Zing;
  • NFP Tech/Apprentice Service – update from Zing on their new apprentice service;
  • Chase 2013 – do you want to exhibit as CiviCRM at Chase 2013?
  • Community update: what is new in CiviCRM 4.3, plus forthcoming events in the UK and further afield, with Michael McAndrew of Third Sector Design.

Register for the London CiviDay meet-up

The Bristol event will take place from 4.00 to 6.00 pm at The Create Centre, B Bond Warehouse, Smeaton Road, Bristol, BS1 6XN (map) and will offer a chance for developers, managers, users and others interested to meetup and discuss exciting new directions in CiviCRM usage.

Register for the Bristol CiviDay meet-up.

Greek municipality of Kalamarià installs LibreOffice

ODF_textdocument_48x48The free and open source advocacy organisation GreekLUG reports that the Municipality of Kalamarià near Thessaloniki in northern Greece is in the process of installing the free and open source LibreOffice productivity suite on all of the council’s 170 workstations.

According to GreekLUG’s press release (PDF), some 120 installations have been done to date.

It is believed that this move will save the council some €38,000 in licensing fees (including VAT) compared with renewing and/or buying new licences for MS Office. As the Greek public sector is extremely short of money, to say the least, this is a very smart move.

GreekLUG welcomes this move, which means that Kalamarià now joins the pioneering municipalities of Heraklion in Crete and Pilea-Hortiatis (news passim) in pioneering the use of free and open source software in the Greek public sector.

A first for UWE

Professor Alan Winfield of the Bristol Robotics Laboratory has announced via Twitter that the library of the University of the West of England (UWE) in Bristol has installed a 3D printer that’ll be free for staff and students to use and is this is a first for an academic library in the United Kingdom.

It’s good to see Bristol leading the way.

Update 22/01/2012 – Yesterday UWE issued the press release below:

UWE Bristol is leading the way amongst UK universities by making 3D printing technology available to all students by locating a 3D printer in the main university library.

It is believed to be the first 3D printer in an academic library in the UK. The new initiative is made possible through a donation from 3D Systems Limited.

3D print technology, also known as additive layer manufacturing, is a rapidly developing technology with applications in manufacturing, engineering and academic research. It is sometimes available to university students on relevant courses – such as creative product design or engineering courses. For example UWE Bristol already has 3D printers within the Faculty of Technology and in the leading Centre for Fine Print Research.

This new initiative now enables UWE Bristol, working with Bits from Bytes, a subsidiary of 3D systems Ltd, to offer the latest educational 3D printing technology to all students and staff in the main UWE library.

The machine, a triple head smoked 3DTouch, will be situated in the main library on the Frenchay Campus, where it will be available for all students and staff to use. During term time the UWE library averages over 2,000 users daily.

This new initiative will enable students to engage with the latest 3D print technology, and develop their understanding of how it can be used and applied in different subject areas. Students will be able to ‘draw’ their design in a 3D CAD package. Then using free downloadable Axon software the file will be converted through a process that will make it readable by the 3DTouch printer. When it is printing the 3DTouch print head moves back and forward, building up layers of thermoplastic polymer, as it prints the 3D object layer-by-layer.

Andrew Bathchelor, UWE Senior lecturer in Product Design, says, “This initiative offers a valuable new resource for students. By linking with Bits from Bytes we are able to bring the concept of 3D printing to all students. Many of our Creative Product Design, Engineering and Fine Art Students, are already familiar with this technology, and use it within their academic work in their own departments. However, by offering this to the wider student body, we hope to stimulate usage of this technology and help students develop their understanding of how it can be applied. We hope students will come up with interesting applications, relevant to their subject. For example our students who are training to be teachers can familiarise themselves with technology that their pupils may have access to in the future. In addition Architecture and Planning students may choose to use the technology to ‘print’ out models for project work. We are sure UWE students will be inventive once they begin to see the possibilities of this technology. The 3DTouch will enhance the extensive range of resources we offer to students though UWE’s library service.”

Iain Major, Co-Founder of Bits From Bytes, based in Clevedon near Bristol, and a UWE alumni says, “We are keen to support the first 3D printer into a UK academic library as it places 3D printing at the heart of the University. All students will now be able to print 3D components for free and it will be fascinating to see what designs they come up with. We are firmly committed to support all sectors of education and to encourage users of our machines to push boundaries with novel applications of the technology.”

Bristol Mini Maker Faire – more details

image of circuit board being solderedSome time ago, we gave very advance notice of Bristol’s first ever Mini Maker Faire (news passim). More information has now been received from the organisers, as set out below:

Saturday 23rd March is the date set for Bristol’s first Mini Maker Faire, a family-friendly event at which people show what they are making and share what they are learning.

It takes place at M Shed (, and is one of the community-driven, independently produced Mini Maker Faire events inspired by the Maker Faires in the US.

Typically, Maker Faires and Mini Maker faires include stalls run by those who are involved in Robotics, Music Performance and Participation, Textile Arts and Crafts, Bicycles, Kites, Green Tech, Puppets, Home Energy Monitoring, Rockets and RC Toys, 3D printing, Radios, Vintage Computers and Game Systems, Electric Vehicles, Biology/Biotech and Chemistry Projects, Shelter (Tents, Domes, etc.), Unusual Tools or Machines, and How to Fix Things or Take them Apart (Vacuums, Clocks, Washing Machines, etc.)

The organisers are currently looking for makers who would enjoy being part of this show-and-tell event, and invite anyone who is interested to contact them via this online form: * *

For an taste of what you might expect to find at M Shed on 23rd March, see the Brighton Mini Maker Faire (

Please feel free to circulate this widely!

Update 17/01/12: The event now has its own website at

A message for our dear readers using Internet Explorer

image of broken Internet Explorer logoAccording to our site statistics, nearly 41% of you out there are reading this article on some flavour of Microsoft Windows. In addition, 22% are using various versions of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer web browser. And it’s to you, our IE users, to whom this message is addressed: use a better browser, preferably an open source one!

It’s been four years since we last addressed you specifically in this fashion (news passim). We recommend you do so for your own safety and security in the light of an article posted today on The Register entitled “Microsoft flings out emergency patch for Iatest gaping IE hole”.

According to El Reg:

Microsoft has announced plans to release an out-of-band patch today tackling a critical zero-day hole in Internet Explorer.

The update will almost certainly tackle an unpatched remote-code execution flaw in earlier versions of IE (detailed in Microsoft Security Advisory 2794220) that has become the target of hacker attacks since late December.

El Reg’s article also recommends that users switch to an alternative browser.

As regards an alternative browser, Bristol Wireless would advise you switch to an open source browser and one that complies with web standards so it renders web pages correctly. Of the many available, we would recommend either Firefox or Chromium in particular. Firefox has a long legacy. The project which became Firefox started as an experimental branch of the Mozilla Suite called m/b (or mozilla/browser), which was in turn based on the codebase for Netscape Navigator. Chromium is the open source web browser project from which Google Chrome draws its source code, but is free of the latter’s Google-specific features.

Once you’ve experienced the joys of using a standards-compliant browser that renders web pages correctly, who knows? You probably won’t ever want to go back to IE.

If you need more convincing, let’s just say this: Internet Explorer forms an integral part of the Windows operating system. You cannot remove it from your system without breaking that system. In fact you cannot remove it at all. The only thing Windows will let you do is disable IE and not show it in your programs menu (according to our resident Windows expert, who’s found out that Windows 7 will let some components of IE be removed, according to this article. Ed. ). This is very bad operating system design. Indeed, one might question whether on this count alone, Windows is ready for use on the desktop yet. 😉

Wikimedia UK is recruiting

Wikimedia UK logoWikimedia UK, the UK charity which supports the work of the Wikimedia Foundation (a global movement whose mission is to bring free educational content to the world and whose best known project is Wikipedia. Ed.), is looking to recruit some additional staff and has this week published the following post on its blog:

In order to support our ambitious programme of work over the next year and beyond, Wikimedia UK is recruiting people to fill three key roles within our growing team – a Volunteer Support Organiser, a GLAM Organiser and an Education Organiser.

The Volunteer Support Organiser will perform a key function for us. The Wikimedia movement is driven by volunteers and we are entirely dependent on them – without volunteers, Wikipedia and our other projects would not exist. This role will involve managing the engagement and development of volunteers of volunteers in our work and our programme of activities. You can see full details of this role and information about how to apply here.

The GLAM Organiser will work to develop and maintain excellent relationships with GLAM institutions of all sizes – galleries, libraries, archives and museums. The role will involve supporting our Events Organiser by developing and delivering a range of large and small GLAM activities throughout the UK and encouraging volunteer participation. You can see full details of this role and information about how to apply here.

The Education Organiser will support the expansion of our activities in the field of education. The role will involve supporting the Events Organiser by developing and delivering a range of large and small education activities throughout the UK and encouraging volunteer participation. You can see full details of this role and information about how to apply here.

The closing date for each of these three roles is 5pm on Friday 8 February. For an application form please email Richard Nevell, our Office Support Assistant, at

The Robots of The Bristol Robotics Laboratory

a generic robotThere’s an interesting sounding free talk coming up later this week on 10th January.

Professor Alan Winfield, the Director of UWE‘s Science Communication Unit will be giving an introduction to the work of the Bristol Robotics Laboratory entitled “The Robots of The Bristol Robotics Laboratory”.

The work of the Bristol Robotics Laboratory (BRL) covers three broad areas: biological robotics, humanoid robotics and swarm robotics. However, unifying themes are that of intelligent autonomy and robot safety and dependability. The laboratory’s work is highly multi-disciplinary and collaborative, with strong crossover between robotics and life-sciences. This talk presents an overview of the research work of the BRL, covering the three areas.

The talk will be held in the Tyndall Lecture Theatre, University of Bristol (map) and starts at 7.30 pm.

Entry is free, but tickets will need to be booked by emailing or telephoning 0117 922 3571.

Update 9/01/13: The day after this report was posted, places for the talk had all gone and a waiting list system implemented to reallocate any cancelled tickets.

Egyptian openistas protest against Microsoft deal

A group of technology activists gathered in front of the Cabinet office in Cairo on Sunday 30th December to protest an Egyptian governmental deal with software giant Microsoft to buy software for the public sector, the English language Egypt Independent news site reports.

On 26 December, the official Facebook page of Hesham Qandil, the Egyptian Prime Minister, announced that the Cabinet had concluded a deal with Microsoft for the next 4 tax years to buy and maintain licensed software worth nearly $44 mn. for the government.

“What the government is buying is the license to use software and not new [software],” says Ali Shaath, co-founder of the Egyptian Association for Free and Open Software and of the Arab Digital Expression Foundation.

The activists’ main contention with the deal is that Microsoft products bought by the government are imported, expensive and their code source is usually closed and protected by rigid copyright rules which do not allow for knowledge sharing and generation. Meanwhile, an alternative lies with locally conceived, less expensive software, whose open code source enables copying, sharing and building more software.

“We’re talking about the same computers, the same software, no extra development and no extra training,” Shaath said, explaining that the free and open software alternative will cost zero in comparison since its licences are free of charge and its only cost is derived from customisation and training.

The activists believe that free and open software developers is could readily provide the software the government needs. A case in point was the portal developed with free and open software to provide voters with information ahead of the March 2011 referendum.