Why governments really choose open source

Open Source in Government: Discovering why some public sector organisations are so enthusiastic about community developed software often means looking beyond a balance sheet

The number of open source deployments by governments across the world has accelerated over the last few years. To date at least 160 international local and national governments have deployed open source software and over $2bn has been spent on the Linux open source operating system, according to figures from Linux vendor Red Hat.

The use of open source software varies widely between different countries, for example, while the UK government continues to strikes long-term multi-million pound deals with proprietary giant Microsoft, the French are enthusiastically adopting open source software in both national and local government agencies.

Outside the Western world, where cost becomes more of an issue, it might be expected that open source software would be more popular. While this is the case to some extent – it's not that clear cut. The Brazilian federal government is issuing policies strongly in favour of open source, but other countries have signed sweeping deals with Microsoft, such as the Eastern European state of Macedonia.

Deciding what lies at the heart of some countries almost zealous uptake of open source is not a simple as looking at the cold hard costs – politics, national security, anti-Americanism and innovation all have a part to play.

Part1: Europe and the US philosophically divided on open source?
Some governments have embraced the potential of open source, while others seem culturally opposed to the whole concept

Part 2: Developing markets and anti-Americanism
Outside of the US and Europe, cost is a big motivator for using open source software — but it's not the only one