FOSS A General Introduction/Preface

The world of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) changes rapidly. New technologies and with them, new opportunities, come and go at an ever increasing speed. The Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) movement is one such development that is playing out before us today. It is many things—–revolutionary development process, disruptive technology, ideological movement, new knowledge and standards, and more. It offers many opportunities for governmental, private sector, and educational institutions. Organizations, as well as developing nations, that take advantage of FOSS and implement them appropriately stand to gain much, while those that fail to take advantage of this opportunity may find their ICT development lagging behind that of comparable organizations.

This primer is the first in a series of primers focused on the FOSS movement. Intended for policy and decision makers in general, the primer gives an overview of the issues and technologies involved. Although geared more for developing countries, the points discussed and the resources contained in this primer are relevant to a broad range of individuals around the world.

The remaining primers in the series will focus in greater detail on particular aspects of the Free Open Source Software movement, such as issues, technologies, and experiences in FOSS in government policy, education, network infrastructure, licensing, localization and open standards

Finally, despite the prominence of “software” in its name, the Free/Open Source Software movement is based on three “Open” pillars - Open Source, Open Standards and Open Content. In the spirit of the movement, this primer is released as Open Content, allowing redistribution and usage under very broad conditions.[1] Readers are encouraged to use, distribute, and contribute back to this resource as much as possible. The updated version of the primer will be available from the International Open Source Network website at:

The primers are brought to you by the International Open Source Network (IOSN), an initiative of the UNDPs Asia-Pacific Development Information Programme (APDIP). We would like to thank all those who have been involved in creating this primer, including the researchers, peer reviewers and production team. In particular, we would like to thank APDIP and the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) of Canada for their generous financial support, without which this primer would never have been written.

It is our hope that this document will become a valuable resource for many in the years to come.

Footnotes edit

  1. Please refer to the Creative Commons Attribution 1.0 License.