\'Open source the future of IT\' – Shuttleworth
Open source software has taken years to evolve and develop but it is \”now at a point where it is about to change the face of the IT industry forever,\” Mark Shuttleworth told visitors to the HP i-community centre in Limpopo, South Africa yesterday. Shuttleworth is the founder of digital certification company Thawte and one of the benefactors of the recently launched R18 million Go Open Source campaign.
Shuttleworth said that open source had started with just three simple ideas: that software could be free; software could be free to share; and software could be free to modify. \”Now the ball is rolling and everyone is going to have to adapt.\”
Today open source software such as Linux is already running on between 25% and 35% of servers worldwide, he said. \”And we are on the cusp of a desktop revolution. In ten years time the most widely used desktop operating system will be a free desktop,\” he said. \”I want South Africa to get there in five years.\”
The Shuttleworth Foundation, together with HP and the CSIR\’s Open Source Centre, last month launched the two-year R18million \”Go Open Source\” project to market and grow the use of open source software in South Africa.
Shuttleworth said open source software holds many advantages for users, including open standards, transparency, ease of integration and reliability and security.
\”The transparency of code and data formats in open source software means users will always be able to access their own data. It is your data, why do you have to pay a licence fee for the application needed to access the data?\”
\”And anyone that has had to work on large-scale projects will know that open source software greatly reduces the costs of integration.\”
Reliability and security are also key benefits of OSS, said Shuttleworth. \”Open source software allows me to take control of the source code.\”
Shuttleworth said open source software offers an excellent platform for skills development. \”With open source software there is almost no limit to what learners can do and they are not restricted by what they can afford. The richness of the environment is extraordinary.\”
He said in developing countries taking advantage of open source software is in many cases easier than in many developed nations. \”In developing countries there is usually less legacy infrastructure and if you don\’t have to replace that to install open source you can run forward all the more quicker.
But, he cautioned, many other countries around the world have realised the benefits of open source software and are rapidly embracing it. Brazil, in particular, is moving ahead very quickly with open source software and South Africa must \”avoid falling behind\”.