The Government of India is soon coming out with an “Open Software Policy” according to Union Minister for Telecommunications and IT, Ravi Shankar Prasad. Speaking at the 3rd Web Ratna Awards ceremony, the Minister mentioned that under the new policy, all proposals for e-governance projects will include a mandatory clause for considering open source software as a preferred option. The Minister further added that suppliers and vendors will have to provide justification for exclusion of OSS in their responses, as reported by FirstPost. He said that closed software is monopolistic as there is a vendor lock-in, in addition to heavy charges for maintenance and subsequent updates. Free and open source software, commonly known as FOSS, allows software creators to publish their code which can be examined and reused by another coder while abiding by the same open standards. This helps enhance software development cycle, as anyone with enough motivation can make improvements to the code, point out vulnerabilities or create a spin-off. Adoption of such code by the Government to fulfill its software requirements, will reduce the cost of development and deployment for the government, as well as let other agencies take over the code when contracts expire. For example, a deployed Microsoft operating system can only be updated by Microsoft, while a deployed Linux distro can be modified and updated by any agency of the Government’s choosing. Note that the Department of Electronics and Information Technology had released a framework (pdf) on open source software adoption in e-governance systems in…
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