free & open source software
Why free & open source software?
I believe that one of the best ways to adhere to Equitas' founding principles of fairness, quality and freedom is through the use of free software. (Open source is a term sometimes used to refer to the same software - mostly to avoid confusion over the word "free").
In this context "free" refers to freedom not cost
In this context "free" refers to freedom not cost, although the software is usually more cost-effective. You may find our jargon-free, beginners guide to free software, useful. For a more in-depth discussion and definition of free software you can also visit the Free Software Foundation (FSF).
In essence free software means that software users are free to:
- use the software for any purpose
- study and adapt (or have adapted) the software for their needs
- redistribute the software as they see fit
- improve the software and distribute those improvements
In this way the free software brings greater longevity, sustainability and cost-effectiveness into IT projects. Whilst there is a slight learning curve for some products, in many cases the end-users have no idea they are using free software. These are just a few of the benefits to be found from working with and using free and open source software:
- greater adherence to open standards and thus increased project lifespan,
- adaptability to the project's specific needs, thus giving noticeably improved overall project productivity and longevity,
- greater stability and security (over proprietary products), making the project inherently less vulnerable,
- shorter lead time on updates meaning new key features appear on your system sooner.
Money where our mouth is
Equitas doesn't just specify free software; it's in use throughout what we do. From desktops to servers, free software fulfils the needs of clients and ourselves. This website is running on free software: CentOS, Apache web server, MySQL and the excellent CMS Made Simple content management system.
The products we develop are also free software, released under the most popular free licence, the GNU General Public licence. Whilst we have produced some work which is not released as free software, generally that has been specific internal systems for a clients own use only and is not released at all. In general we try to encourage clients to contribute back to the free software community from which we all benefit. This is especially valid as there has long been little money to be made from sales of restrictive software licences once the policing of that licencing is taken into account.