Adoption and Use of Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) Globally: An Overview and Analysis of Selected Countries

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Tuesday Bwalya Akakandelwa Akakandelwa Milena Dobreva-McPherson


Institutions and individuals in many countries are migrating from commercial software (CS) to FOSS mostly because of two reasons: the increase of costs of purchase and maintenance of commercial software against the backdrop of global economic meltdown, and the increased commitment to open content and technologies in key domains such as research and education. In this regard, some governments have implemented policies that compel government departments, public institutions, and quasi-government institutions to adopt FOSS.

The purpose of this article is to summarise the outcomes of a study of an international team of researchers that explores FOSS adoption and policies in some selected countries across the globe. The study is a pilot desk research and qualitative descriptive in nature. Data were collected for 13 countries selected to illustrate the process of FOSS adoption in countries of different economic strength; content analysis was used to identify emerging trends in FOSS adoption. In this regard, the literature on FOSS adoption and policies was scrutinized in order to accurately describe the current situation and the trends.

The study findings show that many countries have adopted FOSS because it is less costly in comparison to commercial software. Furthermore, the study identified that countries have approached FOSS policy formulation and implementation in varied ways. In Europe, countries such as Germany, France, Spain, and Sweden have formulated effective FOSS policies that have influenced many public institutions to migrate to FOSS. In North America, the study reveals that the United States of America (USA) does not have a Federal policy on FOSS. However, some states such as Texas and Oregon have formulated policies that support the use of FOSS. Despite not having Federal policy on FOSS, some Federal departments in the USA use FOSS. In South America, Brazil has been a leader in adopting FOSS; the Federal government of Brazil launched a policy to support the adoption of FOSS as early as 2003; this resulted in many state institutions adopting FOSS. In Asia governments of China, South Korea and India have launched policies making it mandatory for all state institutions to use FOSS. In Africa, some countries have formulated policies to support FOSS; these include South Africa and Tanzania. Their FOSS policies give preference to FOSS in the procurement of software in public institutions but many governments in Africa still rely on commercial software which is too expensive for their economies to sustain contributing to the digital divide.

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BWALYA, Tuesday; AKAKANDELWA, Akakandelwa; DOBREVA-MCPHERSON, Milena. Adoption and Use of Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) Globally: An Overview and Analysis of Selected Countries. Zambia Journal of Library & Information Science (ZAJLIS ), ISSN: 2708-2695, [S.l.], v. 3, n. 1 & 2, nov. 2019. ISSN 2708-2695. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 17 july 2024.
Information and Communication Technologies(ICTs)

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