Article/Cost benefits of Free and Open Source Software


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The main contents of this article is taken from , Thanks to Tashi Samphel, New Delhi --



Free and Open Source communities encourage people to use Linux based Operating System with Free and Open Source Software. The primary advantage to this is having basic software freedom. In the article we will evaluate the one of major side effect of FOSS, the cost benefits to developing or underdeveloped nations.

Free Software

A user who receives a copy of free software has the following four freedoms:

Richard Stallman: *"Free software is a matter of liberty, not price. To understand the concept, you should think of 'free' as in 'free speech', not as in 'free beer'*.

kerala story

we have learned the success story of India's Kerala state for encouraging open source or linux in their state and their counting on open-source software to boost its IT literacy rate and various Open Source Initiatives have been taken by NIC kerala for effective use of open source for online applications. Now Tamil Naidu state is also diverting their way to open source and they embarked on a plan in January to put Linux in government offices, schools and villages, is making progress.

prime minister prof. Samdhong Rinpoche comments in the AP story said, "Digital security is expensive and difficult job" Yeah, surely it is expensive if the TGIE is to buy legit Windows licenses + legit software for all its computers but I would rather said it is not an expensive.

Offices and Schools can derive huge cost reduction and gain flexibility by using Free Open Source Software (FOSS) tools. Here are some FOSS 'equivalent software' for common use and the associated cost reduction possible.


Application Windows Application Cost Linux Application Cost Net Saving
Operating System Microsoft Windows RS - 7000 LINUX Rs - Zero Rs - 7000
Security: For this purpose one has to use any antivirus Norton/ McAfee Antivirus, ClamWin, AVG Antivirus Rs - 5600 Avast Home for Linux users Rs - Zero Rs - 5600
Scientific application
(i) Tools required for computer algebra Maple, Mathematica Rs-20000.00 Maxima, Axiom,Sympy,YACAS, Sage, Mace Rs-Zero Rs-20000.00
(ii) Tools required for numerical computing MATLAB Rs-100000.00 Octave,Scilab,Sage Rs-Zero Rs-100000.00
(iii) Tools required for statistical analysis SPSS, Stata,EViews Rs-8800.00 R-project,PSPP Rs-Zero Rs-8800.00
(iv) Verilog simulator for circuit simulations. Verilog Rs-39800.00 Iverilog Rs-Zero Rs-39800.00
(v) Electronic Design Automation tools Pspice Rs-8000.00 GEDA Rs-Zero Rs-8000.00
4. Office Tools Microsoft Office Packages Rs. 9160 Open Office, KOffice, Siag Office Rs. Zero Rs. 9160
5. Multimedia
(i) Computer Graphics Software
(a) Raster Image Manipulation Tools Adobe Photoshop Rs - 13960 GIMP Rs. Zero Rs - 13960
(b) Vector Graphics Creation Tools Coral Draw, Coral Designer Rs. 6800 Inkscape Rs. zero Rs. 6800
(c) 3D Graphics Creation Tools Maya, 3D Studio Max, XSI Rs 2,49,000 Blender 3D Rs Zero Rs 2,49,000
(ii) Media and Music Players Windows Media Player, Power DVD, Sonique Rs - 798 MPlayer, Xine, Totem, Kaffeine, VLC Rs. Zero Rs - 798
6. Utilities
(i) CD writing tools Easy CD Creator, Nero Burning ROM Rs. 1200 Arson, Eroaster, gcombust, K3b, XCDRoast Rs. Zero Rs. 1200
(ii) Backup Tools Veritas Backup Exec Cobian Backup, Norton ghost Rs. 2800 BackupPC, Bacula, Amanda, Veritas etbackup Rs. Zero Rs. 2800
(iii) Disk Manager Norton Partition Magic Rs. 2459 QTparted, Gparted Rs. Zero Rs. 2459
7. Publication Tools: Ventura, Cord Rs. 25000 Scribus, latex Rs.Zero Rs.25000
Net Saving Rs 5,01,127

If all above tools are used then the total cost reduction per computer is = Rs 5,01,127 per computer.

It is worth pointing out here that zero cost software does not imply zero value; the FLOSS software that you get free of cost is generally at par in quality and performance with the closed software you pay for and in some cases, better.

And if you are wondering - if everything is free, where does the money come from, is where you might get some answers.

Some common scenarios

If an institute uses the following tools: MS Windows, MS Office, MATLAB, Nero, Norton GHOST, SPSS and Norton Antivirus then the total possible cost reduction by Switching to LINUX based tools is: 7000+9160+100000+1200+2800+8800+5600 = 1,34,560 INR per computer

If the school or organisation has a lab with 50 computers then the total cost reduction would be = 134560 * 50 = Rs.67,28,000


By using such software an educational institute not only saves lots of money in license fees but it also brings lots of other advantages too. some of these are:

with low RAM too. you don't always need very high end machines. see the Linux Thin Client project on how to use even Pentium 1 Machines with 8 GB hard drives as effective terminals.

Special distributions for educational purposes like Edubuntu are also available at and other such as CD for primary schools)

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