We have tried to provide to the reader a relatively detailed and as complete as possible introduction to the open source software landscape. We hope to have shown the main characteristics of this technology, which, although has already a long history, is still unknown to many people. We have also tried to expose the main features of open source software, and the mechanisms which drive the working of open source projects which enable these features. Some notes on the economy of open source have been discussed, and although there is still much to try and discover in this respect (particularly with regard to business models), we hope to have shed some light on the economic feasibility of the model. Some specific impacts on several key aspects of the information technology world have also been discussed.
After this background information, we have ended the document with a
non-exhaustive list of recommendations to the European Commission and
to the governments of the member states. Our feeling is that open
source software has already started to modify the rules in the
information technology industry, which will produce enormous changes
in in the years to come. Given these facts, it
is clear to us that those countries and companies which adopt open
source technologies in the short term will have a huge competitive
advantage, and that society in general can benefit a lot from this
early adoption. Europe is in a good position to take early advantage
of open source, and can also help the open source movement to get
stronger. This collaboration can only be good for both parties. In the
long term, the European culture, technological background, and society
organization could match well with the open source model and its
unique and productive combination of cooperation and competition.