Free Software and People & Planet

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Free Software, People & Planet
Kim Tucker and Rich Lott

This is a case study on a small NGO which “punches way above its weight” with free software as an essential part of its infrastructure, consistent with the organisation's democratic values. The case is inspirational in terms of what People & Planet is trying to achieve and its approach: inspire and guide a network of activist groups in schools, colleges and universities in the UK to make a difference for global social justice and sustainability. After outlining the organisation's history and context, its vision, mission and values, the study explores its use of free software: what triggered migration to free software, how they went about it and what has been learned in the process. It is hoped that readers will gain some insight into what such a process entails and go away with the courage and confidence to go out there and change the world for the better with free software.

Introduction

People & Planet is a small NGO which inspires and supports a vibrant and autonomous network of activists at Universities, Colleges and Schools across the UK campaigning for environmental sustainability, social justice and an end to poverty.

The network includes active groups in 71 universities and colleges and in 76 sixth form and further education colleges in the UK (as of August 2010).

These groups, along with many other individual supporters, campaign and raise awareness of pertinent global issues by convening speaker events, debates, quizzes, spirited demonstrations, boycotts, club nights and other activities to change mind sets and exert influence at key levels for real change.

Effective communication and information-sharing has been pivotal to People & Planet's success in inspiring and coordinating group activities within the network. Continuous development and effective application of the knowledge and expertise within the team is key to People & Planet's success and sustainability.

This case study focuses on the role of free software in achieving People & Planet's goals. People & Planet is introduced with a brief history, the organisation's current vision, mission and values, its modus operandum, and some of its achievements. The technology context is outlined before touching on the technological context, the rationale for using free software, and experience gained during migration, deployment and rollout activities in changing times.


A Brief History of People & Planet

Wikipedia-logo-en.png People & Planet
Wikipedia has an article on this subject.

Visit People & Planet for more in depth information

People & Planet began in 1969 as Third World First to raise money for overseas aid. It was founded by a small group of students who trawled university campuses to generate support. Funds raised were used for development projects such as an agricultural cooperative in Nicaragua, a resettlement project in the Pacific Islands and a school for women in Ethiopia.

Experience in such projects, and a keen eye for the bigger picture, revealed a host of interrelated issues requiring attention if one intends to make a meaningful and lasting impact. The importance of raising awareness and campaigning to achieve widespread and long term change soon became evident. Their mission rapidly evolved to include:

  • Development education to expose the causes of underdevelopment, exploitation and oppression.
  • Campaigning for greater justice and equality internationally and in the United Kingdom.
  • Supporting solidarity movements for liberation and change throughout the world.”[1]

Activities included convening conferences, developing teaching programmes, conducting research and information dissemination on topics such as racial and gender discrimination, development aid, the environment, culture, armament, colonialism, international cooperation, and national liberation movements[2].

Third World First quickly grew into an influential organisation with a deep understanding of the root causes and linkages between contemporary global issues on account of its holistic approach.

Notable successes include:

  • The Ethics for USS (the University Superannuation Scheme) campaign persuaded the £20 billion lecturers’ pension fund to adopt a socially responsible investment policy.
  • Third World First was instrumental in setting up the magazine, The Internationalist which was later reincarnated as the now popular activist-magazine, The New Internationalist.
  • Persuading universities to switch to green electricity and rattling the cages of prominent figures in large corporations on environmental issues.

With this foundation, People & Planet emerged to extend the legacy and amplify the impact through a growing network of students and independent activists in the United Kingdom.

Organisational learning now amounts to over “40 years’ experience of supporting student activism and campaigns to end world poverty, defend human rights and protect the environment”. An impressive list of achievements during the last decade is presented on People & Planet's web site[3].

Vision, Goal, Beliefs and Values

The current strategy[4] states People & Planet's vision as “To create a just and sustainable world[5].

Their goal “That a generation of student activists will be a force for change in achieving global social and environmental justice” will be achieved by

  • supporting and inspiring students to develop the knowledge, skills, confidence and conviction that they can make a difference
  • bringing about long-lasting change, in policies and practices, by campaigning and collective action.

People & Planet's activities are based on shared beliefs that:

  • all human lives are of equal value and everyone has fundamental rights
  • we must live within environmental limits consistent with the principle of sustainable development
  • the beliefs, policies and practices which perpetuate poverty and vulnerability are based on unequal power relations between people, nations and corporations. These must be exposed, challenged and changed
  • student activism is critical in creating a society that is democratic, tolerant and accountable.

Modus Operandum: inspire and support

Student action on World Poverty, Human Rights and the Environment.

Democratic

People & Planet is committed to democracy[6] as part of the vision for a just and sustainable world.


“Our grassroots network of student groups get involved in running the organisation as well as choosing and organising all our campaigns.”

Equality, freedom, inclusivity, diversity, transparency and openness are important characteristics of democracy[7] and its essence underlies People & Planet's modus operandum. For example, “student members are elected every year at the Forum to represent the student network on the Management Committee, and it works to be open with the network about the work it’s doing - both keeping the network informed about the decisions being made and providing spaces for the network to be involved in decision-making”[8].

Variations on democracy abound in the world of free software which is noted for community-led innovation. People & Planet's adoption of free software is very fitting: freedom, transparency and inclusivity permeating all layers of the system from the technology platform to top management.

Inspire and support

With a core staff of less than 20 people, People & Planet achieves its goals by inspiring and supporting a network of groups in 71 universities and colleges and in 76 sixth-form and further education colleges in the UK. Its e-supporter mailing list has in excess of 20,000 subscribers.

The groups, their campaigns and activities are student-led, with People & Planet providing guidance on key issues, training, and other resources[9] including campaign materials, a magazine (for updates), videos, a guide for effective groups, resources for teachers and career guidance (for ethical careers).

The “inspire and support” model has proved to be extremely powerful attested to by the string of campaign successes, challenging and changing policies of governments, and multinational corporations alike.

Since the advent of the Internet and Web 2.0 services, People & Planet has been able to grow and support the network more effectively. Groups have been better connected with enhanced capabilities to share information and self-organise which bodes well for the future.


Organisational Structure

People & Planet's staff[10] are structured around key campaigns[11] (e.g. Go Green, Corporate Power), levels of education (universities, schools and colleges) and primary functions (e.g. communications, outreach, services & support) with managers, officers and interns assigned as needed.

The Management Committee[12] democratically appoints student representatives and external experts each year to work in close collaboration with the support office and the P&P network to ensure alignment, focus, progress and good governance.

The People & Planet network self-organises around issues of concern with guidance from the support office reinforced with a collection of resources[13] for effective campaign management.

Scale and Impact

“People & Planet is the largest, student network in Britain campaigning to end world poverty, defend human rights and protect the environment”
Box 1: Who we are


  • We are about empowering young people to make a difference in the world; inspiring a generation of activists.
  • We work with students in schools, colleges and universities. We provide skills training, events, education activities, encouragement and communications to over 25,000 people.
  • Our vibrant grassroots network of student groups covers 71 universities, and 76 schools and colleges across the UK with over 1,500 active members.
  • People & Planet is distinctive for putting youth leadership at its heart. We are accountable to a Management Committee, the majority of whom are peer-elected students.
Box 2: What we have done[14]


  • Transformed environmental performance across the higher education sector through our Go Green campaigning, including the award winning Green League.
  • Persuaded the UK government to lead an international commitment to provide HIV/AIDS treatment for all by 2010 — millions more now receive treatment.
  • Campaigned for Fairtrade in universities, schools and colleges. Over 100 universities and 106 secondary schools have now achieved Fairtrade status.
  • Secured $88bn debt cancellation for the world’s poor, by playing a key roll in the Jubilee 2000 campaign.
  • Persuaded a £20 billion lecturers’ pension fund to adopt a socially responsible investment policy.
  • Forced Pepsi out of Burma, ending their financial support for the military junta and receiving thanks from Aung San Suu Kyi’s government in exile.

Clearly, for an organisation which operates as does People & Planet, at such a scale and with such far-reaching impact, communication, information management and knowledge sharing across the network and with the external world, is a significant challenge.


Enter Free Software ….

Technological Context

In the beginning

People & Planet's first incarnation as Third World First began in 1969 before widespread use of computers and the Internet. Even in the mid-90s its technological infrastructure was limited. But as the network began to grow and students gained access to computers, the need for a database to track supporters and contacts emerged, along with a website and the ability to e-mail people.

Initially, in the mid-1990s, these needs were met with combinations of non-free software and freeware including:

  • Versions of the Microsoft® Windows® operating system on both servers and desktops
  • Microsoft Office
  • Access '97 and later Access 2000
  • Pegasus Mail

Within a short space of time, the needs (e.g. for scalability) outgrew the capabilities of the software and the costs of meeting those needs became too high. At the same time, the technical team became aware of and learned about the capabilities of free software.

Migration

Two main factors triggered migration to free software: cost of ownership and discovering the capabilities and merits of free software.

Cost of ownership.

One year, an audit revealed that People & Planet needed to spend Ł8,000 on software licences. The database, developed in Access '97, would not run seamlessly on the more recently purchased Access 2000. People & Planet could not afford to upgrade all the old software licences simply because they had bought new PCs. Furthermore, People & Planet was reluctant to have to deal with the same database redevelopment issues with successive versions of Access (that were actually released) in the next few years (2000, 2002, 2003, 2007).

So, not just the licence costs, but the constant redevelopment costs. People & Planet also realised that Microsoft was introducing arbitrary limitations on standard products so they could sell others at a premium. For example, a Windows 95 system has no limit on the number of simultaneous connections through the network from other computers, but systems running Windows NT Workstation 3.5, 3.51, 4.0, and Windows 2000 Professional are restricted to ten[15].

A related issue is that of open standards. With HTML, for example, the browser wars were costing People & Planet dearly in terms of crafting web pages that worked consistently across platforms. Microsoft, arrogantly assuming to set the standard because of its stranglehold on Desktop users bound to Internet Explorer by Windows, enabled support for non-standard HTML and extensions which would not render in standards compliant competing browsers.

Proprietary software, and closed standards were a hindrance in terms of cost and time.

Knowledge of, and the rise in quality and availability of free software

Although the technical staff at People & Planet had heard about free software and became aware of its capabilities, they did not have the expertise to get started. So, they recruited someone with the required knowledge and skills: a free software advocate, IT guru and generally competent individual. Within a few days a Debian file server and a LAMP webserver were set up and suddenly things started working, and faster, and crucially, with a lot more stability.

With this first hand experience, we realised the potential and embarked on a journey to progressively reduce our use and dependence on proprietary software, and promote free software and open standards[16].

New Needs New Technology

As People & Planet moved further into the 21st century, the need for mailing lists[17] and campaign support became prominent. Furthermore, the student networks were beginning to express new needs which were not anticipated such as multi-media resources, blogs[18] and social networking facilities.

The freedom and flexibility of free software are a real boon with the fluid requirements of a diverse network of staff, activists and supporters.

Some of the needs are being met through the use of external systems such as Facebook[19], Twitter[20] and Blip.tv[21]. Student groups also set up their own web sites/blogs[22] and use other social networking facilities such as Flickr[23] and Youtube with People & Planet specific tags.

For more background on People & Planet's network and the technologies being used, see the Network Spaces[24] and Resources[25] pages.


Rationale for free software adoption/migration

On the basis of the above experience, People & Planet developed a case study of their own which superbly articulates a rationale for free software adoption for themselves and any similar organisation: http://peopleandplanet.org/floss.

Although cost of ownership and new knowledge of the capabilities and benefits were the primary “triggers” for migrating to free software, it soon became clear that the associated culture and ethics are better aligned with the democratic values of the organisation. The free software community is a large and widely distributed collection of groups of people helping each other co-create a better world.

People & Planet's rationale for using free software may be summarised[26] as follows:

  • The required functionality for office productivity, data management and communication is readily available, generally with a minimum amount of configuration and development effort.
  • Flexibility: the freedom to download, use and customise the software, even at the source code level, to meet specific needs of the staff and community.
    • Free software and open standards permit further flexibility in terms of interoperability, systems and support (e.g. avoiding vendor-lock).
  • Software license costs: a preference to invest in campaigns, organisations and people rather than in software licenses.
  • Security[27], reliability and stability: "given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow"[28]. Free software, with a large community of users and developers, tends to stabilise quickly as bugs, security holes and other problems are spotted and patched continuously[29].
  • Support of the free software community for advice on how to install, configure, integrate and run the software. On-going improvements in the software: through testing, bug fixes, updates, new features and customisation (e.g. by free software professionals)[30].
  • Superiority of free software alternatives. People & Planet rate some (if not all) of the free software they are using as being superior to the non-free alternatives they had used previously. For example, MySQL in terms of interoperability, speed and all of the above criteria; and Mozilla Firefox at least in terms of usability and flexibility (e.g. via add-ons and plugins).
  • Environmental impact: free software is noted for being less “bloated” than most equivalent non-free alternatives and can usually run effectively on lower spec. machines. This reduces the frequency of required hardware upgrades, extending the operational lives of the computers and lowering the number of disposals over time and the associated environmental impact.

Implementation

This section answers the question “What does it take to do something like this?” by describing the organisation's methodology for ICT implementation, the free software in use, and highlights and challenges of the migration process.

Technical Team

In spite of the importance and pivotal position of ICT in the organisation, People & Planet does not have (or currently need) a full time technical staff contingent. The IT Manager leads technical development and support with occasional assistance when needed from other staff and external services. The total technical capacity required to keep the systems up and running is currently 0.6 persons, double that for the past three years and more previously.

Methodology

For People & Planet, ICT is an enabler, a means to an end. Not its core business. There are no rigorous methodologies applied similar to those found in software development companies. The ICT needs, though growing in complexity and serving a wide and vibrant network, are fairly straight-forward to implement with free software. The People & Planet software methodology is pragmatic with a few basic principles:

  • Plan
  • Communicate (continuously)
  • Train
  • Support.

Ideas are expressed, free software solutions are investigated and tested. When it looks safe, People & Planet jumps in, implements and deploys.

Free Software in Use

The needs outlined above are being met with free software as indicated below[31]. For the most part, installation and deployment of desktop applications was fairly straightforward. On the server side, technical support was required for initial configuration and integration; and continues in terms of occasional monitoring and maintenance. Highlights and challenges are described in later sections (5.4 and 5.5).

Office Productivity and Desktop Software

Most staff use the following:

  • Word processing, spreadsheets and presentations: OpenOffice.org.
  • Reading and sending e-mail: Mozilla Thunderbird[32].
  • Web browsing: Mozilla Firefox[33] for.

Publishing

People & Planet publishes documents on the web (on their intranet, the public site and elsewhere) and for various media. For example, the newsletter of their national campaigning network “The Activist”[34] is published as a printable PDF[35]).

  • The GIMP[36] (GNU Image Manipulation Program) for image and photo editing, including web graphics.

Servers and Server Software

All of People & Planet's servers are running Debian[37]. Server software includes:

  • Mail server: Postfix[38], and
    • Squirrelmail[39] for web access to e-mail.
  • Web Server: Apache HTTP Server[40]
  • Intranet server: Ruby on Rails[41].
  • Database Management System: MySQL Community Server[42] for data on organisations, people, activities, services and other projects. The database serves multiple applications from mailing lists to statistics on campaigns and fundraising.

Data Management

People & Planet's database is core to mission-critical functions enabling them to “stay in touch with our groups, supporters and activists; monitor our campaigns and fundraising; and provide services — like our e-supporter and e-active mailing lists”[43].

Programming

Free software customisation is achieved by editing configuration files (directly or via utilities) and programming. The following programming languages/frameworks (among others) are used by People & Planet:

  • PHP – for the main web site
  • Perl – for integration and scripting
  • Ruby (within the Ruby on Rails framework) – for the Intranet
  • Subversion for version control of the source code.

It is not possible at this time in this version of this case study to explore the details of all the free software developments and deployments within People & Planet. Instead, we present some highlights and challenges to indicate what it takes to implement a free software strategy in an organisation like People & Planet (a small NGO with a big impact).

Highlights

Apart from the rapid implementation and migration process several years ago, People & Planet continues to enjoy the following benefits of free software.

  • Stability: having the back end Access .mdb file on a Samba file server greatly reduced user-end crashes of Access. They became almost rare!
  • The Debian servers, although running on ancient computers long since discarded as too old for desktop use, never crashed. Only a power cut on one occasion caused a brief interruption of service.
  • Speed: after migrating the backend Access .mdb / Jet database to MySQL (using MyODBC), everything jumped to lightspeed, and
  • Interoperability: other systems could interact with the data securely and with ease.
  • Innovation speed: when we migrated from an .asp to a .php server, pages loaded faster and new ideas could be implemented faster.
  • Flexibility: moving to running our own email server gave us a lot of flexibility. Thunderbird gave people a more friendly/modern email client. (Although all credit to David, author of Pegasus Mail, it is incredibly feature-rich.)
  • Lower costs: moving from Microsoft Office to OpenOffice.org spared us from costly licences.
  • Superior software: for example, moving from Internet Explorer to Firefox. Well it's obvious and you never look back!

Challenges

Change Management

Changing any technology that the staff, clients and networks associated with an organisation rely on day-to-day presents challenges. For People & Planet, the staff were generally amenable to the proposed changes and the process itself did not precipitate any major problems. For the People & Planet network, the changes were completely transparent apart from experiencing the new and improved services referred to above. However, during the migration process, there were moments of uncertainty as staff began to grapple with subtle differences in the Office software and faced issues of document exchange.

Office Software

Migrating to OpenOffice.org was the biggest learning curve and challenge. Although techies thrive on IT challenges, normal users generally just want to get their work done. Proud of their hard-won skills, some felt they would lose out on the benefits of the investment (e.g. in training and self-learning with Word and Excel).

Related to this were a few issues connected with document exchange, highlighting the need to educate staff about the importance of open standards which go hand-in-hand with the benefits of using free software.

Sharing documents is awkward as Microsoft does not (at the time) support open document format, though plugins/add-ins do exist[44].

For simple spreadsheets and word processor documents, OpenOffice.org is a “drop-in” replacement which has the storage and bandwidth benefits of a smaller file size. Although People & Planet could save and send out documents in a variety of formats, editing received documents with very specific advanced features can be problematical. For example, People & Planet would occasionally receive electronic application forms from potential funders with macros and special formatting which are lost when the document is edited with OpenOffice.org. Presentations proved even more difficult on account of the tendency of authors to make the most of the latest eye-candy features not yet implemented in the free alternatives.

When incompatibilities arise, people are quick to pick up their corporate-suggested prejudices against free software, and think it's inherently inferior. Oddly, when Microsoft released .docx and nobody could open the files, people seemed to accept it as just one of those things and nobody was ashamed to email back asking for it in a different format.

Technical

The database has been the main technical challenge with a stack which looks like this:


User front-end: Access 97 (and some Access 2000s)
User operating system: Windows 98/ME/2000/XP/Vista/ (7 running XP vm)
Database connection interface: MyODBC (various versions)
Network: Ethernet
Database server: MySQL
Internal Database structures InnoDb / MyISAM table format
Server operating system: Debian

Odd errors can occur which may take time to resolve. Usually, the problem is found at the proprietary end of the chain, but because bugs and limitations there won't get fixed, its up to the rest of the stack to provide work-arounds.

Spam

Staying off spam lists (when one regularly sends mail to 25,000 subscribers) and processing massive quantities of spam has also been a challenge. This is not unique to adoption of free software. People & Planet uses SpamAssassin which has proved to be a highly effective filter.

User Acceptance

Staff in the People & Planet office generally love the ethos. “Hey, we're helping further technology that's available for everyone. It fits well with our world view”. But people are nervous and it's an ongoing part of induction to make sure they feel confident in their skills and understand that FLOSS is actually better, as well as being an ethically Good Thing that deserves support.

Generally, people are pleasantly relieved to find that the stuff works like they thought it might!

Training and Support

People & Planet provides a short course of basic introductory training for new staff, but has not found that using free software requires much additional training. The user interfaces of free and non-free word processors, spreadsheets, web browsers and e-mail clients, for example, are sufficiently similar.

The IT Manager would love to be able to do more training, so that people could leverage the power of the software at their fingertips and learn about features they may not know about. Planning, delivering and developing good, successful training that takes into account different learning styles and needs takes up a lot of time, though and tends to get squashed.

People & Planet has a wiki which includes how-tos that may be edited. A WYSiWYG editing option is available for those unfamiliar with wikitext. Learning "online" in this way works for some people, but really fails for others: you can't beat properly designed face-to-face hands-on training.

People & Planet have always prioritised user support on all ICT. It is needed and helps staff work together more effectively.

Current status

Currently the free software systems are serving People & Planet staff and the network well. They are still “stuck with” Windows on desktops because of Access (still the '97 version!) for the database front-end, but hope to have a web-based database interface to replace Access before too long.

Future prospects

People & Planet are committed to free software and intend to migrate completely as soon as it becomes feasible. The first step will be to find an alternative to the Access '97 front-end to the database. Then, it will be possible to migrate desktops to an appropriate GNU/Linux distribution. Currently, Ubuntu seems to be the best option for most of the staff.

CiviCRM is being evaluated (at time of writing). CiviCRM is free software and is based on Drupal or Joomla! and runs on the common LAMP stack. It reports 8,000 installs world wide and is in very active development. It is designed by and for non-profits, charities, etc.. Migration may be tricky, but it looks more sustainable in the long term than trying to develop and maintain their own Ajax based front-end.


Lessons Learned

People & Planet offer the following as key learning from their experiences to date (September 2010):

  • Start work to replace Access earlier. As the organisation needed new functionality, expedience meant that the Access front-end got the development attention, making it more and more difficult to port to an alternative. The result is that progress on that front is delayed, and People & Planet is still locked into a non-free desktop operating system.
    • There is hope however, as projects like CiviCRM have come into maturity during this time and offer possible migration options that will reduce the effort of maintaining a user interface.
  • Tell people more about the benefits of free software more often, and find ways to demonstrate and prove it.
  • Be bolder in turning off comfort blankets (that old install of Word, etc).
  • Don't hide the warts. There are still interoperability issues between OpenOffice.org and Microsoft Office. This is inevitable between any two complex word processors. It is unhelpful when free software advocates pretend these problems don't exist. Though the problem is not the technology itself, but the monopolistic activities behind Microsoft's dominance.
  • Get the skills in, and do it. You'll be surprised how liberating it is!

Conclusion

People & Planet is a success story of an NGO well down the road to freedom in terms of its ICT infrastructure. The organisation has a long history with a mission which, although it has changed over the years, has been aligned with the values of free software. That fact may have helped with the policy decisions and to some extent streamlined the process, but they still had to grapple with the realities and challenges of change management, interoperability and traversing the associated learning curves. Some of that learning is captured here in this case study, licensed Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike, which makes this a living document which may be updated and enhanced as this case continues to unfold.



  1. Directory of Non-Governmental Development Organisations in OECD Member Countries. OECD. Paris 1990.
  2. Ibid.
  3. http://peopleandplanet.org/aboutus/achievements
  4. Downloadble from http://peopleandplanet.org/ManagementCommittee/
  5. http://peopleandplanet.org/ManagementCommittee/StrategicPlan
  6. See for example the People & Planet: Forum 2010 - Our campaigns, our choices: http://peopleandplanet.org/forum/10
  7. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democracy
  8. http://peopleandplanet.org/ManagementCommittee/HowWeWork
  9. http://peopleandplanet.org/resources/
  10. http://peopleandplanet.org/aboutus/thestaffteam/
  11. http://peopleandplanet.org/campaigns/
  12. http://peopleandplanet.org/ManagementCommittee/
  13. http://peopleandplanet.org/resources/
  14. For more on P&P's achievements, see http://peopleandplanet.org/aboutus/achievements.
  15. http://support.microsoft.com/kb/122920/EN-US/
  16. http://peopleandplanet.org/floss
  17. People & Planet's mailing lists (http://lists.peopleandplanet.org/listinfo) are served via Mailman: http://www.gnu.org/software/mailman/
  18. People & Planet's blog is served via their own installation of Wordpress: http://blog.peopleandplanet.org/
  19. See http://www.facebook.com/peopleandplanet
  20. See http://twitter.com/peopleandplanet
  21. See http://peopleandplanet.blip.tv/ and http://peopleandplanet.org/tv
  22. See for example: http://www.pandpnetwork.dreamhosters.com/journal/
  23. Follow the links on People & Planet's photo sharing page: http://peopleandplanet.org/sharephotos
  24. http://peopleandplanet.org/networkspaces
  25. http://peopleandplanet.org/resources/
  26. See http://peopleandplanet.org/floss for the full rationale and follow the links to related resources.
  27. See for example this report: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2004/10/22/security_report_windows_vs_linux/
  28. Dubbed “Linus's Law” by Eric Raymond in The Cathedral and the Bazaar: http://www.catb.org/~esr/writings/cathedral-bazaar/cathedral-bazaar/ar01s04.html
  29. The People & Planet case study page on their web site cites statistics on virus prevalence and includes a useful set of links to articles justifying their decision in terms of security, reliability and other criteria.
  30. Sources commonly used by People & Planet include: http://openoffice.org, http://www.linuxquestions.org, http://www.lug.org.uk/, and http://perlmonks.org/.
  31. Additional information is available at http://peopleandplanet.org/floss
  32. http://www.mozillamessaging.com/en-US/thunderbird/
  33. http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/firefox
  34. http://peopleandplanet.org/theactivist (some non-free software is still used in the the process of producing the newsletter; this may change in future)
  35. PDFs may be read with free software. See http://pdfreaders.org/ for a list of viewers.
  36. http://www.gimp.org/
  37. http://www.debian.org/
  38. http://www.postfix.org/
  39. http://www.squirrelmail.org/
  40. http://httpd.apache.org/
  41. http://rubyonrails.org/
  42. http://mysql.com (see the downloads page).
  43. http://peopleandplanet.org/floss (under “Case Study - People & Planet’s Database”, 15/9/10).
  44. See for example: http://odf-converter.sourceforge.net/

Acknowledgements

Fta-logo-128x41.png Free Software, People & Planet was written for the Case Studies module among the Free Technology Academy's courses on Free Software[1]. PeopleAndPlanetLogo.png

Many thanks to Rich Lott, David Jacovkis and their respective organisations (People & Planet and the Free Knowledge Institute) for their time and support.

CC-BY-SA icon.svg © People & Planet and the Free Technology Academy (2010). Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/

About the Primary Contributors

David Jacovkis

David has ten years experience in systems engineering using Free Software, working as an IT manager (Institut Internacional de Governabilitat de Catalunya) and a freelance consultant for several organisations. He also has lecturing experience at university level and has worked as an editor of educational materials. Since August 2006 he has been working with the UOC and ISOC.nl in the SELF Project as a learning materials facilitator and technology advisor. In 2007 he co-founded the Free Knowledge Institute.

Free Knowledge Institute

Minahassastraat 1, 2031094 RS Amsterdam

T: +31.20.8910.319F: +31.877.844.107

E: david [AT] freeknowledge.eu

W: http://freeknowledge.eu/

Rich Lott

rich.lott@peopleandplanet.org

In his current capacity as IT Manager and previously as Head of Services & Resources at People & Planet, Rich helps to ensure optimal use of the expertise in the team to make People & Planet as effective as possible. Listening to ever-changing needs, drawing on past experience, emerging trends and future strategy, Rich aims to establish best-practise systems that facilitate and enable the effectiveness of the team to maximise the network's impact.

People & Planet

51 Union StreetOxfordOX4 1JPUK

T: +44 (0)1865 245678F: +44 (0)1865 791927

W: http://peopleandplanet.org/aboutus/contact



Kim Tucker

Kim is a researcher, writer, facilitator and catalyst. His interests include the global impact of technology and connected collaborative learning, and knowledge transfer across disciplines and divides. He promotes free software and "libre knowledge" emphasising collective wisdom for a sustainable planet that may emerge on account of the freedoms associated with libre resources: freedom to participate in the global knowledge society.

Freelance

Contact via WikiEducator:

http://wikieducator.org/User:KTucker



“Free Software, People & Planet” is a living document under constant development on WikiEducator: http://wikieducator.org/Free_Software_and_People_&_Planet. Periodically, a reviewed version may be incorporated into training materials of the Free Knowledge Academy on Free Software Case Studies: http://ftacademy.org/courses/modules.

  1. http://ftacademy.org