Author(s): Gilberto Cmara, Frederico Fonseca
Many authors propose that open source software (OSS) is a good strategy to bring information and communication technologies to developing countries. Nevertheless, the use of OSS needs to be more than just adopting Linux as the standard for operating systems. Adoption of OSS is not only a choice of software, but also a means of acquiring knowledge. Developing countries have to use OSS as a way to gain knowledge about the technology itself and as a way of creating technology products that fit their specific needs. In this article, the authors introduce a model of OSS based on its essential characteristics to understand how developing countries may use OSS to achieve their development goals. The authors argue that there are two defining properties of any open source software. The first property is the potential for shared conceptualization and the second is the potential for modularity. By assessing how each OSS project satisfies these two conditions, a taxonomy is built for open source projects. This taxonomy will help the development of more sensible policies to promote the use of open source in developing countries.