2. Open Source Software: Finding what you need

(This video can be downloaded from Media Hopper Create.)

How do I get started looking for an OSS solution?

It is important to have a search strategy, which would begin by listing the requirements, features, functions and benefits you need. When you have a good list and you have prioritised them, then the search usually starts on Google.

Where do I get the code and check out the details of the different OSS solutions?  

You can search on any of the well-known open source repositories. Open Source Repositories offer software developers a centralized online location, to develop, control, and manage free and open-source software projects.

Open Source Software Repositories often provide metrics around the community. These are very useful for evaluating if the software is sustainable, finding complimentary services, and even sourcing new employees.


There is usually a piece of software that is industry standard, and will come to mind when starting your search. There may also be an equivalent piece of software already developed but for a different industry sector.

Start by making a prioritised list of requirements, features, functions and benefits. When this is complete you are ready to start your search on Google. Try searching using the following:

  • “Open Source alternative to….  [list of features etc]”
  • “Open Source alternative to… [name of industry standard solution]”
  • “Equivalent to [name of software product] for [this sector or process], [list features etc]”
  • “ Open Source Software for… [service you need to deliver], [list features etc]”

Find some basic information about each component or software product you find

  1. What kind of community is it?
  2. What is the maturity of the product?
  3. What are the support services around the community?

Create a list of possible solutions and prioritise those according to what you think is the best solution for your specific scenario.

Find out more

  • The Openness Rating, published by OSS Watch – is a tool that asks questions about an open source project and its community to give you a rating for how open it is from a range of different perspectives.
  • 5stardata is a resource for checking the openness of data resources by Tim Berners Lee.