UK culture holding back open source

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Industry experts have identified cultural, as well as technical, factors affecting the take up of open source software in the UK.

Many countries in the European Union are showing enthusiastic support for open source, while support in the US is less strong.

Britain is one of the least open source friendly nations, however, bucking the trend in other EU states.

"Governments in continental Europe see open source as a way to change the playing field with the US," said John Powell, president of open source company Alfresco.

"You can build local skills with open source, but with Microsoft's model all the changes in code are controlled from Seattle or India."

Powell pointed to a project by the government of Andalusia which is using open source for just this reason.

The region is poor in natural resources but is training locals in open source software development to increase the employability of its workforce and kickstart a software industry.

Another cultural difference may lie in British corporate policy regarding downloads, according to Laurant Lachal, open source research director at Ovum.

"We have UK customers who will not download open source software because they want a connection with the company they are buying from," he said.

"French and Germans download everything. There is an anally retentive attitude that is holding the UK back."
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