The use of open source software, including Linux and applications, in local authorities has a bright future, according to a survey by the Society of IT Managers.

Almost 100 councils and other organisations responded to a survey by the Society, which represents those in the public sector. Sixty percent of them expected their use of open source (OS) oftware to increase. Only one per cent said they would using less OS software, while the rest will remain the same or didn't know.

In terms of current usage, 34 percent use OS applications and 39 percent use OS infrastructure software such as Linux. But Linux and other OS software on the desktop are not making huge inroads - just eight per cent of those surveyed reckoned that end users were sitting in front of OS software.

The reasons councils gave for their use of OS software boiled down to a very few main issues, the biggest by a huge margin being cost - they are not having to pay Microsoft's licence fees. Other elements of the equation included less vendor lock-in, fewer security issues, flexibility and the ability to customise the software. Interestingly, the last issue, quoted by eight per cent of the sample, is one of the key raisons d'etre of the OS movement.

They saw support, skills/training, integration/compatibility, hidden costs and reliability as the main disadvantages of OS software.

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