Your guide to the resources that will help you put technology to work for your cause.
Become a Free and Open Source (FOSS) Expert
> Before you can advocate for free and open source software, you need to know what you're talking about. As much as any argument that begins, "The dictionary defines <insert hopefully obscure term here> as..." displeases us, you'd probably be remiss if you didn't start with WikiPedia's definition -- and not just because it runs on top of open source code. FOSS, F/OSS, or FLOSS? Choose for yourself!
> Groklaw has just started an interesting series on the history of Free and Open Source by historian Peter H. Salus. If you want to understand the difference between "Free Software" and "Open Source", take a glance at "Why 'Open Source' Misses the Point of Free Software", by Richard Stallman (who, it's generally agreed, is to FOSS what Neil Young is to grunge).
> For the latest on FOSS, turn to the Nonprofit Open Source Initiative, which maintains a news feed. The Free Software Foundation tans the hides of proprietary programs -- DefectiveByDesign.org? BadVista.org? -- while simultaneously advocating for FOSS, and the Open Source Initiative and even UNESCO maintain FOSS sites. Oh, and FOSSBazaar has a decent blog in addition to a cool logo.
Earn Executive Buy-in for FOSS
> It's not enough to understand the benefits of FOSS if you can't convince anybody else. You need numbers -- and David Wheeler has them. Oh, boy, does he. Market share, reliability, performance, security, the ability of FOSS to walk your dog and keep your ice cream from melting in the sun: Mr. Wheeler seems to have collected every study ever done on Free and Open Source Software in one place.
> If that isn't quite enough for you -- or you just really like numbers -- take a look at a couple of European offerings: Infonomics and the stiffly named, "Economic impact of open source software on innovation and the competitiveness of the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) sector in the EU" (PDF). It reads much better than its title -- and you get to learn such things as "[the] existing base of FLOSS software represents a lower bound of about 131 000 real person-years of effort that has been devoted exclusively by programmers".
> For a final brush-up on your internal marketing skills, check out CIO Magazine's "IT Governance Tips: Help to Improve Executive Buy-in".
Determine Which FOSS to USe
> You've convinced your organization that it doesn't need to use proprietary software. The next step is determining which FOSS software to use. The best read is "The Top 50 Proprietary Programs that Drive You Crazy -- and Their Open Source Alternatives". Who knew there was a FOSS replacement for PhotoShop?
> More straight up -- and less subjective -- lists can be found at the Free Software Foundation and SourceForge; the former is more user friendly, the latter, impossibly comprehensive.
> To help you make your final decision, turn to Michelle Murrain and the fine people at NOSI. Their primer, "Choosing and Using Free and Open Source Software" is indispensable reading for nonprofits. In addition to her article in this month's NTEN Connect, Michelle has been generous enough to write for us before on the subject -- and for those of you who don't like to read, she's even offered her wisdom in webinar form. In fact, it's not to late to catch some of her upcoming FOSS webinars, including takes on open source blogging tools and CMS systems Drupal, Joomla, and Plone.