Sunday, October 31, 2010

Open Source Software in Malaysia

In the world of IT, there are two types of software; Open Source Software and Proprietary Software. Open Source Software is defined as software where the source code (files used to construct the software in the first place) is available to public users so that they can study it, change it, and write enhanced versions of it. Open Source Software is free for use and redistribution. Examples include OpenOffice, Linux and Firefox. Proprietary Software is computer software licensed under exclusive legal right of its owner. The purchaser, or licensee, is given the right to use the software under certain conditions, but restricted from other uses, such as modification, further distribution, or reverse engineering. The prominent example is the world-dominating Microsoft.

I was quite surprised when I stumbled upon an article by Hazel Hassan Hisham entitled “The Rise of Open Source Software” published in the August 1st – 15th 2010 issue of Malaysian Business. The article highlights on the increasing adoption of Open Source Software at the Malaysian public sector. Yes, our government is adopting Open Source Software! Can you believe that? All this while I thought that our government uses proprietary software, and well, absorbs all the license fees that come with them. The fees should have been peanuts compared to the millions if not billions of Ringgit in taxes collected every year.

The government had launched an Open Source Software (OSS) Master Plan in 2004 which was aimed towards expanding the adoption of OSS in the Malaysian public sector. This master plan is supervised by Malaysia Administrative Modernization and Management Planning Unit (MAMPU). MAMPU established Open Source Competency Centre (OSCC) to support the implementation of the OSS Master Plan. The OSCC’s role was to be the single reference centre to lead, guide, facilitate, coordinate, and monitor OSS implementation in the Public Sector. The statistics are certainly impressive:










No. of agencies









Source: OSCC statistics, July 2010.

As of July 2010, a total of 730 or 97% of government agencies have adopted some form of OSS solution. About 87% are using it for back-end infrastructure (Linux & MySQL), and 66% are using OSS on the desktop (via OpenOffice and Firefox). The adoption of OSS over the last 6 years had enabled the government to save a massive RM188.39 million on software licenses. In addition, several studies and surveys on OSS initiatives conducted by international business organizations showed Malaysia earning prominent standings. USA Georgia Institute of Technology OSS Index Survey (2009), Government Policy category: 12th. United Nations e-Government Web Index Survey (2008): 17th from a total of 192 nations. At the community level, increased participation in OSS is evidenced from the increasing number of vibrant local OSS communities such as,, and Ubuntu-my.

I think this issue is important for us who are going to be managers in the future, as our beloved Dr. Madziah always say. The savings on software license fees would certainly have positive financial impact on companies, even more so for SMEs and start-up businesses. The savings can then be reinvested at other areas. The only stumbling block is that a majority of us grew up using Microsoft and might feel insecure to use OSS. In my case, I had used Windows 3.11, 95, 98, ME, XP, Vista, and Seven yet had never used nor seen a Linux OS. At the organization level, this mental stumbling block can be addressed through continuous education, cultural adaptation, and re-skilling to embrace Open Source. Furthermore, OSS nowadays is on par in terms of user-friendly and functionality compared with the proprietary software. On a personal note, I think Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome are much more user-friendly and customizable compared to Internet Explorer.

Talking about alternative, we have our national illegal software vendors and we can download cracked copies of proprietary software through online peer-to-peer network. However, these illegal copies pose serious reliability and security risks. The software may crash, causing data losses, or may be vulnerable to attacks by Malware, Virus, Worm, Trojan horse or Botnets, and at worst vulnerable to hackers that steal private data. At the enterprise level, these would have very serious consequences. For example, in January 2007, TJX Companies reported data from 100 million credit and debit cards had been stolen by hackers starting in July 2005. Consequently, tens of millions of dollars of fraudulent charges were made on the cards. The estimated total cost of data breach was estimated at a whopping $197 million.

One of our national illegal software vendor Examples of peer-to-peer networks

In sum, as we look to embark into the future as business leaders, we should seriously consider adopting Open Source Software at the enterprise level as a financially beneficial alternative to proprietary software or Microsoft. The cost savings may well be a competitive advantage to our company.

Kamarul bin Amirudin (2009416582)


Hazel Hassan Hisham (2010). The Rise of Open Source Software. Malaysian Business, August 1st - 15th 2010. Section mb-e p. 1 - 5. Berita Publishing, KL.

Open-source software. (2010, October 20). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 14:19, October 31, 2010, from

Proprietary software. (2010, October 29). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 14:23, October 31, 2010, from

Turban, E. and Volonino, L. (2010). "Chapter 5: Securing the Enterprise and Business Continuity". Information Technology for Management. International student version, 7th edition. John Wiley & Sons Inc. P.152 - 196.


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  2. Thank you for quoting me in this write up. -Hazel Hassan Hisham-