October 12, 2006 1:04 PM PDT

Europe extends open-source resource

The European Commission is launching a resource for public sector organizations to share open-source code and applications.

The uncatchily named Open Source Observatory and Repository (OSOR) aims to improve the return on investment of open-source projects and to make applications more interoperable.

The resource is aimed purely at the public sector, and the Commission believes it will be successful because of the large number of similar projects being conducted by local and national government organizations across the European Union.

OSOR is an extension to the Commission's existing Open Source Observatory Web portal.

The main extension is the creation of a repository of source and object code and information on the use of applications, licenses, and contract material.

"The new OSOR should become the preferred cooperation tool to speed up software pooling among Member States," said Karel De Vriendt, head of the EU's e-government services unit and one of the driving forces behind the project.

But others were less optimistic about its success.

Eddie Bleasdale, owner of consultancy NetProject, said: "I would question the need for a government initiative to manage the source code for open-source projects. 'What's wrong with SourceForge?' is my view. It's got all the tools that you want."

Google has also set up an alternative resource by creating a repository where programmers can host software projects.

GoogleCode allows discussions in much the same way as the European Commission is trying to encourage, but it does not host projects under all open-source licenses.

OSOR will be run under contract to the Commission by Unisys, the Maastricht Economic Research Institute on Innovation and Technology, Belgium-based consultants GOPA Cartermill and Spain's Rey Juan Carlos University.

OSOR's format will be decided this year and it will be operational beginning late next year.

Richard Thurston of ZDNet UK reported from London.

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