Open source software (OSS) is more than a great pool of free programs. The open source philosophy involves a complete reassessment of the social, economical and scientific aspects of software development, distribution and usage. OSS is available today to:
- provide more useful, better quality software for free
- avoid scientific and licensing limitations of commercial software
- enable effective funding and development of tailor-made software solutions with optimum return on investment
- provide an open forum to foster talented researchers and benefit the scientific community
The plethora of available OSS is impressive, but the tremendous benefits of open source software will only be fully exploited once archaeologists start to actively use, support and fund OSS, its development, deployment and teaching.
This paper examines why archaeologists should embrace the open source paradigm, gives examples of successful open source projects in archaeology and discusses strategies for the immediate future.