Why Open Source?
FlightPath is distributed as an "open-source" software package. So, what exactly does that mean?
It means that FlightPath may be download, modified, and put to use without having to pay for any license fees. It may even be redistributed, but only so long as it remains "open-source," under specific conditions outlined here and in the COPYRIGHT.txt and LICENSE.txt files packed with FlightPath. The goal is to increase the amount of "free" software in the world, which is why FlightPath is being distributed in this manner.
You may be wondering "Why should I use open source software?" as opposed to proprietary 3rd-party software. This article from PCWorld sums up the business advantages very well, and is recommended reading.
But aside from the benefits of costs and flexibility, there is a less tangible benefit to open source software: the community and collaboration which grows up around a project. This is especially important to schools and universities, where the sense of cooperation and higher education perfectly aligns with the spirit of the open source software movement.
There is a good chance that your school or university already uses some open source software. Perhaps your web site is run on a Linux server? Or you have applications installed such as Moodle, Zimbra, uPortal, or others? Maybe some of your desktop applications require Java to run, or you browse the web with FireFox? Or perhaps you benefit indirectly through the use of Google, Youtube, Facebook, or Wikipedia (all of which run on open source technologies).
But perhaps the greatest advantage of open source software is the notion that your budget is invested back into your own institution, and into the people working in your IT departments (as opposed to leaving campus, to support an outside company), and usually at a far smaller cost than the price of just one proprietary software package or support contract.
Thank you for considering FlightPath, and open source software as a whole.