THE WORLD OF FREE SOFTWARE
Topics on this page - (quick links)
Questions for the Audience
What is free software?
Topics on other pages - (quick links)
Most dentists working in this country, especially in connection
with the NHS GDS will be familiar with some
computerization. They may have managed to connect their practices
to the DPB via the EDI link, or they may just
use a computer for games, practice accounts or surfing the internet.
Some have networked their whole practice and
now have databases that allow virtually all aspects of their
practice to be controlled via their computer system.
This can include appointment systems, digital radiographs, digital
photos and medical/dental records.
Everybody expects this process to continue and become more or less
accepted practice over the next few years.
It should lead to increased efficiency and more detailed recording
of patient data that can be useful for analysis purposes.
Questions for Audience
How many of you have surfed the internet?
How many have used Internet Explorer browser?
How many have used Netscape Navigator?
Any other browsers used?
How many have their own website?
How many have made their own website?
How many have cut the number of their support staff through the
use of computers?
What is Free Software?
"I can be truly free only when all others around me are also truly free."
Free software has nothing to do with price, but everything to do with freedom.
A program is free software for you if:-
*You have the freedom to run the program for any purpose.
*You have the freedom to modify the program to suit your needs. (To make this
freedom effective in practice, you must have access to the source code, since
making changes without access to the source code is exceedingly difficult).
*You have the freedom to redistribute copies, either gratis or for a fee.
*You have the freedom to distribute modified versions of the program, so that
the community can benefit from your improvements.
On this basis there is not much in the way of free software available to help
the average NHS based GDP in the UK run their dental surgeries at the moment.
At the present time all the dental software that is provided to enable all
the above benefits of computerization to ensue is so called "closed source"
or proprietary based. This means the end user is "locked in" to a particular
companies software and is at a significant disadvantage when it comes to
upgrading or altering the software that they are using.
BMJ Oct 2000 plus
Discussion). It also means that they will be forced to pay premium
prices for training and support.
Information has always had a great value and even before computers were invented
it has laid the foundations to great wealth. Examples of this include the
who developed an efficient and secret communications network across Europe,
Andrew Carnegie who learnt to decipher Morse code by ear in the early
days of the telegraph system.