Other information:

On this page we discuss some some of the terms we’ve used throughout our website and attempt to explain the rational behind our advocacy of the use of open source.

Multi-tier system
A multi-teir database system is a system in which the management and storage is independent of the programs accessing and manipulating the data. The usual way  a mutli-tier system is implemented is to have a server on which the client’s data resides, to access the data client requests via a virtual socket are made to a database engine (eg. Postgresql or MySQL) which may, though not necessarily, reside on the server, the engine then returns only the data found by the search request.  Using a database engine provides quick and efficient access to data along with the advantage that data replication is made easy so multiple copies of data can be made concurrently providing resilience and security.

The client in the above example is known as a thin client as it only every recieves the minimum amount of data required to process its given task. Click here for a diagram of a multi-tier database implementation

The alternative to this a thick client whereby the client program holds and handles all the data and actions required to manipulate data. A thick client is acceptable for single PC systems but doesn’t scale up very well if multiple users wish to accesses the data conncurrently and is also very inefficient across a wide area network such as the internet.

Open source
Often refered to as free software. Free in this instance refers to free speech not free beer though more often than not the software is given free. Open source means that you as a user have open access to the source code which was used to generate the program you are running.  The advantages of open source software are :


  •  It’s usually community supported so there are thousands of experts world wide who have been involved in creating the programs and are experts in its fuctionality
  • You have the right to use and modify the software in any way you see fit.


For a full and indepth discussion of open source software click here.
An open source multi-task, multi-user operating system.  Microsoft Windows should not be considered a multi-user operating system. Even those multiple users may be defined on a Microsoft Windows PC only one use can access the operating system at any given time. Linux was devised by Linus Torvalds in 1992 and was based on the very expensive Unix operating system. Linux is fully configuarable and works beautifully as a server operating system as all non-essential services can be switched off (eg any window drawing fuctionality) leaving all the processing power and memory to be configured to run services such as database engines or filesharing facilities.