Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 15th Sep 2017 21:20 UTC
GNU, GPL, Open Source

Digital services offered and used by public administrations are the critical infrastructure of 21st-century democratic nations. To establish trustworthy systems, government agencies must ensure they have full control over systems at the core of our digital infrastructure. This is rarely the case today due to restrictive software licences.

Today, 31 organisations are publishing an open letter in which they call for lawmakers to advance legislation requiring publicly financed software developed for the public sector be made available under a Free and Open Source Software licence.

Good initiative, and a complete and utter no-brainer. Public money, public code.

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This old chestnut again
by rom508 on Sat 16th Sep 2017 21:55 UTC
rom508
Member since:
2007-04-20

OK so from the article, this is the future Armageddon that open source is supposed to prevent:

By aligning public funding with a Free Software requirement -- "Free" referring to public code availability, not cost -- we can find and fix flaws before they are used to turn the lights out in the next hospital."

And they want governments to legislate on this.

Personally, I'm not against open source, but I'd like to pose a few questions:

Software development of complex systems is difficult and expensive. If there is no open source alternative for software that controls air traffic at a new airport, for example, then you have a choice, either spend 1 million euros on commercial closed software, or spend 100 million on developing your own custom software and then open source it. Good use of public money would be to go with cheaper commercial software (assuming you are not planning on building 100 new airports in the near future).

Open source quite often means "you can take it free of charge and not pay anything". There are companies out there that make money out of such software, but that's because they are so big, it is difficult to compete with them. They like open source, because they can take something for free, re-package it and sell it with their services/products. Yes they sometimes contribute something back, but they often take more than they give and they don't pay their taxes. The idea that tax payers should pay for new open source software development and then give it away to Google or Facebook to increase their profits, is rather grotesque.

It is a myth that open source software is better and more secure. If you have one million monkeys review open source code, this will not make it any more secure. There are software engineering techniques that ensure software is designed correctly and free of bugs, but quite often they are not used for the majority of software, because they are too expensive or time consuming, or require software developers to change their old habits, well good luck with that when somebody is coding for fun in their spare time.

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