Nearly half of European local government bodies are using open source software while nearly a third don’t know that they are using open source at all. A Maastricht University survey of 12 counties has reportedly found 49 per cent using Free/Libre/Open Source Software (FLOSS) while 70 per cent said they expect usage to increase.
Open Source Taking Over Europe
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2005-10-21 1:26 pmAnonymous
2005-10-21 6:16 pmraver31
why assume that ?
there has been loads of high profile companies/states/countries that have dumped proprietary software and taken up FOSS lately.
I think it is an “education” thing, when more and more decision makers see that FOSS is “good enough” for the job, then they adopt it, because of the bonus’s, which are;
1: They can check for hidden backdoors
3: Anyone can modify it to their specific needs.
Since open source is inside Windows, what on earth are these government bodies using instead?
2005-10-21 12:30 pmjaboua
What do you mean?
I imagine this would occur in many businesses and government organisations – it is less about the politics of FOSS and more about the best tool for the job.
It starts with FOSS ‘plugging in the gaps’; a mail server here, a file server there.. and ends with full-scale integrated deployments.
As the OpenDocument format becomes more widespread, a significant hurdle to adoption on the desktop is removed too, so the future is very bright for FOSS
2005-10-21 4:23 pmSmartpatrol
I imagine this would occur in many businesses and government organisations – it is less about the politics of FOSS and more about the best tool for the job.
Thats not entirely correct. Most cases the only reason FOSS is used is becasue it is initially cost free despite and technical disadvantages it may suffer to a commercial product.
2005-10-22 4:12 amJohann Chua
Let’s say your position is true. In the long run it would be better to use open-source, whether free of charge or commercial, whenever possible. On the other hand, I haven’t heard too much about FOSS accounting and payroll apps (which need to be localized for tax regulations and such).
Most governments (from EU but other countries as well, e.g. China) are switching to OSS because of two main reasons:
* national security: most EU governments fell into panic when Microsoft proved to be not trustworthy in that field (you know that I’m referring to… don’t you?). They planned to switch their ecosystem as soon as possible and MS was forced to address this problem by releasing their source code to governments. While this worked for a few time, it is clear that EU has interests to create or empower EU software companies. If you think about it, most software and hardware giants are US based and this is not good. Think software as one of strategic points for EU security, together with Galileo positioning and communication system (as opposed to GPS/GSM which originates from US and is deeply unsecure). It’s clear that EU wants to have its basic infrastructure to be based on EU software and EU companies instead of foreigners. Same thing for China.
* economical reasons: licenses costs are huge now for MS-based ecosystem but it’s also true that MS didn’t work on this. When they will, it will be harder for alternative systems to keep up but fortunately this process is not stoppable. I mean, EU will switch to a different ecosystem regardless economic considerations because of #1.
EU companies should consider these opportunities very seriously. EU is looking for a “decent” alternative to Windows. Right now, we have Linux only (Solaris cannot apply because of #1, nor OS X) which is proving to be quite good for specific tasks and business needs but not for widespread desktop systems (yet?).
And EU-based OS which could mimic Windows as friendlyness could be welcomed for such political reasons and adopted. This is an opportunity to consider, IMO. Expecially if we remember that reverse-engineering is perfectly legal in EU so a high degree of compatibility with Windows could be achieved in a legal way.
In the math departments of the universities/institutes I know (in Paris, Bonn, Copenhagen), there is almost only free software (with some Sun and Apple, but almost no Microsoft).
We use thin clients running Linux to have X sessions on servers running Linux or FreeBSD, Xorg, FVWM (with some people prefering XFCE or KDE, but Gnome is not very widespread in France,Germany and Denmark), LaTeX (with OpenOffice installed but used only to open .doc files when necessary), Emacs/XEmacs (with some people using Kile instead), Firefox, and Pine as mail client.
danish election going at the moment, is how to apply open source in the offices of local authorities.
I for one (and my party) supports complete replacement of proprietary software with open source. Perhaps even a law making it illegal for local authorities to use anything but open source, since proprietary programs means an unacceptable dependency on a private company, and authorities cannot have dependencies if they are to be trusted
2005-10-21 1:53 pmAnonymous
If you want to convince people your argument is weak–All you have to do is talk to school boards of education and anyone who is involved with school budgeting and tell them:
No more cyclic license fees. Lower support fees.
People listen to only a few things: Money, Bullets & Women. Bullets and Women probably aren’t the best way to win an “election” but money may work.
2005-10-21 2:29 pmmarkjensen
since proprietary programs means an unacceptable dependency on a private company
Since when? I can write a propriatary app that does standard FTP transfers. In no way would that make the users dependant on me or my app. The source code’s openness (or lack thereof) does not create dependency, if the methods/formats/protocols are following documented standards.
2005-10-21 3:14 pmdylansmrjones
It might be fine for a minor application which doesn’t save data. But it doesn’t work in relation to saved data, unless you can really be sure, that the application is following an open standard.
Proprietary software usually tends to mean vendor lock-in and therefore dependency on a given company. And then the authority must be considered tainted.
2005-10-21 6:58 pmAnonymous
Since when? I can write a propriatary app that does standard FTP transfers. In no way would that make the users dependant on me or my app.
Actually, that depends. Just because the protocol is standardized doesn’t mean that your application is. For example, let’s assume that your program supports the standard FTP protocol (as defined by RFC 959) BUT has unique scripting features unavailable in free alternatives. You sell the software to a client (or a government entity) who goes ahead and integrates the program into their infrastructure all the while making extensive use of powerful scripting abilities of the program.
That’s a subtle but effective lock-in that makes the client dependant on you. This is possible even if you support the “FTP standard” (Ironically, POSIX doesn’t specify a ftp program at all).
Now, if the client wishes to leave you their only alternative is to create a new program or maybe rewrite a free one to make it compatible with yours (this might cause IP issues if patents are involved), or they could re-engineer parts of the infrastructure which depends on your software. Of cource, re-training users for the new program may involve additional costs.
This isn’t anything new, many companies out there specialize on strategies like this. I’ll leave it to you to figure out who they are.
2005-10-21 7:06 pmAnonymous
Of course he could add script to possibly cause vendor lock in even following standards, but his argument is that proprietary software does not have to equal vendor lock in. That is just a common practice, but not mandatory.
2005-10-21 7:43 pmAnonymous
Point taken. But still, governments are extremely vulnerable to vendor lock-in and they’re especially obligated to use their money wisely when it’s the tax-payers who pick up the bill. If they standardized on free software they always have an option to step in and take control if upgrades impact their infrastructure in a bad way. This may not be possible with proprietary software because the vendor always has the final word (unless, of course, there’s a contract that states otherwise).
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not supporting the original posters idea that proprietary software should be made illegal in any way, I do think it’s unwise of governments to risk using it though.
2005-10-22 1:16 amdylansmrjones
I didn’t write anything about proprietary software should be made illegal. Rather that it perhaps should be made illegal for authorities to use proprietary software.
However, private persons can always use proprietary solutions if they want to, but authorities should be restricted. As much as possible. This way authorities can do the least possible harm
2005-10-22 8:17 amAnonymous
Why not just legislate that any proprietary code used within local offices must be written under the specific agreement that said will be handed over to the office in question, source code and all, money exchanged, credit given and QA done. The code must also be made available for review by the public, if any individual wishes to do so. Simply outlawing all proprietary code seems a bit harsh.
2005-10-22 8:53 amraboof
Why not just legislate that any proprietary code used within local offices must be written under the specific agreement that said will be handed over to the office in question, source code and all, money exchanged, credit given and QA done.
I assume by ‘proprietary’ you here mean ‘tailor-made for that office’?
If so I totally agree, I think that should be Standard Good Practise, and not only in the case of government projects.
The code must also be made available for review by the public, if any individual wishes to do so.
That’d be nice, though I suppose there are situations where that isn’t feasible.
Simply outlawing all proprietary code seems a bit harsh.
Agreed. Sometimes a commercial supplier that doesn’t open up its code still might be a better idea – but one needs to be well aware of the problems with that approach, and look hard for more suitable alternatives.
In my university there are a number of OSS products used heavily by all the students.
I’m installing OpenOffice and Firefox in every friend’s computer.
They are always satisfied by those great applications, never got insults
Go Europe, GO!
In the USA, open source software (OS / applications, I don’t mean TCP/IP) is not widely used in government or business settings.)
It blows my mind that no one is running up to schools and selling a “support” contract for K12LTSP, what an easy business that would be with thinclients either net-booting or with a local Live CD or with local compact flash drives.
Sounds like a business idea…..
2005-10-21 2:23 pmTBPrince
Interesting but there’s a catch in this. Hosted applications accessed via thin-clients are a good innovation, can be safer (because security changes can be instanly applied), might led to require less expensive “terminals” instead of full-featured PCs…but in the end there’s a catch inside all this: they make your infrastructure very dependent on hosting company.
While if you buy 1-5-200 licenses for Office 2003 and the Microsoft disappears or sets the price for Office 12 to 1,000 dollars per license, you can still say “Well, who cares? I will keep using my existing licenses on my existing PCs…” (i.e. you have ASSETS), if Microsoft (or Google, or Sun, or whatever) decides to stop you from using “Office Online”, they can shut you down. End. Stop. This might be because they want more money or just because they disappear. All of sudden you end up having tons of “Office Online” documents and your application doesn’t work. The same apply to any application.
Now, OpenDocument might mitigate this by allowing you to switch your provider but in the end you are yelding your control over such application. Worst case, you could end up having hundres of documents using a proprietary format (or proprietary extension) or whatever you cannot access anymore. All your precious data unaccessable. (and no, OpenDocument-s are not a cure for this… they might just be slight healing…).
Since people are smarter than marketing depts think, managers in administrations think “Now, how much will it Office 2003 cost to me? 100$ per copy? 200$ per copy? Good, at least I will have something which will run forever! If I will use this 2-3 years my price per year drops to 25 or 40… not bad…”. (this is slightly untrue because of Microsoft’s online activation systems… but smart managers know that,in the end, that could be circumvented if really needed, like in the case Microsoft dies all of sudden…).
Network applications have many benefits but pose threats to customers rights as well. Interestingly enough, no provider of online applications (AFAIK) signed or announced a protocol to assure that they will play fair towards users… this will probably require dedicated laws…
In the USA, money buys influence, and msft has gobs of it. Here in the USA, we have the best government money can buy.
For a long time, USA has dominated computer technology, and the rest of the world has not been entirely happy with the situation.
Msft, and it’s anti-innovation ways, is solidly in control here in the USA. Msft’s recent bogo-patent blitz in enough to intimidate any small innovative US company. Msft prefers a system where they rake in an easy $30 billion a year with nothing but adding incremental, and irrelevant, features to it’s office products, and OS.
But, other countries, which are not under msft’s (USA sponserd) heel, are free to be creative, and produce real innovative products.
F/OSS is clearly the way around msft’s monolopy. Msft can kill F/OSS in the USA, but not see easily elsewhere.
As other countries innovate, the USA will stagnate.
2005-10-21 4:32 pmSmartpatrol
LOL your post is the funniest thing i have read in a while. I don’t know where you work/live but i am under no obligation to use Microsoft products. I use Microsoft products because at this time they are superior to other products and suit my needs for what i use them for, primarily gaming. In the future i imagine i will be swapping my PC’s for intel based Mac’s and perhaps run BSD on my PC’s to handle all my other computing needs. Most of the companied i have worked for in the past 5 years have at least one linux server running in their environment. Go a apread your gloom and doom somwhere else becasue its not based in any current reality.
2005-10-22 8:32 amAnonymous
Couldn’t have said it better.
It’s not like MSFT is forcing us Americans to all use Word in Microsoft Office Labor Camps. But Windows is literally EVERYWHERE. If one suggests some group of individuals, office, business, corporation or government should use something other than Microsoft and Microsoft related products, or anything without massive licensing fees for that matter, people look at you like your insane.
Also there’s the growing patent mill problem, which many politicians have conceded that it is getting out of hand. Top it all off with OEMs and pre-installed Windows, you got yourself one rocking monopoly. If this isn’t a monopoly, well pinch me because I must be dreaming.
There are some signs of competition popping up. I noticed that all the new thin-terminals at the local bookstore were running a stripped down version of Firefox and Xorg (xscreensaver is dead obvious to spot). The terminals were also properly secured, all subtle attempts to break out of Firefox were denied.
Also the local colleges now hand out Firefox, OpenOffice, Thunderbird and other Windows/Mac FOSS software along with their free student software packages (anti-virus and PuTTY usually).
This would explain why many governmental and private sector entities are embracing Jabber (aka XMPP) protocol so quickly.
2005-10-22 8:59 amraboof
I suppose you’re trying to be sarcastic, but I don’t get it.
They’re not embracing Jabber because they don’t need it. They’re not `enbracing’ any commercial IM products either, are they?
nearly a third don’t know that they are using open source at all
More specifically, from the article: 29 per cent of authorities who said they did not use FLOSS actually do use open source software
Sounds like 49% + 29% * 51% = 63% of governments are using FLOSS. Not bad.
I assume most of those applications will be server-side, however (e.g. Apache).