Home > Linux > European Governments Switch to Linux? European Governments Switch to Linux? Submitted by Jack Perry 2002-11-03 Linux 31 Comments One Spanish region has made the switch completely, even encouraging a local company’s development of a Linux distribution. Other European governments are considering following a similar policy. About The Author Eugenia Loli Ex-programmer, ex-editor in chief at OSNews.com, now a visual artist/filmmaker. Follow me on Twitter @EugeniaLoli 31 Comments 2002-11-03 7:54 pm what distro are they shipping? 2002-11-03 8:29 pm but afaik it is heavily based in debian. This really gives me hope. Actually the article is way too optimistic: the use of Linex in Extremadura is still marginal. The important thing is that public administrations start using it. I don’t want my taxes being used for paying abusive license fees, whoever they are paid to. The EU is planning a similar move, but only for the european administration, not a directive or a recommendation… 2002-11-03 8:39 pm but how does the country of Spain benefit if small businesses and home user’s are using Linux? 2002-11-03 8:44 pm “but how does the country of Spain benefit if small businesses and home user’s are using Linux?” The small businesses and home users will have more money to spend on other things, including local products. They will also have computers which may be hard to understand but at least don’t include deliberately obscured technology. 2002-11-03 8:55 pm I work for the greek goverment and thinking of moving some desktops to Linux but the problem i’m facing is the language, the greek language. Windows and Windows Office applications are all greek ready, Linux is not. Still waiting. Maybe in 1 or two years later 🙁 2002-11-03 9:01 pm There is KDE translation files for Greek, and I think there are translation files for both Mozilla (on Sourceforge) and KOffice. Not sure about OOo though… 2002-11-03 9:35 pm “Linux is good but not mature enough” Agreed. But how will linux ever become good enoug? Hardcore, real world testing. this is the perfect place to show linux’s weakness and to get them fixed. 2002-11-03 10:57 pm but how does the country of Spain benefit if small businesses and home user’s are using Linux? 1) Homes and businesses lower their expenses while using a quality free operating system 2) If the Spanish government uses Linux, it lowers its expenses too, reducing the amount of tax revenues it needs to operate. If the government passes this reduction in operating costs to the private sector by lowering taxes, Spanish households and businesses will have more money to spend 2002-11-03 11:02 pm Do they use Gnome or KDE? here comes the flaming war 2002-11-03 11:07 pm This gives me hope too. I agree with Michael Burns – the only way Linux is ever going to be mature enough is to just start using it and go from there. Solutions and maturity will come quickly when the specific needs are identified. Neccesity is still the mother of invention. 2002-11-03 11:14 pm I think that there is right time to consider idea of European grants for OSS/public_domain_software projects by government and corporations – just like there are grants for scientific researches. 2002-11-03 11:18 pm “but how does the country of Spain benefit if small businesses and home user’s are using Linux?” Simply. We will feed not already rich US, but our local gurus. Linux as commercial entity == services&support 99%. Which is prefereably local. In case of Windows most of profits and jobs are on other side of Atlantic Ocean. 2002-11-04 12:12 am I totally agree with you, this will support the local linux community. I think there is money to be made localising linux and giving local support. This is also good for linux because the more sysadmin level users we have, the more patches, bugfixes and bug reports get done. The Spanish government has incentive to pay local companies or people for support, and consulting, becuase that money stays in Spain. Off topic but: the biggest penalty the US government could impose upon Microsoft is to decree that it will use linux where ever possible. That would be much worse for MS than the recent ruling, and much better for the US people(lower budget for software). 2002-11-04 12:23 am “I think there is money to be made localising linux and giving local support.” Not only. Linux itself isn’t worth anything. Solutions count. And there is wide place for local companies to create linux-based solutions – in management, documents flow, accounting etc. Taking in account local needs more carefully and in more flexible way than ready-to-buy MS-based solutions allow. 2002-11-04 12:33 am Since the US is such a huge force in the computer world, particularly thanks to the Microsoft/Intel hegomony, a large amount of cash flows out of every other country in the world to the US. While it might be good for the 300 million people living in the US, it’s not good for the other 5.5 billion people living elsewhere. The problem is particularly severe in a lot of developing countries. First, it’s very hard for them to afford Microsoft and Intel’s pricing on their products. Conversion rates don’t tell the whole story. I remember traveling to Thailand, and being very surprised that the standard tip for a hotel bell-boy is something like 25 US cents. Everything in these countries is several times cheaper, even when taking into account conversion factors. Because Microsoft (in particular) charges mostly the same for its product in every country, it’s very difficult for people in these countries to purchase their products. Second, the US dominence of the computer industry causes cash to flow out of the local economies. This is very large scale problem, the computer industry is just one traditional example. In most developing countries, there is an upper class with a good deal of buying power. However, these people don’t tend to buy local products, but instead (usually better quality) foreign products. Thus, instead of upper class spending helping the economy, like it does in the US, it just drains the economy of cash. Having more local or free alternatives allows the country to retain more of its cash within its own economy. 2002-11-04 1:54 am “Because Microsoft (in particular) charges mostly the same for its product in every country, it’s very difficult for people in these countries to purchase their products.” I remember reading that the common chinese surgeon has to work nearly for a full year to earn enough money to buy Office from Microsoft. 2002-11-04 3:08 am “Because Microsoft (in particular) charges mostly the same for its product in every country, it’s very difficult for people in these countries to purchase their products.” Not true. This is one of the complaints of the Taiwanese government….that prices are NOT the same. http://www.taipeitimes.com/news/2002/08/21/story/0000165039 2002-11-04 4:07 am No, a bigger penalty would be for: 1) Microsoft to provide information relating to their products free of charge and in a timely manor, without restrictions. $10billion fine for each hour the receiving company has to wait either for assistance or explaination relating to the API. 2) Hardware companies, when requested to provide specifications of their hardware to a group wanting to write a driver for the device, must provide the information within 5 working days or face a $1billion fine for each 1hour the party has to wait. 3) Companies who produce more than $200million in profit must either license their software or port their software to 3 non-Microsoft platforms. Why the 1st and 3rd, personally, I think some of the software companies and Microsoft are in bed together. A parrnership of “you show us the API’s and we won’t port our app to any other platform”. The 2nd would ensure that the same situation won’t happen between Microsoft and hardware companies. 2002-11-04 4:14 am If you look at the differential mentioned in the article, 5,800 vs 7,800, you’ll realize it is a great deal less than the differential in the purchasing power between the various countries. Taiwan is relatively prosperous, China as a whole is not. As for Linux as a whole, here are some sites that iterate some of the advantages of open source in developing countries: http://www.sdnp.org.gy/whyopen.html http://www.naci.org.za/docs/opensource.html http://news.com.com/2100-1001-272299.html?legacy=cnet http://linux.oreillynet.com/pub/a/linux/2002/07/15/osgov_timeline.h… http://www.netaction.org/opensrc/oss-report.html The last one, in particular, is very detailed. Here is an interesting article about how Microsoft is trying to block open source products in government: http://news.com.com/2100-1001-949635.html?tag=fd_top One thing in particular inflames me about the above article. Specifically, one spokesman makes the point that using licenses such as the GPL in publically funded software projects keeps commercial entities from taking advantage of that development (ie. incorperating public code into closed applications). If I wanted my tax money going to make Microsoft’s product’s better, I’d make a donation directly to them, thank you very much. 2002-11-04 4:29 am Part of the problem involves the size of the market. Taiwan’s market is very small so prices have to be higher than that of China’s since the market there is much larger (Taiwan uses Traditional Chinese while China uses Simplified Chinese). You always have to factor in the development and support costs. 2002-11-04 5:51 am I think some of the software companies and Microsoft are in bed together. The two biggest signs of this in my mind is sloppy QA and the upgrade cycle, and should inlcude the hardware manufacturers as well. Like the normalisation of land grabbing EULA’s customers have been brainwashed into accepting poor quality software and a churning bank account as normal. It is neither normal, when compared to other industries, neither is it desireable. I’m moving to the opinion that all software companies should publish all API’s and file formats for free. The next step might be to force open sourcing of reference implementations for all input/output operations. Both measures would stimulate open standards and the inter-operability between competing applications. 2002-11-04 6:28 am The computer industry resembles the auto industry of the early 20th century…the term “planned obsolescence” was not coined for the computer industry also, i disagree that software QA is getting sloppier, on the contrary, companies like Microsoft are finally starting to take security and quality issues much more seriously than in the past one must admit, that from a security and quality standpoint, windows XP is pretty darn good…certainly no worse than Red Hat Linux overall Linux, despite it’s reputation is NOT inherently more secure than other systems, a bug is a bug is a bug, and only extremely careful code review and regular audits will improve that, there are new Linux advisories reported almost every day the Microsoft monopoly will not be beaten until someone makes and properly markets something better…and this is where Linux really has a good chance…they’ve got more marketing hype and thunder than Windows in the past few years…and with companies like IBM and HP and Oracle and even Sun supporting Linux, marketing is looking very good for Linux. anyway, just some thoughts -bytes256 2002-11-04 8:07 am I certainly don’t use Linux for its security attributes. I use it because of its price, I don’t mind paying for software, but don’t expect me to pay for a piece of software equal in quality to something that is $AUS34.95 (the price of a copy of Redhat Linux 8.0 Personal Edition). If Microsft is going to charge $AUS1200, why not make it more value for money. Infact, why not have a Windows XP + Office 11 pack (once Office 11 is ready) and sell it for $AUS299, which is around $US150. Every man and his dog will upgrade. But of course, that would be too flam’in logical 😉 As for the software, IBM should have spent the $1billion on something that is actually useful. Why do we need JFS for example? how about improve the filesystems already out there like XFS, Reiserfs and ext3fs? the money would have been better off buying out Corel and using the remainder amount porting all the software over to Linux natively. Don’t use Wordperfect Suite 2000 for Linux as an example. It was a POS wine try-hard port. If Corel took 2 years, with the help of Mainsoft, and ported the software properly, they would have sold a heck of alot more. Matthew Gardienr 2002-11-04 8:42 am There’re greek packets i know (i worked for Mozilla translations project) but in practise it’s not working as good as MS 2002-11-04 8:47 am Eveything becomes better with hardcore testing, bug reports etc. Linux has one problem, the lack of standards; one way to one goal. I’m _not_ flaming! KDE or GNOME or whatever, but unless all efforts focus on something Linux will be behind or making small steps towards. RedHat stepped to this direction but what happened? Who will stay back, KDE or GNOME or Mozilla or Ximian or…? 2002-11-04 9:19 am but how does the country of Spain benefit if small businesses and home user’s are using Linux? It doesn’t, because it doesn’t happen. First of all, Linux has only been adopted in Extremadura. Extremadura is to all extents as autonomous as one of the länder in Germany, just we don’t call it federal. So, whatever happens with the gov’ in Extremadura doesn’t affect the rest of the state. Also, only the public sector is using Linux in Extremadura. That is good, and is still a lot of people, because they are using it in the public healthcare system, in the police stations, in the city halls… In every public space controlled by the autonomous gov’ment. Still, nobody will go into people’s houses and make them switch. Also, you must think that Extremadura is not a very rich region. We cannot say impoverished because it is infinitely more prosperous than Honduras or Nicaragua, and probably still more prosperous than certain regions of Italy and Greece. But it is a very rural area, where not many people have a computer. Not because they can’t afford it, they can, but because they have no need for it. I was in Extremadura this summer, in a small town called Alburquerque. Those people had nice lifes, nice cars, simple but nice entertainment… and absolutely no interest for Linux and/or Windows. 2002-11-04 10:35 am “I’m moving to the opinion that all software companies should publish all API’s and file formats for free. The next step might be to force open sourcing of reference implementations for all input/output operations. Both measures would stimulate open standards and the inter-operability between competing applications.” That would be highly desirable. I don’t know how you would get there. Only one DTP program has a documented file format, for example (Pagestream). Quark, InDesign, Pagemaker, etc are all secret. So you can’t move a DTP project from one to another. 2002-11-04 10:39 am “Also, you must think that Extremadura is not a very rich region. We cannot say impoverished because it is infinitely more prosperous than Honduras or Nicaragua, and probably still more prosperous than certain regions of Italy and Greece. But it is a very rural area, where not many people have a computer. Not because they can’t afford it, they can, but because they have no need for it. I was in Extremadura this summer, in a small town called Alburquerque. Those people had nice lifes, nice cars, simple but nice entertainment… and absolutely no interest for Linux and/or Windows. ” I think I might move there, it sounds perfect. 2002-11-04 2:41 pm Though the use of linux for desktop lags that of MS, it is a big step when governments start implementing it. That gives linux a nod of approval and it also means that more people will be exposed to linux and its advantages, particularly low-cost. I am confident that these little contracts will start to grow into something significant within the next 3 years or so. People, companies, governments like saving money, and MS is becomming more and more onerous with its terms. Within 10 years, i’d bet that linux could have 30% or more of the desktop and it will just keep going. Open source is last weapon the industry has to break down MS’ dominance, and it is starting to work. Go linux. 2002-11-04 9:13 pm We know that many in the EU are very anti-american now. I wonder how much of this is just because of this popular sentiment in Europe. 2002-11-04 10:36 pm Oh, I’m sure that most europeans imagine a future in which the EU is totally independent from the US. And it is a very important thing to be able to manufacture your own software solutions. So, yes, probably it has a relation.