Greens Put German Foreign Affairs On The Hot Seat Over FLOSS

I’m not particularly fond of politicians. They have a habit of saying one thing during election campaigns and another when in office…“The Greens question the validity of the main argument used by the Foreign Ministry for the return to the usual proprietary solution – improved efficiency. It seems the costs for the conversion and the cost for licences were higher than estimated, and the expected benefits did not materialise, the Green politicians write on their blog.

For many years, Germany’s Foreign Ministry was one well-known example of a public administration using free software. In 2008, one of its diplomats explained how this strategy kept the costs of running workstations the lowest of all of Germany’s ministries. Annual maintenance costs of a Linux-desktop would be around EUR 1000, compared to the EUR 3000 average, and much lower than the costs reported per workstation by the Interior Ministry’s, around EUR 7000.
See German Greens ask Foreign Affairs to amend way.”
Germany’s Greens, OTOH, seem to retain their ideals espoused in both seasons. They want to nail Germany’s Foreign Affairs department to the wall. A few years ago, that department was telling the world how secure, reliable and economical GNU/Linux and FLOSS were but lately have reverted to that other OS, “for interoperability”. Well, the Greens are demanding some numbers to back up Foreign Affairs’ position. As Linus likes to demand “Show me the code“, the Greens are demanding to see numbers for cost/benefit.

This could be fun. The real costs of that other OS are two to three times the cost of FLOSS and GNU/Linux by many estimates. Yes. There is a reason M$’s, Oracle’s and Adobe’s margins are fantastic. They charge too much. The world can and does make its own software cheaper and better. Governments should use that software. I recommend Debian GNU/Linux, LibreOffice, FireFox and a bunch of others. They’re all good enough for government work and will save the taxpayers a bundle. Governments should contribute to FLOSS and hire programmers rather than paying outrageous licensing fees to fat foreign entities.

One technique I used in teaching was to put students on the “hot seat”, asking them questions about the subject matter and forcing them to think for themselves. Students hated it but, boy, did they ever think fast… 😉 The fastest way off the hot seat was to give good answers. I trust Germany’s Foreign Affairs will not delay digging out the true cost/benefit analysis of their IT and will learn the errors of their recent ways.

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.

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29 Responses to Greens Put German Foreign Affairs On The Hot Seat Over FLOSS

  1. oiaohm says:

    DrLoser something to remember kurkosdr is not law abiding never has been.

    The image from digital river is a Retail Image. These does 90% of all OEM produced windows computers. There is 10 percent with OEM branded Windows Keys these do not work with Retail Images. Please note a device with a branded key is normally broken somewhere out box. These machines play up particularly badly with Linux. Yes the branded key auto result is no downloading a particular list of drivers by Windows update and only use those drivers on the install disc forever(hope they don’t have security flaws).

    Just to be fun Microsoft Windows 8.1 ISO downloader only works almost all OEM’s if your computer happens to be booted in EFI with secure boot enabled. Yes all bar branded OEM Windows 8.1 machines.

    The Official Microsoft website for downloading a replacement Windows 8.1 only works if you enter a retail key but does not work if you enter a OEM key. Yes a lot of people trade around the internal digital river link that spits out. Technically using the digital river link directly without a license owning the product(retail Windows) is breaking copyright law.

    This is what I am sick of why does a legal owner of Windows have to break the law to get a clean install.

  2. DrLoser says:

    The key is actually printed on the computer or stored inside the computer, and key-less images are available.

    Has Kurkos now become your enemy, by telling you the truth?

    Dear Lord, Forgive These People! They know not what they do!

    (Luke 23:34)

  3. DrLoser says:

    DrLoser the problem I have is leaving a disc around that is infected normally only causes reinfection.

    That chlamidia firing up again, Fifi? Don’t worry. You can’t pass on an STD to backup disks.

    Have you tried “read-only penetrative contact?” It’s all the rage round the desert waste of northern New South Wales these days.

    Or so I read on a slightly dicey cite from the Web. I was looking for a simple answer to “penetration testing.”

    Shocked I was. Truly shocked.

    Take care of your delicate nethers, Fifi.

  4. kurkosdr says:

    “throwing those OEM Microsoft recovery disks in the Microwave is the correct thing todo”

    The key is actually printed on the computer or stored inside the computer, and key-less images are available

    http://lifehacker.com/can-i-reinstall-windows-on-my-computer-without-the-bloa-1512345361

    http://lifehacker.com/how-to-create-a-windows-8-installation-dvd-or-usb-drive-505769939

  5. oiaohm wrote, “throwing those OEM Microsoft recovery disks in the Microwave is the correct thing todo”.

    I think that’s abuse of microwave ovens. It could damage the oven. I recommend shredding the disc or at least cutting it to little pieces with shears and discarding the bits in some diverse manner so they can never be put back together. Incineration may cause atmospheric pollution. Abrading the surface with sandpaper may be enough to prevent casual reuse.

  6. kurkosdr wrote, ” It allows them to use Windows or Desktop Linux to roll their business apps.But for some reason they choose Windows.”

    Very few have chosen that other OS lately. It’s been forced on people by OS-specific data-formats, protocols, OS-specific applications and such. See oldfart…

    Consumers and small businesses for instance may buy stuff on retail shelves and there wasn’t until the last few years much choice. Now, we see in web-stats that folks are using a lot more GNU/Linux every day of the week.

  7. oiaohm says:

    DrLoser in a lot of ways throwing those OEM Microsoft recovery disks in the Microwave is the correct thing todo unless of course they happen to be Whitebox OEM recovery disks what are in fact made by Microsoft.

    Why dell and hp and so on made recovery discs turn out in a lot of cases to be malware infected heck they make your burn your own these days and they are not clean. So you are better of replacing those with a copy of a retail disc that is technically illegal todo yet its legal to install a OEM copy using a retail disc you own. So technically the poor user is meant to go out and buy 2 copies of Windows so they can get a clean computer. I really wish Microsoft would just provide all clients with option of getting a clean OS image. The current is only open to enterprise, Whitebox OEM and retail customers. Its the Branded OEM customers who are getting screwed over with Malware infected computers out box with no clean start over images.

    DrLoser the problem I have is leaving a disc around that is infected normally only causes reinfection. I really don’t care if the user end up running Windows I just don’t personally like it. I do care when the user ends up stuck with a infected machine out box.

  8. DrLoser says:

    I can think of close to twenty examples where people just needed internet access and was fed up with malware. Tossed M$ recovery disks in microwave *zapp* and installed the most current version of Ubuntu at the time, problem solved!

    Interesting, Dougie. The last time you came up with this I threw away the Windows recovery disks “solution,” you swore blind that you only did it once, and that was at the behest of the client. Who presumably was a quadruple amputee, and therefore incapable of throwing the recovery disks away herself.

    Well, that was just about believable. I’ve never actually known a single person who does this, but who knows? There’s always a first time.

    But now? Off the top of your head? Twenty times?

    Sounds more like the act of a crazed domineering maniac, Dougie. If only you were as good-looking as Jamie Dorman, I’d think you stood a good chance of getting away with it.

    Sadly, that’s one of the many attributes you lack.

  9. DrLoser says:

    You never denied that Windows does not equal, Time equals Money. M$ costs MOR money in the long scheme of things.

    That’s partly because the following makes no sense all:

    Windows ≠ (Time = Money)

    Have you considered stumping up real actual money for a tutor to get you through the HSE, Dougie?

    Because, doing it on the cheap doesn’t look very effective at the moment.

  10. dougman says:

    You never denied that Windows does not equal, Time equals Money. M$ costs MOR money in the long scheme of things.

    I can think of close to twenty examples where people just needed internet access and was fed up with malware. Tossed M$ recovery disks in microwave *zapp* and installed the most current version of Ubuntu at the time, problem solved!

    Never, ever, wanted to deal with anything more than a SMB, when I was in operation, as it was too much hassle. Small businesses and residential users were my collective user-base and I was happy with the side-work I was performing. But when I decided to take a sabbatical, it got in the way of that, so I sold it off to a competitor.

    Oh yes, Amazon or Azure is far more reliable than running your own box *rolls-eyes*

    http://www.businesscloudnews.com/2014/11/19/azure-outage-raises-questions-about-public-cloud-for-mission-critical-apps/

    Granted AWS is the nearest to the five “9’s”, but a local server is always better for serving files on the LAN.

  11. kurkosdr says:

    That should make your job as a snake-oil salesman ridiculously easy, then, shouldn’t it, Dougie? Closed any million-dollar deals with a Maryland corporation recently?

    I love how FOSSies talk about the cost of “Windows lock-in”. As if “Linux lock-in” is not a thing.

    If I am crazy enough to deploy Linux in my business, and even crazier to code my apps on X.org or PulseAudio, I am locked-in.

    And, dear Pog, don’t give me the “you can download and study the source and re-implement the API in another OS”. If I have to dive inside the code of X.org or PulseAudio and mess with lower-level stuff and details, it defeats much of the point of having an OS and an API (which is abstracting lower-level stuff and details). And it’s too costly for a business anyway to analyze the bulk of code.

    My point is, PulseAudio is a single-OS implementation, with an unclear standard that forces you to constantly look at the code. X.org is a bit better, but still, only if you don’t use GTK, which is a single-OS implementation with unclear standard.

    Which is why businesses use Java EE new projects. It allows them to use Windows or Desktop Linux to roll their business apps.

    But for some reason they choose Windows.

    Why? Because it’s Long Term Supported for A DECADE AND THREE YEARS. No pressure to upgrade to new version after the LTS ends, no brekages. Can Desktop Linux do that?

    No, Desktop Linux a bleeding edge hobbyist OS, untaint by the realities of this world, where only the newest version matters.

    But hey, it GNU/Linux runs servers. If you are dumb enough to not go to Amazon or Azure and want to party as if it’s 2003 by having your own server.

  12. DrLoser says:

    Windows ALWAYS cost more money, money to manage, money to reboot and money to purchase additional software to make your software work.

    That should make your job as a snake-oil salesman ridiculously easy, then, shouldn’t it, Dougie? Closed any million-dollar deals with a Maryland corporation recently?

    No? Perhaps you’re just a thoroughly incompetent salesman.

  13. dougman says:

    Windows ALWAYS cost more money, money to manage, money to reboot and money to purchase additional software to make your software work.

    Windows ≠ (Time = Money)

  14. oiaohm says:

    Robert Pogson
    There have been lawsuits over copying things like phonebooks. You can’t copyright a phone number but you can copyright a publication including them.
    This is wrong we are in a German count obey French design law.

    The phone number is copyrighted but its not an enforceable copyright because it fails the test.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sc%C3%A8nes_%C3%A0_faire
    Scène à faire (French for “scene to be made” or “scene that must be done”; plural: scènes à faire)
    This is the copyright enforcement test under german law and Australian law.

    If you fail this test you cannot enforce your copyright. Does not mean you don’t have the copyright.

    The reality here is the French designed law even public domain works are technically still copyrighted. Use a Public Domain work without correctly citing is copyright infringement under the French Designed Laws.

    The same is true of snippets from any textual work. I can quote a paragraph quite freely.
    That is Dependant on fair usage requirements. Again does not remove the copyright. Plagiarism is copyright infringement.

    DrLoser
    But no Court on Earth cares diddly-squat about the algorithm. Courts care about the lump of text.

    If you have a court case about someone stealing trade secrets this can be about algorithms but it also covers ideas. Patents only technically cover ideas. Copyright covers expression. So a intellectual properly court anywhere bar the USA might care about algorithms but it has to be a trade secrets case. If you are in USA intellectual court where you can argue copyright canceling due to being based off algorithm as well as in a trade-secret case. Please note the only court on earth where you can argue algorithm canceling copyright is the USA one.

    Yes there is 1 particular court for IP cases in the USA and this is why there is such a huge back log and why it takes so many years for cases to complete.

  15. LinuxGentlesir says:

    GNU/Linux is technological self-determination!!! This is what is feared by those who fear the way of human progress.

  16. Adam King says:

    Software patents are inventions of the blood sucking capitalists. They contribute nothing to society, only help some people make money unfairly.

  17. DrLoser says:

    The point here, Robert, is that books (though obviously subject to copyright) are treated differently by the courts from actual software, even FLOSS software. Why? An interesting question. I’m not personally sure that the distinction is even clear to the courts. However:

    The same is true of snippets from any textual work. I can quote a paragraph quite freely. As long as I don’t do substantial/competitive copying, there’s no foul. OTOH, if I translate a complete work from one language to another it’s a derivative. Excerpting an algorithm is not copyright violation.

    Well then. Isn’t that what I just said? This is hardly a ringing endorsement of oiaohm’s fatuous and irrelevant claim, is it?

    As for “excerpting an algorithm,” that’s not actually how copyright on published books, etc, works. The fact that you are excerpting an algorithm is a complete irrelevance. Why? Because you are not really “excerpting an algorithm.” You are, in fact, “excerpting a lump of text,” and it so happens that said “lump of text” is an expression of the idea that said algorithm represents.

    But no Court on Earth cares diddly-squat about the algorithm. Courts care about the lump of text.

    The only question in front of a Court would be — is the defendant making “fair use” of that lump of text or not? Because the copyright still exists, Robert. There is nothing special about algorithms.

    And frankly there isn’t anything special about Algol 60, either, so I wouldn’t go down that particular road if I were you.

  18. DrLoser wrote, “I have yet to see a single such transgression result in a breach of copyright judgement.”

    There have been lawsuits over copying things like phonebooks. You can’t copyright a phone number but you can copyright a publication including them. The same is true of snippets from any textual work. I can quote a paragraph quite freely. As long as I don’t do substantial/competitive copying, there’s no foul. OTOH, if I translate a complete work from one language to another it’s a derivative. Excerpting an algorithm is not copyright violation. In ACM, for instance, an algorithm used to be published in Algol 60, a concise language which is easily read and understood by everyone so that they can implement the algorithm in any language or perhaps even by some machine. It’s a logical flowchart. You can’t copyright logic. There’s no creativity in that. Given the initial conditions, anyone of any skill can do the thing by many means. It’s like “murder by stabbing”. That algorithm cannot by copyrighted but a novel containing such an even might be.

  19. kurkosdr says:

    @Pog

    Interesting… Can you watch the subject and keep us updated?

  20. DrLoser says:

    There are such things are books of algorithms. The book is copyrighted as it is a work. If you copy the book exactly its copyright infringement.

    There are? Really? I wish I’d had a wise person like you around when I was learning my trade, telling me the bleedin’ obvious. No doubt it would have saved oodles of time.

    But the thing is, Fifi, people copy the algorithms out of these books all the time. In most cases, practically verbatim. And people publish said algorithms on the Web all the time. In most cases, practically verbatim.

    I have yet to see a single such transgression result in a breach of copyright judgement. Why? Because the very idea would be laughed out of court on the basis of “fair usage.”

    In other words, your example is (as so often) completely fatuous and unrelated to the matter at hand.

    Try a little harder.

  21. DrLoser says:

    DrLoser really the fact Robert had to point you to the idea-expression thing means you really should not have been commenting on copyright cases in the first place.

    The fact that I already knew the distinction, and was just testing Robert … who was remarkably tardy … means that you really shouldn’t bother commenting on other people’s debating technique, Fifi.

    BTW, how’s that decompilation of the ESXi radix tree code going for you? I mean, you’ve specified the tool. It’s an open source tool. You can presumably access the binaries. You are a (self-)acknowledged highly competent expert.

    What’s taking you so long?

  22. oiaohm says:

    Reality what is happening here is exactly what I comment about a long time ago would keep on happening.

    As it becomes more and more clear that intelligence groups are infiltrating major closed source commercial more and more pressure for open source will happen.

    Of course this leaves the one question who will pay for the software development.

  23. Rshack says:

    Politicians = liars. That’s all you need to know.

  24. oiaohm says:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sc%C3%A8nes_%C3%A0_faire

    DrLoser in the EU and Australia to be able to straight up copy an algorithm from one work to another without changing something and not break copyright you have to argue the above and be correct.

    Radix tree can be implemented many different ways so fails the Scènes à faire test.

    This is different to USA copyright law. EU does not have the idea of copyright canceling.

    Scènes à faire is rarely used because it is very hard to win.

  25. oiaohm says:

    DrLoser the divide is EU law.

    Idea expression

    Australia, UK and German in copyright right has the terms implementation/work and idea/algorithm. Yes you can reimplement an idea/algorithm without legal trouble. But you cannot straight up copy the work.
    Turns out I missed a word.

    Australia, UK and German in copyright right has the terms implementation/work/expression and idea/algorithm. Yes you can reimplement an idea/algorithm without legal trouble. But you cannot straight up copy the work/expression.

    Everything with / between in that has the same meaning in court.

    There are such things are books of algorithms. The book is copyrighted as it it a work. If you copy the book exactly its copyright infringement.

    There are lot things in an algorithm that can be changed without changing the operation. Like copying a cake recipe naming a brand of flour instead of just saying flour.

    DrLoser really the fact Robert had to point you to the idea-expression thing means you really should not have been commenting on copyright cases in the first place.

  26. DrLoser says:

    Oh, and if it took your students three or four days to come up with a response …

    … That’s not really a “boy, did they ever think fast” thing, is it?

    Nevertheless, I’m sure you taught them the best you could.

  27. DrLoser says:

    You can copyright a work that largely contains an algorithm, like a textbook or magazine but you can’t copyright an algorithm.

    Thank you for that (slightly delayed) clarification of your position, Robert. I shall bear it in mind. Perhaps we can get to the specifics of the container later, if necessary — though I doubt they will be necessary.

    Hier stehes du … Du kannes nichts anders.

  28. pogson wrote, “You can’t copyright an algorithm.”

    You can copyright a work that largely contains an algorithm, like a textbook or magazine but you can’t copyright an algorithm.

    “algorithm n. a precise rule (or set of rules) specifying how to solve some problem; a set of procedures guaranteed to find the solution to a problem.”

    You can’t copyright a recipe for bread either but you could copyright the page on which it is expressed. It’s not copying a recipe to make bread using any particular combination of ingredients or procedure.

    see Idea–expression divide

  29. DrLoser says:

    One technique I used in teaching was to put students on the “hot seat”, asking them questions about the subject matter and forcing them to think for themselves. Students hated it but, boy, did they ever think fast…

    Strangely enough, Robert, that’s precisely the technique that some of us use on you! Here’s an example:

    Robert Pogson (historically): You can’t copyright an algorithm.
    Me: Well, the Radix Tree is pretty obviously an algorithm. You can admit that an algorithm is copyrightable. Or you can demonstrate that this particular implementation has additional “copyrightable” properties. Either way. I don’t care.
    Robert Pogson : Eery silence.

    I’ll say this for you though, Robert: evidently you are awesomely competent at teaching your students to attain a level of intellectual rigour that you, yourself, can evidently only manage on a sporadic basis.

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