FLOSS And Government In India

FLOSS is the right way to do IT for everyone. Governments may feel FLOSS is unnecessary/different/unusual at their peril. Sooner or later“Indian government software applications are set to make the shift to open source, potentially boosting the pace at which such programmes are developed, and leading to millions of dollars in savings by moving away from proprietary systems.” the cost and complexity of diverse non-Free softwares will bite them, whether it is at budget-time or upgrade-time or just lack of flexibility as their system evolves and their jurisdiction grows.

In India, the governments have had a lot of serious high-priority problems but now that the old regimes, the wars of independence/separation/clash of cultures are receding consideration of the way forward is first and foremost. A very high priority is to modernize and to adopt IT widely in government. India is a huge country with many regions, languages, and cultures. It needs governments with all the necessary IT to make the country manageable. At the same time, many people and regions in India are impoverished and lacking education. Enter FLOSS. With FLOSS, India can afford many more client computers and servers for the same effort/expense. With FLOSS, India can implement one system in IT and replicate it a thousand times all across the country for little more than the cost of the hardware. That allows India to do more with IT and change IT more rapidly.

The present central government and many state governments have adopted GNU/Linux and FLOSS applications widely and while spending $billions annually on IT can get a lot more IT per $billion. Every customized application that is FLOSS in one government can be adapted by every other government and region for zero licensing cost. Further, FLOSS allows the major amount of tweaking that is required to support all the languages and cultures of the country. Non-Free software just doesn’t work for India any more than it works for other countries who may feel that throwing more money at non-Free software is the answer to any problem.

See Govt logs into open source policy to cut software costs.

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Networked File Storage And That Other OS

Users of that other OS and Ed Bott are in anguish over M$ tweaking how “8” deals with synced files to/from the cloud.“I rely on being able to see all the files on my OneDrive through Explorer, whether they are synced locally or not; if this integration is lost there is no advantage to using OneDrive over any other cloud. Please add the option for power users to continue to see all files and use an icon overlay to show which are local & which cloud” As a long-time user of GNU/Linux (UNIX-like OS) and NFS, I chuckle at this. If you have a huge file-system that won’t fit on the local client computer, just mount the networked file-system on the local file-system and you don’t need to worry about syncing. Just access the files with your normal tools… If you need greater security, use SSHFS.

The one sticking point is loss of network connectivity. Who has that problem these days anyway? The desktop/notebook PC is usually on a copper LAN with a connection to the Internet. The small cheap computer is usually only used when in range of a wifi or wireless network. Further, NFS mounted hard just keeps trying after an interruption of connectivity so a brief interruption is no problem at all as long as the machines are not powered down. The “little woman” uses this all the time for our local cloud. See the Linux man page or read about SSHFS.

I remember M$ “syncing” our files back in the day. I had a roaming profile with ~1gB of stuff on my desktop… Yep. The stupid system tried to copy every file it could find to my local desktop wherever I roamed. I had to remember which PC I used in the lab or there would be a long wait. That kind of thing is just stupid as the number of files we own increases and the total size of storage reaches hundreds of GB or even TB. Syncing everything makes no sense yet M$ keeps trying. They just don’t get small cheap mobile computers. They don’t understand their users.

So, you can choose to be jerked around on a chain to M$ or you can use what’s tried and true and unlikely to change any time soon. Use Debian GNU/Linux. It will work for you. There’s a reason the Internet runs on GNU/Linux. It’s a great networked OS having these problems solved decades ago. There’s no need at all to use an OS designed by salesmen. GNU/Linux will automatically cache a local copy of files you use, so there’s no need for M$ or anyone else to guess which files to use to clog up your network.

See Testers protest abrupt changes in Windows 10's OneDrive sync.

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Continental Drift Continues

While there are many hotspots in the GNU/Linux landscape, usage of GNU/Linux on the desktop is still spotty around the world. There are millions of GNU/Linux desktops but they are in clusters rather than widely spread.

  1. Antarctica – 37.5%
  2. Europe – 1.81%
  3. South America – 1.43%
  4. North America – 1.25%
  5. Oceania – 0.98%
  6. Asia – 0.8%
  7. Africa – 0.8%

A few governments, businesses, organizations and individuals are enjoying the benefits while others pay too much for their IT and lack the flexibility to get the best performance from their investment in IT. We’ve come a long way compared to five years ago, but there is a long way to go until Free Software approaches its maximum benefit to humanity.

The Digital Divide is rapidly being closed in Africa, South America and Asia. European governments are doing a great job in promoting FLOSS so I expect huge growth there sooner rather than later. At the moment ODF is widely used in Europe and GNU/Linux is on many servers. Governments in Europe have eliminated many barriers to adoption so they should be able to deploy many more GNU/Linux desktops shortly. North American governments have done little outside of a few departments. The government of Canada has done little more than bring GNU/Linux to the table let alone recommend or approve it. In Asia, the big stories are China and India. China has jerked M$’s chain and made noise about GNU/Linux but has yet to follow through with widespread usage. It’s as if the Cultural Revolution never happened for IT. India, on the other hand has developed and recommended its own distro to good effect and Dell and others are distributing GNU/Linux desktops, notebooks and Android/Linux tablets widely. Africa is developing rapidly but only in small part adopting GNU/Linux. Ethiopia is using it in schools. Kenya is using it in the infrastructure. Despite cost of IT being a huge factor in an emerging market folks are still buying that other OS. South America is showing that pattern too as Venezuela, Brazil and Uruguay revel in GNU/Linux desktops and local OEMs ship them but still web stats lag.

Part of the slowness is due to the desktop becoming less relevant and new purchases are Android/Linux but the huge inventory of legacy PCs is ripe for migration to GNU/Linux. The death of XP caused good growth but only a small fraction went with GNU/Linux.

Effectively the Digital Divide is changing rather than being eliminated. There is a large group clinging to that other OS on legacy PCs and a much larger group adopting new IT based on Android/Linux. This eliminates barriers which should facilitate migration to GNU/Linux but instead we have a gradual pace of change rather than a revolution. It’s happening but in slow motion.

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Happy New Year!… Or Maybe Not If You’re M$

M$ sweated the ~$1K box back in the old days but managed by anticompetitive moves to squeeze OEMs.“Digitimes Research expects Lenovo’s and Asustek’s 11.6-inch Chromebooks to be priced at US$149, 25% lower than the US$199 of the C720 from Acer, the largest Chromebook vendor currently.
The new price point will further reduce notebooks’ ASPs and also put strong pressure on Microsoft, which launched an inexpensive licensing project in 2014, looking to halt Chromebook’s development.”
At near $100 that won’t work any longer. M$ will have to pay OEMs to compete with what’s in the pipe for next year, according to Digitimes. Digitimes has spies in all the supply-chains and expects ARMed RK3288 devices to come in at $149, about what M$ used to charge for a licence. The way M$’s CEO expressed love for GNU/Linux M$ may just accept competition gracefully this time in the hope that some clouds will run their software. Good luck to them… :-)

Chuckle. If they have at least 4gB RAM, I might buy one and retire Beast to the server-room for back-ups or private cloud work. Beast has a 45nm 95W CPU and 5 fans. That doesn’t belong near humans. This development will be the final step in freeing many humans from Wintel.

See Lenovo, Asustek to launch US$149 Chromebook.

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Joey Hess, Developer Of 18 Years With Debian Departs – Second Edition

This is a duplicate of the article below so that comments can work again. Some comments may be lost

The strife in the Debian community has had another casualty, Joey Hess.“If I have one regret from my 18 years in Debian, it’s that when the Debian constitution was originally proposed, despite seeing it as dubious, I neglected to speak out against it. It’s clear to me now that it’s a toxic document, that has slowly but surely led Debian in very unhealthy directions.” He’s been there working hard since nearly the beginning but he’s fed up with the bickering/second-guessing/friction involved in the process these days. In messages on the debian-devel list, he describes his frustration with arguing about systemd for nearly two years and now, just weeks before the freeze of Jessie, users are up in arms.

I can see his point, but users are not developers and don’t read debian-devel. I don’t usually. It’s not surprising that users vent the same frustrations about systemd that developers did. There are a lot more users than developers, thousands of times more, and they need to be considered in making radical change to their operating system, something near and dear… Still everyone’s life goes through stages and it may well have been time for Joey Hess to move on for other reasons as well. I expect Debian will survive and it may survive by taking some of Joey Hess’ advice. Probably the worst thing that could happen is more developers leaving, followed closely by some kind of fork and revolution in the splinter group.

Perhaps it’s time that Debian reform it’s social contract/internal procedures to deal with dissent by better means than personal attacks on the lists or departures of key people. Democracy/fairness works but sometimes gets off the rails when conflicting groups try to have their way at the expense of others. It’s not enough just to have a mechanism to break deadlocks. It’s important to respect minorities of users as it is to respect the majority of developers. One only needs to see the USAian government to see how extremism and disrespect can go way overboard. We don’t want Debian to go that way.

See so long and thanks for all the fish.

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Problem With This Site

I was editing a comment and somehow messed up the configuration. No comments will show for the post on Joey Hess quitting Debian. The others seem OK. Working on it…

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A Pleasant Stroll Through Europe – GNU/Linux Rolls On Desktops

Region Roll-out Savings
Valencia, Spain 120K PC in admin, courts and schools €1.5million p.a.
Extremadura, Spain 70K PCs in schools, more in offices
France 72K PCs in French national police, Parliament and ministries checking it out €2 million p.a.
Germany, Munich 14K desktops €11 million on hardware and licences
Estonia pilot study, potentially 6k desktops > €1 million p.a.
Portugal 890K desktops lots
Turkey, Defence Recruitment 4.5K desktops
Turkey, schools 1600K notebooks+tablets

So, when I write about millions of users of GNU/Linux for personal IT, they are out there. This is far from an exhaustive list but a few minutes of searching the web. The whole of Europe is near 1.5% share of page-views from GNU/Linux and Norway is over 3%. Europe is a hot bed of activity with governments promoting and sharing ideas about how to implement FLOSS and GNU/Linux on clients and servers. A lot of activity is in schools where students will be introduced to FLOSS and run with it. I expect GNU/Linux to become more available and widely accepted in Europe in the next few years.

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The Upper Echelons Of The UK Government Get It, But The Message Didn’t Get Through.

Based on my experience in school, business and education, I developed my personal theory of management:“You may find that you have become locked-in to a particular contract or technology. As part of your consideration of the total cost of ownership of a particular solution, you should have estimated the cost of exit at the start of implementation.” Once an organization gets more than about 30 people the boss loses control and has to depend on unreliable middle-managers. In a small/medium-sized school, a principal or superintendent can call a meeting, deal with an issue and everyone gets the message because they are all in one room. In a large organization, multiple layers of messaging are involved and the message gets lost or distorted in meaning. It certainly takes longer to change anything the bigger an organization becomes. I’ve been in schools that were part of a large organization where just cooling a server required intervention with so many levels of bureaucracy that little got done and small things took 2 years to approve/plan/implement. I’ve worked in large organizations where memos fell like a blizzard and most were a total waste of readers’ time, being irrelevant, wasteful or killing initiative. I was in two schools where the boss demanded teachers file formal written lesson-plans in writing/on paper in advance. This was a surprise sprung in the middle of the school year, messing up everyone’s system. In my case, I planned in detail on weekends and the boss wanted plans on Fridays, so I had to plan two weeks in advance, something just about impossible considering teaching to respond to the needs of students, weather, various interruptions sprung on short notice. In one case, teachers ignored the order and the principal moved on. In the other, the entire staff moved on…

This disconnect between plan and implementation seems to be the case in the government of the UK because the guys at the top definitely understand the cost of doing things M$’s way but others have let themselves be locked in and rendered helpless. If they’d only use FLOSS and GNU/Linux, they would have the flexibility to run their IT regardless of what M$ does, but, no, they followed M$ like cattle to slaughter and now are stuck. Choosing M$ as a platform is like choosing the gallows as a platform, convenient but deadly. The way back is hard. M$ has arranged a multitude of lock-ins to make the trip one-way only. If you get hooked several ways, it is almost impossible to undo. Depending on XP for 15 years was not a good idea on Day One. Now it’s deadly. In the last 15 years, I’ve only selected a system with XP once or twice for work and that was just because that’s all I could find on the market. Now there’s no excuse for getting locked into M$. For those with IT guys there was no excuse back in the day. Munich, Extremadura, Ernie Ball, etc. all figured it out. Most others have been paying repeatedly for their mistake ever since.

See NHS XP patch scratch leaves patient records wide open to HACKERS.

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Joey Hess, Developer Of 18 Years With Debian Departs

The strife in the Debian community has had another casualty, Joey Hess.“If I have one regret from my 18 years in Debian, it’s that when the Debian constitution was originally proposed, despite seeing it as dubious, I neglected to speak out against it. It’s clear to me now that it’s a toxic document, that has slowly but surely led Debian in very unhealthy directions.” He’s been there working hard since nearly the beginning but he’s fed up with the bickering/second-guessing/friction involved in the process these days. In messages on the debian-devel list, he describes his frustration with arguing about systemd for nearly two years and now, just weeks before the freeze of Jessie, users are up in arms.

I can see his point, but users are not developers and don’t read debian-devel. I don’t usually. It’s not surprising that users vent the same frustrations about systemd that developers did. There are a lot more users than developers, thousands of times more, and they need to be considered in making radical change to their operating system, something near and dear… Still everyone’s life goes through stages and it may well have been time for Joey Hess to move on for other reasons as well. I expect Debian will survive and it may survive by taking some of Joey Hess’ advice. Probably the worst thing that could happen is more developers leaving, followed closely by some kind of fork and revolution in the splinter group.

Perhaps it’s time that Debian reform it’s social contract/internal procedures to deal with dissent by better means than personal attacks on the lists or departures of key people. Democracy/fairness works but sometimes gets off the rails when conflicting groups try to have their way at the expense of others. It’s not enough just to have a mechanism to break deadlocks. It’s important to respect minorities of users as it is to respect the majority of developers. One only needs to see the USAian government to see how extremism and disrespect can go way overboard. We don’t want Debian to go that way.

See so long and thanks for all the fish.

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Acer Returns To Profitability

Remember the netbook? It’s not dead. I noticed Acer has returned to profitability and thought I would check out its Aspire line

  • 29 models selling with GNU/Linux.
  • 17 with that other OS.

Hmmm… Maybe they’ve taken my advice and gloried in the increased profits with GNU/Linux. Yep. Revenue’s down $6.5 million but costs are down $7.9 million. That will do it. IDC reported that Acer’s global market share of units shipped rose from 7.4% to 8.4% from Q3 of 2013 to Q3 of 2014, 6.5 million units up from 6 million. There’s money to be made selling GNU/Linux for those who make the effort.

See Acer | Laptops | Models.

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The Malware-Treadmill

Sheesh! I’m glad I don’t use that other OS any longer.“Microsoft is issuing the largest number of monthly security advisories since June 2011, five of them critical and affecting all supported versions of Windows. And applying the patches will be time consuming” Early in M$’s day on the west coast, M$ unleashes a raft of patches that plug gaping holes in their OS and until you get them applied your ship is as good as sunk. Who would board a cruise-ship that worked that way? Who would board an airplane that worked that way? Why trust your well-being to that other OS when it has been proven repeatedly to put all you do at risk?

I recommend Debian GNU/Linux. If that other OS is still working on your machine you can install Debian GNU/Linux instead simply by backing up your data and visiting Goodbye-Microsoft.com. Debian’s not perfect, but it doesn’t have to be perfect to be dramatically safer than that other OS. I’ve had two or three problems with patches in GNU/Linux in fifteen years of use. That other OS frightens people monthly…

See Patch Tuesday: 16 security advisories, 5 critical for Windows.

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The Last Barrier To GNU/Linux Desktops Crumbles

According to Digitimes, Chromebooks are having 100% growth this year. That should put them on the webstatistician’s radar finally.“global shipments of Chromebooks are expected to top six million units in 2014 and double to 12 million units in 2015, driven by shipments from Acer, Asustek Computer and Samsung Electronics in addition to Lenovo” This is breaching the final barrier to adoption of GNU/Linux on the desktop, retail shelves. Until the Chromebook there wasn’t much in the way of a global presence of GNU/Linux on retail shelves. ASUS was there briefly, and Dell and Canonical made progress but GNU/Linux is now doing well on every kind of legacy PC including thin clients.

See Lenovo to launch low-cost Chromebook in early 2015.

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