Freedom Should Count in Procurement

While price and performance may be the most important reasons to choose FLOSS, “Member of the European Parliament Amelia Andersdotter wants public administrations to consider software freedom as one of the reasons to select new ICT solutions. "Authorities should base their choice at least partially on an ideological framework. What freedoms does the software give to their citizens, enterprises, authorities and schools?"
see MEP: 'Authorities should include freedoms when deciding on software' | Joinup.

Amen. FLOSS should be the default IMHO, not a choice after running many hurdles. In education, in particular, there’s nothing that cannot be done with FLOSS so why not use it everywhere? The most important factor in effectiveness of IT in schools is having more seats. Since the capital cost and maintenance costs of GNU/Linux are very small, it allows nearly double the seats and should be the default choice. In business or government, the situation is a little different since nearly every worker has a PC but PCs can last twice as long using FLOSS so the answer is not different.

The four software freedoms:

  1. running the software,
  2. examining the software,
  3. modifying the software, and
  4. distributing the software

all count but probably running and distribution are the most important. Being able to legally replicate the software on a PC in an organization for $0 in licensing is huge. It affects installation, maintenance, routine operation and backup. For anyone involved in education or government the ability to distribute software to students or citizens has huge implications and will certainly stimulate the GDP.

Since the benefits of FLOSS last indefinitely and the benefits of a non-FREE licence are severely limited in comparison, this is a no-brainer. Which car would you buy, the one with the indefinite $free guarantee or the one that’s guaranteed as long as you are in the parking lot? FREEDOM is priceless in IT.

see also “Information Economy Report 2012 – The Software Industry and Developing Countries”, a UN publication:
“While the adoption of FOSS is currently most widely promoted in Europe, there are strong reasons for developing and transition economies to rely more on FOSS. For software enterprises and developers, FOSS can promote domestic market development and local innovation. Rather than purchasing software licences and services abroad, local FOSS development, sales and services can help keep resources within the local economy, opportunities for income generation and employment. FOSS can also enable local software SMEs to establish new niche markets. Governments should seize the various advantages of relying on FOSS when this offers a competitive solution to their software needs. Technological trends, especially with regard to cloud computing, mobile applications and big data, are further accentuating the reliance on FOSS. “

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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