Target: FLOSS

A long list of governments in Europe are promoting FLOSS to keep down the costs of government and to increase the local software/IT industry. The latest is Hungary.
“The government of Hungary is creating a resource centre to help the country’s public administrations implement free and open source software and open standards. One of the main goals of the centre is to make public administrations aware of the free and open source alternatives to proprietary ICT solutions.”
see Hungarian government confirms its plans for an open source resource centre | Joinup.

The obvious advantages of FLOSS for any government are:

  • employing their own citizens for software development,
  • reducing the overall expenditure on software by using $free licences and open standards,
  • being able to run, examine, modify and distribute software,
  • reducing the overall expenditure on software by sharing the collective production of the world rather than paying a single vendor or doing it all in house, and
  • using software fit for purpose rather than satisfying greedy monopolies and foreign corporations.

Europe seems to be far ahead of most continents as far as governments promoting FLOSS but I am sure it will catch on as successes become public. South America and Asia have made some progress and they are adapting use of IT and FLOSS together. Africa is dabbling more or less while North America is wallowing in Wintel. Unfortunately for me, I live in Canada where the federal and provincial governments have barely reached the point of acknowledging the existence of FLOSS. Schools and businesses seem to be far ahead of governments in Canada. The federal government seems to think FLOSS is fine for others to use but isn’t using much itself.

  • It recommends FLOSS for non-profits, including museums.
  • Stats Canada in the latest yearbook mentions nothing under ICT except bullying on the Internet… They did not even begin to study ICT until about 2007 and then concentrated on Internet and wirelessness yet the Internet runs on FLOSS, practically.
  • As early as 2004, the Defence Research Establishment recognized the merits of FLOSS, so the government seems to be wilfully ignornat. “Specific actions are proposed to increase awareness/use in DRDC such as: to promote FOSS by means of publications, workshops and conferences; to consider FOSS-based solutions in contractual work when they are technically competitive with other development strategies; to support DND/CF
    in assessing this emerging technology. This report also includes various navigation aids to help identify suitable FOSS products, a comparison
    spreadsheet that facilitates side-by-side comparisons of FOSS and COTS software and some practical guidelines to help project leaders to determine
    the suitability of FOSS in their specific project contexts.”
  • Proof of the Government of Canada not getting FLOSS is that they list only companies in their directory of software, not software packages, cutting out nearly all of FLOSS. e.g. They list non-existent Sun Microsystems next to OpenOffice… Under web server software they do list Solaris/SUN and Ubuntu GNU/Linux but they don’t mention M$’s OS and no other brand of GNU/Linux. They also list GUI under qualifications for servers…

So, don’t expect the Government of Canada to see the light any time soon. It’s not even clear that they are awake.

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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