Governments Living Within Our Means

The sure things are death and taxes. In this modern age, we spend a lot of money on taxes. It is refreshing to see a government choose to spend wisely. I think they should use GNU/Linux and FLOSS for all their IT to save the taxpayers a bundle. I recently wrote the government of Alberta asking them whether or not they were using FLOSS, seeing that French and German governments were saving huge sums using GNU/Linux and FLOSS. I await the answer…

“We’ve introduced results-based budgeting, where government programs and taxpayer dollars will be examined by challenge panels to make sure we’re getting real results.
For the first time in over 25 years, we have a plan to start saving.
We will grow Alberta’s savings, including the Heritage Fund, to more than $24 billion in the next 3 years. These savings help guarantee our province’s future success.”

see Government of Alberta Living Within Our Means.

UPDATE I received a reply to my comment. It’s interesting but still has its sad parts…
“Thank you for visiting the Alberta Government feedback web site. Following is the response to your question prepared by Service Alberta :

Thank you for your question.

The Government of Alberta continues to investigate open source products to assess them for potential integration into the enterprise (IT) Information Technology environment. There are several open source products currently in use which have been selected for functionality and low (or no) cost.

The enterprise IT environment provides shared infrastructure to all Government of Alberta ministries to reduce costs and improve collaboration. This environment currently uses several forms of open source software including SUSE Linux servers running Apache web hosting services, Drupal content management systems, MySql database servers, PHP application servers and MajorDomo mailer services. There are several emerging applications that are using these LAMP stack platforms to ensure widespread usage at a minimal cost.

On the desktop, we also have several open source applications such as 7zip (file compression utility), VideoLAN VLC media player, Perl scripting tools, PDF Creator and others. The entire environment is monitored 24 hours per day using an extensive installation of Nagios which automates alerts to our support teams using extensive Perl scripts – a complete open source solution.

Several products have not been selected, such as Linux desktop platforms and office productivity solutions because of the major impact these changes would have to the current workforce. Every change in desktop platforms require full testing of thousands of off-the-shelf commercial software as well as custom, in-house developed applications. Many of these developed applications have several years and significant dollars invested in them. A large portion of these applications are not compatible with open source desktop platforms such as Linux and are difficult to port to those platforms.

A recent effort to upgrade to a new version of Windows resulted in an 18-month effort to ensure all applications were tested and repackaged for automated installations. This was simply to remain current on an existing platform. Moving to a non-Windows platform would be a very costly, multi-year endeavour.

Every effort is made to periodically review the platforms used within the enterprise environment and to take advantage of economical solutions such as open source products. There is definitely a shift in the industry to move more towards these products in the future and the Government of Alberta will certainly take advantage of those opportunities.”

The sad part is they weight the cost of the migration to the cost of one step on the Wintel treadmill instead of an infinite sum going off to the horizon… You only have to migrate once to GNU/Linux and the package manager will do most of the work for upgrades in a few minutes whereas they envisage spending a huge fraction of their time forever updating that other OS…

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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