It’s obvious to me that FLOSS is the right way to do IT. Of course, unfettered permission to run, examine, modify and distribute software“Taking into consideration the current stage of utilization of OSS in the Albanian public administration, the local ICT business experience and capacities and the current education system, it is strongly recommended to the Albanian government to start implementing initially the neutral approach combined with some enabling initiatives, thus recognizing, guaranteeing and ensuring fair and equal competition of OSS with other proprietary software.” is a huge advantage for any government. Still, many do not get FLOSS. Albania, for instance, plans to take a “neutral” approach so as not to rock the boat, strain resources, or stress too many people out… That’s just wrong.
“Neutral” treatment of FLOSS guarantees continued detrimental effects to IT in the government service by various lock-ins, EULAs (End-User Licence Agreement), and monetary charges. Any software that a government wants to use that restricts in any way what government can do with it should be sent to the back of the queue. Why should any government accept that they have to pay for permission to let their computers do only a fraction of what they are capable? Think per-CPU/user charges are “neutral”? They are not. They are punitive and unconscionable. The supplier of the software does not own the government’s hardware and should not be able to dictate how that hardware should be used. If the government adds one more computer to its system as a backup or to improve performance, what business is it of the supplier? None. Would the supplier of the software accept that they had to pay the government for every re-re-reboot, bug and vulnerability? Nope! Why should the government then accept charges on usage forever per-CPU/user/whatever? ISV’s and M$’s partners are not “neutral” in their approach to IT. By and large they charge as much as they can and after locking in governments with IT-systems of huge complexity, dependence and fragility, never miss an opportunity to forbid some other usage or raise charges. They are not “neutral” but “punitive”. Governments should treat business that act like M$ and other monopolists as criminals and bar them from doing business with government. That’s fair and just.
My own government thinks US Dept. of Justice negotiated a fair deal with M$ when they allowed them merely to write their own punishment, agreeing not to do a long list of stuff for a few years. Was that fair? Nope. Definitely not neutral. There is no justification for any government being neutral with M$ or “partners”. They are all in on the same scam, a conspiracy to defraud governments/taxpayers. Think that’s extreme? What did M$ do when various countries decided not to support OOXML? How about Korea when examined by the government with anti-competitive actions? M$ threatened them with loss of jobs and sabotage of IT. Was that “neutral”? Not in the least. Why even think of being “fair” to M$? That’s just playing a sucker to M$’s con-game.
No. The right way for government to do IT is to use FLOSS, a cooperative software product of the world. FLOSS is not out to cheat governments or anyone else. The world can and does make its own software. There is no need to allow tyrants like M$ to have a monopoly on the IT of government. I would suggest an aggressive plan to replace all non-FREE software in government ASAP, two to three years at most. There is just no excuse to continue throwing the taxpayers’ money at M$ and “partners” and at the same time enslaving workers, hardware and budgets to the whims of monopolists.
All the excuses about “fairness” and incapability of staff or FLOSS are just delaying tactics and should be dispelled by aggressive training of key people and setting up a bunch of prototypes. There is no lack that can’t be fixed in a year and then migration is easy. Some governments have done it over the weekend for Pity’s sake. Training materials are $free on the web and it costs nothing to load GNU/Linux and other FLOSS on a computer to try it out. Any deficiencies can be discovered and remedies promptly. It says so right in the licence: you can examine and modify the code as needed. If you have not the staff to modify the code, find some. It’s that easy. Just do it. Because of the licence, any problem can be fixed unlike that non-Free software which forbids changes.