I’m not particularly fond of politicians. They have a habit of saying one thing during election campaigns and another when in office…“The Greens question the validity of the main argument used by the Foreign Ministry for the return to the usual proprietary solution – improved efficiency. It seems the costs for the conversion and the cost for licences were higher than estimated, and the expected benefits did not materialise, the Green politicians write on their blog.
For many years, Germanyâ€™s Foreign Ministry was one well-known example of a public administration using free software. In 2008, one of its diplomats explained how this strategy kept the costs of running workstations the lowest of all of Germanyâ€™s ministries. Annual maintenance costs of a Linux-desktop would be around EUR 1000, compared to the EUR 3000 average, and much lower than the costs reported per workstation by the Interior Ministryâ€™s, around EUR 7000.
See German Greens ask Foreign Affairs to amend way.” Germany’s Greens, OTOH, seem to retain their ideals espoused in both seasons. They want to nail Germany’s Foreign Affairs department to the wall. A few years ago, that department was telling the world how secure, reliable and economical GNU/Linux and FLOSS were but lately have reverted to that other OS, “for interoperability”. Well, the Greens are demanding some numbers to back up Foreign Affairs’ position. As Linus likes to demand “Show me the code“, the Greens are demanding to see numbers for cost/benefit.
This could be fun. The real costs of that other OS are two to three times the cost of FLOSS and GNU/Linux by many estimates. Yes. There is a reason M$’s, Oracle’s and Adobe’s margins are fantastic. They charge too much. The world can and does make its own software cheaper and better. Governments should use that software. I recommend Debian GNU/Linux, LibreOffice, FireFox and a bunch of others. They’re all good enough for government work and will save the taxpayers a bundle. Governments should contribute to FLOSS and hire programmers rather than paying outrageous licensing fees to fat foreign entities.
One technique I used in teaching was to put students on the “hot seat”, asking them questions about the subject matter and forcing them to think for themselves. Students hated it but, boy, did they ever think fast… 😉 The fastest way off the hot seat was to give good answers. I trust Germany’s Foreign Affairs will not delay digging out the true cost/benefit analysis of their IT and will learn the errors of their recent ways.