Making FLOSS The Default Option Helps Procurement For Government

“The Italian military is transitioning to LibreOffice and the Open Document Format (ODF). The Ministry of Defense will over the next year-and-a-half install this suite of office productivity tools on some 150,000 PC workstations – making it Europe’s second largest LibreOffice implementation.”
See Italian military to switch to LibreOffice and ODF
I’ve long recommended every individual and organization make Free/Libre Open Source Software the default choice. You can’t go wrong. If FLOSS passes muster, you have freedom and huge savings. The larger the organization, the more freedom and savings you get. The Italian military is huge and they will gain more freedom on 150K PCs. Imagine the savings on one machine multiplied that many times. Some folks have paid hundreds of dollars per installation for M$’s office suite. Now M$ is wanting folks to pay per user per month or some such nonsense to maximize their profit. Italy’s timing is great.

Unlike Munich which took ages to switch OS and office suite, Italy’s military has made a plan and will just do it. That’s the right way to do IT. Keep it simple and achieve the goal, freedom. I’d prefer overnight or a weekend, but the lock-in is palpable with the office suite. Anyway, the world has figured out how to do such changes nicely, with a bit of education of technical staff and users. Poof! Problem solved. Now, I hope Canadian governments read this and take it to heart. They still have trouble naming FLOSS let alone using it.

Some governments pay M$ tens of millions of dollars annually for permission to use the hardware they own. It’s refreshing to read of a government that’s actually going to do what’s in the best interest of citizens/taxpayers instead of propping up failing monopolists like M$. There are plenty of similar outfits sucking on the taxpayers and citizens of the world. Adobe, Oracle, and a host of others charge huge sums for use of software the world can and does provide itself: operating systems, office suites, graphics suites, multimedia applications, databases, servers, networking software… Governments are large enough they can instead hire a few of their own people to contribute to global FLOSS projects to provide themselves and their citizens with great software at less than the cost of production rather than a multiple. That’s the right way to do IT.

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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7 Responses to Making FLOSS The Default Option Helps Procurement For Government

  1. oiaohm says:

    A validator !== A reference implementation
    DrLoser you might say that but Microsoft put ooxmlvalidator up-to ISO board as a reference implementation and was accepted. ISO reference implementations are not mandated to be complete(big hole in the ISO standard process). So its a incomplete reference implementation and no replacement to it has been put forwards.

    Reference implementation to a standard is what ever is officially accepted as a reference implementation. Sometimes its just validator but you hope the validator is extremely complete.

    This is why the OOXML standard is such a disaster zone.

    I don’t class ooxmlvalidator as suitable to be the only reference implementation to the OOXML standard. ISO standard rules forbid closed source being a reference implementation so that rules out MS Office.

    When Microsoft put RTF up for ISO standard they did the same thing of using a validator for the reference implementation. Both times Microsoft was very careful not to be the Author of either Validator so they had no direct responsibility to keep them current.

    DrLoser please stop commenting on OOXML stuff as you know absolutely nothing about the stupidity around it. Basically with OOXML Microsoft has run exactly the same play book as they did with RTF.

  2. DrLoser says:

    kurkosdr as normal you have your facts wrong.
    OOXML Validator under a Microsoft Public License
    OOXML does have a reference implementation.

    It might very well do, Fifi. It might very well have a reference implementation.

    But what you have just cited, for reasons best known to yourself, is in fact a validator. And not really an official validator either, what with it being produced and sponsored by a single individual (“RobertK”) and dating back to 2009. The phrase “quis custodiet ipsos custodies” springs readily to mind.

    Now, how can I put this in simple language that you might have the faintest chance of understanding? Oh, I know, I’ll use the PHP “exact equivalence” operator. Hooray for that!

    A validator !== A reference implementation.

    Surprising, even astonishing. But nevertheless a self-evident fact.

  3. oiaohm says:

    kurkosdr as normal you have your facts wrong.
    OOXML does have a reference implementation. It is open source. Yes the ooxmlvalidator is the reference implementation. Microsoft back in the day made a RTF validator as well.

    OOXML was Microsoft doing their normal EEE
    Embrace writing standard.
    Extend in incompatible ways.
    Extinguish competition.

    Yes MS Office produced OOXML don’t pass the Microsoft made ooxmlvalidator.

    kurkosdr like it or not we need fully operational reference implementations that are open source. Anything else you do suffer from extended issues. You need end users to be able to deploy the reference implementation next to competitor made implementation and see the screw up. You also need the developers to be able to look under the hood of the reference implementation. Something that is not mentioned is Libreoffice/OpenOffice that are used as reference to ODF have been found to have a bug or 2. Like miss implementing ODF document comments. With ODF is not always fix your application sometimes it fix the reference.

  4. oiaohm says:

    DrLoser you just proved you are a idiot quote that joke.
    1. no Italian tank ever made had more reverse gears than forwards ones.
    2. One most famous French General is Italian. Napoleon Bonaparte was born on a Italian island and Migrated to France.
    3. The most lethal for enemy Australian combat tactic is the rolling retreat. First done Kokoda Track

    Of course most people don’t see how the Kododa Track and Napoleon Bonaparte is joined. Napoleon Bonaparte one of his tactical recommendations is for every 1 step forwards be willing to take 3 steps back.

    Basically the Italian tank joke is like the Irish joke about helicopter ejection seat. Holding ground and having your forces wiped out is pointless.

    But DrLoser you do have a point historically great Italian Military leaders do make how FOSS operates. When FOSS cannot take over 1 market they pull Napoleon Bonaparte and attack and take a different market.

  5. kurkosdr says:

    And before someone says “then just use the vendor implementation and shut up” let me tell you governments are storring documents for the long haul.

    If Microsoft breaks compat, drops support for the format in the future (many users were burned when Word for Windows dropped support for the old DOS formats back then), or whatever, they ‘ll have to find an old copy, reverse engineer that and build a parser from scratch, in order to figure out what binary blobs Word 2007 dropped in it’s “transitional” formats, or which parts of the non-transitional spec are ambiguous or not agree with the vendor implementation.

  6. kurkosdr says:

    At last, the bozos at the governments are starting to understand that an “open standard” without a reference implementation with visible (not neccessarily open or free) source means nothing about the ability to interchange documents between apps of different vendors.

    And DOCX has the stupid “transitional”/”strict” divide to allow anyone to drop any blob they want and avoid the standard way of doing thing and call it “transitional” (Microsoft has dropped page setup info in a printer blob inside transitional docx’s)

  7. DrLoser says:

    What a wonderful metaphor for FLOSS the Italian military are. You are old enough to remember this joke, Robert:

    What’s got six reverse gears and one forward gear? An Italian tank. The forward gear is in case they get attacked from behind.

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