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NYC Councilman (and Open Source Developer) Submits Bill Establishing Open Source

timothy posted about 5 months ago | from the say-fellas-we-could-give-the-money-back dept.

Government 105

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) writes "New York City Council Member Ben Kallos (KallosEsq), who also happens to be a Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) developer, just introduced legislation to mandate a government preference for FOSS and creating a Civic Commons website to facilitate collaborative purchasing of software. He argues that NYC could save millions of dollars with the Free and Open Source Software Preferences Act 2014, pointing out that the city currently has a $67 million Microsoft ELA. Kallos said: 'It is time for government to modernize and start appreciating the same cost savings as everyone else.'"

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Well, (4, Funny)

NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) | about 5 months ago | (#47121985)

I guess we should be glad there are no Visual Basic programmers on the City Council.

Re:Well, (1)

Jmc23 (2353706) | about 5 months ago | (#47122213)

Unfortunately the same can't be said for the government of canada!!

Re-election campaign (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47121999)

You just wait and see how much funding he gets in his re-election campaign (plus how much more 'the other guy'(tm) will get).
How dare he break free from his corporate overlords.

Re:Re-election campaign (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47122663)

Free Open Source Campaign

This is bullshit. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47122053)

And I'll tell you why:

Taxpayers should not be paying for someone's pet cause. Which is exactly what this is. Nothing more. Nothing less.

Proper action would be to mandate the government to use the best software for the task at hand. That might be open source software. It might be Microsoft software. Let the technical merits decide.

But "Abloobloobloo FREE BEER" is fucking retarded. Open source is not a blanket synonym for quality or usefulness. Just because something is open source does not make it awesome. Nor does lacking an initial purchase price make something cheap and clusterfuck/massive overtime free.

Re:This is bullshit. (5, Interesting)

Githaron (2462596) | about 5 months ago | (#47122183)

I would argue that having any government move to open source is good for everyone. I don't know if it will be cheaper but I do think it will like give the people more bang for their buck. Instead of those dollars going into one person's pockets, they can not only still be used to solve the government's software problems but also provide software libraries and frameworks for other to bulid off of.

Re:This is bullshit. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47122343)

I would argue that having any government move to open source is good for everyone. I don't know if it will be cheaper but I do think it will like give the people more bang for their buck. Instead of those dollars going into one person's pockets, they can not only still be used to solve the government's software problems but also provide software libraries and frameworks for other to bulid off of.

Agreed. All government documents should be written with LaTeX and/or XML to get away from any proprietary or screw-ball formats.

Re:This is bullshit. (1)

CaptnZilog (33073) | about 5 months ago | (#47123565)

I would argue that having any government move to open source is good for everyone. I don't know if it will be cheaper but I do think it will like give the people more bang for their buck. Instead of those dollars going into one person's pockets, they can not only still be used to solve the government's software problems but also provide software libraries and frameworks for other to bulid off of.

Agreed. All government documents should be written with LaTeX and/or XML to get away from any proprietary or screw-ball formats.

... and I can't tell if that's heavy sarcasm or not. Well played. :P

Re:This is bullshit. (1)

xvan (2935999) | about 5 months ago | (#47124935)

Well, almost all government documents are written with LateX (Academic papers) or XML (docx).

Re:This is bullshit. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47123141)

If I had to choose between open source where I have to have more people hammer on stuff to get things going versus closed source where a couple H-1Bs can be hired on the cheap and down-low, in a non-profit organization where PR is everything, I'd take the open source, since it would get more people employed and skilled, even though it has more rough edges.

As part of a city, if you pay a person, they buy stuff in the city, so you get part of the money back from sales tax, and other items. A licensing fee just flies to the company at hand, and likely out of the country into some tax haven.

Of course, each situation is different. Do anything with 3D printing or CAD/CAM, and AutoCAD is a must by name because it is the lingua franca for the industry. Same with Acrobat and professional press. However, there are a lot of tasks that Libre Office and a Linux desktop can do well on a small scale.

Re:This is bullshit. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47123329)

Your initial assumption is wrong "...have more people hammer...". Open source requires fewer people.

Munich did the conversion with about 9, for about 19,000 platforms. Ongoing support required no more people added.

Re:This is bullshit. (0)

exomondo (1725132) | about 5 months ago | (#47124639)

Yes because governments have proven themselves so capable of efficiently and cost-effectively completing IT projects in the past, why not give them even more responsibility in that area.

Re:This is bullshit. (2, Insightful)

Jmc23 (2353706) | about 5 months ago | (#47122201)

So, you couldn't be bothered to read the one page and started on a rant that has nothing to do with what is trying to be accomplished eh?

Slashdotters shouldn't be paying with their time for you to push your agenda.

Re:This is bullshit. (1)

Jmc23 (2353706) | about 5 months ago | (#47122879)

ah, modded troll because I committed the slashdot sin of actually RTFA and the proposed law, and then calling out someone who didn't and was burning a strawman to the slashdot gods.

Have to love the new slashdot.

Re:This is bullshit. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47123241)

Slashdot was always like this. It hasn't changes since I've been visiting here, for 20 years.

Consider incidentals (5, Insightful)

l2718 (514756) | about 5 months ago | (#47122291)

Taxpayers should not be paying for someone's pet cause ... Proper action would be to mandate the government to use the best software for the task at hand ... Let the technical merits decide.

I'm sorry, but while technical merits should be paramount, they are not the only consideration. Public contracting is not an exact science, and it is entirely appropriate to have non-technical considerations tip the scales in close cases. So while Free Software should not be mandatory, legislating a preference for it makes perfect sense.

Furthermore, there are considerations beyond the needs of a specific project and tender. Free Software has an externality: when the government (as a customer) requests modifications and improvements (and pays for them to be created), everyone benefits. For example, when my university has Blackboard Inc fix a bug (or improve the software) only Blackboard captures the value (when they sell their software to the next customre). If we were using Moodle, every other Moodle user would automatically benefit. Had we opted for Moodle, we'd also benefit from fixes made by other universities.

Re:Consider incidentals (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47122677)

Thank you for apologizing. That was excruciating.

May contain nuts. (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | about 5 months ago | (#47124921)

Agree. It's just giving "prefered supplier" status to OSS rather than a specific company, large IT firms get similar preferential treatment because of the "nobody gets sacked for picking IBM" factor. This is why it is important to be seen as a "teir 1" provider, you don't have to look for government tenders you automatically get an invite. Someone still has to integrate all the "free" software bits into a system, IT firms will still be hired to do that and they won't miss out on a penny, they just get a "uses OSS" box to tick in the tender, however the less competent firms won't like it because it means the grip of vendor lock-in is just that little bit looser. Conceptually no different than putting "may contain nuts" on something edible.

Re:May contain nuts. (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 5 months ago | (#47127247)

It's important not to conflate 'open source' and 'community developed' in this situation. A requirement that all procurements be open source just means that, as part of the purchase, the government gets a perpetual license that permits modification and redistribution (both of the original and derived works). It can still be bespoke software written by Oracle or IBM (or in-house), or a completely off-the-shelf product, but the customer is then always able to find a second source for maintenance if one is required.

Government Moodle dev here. Half of what we want (1)

raymorris (2726007) | about 5 months ago | (#47125129)

> If we were using Moodle, every other Moodle user would automatically benefit. Had we opted for Moodle, we'd also benefit from fixes made by other universities.

Moodle sure has worked well for us. Many of the custom modules we have wanted have been written by devsat other universities. When I write stuff, everyone benefits as you say. Two additional benefits with Moodle specifically are quality control and maintenance. Any patches I make to the core Moodle are QAed quite a bit through the Moodle process, so my employer (the taxpayers) have assurance that they are getting quality work for the money they pay me. The custom work on the previous LMS which ended up being unsustainable wouldn't have passed Moodle QA. Also, where we share modules with other schools, that means multiple developers at multiple organizations are able tomaintain the package over time. If I get hit by a bus and Moodle HQ gets hit by a meteor, someone at Binghamton University will still be maintaining the scantron module we use.

Re:This is bullshit. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47122361)

This "Pet Cause" is actually a conflict of interest and is illegal. He is part of an organization that may benefit from the decision, and should thereby recuse himself from the discussion.

The fact that he didn't demonstrates a measurable lack of the understanding of ethics. But then there are plenty of role models in the federal government these days.

Re:This is bullshit. (1)

NotSanguine (1917456) | about 5 months ago | (#47122823)

This "Pet Cause" is actually a conflict of interest and is illegal. He is part of an organization that may benefit from the decision, and should thereby recuse himself from the discussion.

The City Council could benefit? I guess that any law that might improve the lives of NYC residents could benefit the members of the City Council. By your logic, City Council members should recuse themselves from all legislation unless it harms NYC, right?

Re:This is bullshit. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47122963)

Willful ignorance of what the above person said is not a good thing. An open source software developer stands to (quite probably) make money for either himself or his friends directly from going to open source because government likes being supported. Thus pushing this into law as a legislator is a direct conflict of interest, and ethically questionable. This has nothing to do with indirect benefits, like you imply.

Re:This is bullshit. (1)

NotSanguine (1917456) | about 5 months ago | (#47123293)

Willful ignorance of what the above person said is not a good thing. An open source software developer stands to (quite probably) make money for either himself or his friends directly from going to open source because government likes being supported. Thus pushing this into law as a legislator is a direct conflict of interest, and ethically questionable. This has nothing to do with indirect benefits, like you imply.

I'll quote the original poster, so you know what I'm referring to:

... He is part of an organization that may benefit from the decision, and should thereby recuse himself from the discussion. [Emphasis Added]

Since the summary and the attached link make only one assertion as to which "organization" this guy belongs, that is the NYC Council, I questioned the validity of his point. Unless there's some shadowy "Open Source Developer" organization that I've never heard about. I suppose it's possible that the Councilman is a member of some organized group of FOSS developers, but without a reference, the OP's statements are nothing but unsubstantiated mud-slinging.

Re:This is bullshit. (2)

TapeCutter (624760) | about 5 months ago | (#47124947)

Unless there's some shadowy "Open Source Developer" organization that I've never heard about.

Turn out the lights, I think he's on to us...

Re:This is bullshit. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47123385)

Vs giving money to out-of-state contractors and companies.

Much better to keep it in the state, and in the city.

Re:This is bullshit. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47123545)

So he can't suggest that, because he makes some software under open source license? It's not like he's saying let's use my and my buddies software only. There is no interest of conflict, because he might not make a penny out of this. He might not make software, that's useful to government and there are most likely other options anyway and also he might not get paid anything anyway, because it's open source. The government can compile their own versions and what ever.

Re:This is bullshit. (1)

drall.kj (3527169) | about 5 months ago | (#47123091)

Is proposing a bill to the council illegal (when there is a conflict of interest)? If it came to a vote and he didn't recuse himself I could understand the conflict. I don't know how the ethics laws are written.

Re:This is bullshit. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47122481)

The government has a responsibility to utilize open source, so they can know exactly what the software is doing, hire anyone to modify it to meet their needs, and give the public the ability to do the same. It's in the public interest, regardless of how well the software works or how much money they save; those are only bonuses.

Re:This is bullshit. (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | about 5 months ago | (#47122695)

Open source != free beer.
In fact, being "gratis" is not a requirement for being open source.
Open source is, amongst more familiar aspects, about stuff like accountability.

Re:This is bullshit. (2)

jc42 (318812) | about 5 months ago | (#47123211)

Open source != free beer. In fact, being "gratis" is not a requirement for being open source. Open source is, amongst more familiar aspects, about stuff like accountability.

Indeed, and this is also an excellent example of where we can use the canonical /. automotive simile: There is a long tradition of government agencies (and some corporations) requiring that all purchased vehicles come with complete shop manuals. This is a direct parallel to requiring the source code for software. In both cases, such a requirement makes it possible for the purchasing organization to set up their own repair shop to fix the products when something fails. It also allows the purchaser to make their own mods to handle their special needs.

Many US states (and a good number of other countries) require that shop manuals be available for all vehicles sold in their jurisdiction, not just to the government. This is done to guarantee that independent auto shops can exist, and the vendor can't have a monopoly on repairs and spare parts. The same argument applies to software. With open source, you can hire local independent software contractors to debug (and/or extend) purchased software. Without this, both government agencies and private purchasers are at the mercy of the vendor when problems or special needs arise.

Of course, we can expect to hear from the usual corporate shills (paid or ideologically motivated ;-), pushing their usual misleading claims. But note that nobody much ever claims that open-source software is bug-free. The argument is that, when bugs are discovered, people not working for the vendor can study the code and fix the code. And they can also publicize bugs and fixes, unlike what happens all too often when dealing with secret, proprietary software. This also applies to both software and vehicles.

Re:This is bullshit. (1)

DickBreath (207180) | about 5 months ago | (#47123649)

> Proper action would be to mandate the government to use the best software for the task at hand.
> That might be open source software. It might be Microsoft software. Let the technical merits decide.

Freedom and cost are technical merits.

Closed source software is not forbidden, just not preferred. If other factors outweigh freedom and cost, then so be it. But if other factors are the same, then freedom and cost seem to be reasonable factors upon which to have a preference.

What about SaaS? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47122059)

This reads like the right bill for ten years ago.

Re:What about SaaS? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47122457)

SaaS is viable provided the data is in a format which is well-documented and open to the public. Why can't an office suite offered as SaaS store the documents in XML? Accounting applications equally should have data stored in an easily accessible format; XML or CSV seems a natural choice.

This was expected (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47122063)

When Microsoft decided to turn it's back on desktop style operating systems to focus mainly on tablet-based interfaces, the only logical conclusion was for organizations that depend on the old systems to jump ship and go elsewhere.

Re:This was expected (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47122169)

Right. This happened when MS stopped selling Win7 and stopped support for it.

Re:This was expected (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47123423)

No... it was when they depreciated the desktop in favor of the tablet...

I'd be satisfied with... (4, Insightful)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | about 5 months ago | (#47122065)

I'd be satisfied with a preference for whatever actually works for the given requirement, for the least amount of money. FOSS, proprietary, whatever.

Re:I'd be satisfied with... (4, Insightful)

Ichijo (607641) | about 5 months ago | (#47122121)

Evaluate software not just on purchasing/licensing costs but also on the cost of installing the software, migrating old documents, and training users, and the time required to complete day-to-day tasks. Because sometimes FOSS is only free if your time is worth nothing.

And require open standards.

Re:I'd be satisfied with... (4, Interesting)

oodaloop (1229816) | about 5 months ago | (#47122237)

Sure. As long as the same is done with Windows. We went from XP to 7 and every edition of Office with no training. In those cases, we all taught ourselves and each other informally. I taught myself Ubuntu at home, so it can be done. Let's just compare apples to apples.

Re:I'd be satisfied with... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47122273)

So you're promoting a switch to OSX, then?

Re:I'd be satisfied with... (2)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about 5 months ago | (#47122267)

Also require that anything developed by the city staff itself be released as FOSS if at all possible. Evaluate all competing bits to ensure that they allow derivative works to be released as FOSS.

Because it's one thing to pay public money to a private org to get work done; it's quite another to pay public money to public servants and have the resulting product not be available to the public.

Re:I'd be satisfied with... (0)

smooth wombat (796938) | about 5 months ago | (#47122355)

Because it's one thing to pay public money to a private org to get work done; it's quite another to pay public money to public servants and have the resulting product not be available to the public.

No it's not. It's still public money. Just because one is a private organization should not mean they should be exempt from releasing their work such as you suggest the public servants should do.

This is the same twisted logic the banks and brokerage firms used in 2007-2008 to justify why they shouldn't be answerable to government oversight despite getting trillions of taxpayer dollars to prop up their failed businesses and giving themselves bonuses with that money. If you're getting taxpayer money, you should be subject to the same rules as the public employees.

Re:I'd be satisfied with... (1)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about 5 months ago | (#47124495)

The logic may be twisted, but corporations = people under the law.

Therefore, the government paying a corp for a service is like the govt paying a contractor for a service -- you don't get to look inside the private workings of either, you just get to enjoy the services rendered.

Enough of playing the advocate.

I agree with you 100% -- but I also know that you have to stick your foot in the door with reasonable claims before you can pry the door wide open with claims that those inside may not currently find reasonable. Get them used to the idea of living in a FOSS culture before demanding that their suppliers have to also be a part of it. Preference to FOSS? sure... required? That will involve a significant cultural shift, whether it "should" be the case or not.

How About We Make it Mature? (4, Interesting)

mx+b (2078162) | about 5 months ago | (#47122287)

Open standards is extremely important. I'd hate for all that data to be locked into Microsoft Excel format, or what have you.

While I agree that sometimes the FOSS is buggy or missing features, I do not think in this situation we should let that stop us. In fact, I would love to see NYC (and other cities across the country) agree to sponsor/contract a couple of developers each to work on whatever we need: data formatting and conversion, word processing, accounting, voting software, etc. In this way, while the FOSS is maybe not up to spec today, we can all work together on making it up to spec soon. In this way, we all pool resources, get it done correctly ONCE*, and enjoy the savings and philosophical warm and fuzzies.

(* yes I understand that long term we would probably need to continually hire developers on a contract basis to fix problems that come up, or add new features or support for new operating systems, etc., but generally speaking it would be much less impact on the budget long term -- though I also understand the political pressure currently to cut budgets rather than spend a little extra for a perk down the road.).

Re:How About We Make it Mature? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47122763)

In fact, I would love to see NYC (and other cities across the country) agree to sponsor/contract a couple of developers each to work on whatever we need: data formatting and conversion, word processing, accounting, voting software, etc. In this way, while the FOSS is maybe not up to spec today, we can all work together on making it up to spec soon.

So instead of Microsoft (a dedicated software company), we would have a network of cities with a couple of developers in each working on an office suite? That's a horrible waste of resources, especially when we already have Microsoft Office which works fine for the most part. Look, I share the concern about open standards, but we have to also consider what is practical.

Re:How About We Make it Mature? (3, Insightful)

mx+b (2078162) | about 5 months ago | (#47123143)

So instead of Microsoft (a dedicated software company), we would have a network of cities with a couple of developers in each working on an office suite? That's a horrible waste of resources, especially when we already have Microsoft Office which works fine for the most part. Look, I share the concern about open standards, but we have to also consider what is practical.

You are correct, if everyone made their own office suite, but that was not what I was proposing.

I instead would like a few local/state governments to COLLABORATE on the SAME FOSS office suite (and maybe not even a totally new one -- perhaps jump on board LibreOffice, Calligra, etc.) and make it up-to-par to the needs of government, rather than paying Microsoft for continually bloated office suites that push you more and more to their OneDrive and proprietary formats. Yes, there would be some up-front costs, but then everyone -- local governments, small business, whatever -- could benefit from a nice FOSS suite. It's a much more practical use of resources, as well as philosophically good (since government is keeping data in open and documented formats and software, supporting small business by hiring people to work on it, letting small business use the FOSS for free, etc.)

That has worked extremely well for Moodle (1)

raymorris (2726007) | about 5 months ago | (#47125283)

That model has worked very well with various universities and other agencies pitching in on Moodle, which is a framework that hosts online courses. It takes care of things like enrollments, grade reporting, etc. - everything that isn't course-specific. After a couple of years of open widespread contributions, Moodle is as good as any commercial competitor.

Re:How About We Make it Mature? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47127061)

sometimes the FOSS is buggy or missing features,
WTF? No sparky, the FOSS is not buggy. The proprietary crap is buggy. FOSS is clean. PROOF: The US Department of Homeland Software Security Audit. FOSS is weapons grade software. The leading proprietary software vendor (with multi-billion dollar founder), was found severely lacking. That's why the US Navy threw it out and adopted FOSS, thats why the New York Stock Exchange threw it out and adopted FOSS (likewise London, Chicago, Tokyo). There isn't any missing functionality in FOSS either. When you chuck the proprietary stuff, you are stepping up. You don't just get lower front end costs, you get lower back end costs, lower cost of ownership, and instead of just having a worldwide group of free coders, you have multiple paid vendors competing to provide better service (instead of a single locked-in vendor who can decide to provide service --or not-- at whatever price they decide to dictate). As a very large bank pointed out more than a decade ago, "Free Software also brings Free Market". You never again have to look at a 100 page EULA and then try to guess whether you can get the software you need or if you even have a leg to stand on. If you want the software to do something else, with FOSS its possible. With the other stuff, you are pushing a rope, and with FOSS you are allowed, with the other stuff, their lawyers might just kick in your door and remove all of your furniture and all of your cash (and that has really happened in the past). Why would any company use software where the vendor gets to dictate an end of life, where its no longer supported and make the customer pay if they want to access their own data anymore? Its like building a factory on a boat that can sail away at any time without notice, without any option to move what you put on the boat off the boat before it sails.

Re:I'd be satisfied with... (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 5 months ago | (#47122303)

Evaluate software not just on purchasing/licensing costs but also on the cost of installing the software, migrating old documents, and training users, and the time required to complete day-to-day tasks. Because sometimes FOSS is only free if your time is worth nothing.

And require open standards.

That's a BS excuse. I've been pushing FOSS for quite a while in a company that uses that very excuse quite a bit. But how many projects have you been involved in where the profit gains have been so desirable that Executives just say "You know what, I'm just signing off on this and ignoring your concerns. You'll figure it out."??? Hell, that's what happens MOST of the time on very large, complex projects. There's no reason the government can't do the same. Dump the new systems on the users, they HAVE to figure it out... in fact, isn't that what they did with healthcare.gov?

A more legitimate concern is what do you do if the community abandons the project you're basing your roll-out on? So assuming it's "Free" is incorrect. You should assume that you'll need to donate time or money to keep the project funded if you want further development and bug fixes.

Re:I'd be satisfied with... (3, Informative)

swv3752 (187722) | about 5 months ago | (#47122397)

About the only way to get open standards is to use FOSS. There are also benefits that will spur the local economy as proven with the recent story on Munich. Plenty of FOSS projects are best of class. It is not just about up front costs or installation and configuration. What are the ongoing support costs? For a given number of servers, it usually means more Windows admins that Unix/Linux admins. Unix/Linux can do more on given hardware than Windows. When Microsoft transitioned Hotmail from BSD to Windows Server, they had to more than double the amount of servers to achieve the same performance.

Plenty of Government uses FOSS- http://leeunderwood.org/linux/... [leeunderwood.org]
There are even more undocumented cases, but I am not at liberty to divulge that information.

cost of leaving too (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47124779)

Assume you won't keep the software forever. Can you get your data out of it?

This is something that needs to be reconsidered with version upgrades as well. Do the new features prevent data export? Did data export go away?

Re:I'd be satisfied with... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47126997)

Why is it that when people talk about FOSS, they always bring in externalities like "the cost of electricity" as if no other software needs computer hardware powered by electricity. Also, any software needs user training, has installation costs, etc. FOSS usually requires no user training (people already know how computers work in general). Document migration happens all the time anyway (for example, there is an *EXTREMELY* common software vendor that makes absolutely certain that every new version of their software is completely incompatible with all older versions (you can migrate the old to the new, but the new is never ever readable by the old). But there are big wins in stability, security, license cost, and performance. And the last statement is actually a bold-faced lie: they said "sometimes FOSS is only free if your time is worth nothing", but since you are more productive with FOSS, ditching the bloated performance sapping proprietary junk is really the best option.

So? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47122083)

Money saved by the government never translates into money put back in the pocket of the tax payers.

Re:So? (1)

DickBreath (207180) | about 5 months ago | (#47123699)

> Money saved by the government never translates into money put back in the pocket of the tax payers.

So instead of saving it, the money should just go to vendors?

The money may not go into the pocket of taxpayers, but some or all of it may go into other government expenses. So that $67 million to Microsoft could either lower the budget by $67 million, which you say never happens, and it might not, or it could be spent on other items in the budget. That seems better than wasting it.

Some Reasonable Arguments (3, Informative)

NotSanguine (1917456) | about 5 months ago | (#47122113)

From the proposed amendment:

It is necessary for the functioning of the city that computer data owned by the city be permanently available to the city throughout its useful life. To guarantee the succession and permanence of public data, it is necessary that the city's accessibility to that data be independent of the goodwill of the city's computer system suppliers and the conditions imposed by these suppliers. It is in the public interest to ensure interoperability of computer systems through the use of software and products that promote open, platform-neutral standards. It is also in the public interest that the city be free, to the greatest extent possible, of conditions imposed by parties outside the city's control on how, and for how long, the city may use the software it has acquired. Finally, it is not in the public interest and it is a violation of the fundamental right to privacy for the city to use software that, in addition to its stated function, also transmits data to, or allows control and modification of its systems by, parties outside of the city's control.

I agree that we should use the right tool for the right job, but why should that exclude FOSS?

Re:Some Reasonable Arguments (2, Insightful)

bmajik (96670) | about 5 months ago | (#47122243)

There are some great points in there

1) access to data without vendor approval/involvement.

2) interop

3) no "remote killswitch" on software

4) no strange privacy leaks

I think these are all fine requirements.

But it's not clear to me why closed software couldn't meet them.

For instance, how does Windows + Office not meet these requirements?

1) the Office XML formats are documented, open, and have reader/writer libraries on non-Microsoft platforms

2) As a result of the consent decree, and much subsequent engineering and doc work, its quite easy to interop with windows and office.

3) So far as I know, there are editions of Windows and Office that require no internet connection at all, and certainly have no provision for remote-kill.

4) Microsoft is actually pretty good about shutting off telemetry, either on a per user basis, or with centralized management tools -- because enterprise customers want this capability too.

Re:Some Reasonable Arguments (0)

FearTheDonut (2665569) | about 5 months ago | (#47122363)

Undoing Moderation - Posted Redundant.

Re:Some Reasonable Arguments (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47123243)

"For instance, how does Windows + Office not meet these requirements?"

Well, we don't know. That's the point. With FOSS we can answer that question.

Re:Some Reasonable Arguments (2)

garyebickford (222422) | about 5 months ago | (#47123789)

From my own experience, today, I would say that one way Office fails is that a document written in Open Document Format, which is a standard that MS has signed on to, could not be opened by my boss. I don't know the details in this particular case, but several times with my own work I've experienced a failure where the new MS "security features" prevent opening anything not produced by MS Office, or even by an earlier version of MS Office. I forget what it's called, but it required my to get an upgraded version of MS Office on a machine that was only used to work on one Excel file, one or two days per year.

And then there's Office Open XML, which is Microsoft's successful standardization ploy to prevent ODF to take hold. To my knowledge nobody has ever built a complete OOXML implementation, including Microsoft. And some of the rules in the "standard" are in the form, "do it like Excel 2007 does it." What the H___ does that mean? OOXML was nothing but a scam from the beginning, intended to defend MS against the thrust toward standardization. The classic methodology used in procurement is to define the desired product specification in such a way that only one vendor can meet it, and OOXML is a successful tool for that.

The councilman is right - all government documents _must_ be in a form that can be correctly opened, read, and if necessary edited, by future tools that may have no historical relation to Microsoft or any other present software vendor. Imagine if the land, birth, and death records of Britain from the 1200s were written in a script that nobody understood any more. That is what governments _must_ prevent.

Re:Some Reasonable Arguments (1)

FaxeTheCat (1394763) | about 5 months ago | (#47126885)

The "security" feature has a documented workaround, and is there because the components reading older versions have vulnerabilities. It si quite simple to define a folder as "safe" and move the documents there, or to define the folder where the documents are located as "safe". This feature has been ther esince Office 2003, and your IT support people should know this.

If your boss could not open ODF in MS Office, then maybe it is because Office open ODF files according to the standard. The problem is that most of the vendors using ODF have added extensions which are not (yet) part of the standard. Is that Microsofts fault?

When you are writing negatively about OOXML, at least get your facts correct. There is no "Do it like Excel 2007" in there. There are a few "do it like Office 95 Word", but those are only needed to correctly render a few minor formatting features on documents originally created in Word 95. How critical is it to ensure that every minor formatting detail from a document created more than ten years ago is correct?

As for your last paragraph: Even without the spec, you can get the content of any OOXML document. Any OOXML document is a zipped folder structure with the text stored as plain text with XML tags. No risk of losing access to the content. Quite an improvement compared to the old DOC/XLS formats, and for those who remember, the WordPerfect formats (yes, I have tried to decode it).

365. Not hostage to vendor goodwill (1)

raymorris (2726007) | about 5 months ago | (#47125419)

I think you would agree that Office 365 meets approximately none of the requirements. Consider Adobe recently decided to make all of their software subscription / cloud only. Microsoft _could_ therefore do the same with Office. Knowing that, reread this sentence:

> be independent of the goodwill of the city's computer system suppliers and the conditions imposed by these suppliers.

The party of slavery (0)

davek (18465) | about 5 months ago | (#47122181)

I know it's the default in NYC (and NY in general), but I still wish some of these smarter guys would rebel and throw off the chains of the Party of Slavery. It forces me to question everything you do, even if it sounds interesting and benificial.

Re:The party of slavery (0)

NotSanguine (1917456) | about 5 months ago | (#47122345)

I know it's the default in NYC (and NY in general), but I still wish some of these smarter guys would rebel and throw off the chains of the Party of Slavery. It forces me to question everything you do, even if it sounds interesting and benificial.

Yes, TCO is an important consideration WRT software/systems purchasing, as is the mix of administration and support personnel currently employed by the city. We should weigh all the costs *and* benefits of any solution implemented by NYC government. I suspect that in some cases, FOSS solutions will be better and/or more cost-effective than proprietary ones, and in other cases they will not.

So, rather than go on with political party smears that haven't been true since before the majority of NYC residents (median age 33.6 years) were born, why not make a useful suggestion?

We just got rid of the scumbags (Guiliani and Bloomberg) from the "Party of Lincoln" who ran this city for the benefit of the monied interests (and who used the police to harass and harm minority communities) for twenty years.

Let's give the current administration enough rope to hang itself and see how it does.

Call it the hartbleed act (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47122229)

So, you want FOSS, OpenSSL is FOSS. Look where that got us. You know who isn't vulnerable to it? Anyone who is running IIS. FOSS doesn't mean cheaper or better. It just transfers the cost from licensing to integration and maintenance. People who look to free find out exactly what the cost is, and it definitely isn't free.

Re:Call it the hartbleed act (3, Insightful)

rogoshen1 (2922505) | about 5 months ago | (#47122335)

dude. your argument is basically this : "hEartbleed was a serious bug in FOSS. therefore FOSS is bad". So periodically FOSS has a serious bug. okay.

I'm not even going to bother trying to reference all the recent events involving Adobe, MS, or Apple having quite serious bugs in their proprietary code.
A similar bug could have just as easily have happened to a closed source shop. As long as humans are writing the code, it's a possibility.

The thing is, companies with licensing revenue have every incentive in the world to machinate lock-in. And with lock-in comes higher prices, both for support and the software itself.

By all means use the best tool for the job, but retaining some optionality for the future is a valuable thing.

I'd rather keep the risk of another bug like heartbleed than deal with vendor lock-in, ever increasing licensing costs, compliance costs, potential BSA raids, and frequent zero day exploits. =/

Re:Call it the hartbleed act (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47122531)

I'm not even going to bother trying to reference all the recent events involving Adobe, MS, or Apple having quite serious bugs in their proprietary code.

So what? Saying that does not still make open source any better. No matter how many vulnerabilities the closed source programs have, there was a serious vulnerability in a mission critical open source component, and when the source was inspected further by the OpenBSD team, a lot of more dragons were found. We can just wonder how many more "hidden garbage cans" there are lurking among OSS projects.

A similar bug could have just as easily have happened to a closed source shop. As long as humans are writing the code, it's a possibility.

Of course, but the company would lose their reputation and customers if that happens. That keeps them awake. That's what makes them put more effort into proper testing and code analysis, to prevent such mistakes. Also, the coders are more motivated as they are paid appropriately.

Re:Call it the hartbleed act (1)

rogoshen1 (2922505) | about 5 months ago | (#47122609)

Adobe.

Re:Call it the hartbleed act (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47122711)

So what? Saying that does not still make open source any better.

No, it doesn't. But applying the bullshit logic above to proprietary software would mean that no software can be used. Pay attention.

We can just wonder how many more "hidden garbage cans" there are lurking among OSS projects.

Lots of government workers use proprietary software, so why aren't you wondering the same thing about that?

This is not a valid objection to using FOSS; not at all.

Of course, but the company would lose their reputation and customers if that happens.

You do realize, of course, that you could hire developers to work on the code?

In fact, you don't have to depend on one organization to write the code; you could fire some company that you had developing the FOSS code and hire someone else. It gives you more options.

Being locked in to one company is never any good. And with the number of companies who worked with the NSA, the public (and the government, since not necessarily everyone in the government is filled in on those things) has a right to know exactly what the software is doing.

Re:Call it the hartbleed act (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | about 5 months ago | (#47122867)

Saying that does not still make open source any better.

Indeed. Nor does it make open source any worse.

when the source was inspected further by the OpenBSD team, a lot of more dragons were found.

How about when the source of [random closed source application] was inspected? Oh right, you can't.
Just because closed source dragons aren't publically disclosed, doesn't mean they aren't there.

Of course, but the company would lose their reputation and customers if that happens.

Most of these bugs aren't publically disclosed. The few that are, rarely have any significant impact for the company. Not even for severe data breaches.

Re:Call it the hartbleed act (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47123469)

What makes it better is that the fix was available within days... not months.

Even the person that identified the bug provided the fix. Can't do that with proprietary software...

Re:Call it the hartbleed act (1)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | about 5 months ago | (#47126969)

Or they just hide the errors, present them as someone else's fault, or it's "not on the tasklist" and thus never gets addressed. I've certainly seen all of these, with both open source and closed source. But closed source is more prone to pretending the problems do not exist, especially when the major security groups have agreed not to publish flaws that there is not yet a patch for.

Re:Call it the hartbleed act (1)

exomondo (1725132) | about 5 months ago | (#47124625)

dude. your argument is basically this : "hEartbleed was a serious bug in FOSS. therefore FOSS is bad". So periodically FOSS has a serious bug. okay.

No I think his point is that if the government starts developing and using FOSS then we are going to end up with a horrible solution that costs a fortune and takes forever, have you seen the monumental fuckups and cost blow-outs of government IT projects? You really want to entrust them with the software development aspects as well?

It's one thing to say they should use a distro like Ubuntu in place of Windows or LibreOffice as opposed to MS Office but a sweeping move to the government adopting and contributing to FOSS across the board is an awful idea.

Re:Call it the hartbleed act (1)

rogoshen1 (2922505) | about 5 months ago | (#47124759)

I live in Oregon, Oracle was working on our ACA portal, it has cost a fortune and is taking forever.

At any rate though, I think that transparency in government is a good thing. With a bridge or a road, we see the budget, and we see the final results. We see the relative quality, and where it's breaking down.

With software, we see a price tag (loosely based on reality) and we see superficially how it performs -- otherwise it's a black box (or in Oracle's case, a black hole). With FOSS, whatever code the government produces could be vetted, improved, forked -- and/or reused on other projects. We, the public paid for it, shouldn't it be publicly available?

Overall it doesn't seem so much like a horrible idea to me.

Re:Call it the hartbleed act (1)

exomondo (1725132) | about 5 months ago | (#47125023)

With FOSS, whatever code the government produces could be vetted, improved, forked -- and/or reused on other projects.

It's a nice idea but the reality is governments are paranoid and it's naive to think that contributions wouldn't ultimately have to go through a lengthy and expensive oversight process.

We, the public paid for it, shouldn't it be publicly available?

Another nice idea but I think it's pretty obvious that "We, the public" pay for a lot of things that aren't publicly available.

I'm not opposed to your idea in principle, it's just pretty clear that in practice the government would need a significant shift in the way it does things for those arguments to be particularly compelling and valuable.

Re:Call it the hartbleed act (1)

jedidiah (1196) | about 5 months ago | (#47122365)

...except you always have the costs of integration and maintenance anyways. Hiding from Free Software won't change that. Those costs can be considerable and ongoing for commercial proprietary solutions.

Your argument only works if you try and pretend that integration and maintenance of commercial software is free.

Re:Call it the hartbleed act (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47122435)

OK, who let the Microsoft Shill out of its cage?

Re:Call it the hartbleed act (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47122541)

OpenSSL suffered from bit rot and competing implementations unique to various hardware and software platforms. Should an audit of OpenSSL happened years ago? Yes. Who was going to fund the resources necessary to conduct the audit and clean-up? That is the underlying issue which led to the vulnerability in OpenSSL.

Re:Call it the hartbleed act (3, Informative)

DickBreath (207180) | about 5 months ago | (#47123781)

That argument works both ways. Microsoft has had some very serious security bugs. Therefore, using your logic, all Microsoft software should not now or ever again be trusted. Think Code Red and others. In 1999 on a fully patched NT box you could compromise it with regular HTTP requests to IIS by just using pathnames with dot-dot-backslash and then working your way down the WINDOWS System CMD.EXE and then using it to run TFTP.EXE which was a standard part of the install. You could make the server TFTP down a bad exe from your own server, and then a second carefully crafted Http request to CMD.EXE could execute it for you. Game over.

Microsoft then fixed this by not allowing IIS to accept the dot-dot-backslash business. But you could use percent-sign-hex characters to represent the dot-dot-backslash. Microsoft then fixed that in IIS, but the filesystem would still accept the percent-hex-code characters. So you could double-escape them to get the filesystem to walk you to the CMD.EXE. Eventually they got this right and it was fixed. But there were many other holes. And who's stupid idea was it to run a server process, basically with root privileges?

I could go on. Even recently there was a major IE vulnerability that affected current and past versions.

Heartbleed was one instance of a lapse in security.

QA (2, Interesting)

jones_supa (887896) | about 5 months ago | (#47122375)

No, just no. The quality of OSS is too bad. Well, let's not say bad per se, but it varies a lot. What you win in software licensing costs, you lose in fighting all the bugs. Too many of your support calls will be wasting your time with silly glitches [launchpad.net] .

Re:QA (1)

by (1706743) (1706744) | about 5 months ago | (#47122761)

This is certainly true for some software (GUI/UX-heavy sort of applications, in my experience). Linux kernel, Apache (and the whole LAPP/LAMP stack), FireFox/Chromium, etc. are all OSS (to some extent). Yes, I think Open/LibreOffice is FAR from competitive with Word -- so I guess I'm agreeing with you, it varies a lot; but I take issue with "the quality of OSS is too bad."

I'm certainly not advocating abandoning proprietary software in one fell swoop. But there are cases where it can make loads of sense -- server OS, desktop browsers, etc.

Re:QA (1)

jones_supa (887896) | about 5 months ago | (#47122825)

But there are cases where it can make loads of sense -- server OS, desktop browsers, etc.

Yes, I agree. But my point was that the quality varies too much for open source to be the answer just because.

Re:QA (2)

dens (98172) | about 5 months ago | (#47122973)

This is certainly true for some software (GUI/UX-heavy sort of applications, in my experience). Linux kernel, Apache (and the whole LAPP/LAMP stack), FireFox/Chromium, etc. are all OSS (to some extent). Yes, I think Open/LibreOffice is FAR from competitive with Word -- so I guess I'm agreeing with you, it varies a lot; but I take issue with "the quality of OSS is too bad."

You're citing the same handful of great (yes, they are) OSS apps that most proponents of OSS do, but these, in my experience, are the exception, not the rule.

Re:QA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47123563)

Of all the proprietary software I've worked with, I would say that great applications in general are the exception rather than the rule. Closed source does not equal high quality any more than open source does.

Re:QA (1)

dens (98172) | about 5 months ago | (#47126519)

A valid point.

Is that supposed to be funny? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47122925)

My apologies if your post was sarcasm. Projects are at Launchpad for a reason, the packages are not ready to be included in the repositories.

I have converted many machines from Windows 8 to Mint over the last several months, leaving my contact information. Not only have I had zero calls for support, I am getting references to switch even more people over.

Re:Is that supposed to be funny? (1)

jones_supa (887896) | about 5 months ago | (#47123407)

My apologies if your post was sarcasm. Projects are at Launchpad for a reason, the packages are not ready to be included in the repositories.

My apologies if your post was sarcasm.

If not, you seem not to be aware that Launchpad is also the main bug tracker for Ubuntu.

I have converted many machines from Windows 8 to Mint over the last several months, leaving my contact information. Not only have I had zero calls for support, I am getting references to switch even more people over.

Well, good for you. What kind of tasks are your customers performing on those machines?

Re:QA (1)

garyebickford (222422) | about 5 months ago | (#47123889)

It's been a while, but the stats I'm familiar with showed that FOSS code had a lower error rate than commecial code - 1 error per 200 lines vs. 1 error per 80 lines in shipping production code. IIRC that 1 in 80 number was originally from Microsoft, about their own Windows code.

From my Software Quality Assurance Workshop that I ran a few decades ago, the numbers for enterprise level, production code using the best practices of the time were in that same ballpark. Interestingly the rate didn't vary with language - Assembler, FORTRAN, COBOL, SQL, etc. - the difference is in what each line actually did. It's possible that something like ADA is better, IDK.

And this all ignores what is an error. From the texts used in my workshop, at that time about 70% of all errors were in the design, not the programming. And in today's world, I would argue that many characteristics of commercial code amount to errors, although the company calls them features - things that improve the company's defense against competitors or "pirates" at the expense of the user's convenience or efficiency; needless complexities and what I call "doilies" - pretty but useless features that just boost the vendor. These types of errors are much less common in pure FOSS software, although very prevalent in a lot of freeware such as phone apps. In a level playing field, all these anti-features, built into the design, should be included in the error statistics.

Re:QA (1)

jones_supa (887896) | about 5 months ago | (#47124315)

Yeah, whatever, man. I'm right now personally bisecting a regression where Linux kernel fails to enable render ring (3D acceleration) for GM45, and another regression where the ACPI fan control broke for a laptop. At the same time the default Ubuntu media player is unable to show the mouse cursor and control widgets in full screen when I move the mouse. These kind of things very rarely break under Windows and Mac. My point remains: no one will be able to use a full open source software stack in business world if there is this many unreliable components in the mix. We have real problems to solve, not random breakage like this.

Re:QA (1)

garyebickford (222422) | about 5 months ago | (#47124511)

In fairness, those sound like mostly hardware driver issues. FOSS often has a disadvantage when the hardware vendors neither build a linux version of their proprietary drivers, nor provide adequate, up to date information for someone else. This has been perhaps the longest running and most problematical part of the Linux situation. A very relevant question is whether the ACPI fan itself is doing what it's supposed to - it may be that the HW vendor put a hack in its proprietary Windows driver to work around it but never told anybody else. Or not, of course. Most folks who traditionally and even now talk about the unreliability of MS Windows don't realize that the great majority of the old "blue screens" were caused by buggy proprietary HW and HW drivers, not the OS itself.

So, assuming that by GM45 you mean the Intel GM45 gaming chipset, the true question there is why didn't Intel provide a non-buggy driver for Linux, or documentation that will allow a FOSS driver to work correctly? (Although high performance HW like this is almost always hard to write drivers for, even for the vendors.) To my mind, this may be a reasonable example of the commercial vendor "error" I discussed in my last paragraph, not of Linux or FOSS. Or it's just growing pains for new HW. Consider that Intel had a year or two to work on the driver with the latest and greatest Windows machine before release so their problems were never public, while the Linux driver folks may have just started, and are developing in a public setting.

Re:QA (1)

jones_supa (887896) | about 5 months ago | (#47124709)

The both bugs are regressions, which means that everything worked fine a couple of kernel versions ago.

ACPI fan control is quite generic stuff and does not require a manufacturer-specific driver. GM45 is a chipset used in business laptops 5 years ago, not a gaming chipset.

Re:QA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47127163)

So is it a stable kernel or an RC kernel? There is a lot of ACPI stuff going on with the RC kernels right now. Also, you said you thought the media player was supposed to be displaying the mouse cursor (not the window manager?). And also, if there are bugs in the current version and not in a version from a few releases ago, why are you trying to use the most bleeding edge version? If it was stable, go back to stable. If you need to be productive, go to where you are productive. "Doctor it hurts when I do this... then stop doing that!" Why are you "personally bisecting a regression", when you don't have to? Someone else will fix it for you, and you can get back to "real problems to solve, not random breakage like this." Its like you built a straw man, then set him on fire.

Re:QA (1)

jones_supa (887896) | about 5 months ago | (#47127257)

So is it a stable kernel or an RC kernel? There is a lot of ACPI stuff going on with the RC kernels right now.

I ran across the fan issue with the Ubuntu 14.04 LTS stock kernel (3.13). The bug itself seems to have happened somewhere between 3.11 and 3.12. Still working on it.

Also, you said you thought the media player was supposed to be displaying the mouse cursor (not the window manager?).

Yes, it could be a window manager bug too.

Why are you "personally bisecting a regression", when you don't have to? Someone else will fix it for you

Sure, the "open source community", the mythical creature which always does the work for me for free, so I can just drink beer. Look, if it's a clear regression, I can accelerate solving the bug greatly by doing the bisecting and testing on my personal machine, so I can pinpoint it into certain piece of code, instead of the ACPI developers scratching their heads and having to suggest random things to try.

Re:QA (1)

Severus Snape (2376318) | about 5 months ago | (#47124645)

No, just no. The quality of OSS is too bad. Well, let's not say bad per se, but it varies a lot. What you win in software licensing costs, you lose in fighting all the bugs. Too many of your support calls will be wasting your time with silly glitches [launchpad.net] .

Unity (back in 2011 remember) is a very twisted example to go for, a piece of very immature software. Part of Ubuntu 11.10 which was an non LTS release. If any IT manager deploys that in the first place you've got much bigger problems than painful support calls.

Re:QA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47124703)

As opposed to freaking what? Closed source? Have you ever worked in an enterprise environment with million dollar vendor software? It is ridiculously bad too. Updates that break, functions that go no-where, bug reports that dead end at a user issue, bizarre interfaces of mystery, I could write a book about all the crap that Vendors dish out.

In any case, at least with Open Source, you can get a support contract if you want. I prefer the kind that give you support for bugs, but also allow x hours for new features. The new features are then added to the software for EVERYBODY, which means you also get new features supported by everyone else.

For a government, this is a huge advantage as they should be cooperating while improving software that can be shared directly with the public, who in the end paid for it.

Re:QA (1)

rastos1 (601318) | about 5 months ago | (#47127075)

No, just no. The quality of OSS is too bad.

In some cases yes. But imagine how much it would improve if it got only 1/10th of what the state pours into proprietary solutions. And then everyone else would benefit too!

Bringing Free Software to the table at least (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47122603)

While I admit that there are real potential benefits of some proprietary software (namely availability of training, & experienced work force in some cases), I would be happy to at least see FOSS be at least given the opportunity to be considered. Enterprise licenses can be wasteful, and governments like private organizations are starting to realize that "having someone to sue" doesn't help all to often. when things go bad.

No. Just no. (1)

SureSureRightWhateva (3671905) | about 5 months ago | (#47125147)

I keep seeing these types of stories, with people screaming about how much "Cheaper" OSS is vs. Closed Source. But very few people look past the cost of the licensing. I challenge you to replace a fully-working Microsoft environment with something OSS that provides full feature parity. Removing Exchange/Outlook is always the sticking point. You can piss and moan about standards, and Outlook client issues all day long, but the fact remains that Outlook/Exchange "just works", scales incredibly well, and integrates with Active Directory, Sharepoint, Office, Lync, etc. And yeah - companies USE these things. Users don't give a fuck about standards, about freedom, about a 'cause'. They want to do their work and come home. Active Directory group policies. Software deployment/installation. Roaming profiles. Automatic print driver installation. Recognizing and installing a plethora of "WTF" hardware for at least basic functionality (old peripherals, printers, etc.). While I applaud the efforts of the OSS community and the desire to build enterprise software, Microsoft rules the desktop for a reason. People know it. It wasn't a huge change from 95 to 98 to 2K to XP to Win7. The basic paradigm was there. Start, Programs, whatever. The application software and the "open standards" underneath simply do not matter to most organizations, because they and nearly every one of the agencies they interact with ALSO use Office formats, or PDF. They don't give a damn about Open Document formats. They don't care about sendmail standards. They don't care about RFCs. They care that they can do their job, to use the information they need, and then deliver it to their colleagues, bosses, etc. Replacing Win7/WIn8 with Mint is great. Install OpenOffice/LibreOffice. Fine. Get your email client connected, and you can even use DavMail to connect to Exchange. But you cannot force users to lose functionality in the name of a cause. Want to dethrone MS? It's not the damn desktop OS - it's the ecosystem that allows modern business to use one common toolset, one user name, and have stuff "just work". Hacking together Mint, sendmail/postfix, some webapp here, some kludgy mess here, a mashed up Kerberos/eDirectory ... that isn't going to get it done. What about when you go past about 50 users, and need to install new software for everyone? How about for 10,000 users? How about users that move from desk to desk, or office to office? The costs of adminstration, upkeep, training, and the requisite specialist for the infrastructure quickly outweigh any upfront costs. Yes, Windows admins can be had cheap. A desktop admin is less spendy than a full server admin; that's fine. He can handle a large # of desktops via GPO, AD, and the tools provided. Move out of the 90's, people. Microsoft desktops and servers aren't the BSOD shitboxes you remember. For the most part, Windows Server is stable. The desktop OS (Windows 7, I too have not totally embraced Win8) is rock solid, works well, and runs pretty much anything, with no hassle. Blaming hardware drivers, blaming users, blaming people for 'not wanting to care' - so what? Do you get worried about if your GM car uses a proprietary data bus? Do you care about the intimate details of your plumbing? No. You just want it to work. Make F/OSS "just work" - make an easy migration path - and you'll have something. Until then, it will continue to be purpose-driven (servers, appliances, etc.), and for those of us on the 'edges' of IT.

Re:No. Just no. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47127083)

Didn't read everything you said, but look at the city of Munich.

It's been tried (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47126273)

Take a good look at what happened in Massachusetts with OpenOffice. The CIO of Massachusetts tried to switch all state offices to open standards about 10 years ago, especially for documents, because frankly not even Microsoft can reliably read old Word or Excel or other documents. He tried to swith the state offices to OpenOffice, which at least *documents* their formats.

Microsoft then invented "OOXML", and rammed it through the ISO committees, an "open" document format that does not work and which is impossible to follow, even for Microsoft, so they could *pretend* to have an open format when filling out checklists for such govenmental guidelines. The forced adoption was so horrid that many ISO members resigned in protest.

Microsoft then tried to "dead agent" the guy, leaking information to the Boston Globe about how the CIO was involved in personal trips at taxpayer expense to cast rumors and doubt about his honesty. It turned out he was completely innocent, he paid for his own vacations and the taxpayers paid for Mass. project business trips, and he was very careful to separate them. But it was a plain old rumor mongering smear campaign, as described at http://www.infoworld.com/d/developer-world/cio-who-brought-openoffice-massachusetts-resigns-903.

So if you're the one looking to get taxpayers off of the Microsoft monopoly, look out. They play *dirty* when it's affecting their bottom line.

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