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Lobbyists Urge South Australia To Drop Open Source Bill

timothy posted more than 11 years ago | from the commonwealth-means-what-again dept.

Software 248

Red Wolf writes "The Age reports that South Australia has caused eyebrows at the Initiative for Software Choice (ISC) to be raised in concern, with the organisation writing to Premier Mike Rann over a proposed Open Source software bill. The ISC, by its own definition, is a "global coalition of large and small companies committed to advancing the concept that multiple competing software markets should be allowed to develop and flourish unimpeded by government preference or mandate"."

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248 comments

The GPL: Intellectual Property or Intellectual The (-1, Troll)

Michael's a Jerk! (668185) | more than 11 years ago | (#6220788)

As a consultant for several large companies, I'd always done my work on
Windows. Recently however, a top online investment firm asked us to do
some work using Linux. The concept of having access to source code was
very appealing to us, as we'd be able to modify the kernel to meet our
exacting standards which we're unable to do with Microsoft's products.

Although we met several technical challenges along the way
(specifically, Linux's lack of Token Ring support and the fact that we
were unable to defrag its ext2 file system), all in all the process
went smoothly. Everyone was very pleased with Linux, and we were
considering using it for a great deal of future internal projects.

So you can imagine our suprise when we were informed by a lawyer that
we would be required to publish our source code for others to use. It
was brought to our attention that Linux is copyrighted under something
called the GPL, or the Gnu Protective License. Part of this license
states that any changes to the kernel are to be made freely available.
Unfortunately for us, this meant that the great deal of time and money
we spent "touching up" Linux to work for this investment firm would
now be available at no cost to our competitors.

Furthermore, after reviewing this GPL our lawyers advised us that any
products compiled with GPL'ed tools - such as gcc - would also have to
its source code released. This was simply unacceptable.

Although we had planned for no one outside of this company to ever
use, let alone see the source code, we were now put in a difficult
position. We could either give away our hard work, or come up with
another solution. Although it was tought to do, there really was no
option: We had to rewrite the code, from scratch, for Windows 2000.

I think the biggest thing keeping Linux from being truly competitive
with Microsoft is this GPL. Its draconian requirements virtually
guarentee that no business will ever be able to use it. After my
experience with Linux, I won't be recommending it to any of my
associates. I may reconsider if Linux switches its license to
something a little more fair, such as Microsoft's "Shared Source".
Until then its attempts to socialize the software market will insure
it remains only a bit player.

Thank you for your time.

Re:The GPL: Intellectual Property or Intellectual (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6220813)

Your a toon, you only have to provide the source to people you sold it to. And by lawyers you meant your mom right??? I like how to refer to the gpl like you've never heard of it before even though you say you worked with Linux. Maybe you should stick with Windows, its as closed as your mind is.

Re:The GPL: Intellectual Property or Intellectual (1, Offtopic)

pe1rxq (141710) | more than 11 years ago | (#6220823)

Please don't feed the trolls.....

It has the same old nonsense:
-We have to do all the work for the rest of the world to leach
-Compiling with GCC makes program GPLed
-GPL is keeping linux back

Jeroen

Re:The GPL: Intellectual Property or Intellectual (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6220816)

Furthermore, after reviewing this GPL our lawyers advised us that any products compiled with GPL'ed tools - such as gcc - would also have to its source code released.

A good troll excercises at least some degree of subtlety. I think whoever modded the parent "insightful" just felt sorry for you. Or wanted a quick way out of the moderator pool. :)

Re:The GPL: Intellectual Property or Intellectual (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6220929)

What happened to the parent?? First it was there as first post and now it has gone!! Was it modded down so much that it literally dissappeared? Or was this some editorial decision made by the slashdot maintainers?

Suggestion (0, Offtopic)

Chuck Chunder (21021) | more than 11 years ago | (#6220820)

Either a) Get new lawyers. b) Stop trolling.

Re:The GPL: Intellectual Property or Intellectual (0, Offtopic)

Penguuu (263703) | more than 11 years ago | (#6220821)

Furthermore, after reviewing this GPL our lawyers advised us that any products compiled with GPL'ed tools - such as gcc - would also have to
its source code released. This was simply unacceptable.

Where did you hire your lawyers? :)

You just have to release source, if you use existing
source and modify it, but if you just use GNU-tools, you don't have to release the source.

Re:The GPL: Intellectual Property or Intellectual (0)

mericet (550554) | more than 11 years ago | (#6220828)

This is simply not true.

GCC has an exception, compiled code have no strings attached.

You don't have to distribute the changes, only give them to your clients (but with no NDA about the code).

I won't even comment about the fairness of shared source, or GPL being draconian.

And BTW, GPL is not General Protective License, it is General Public License.

Re:The GPL: Intellectual Property or Intellectual (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6220832)

A few comments:

1. The Linux kernel does support Token Ring, it was probably disabled on your distro for some reason.

2. ext2 does not need defragmentation.

3. Your lawyer is an idiot. You only need to release source code under the GPL if you are releasing the binaries; if it was a purely internal development then the source can be kept private. Secondly the GCC license does not and never has said that everything compiled with GCC must be open source.

I say again, your legal beagal is an idiot. He did not actually read the GPL, he just pontificated on something he did not understand. Because of that you have wasted a lot of time and effort doing something unnecessary.

Slashdot link that shows indeed it does (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6220963)

Here's a link [slashdot.org] that shows that if he had read slashdot, he would know that the Linux kernel supports the Tolkien Ring.

Re:The GPL: Intellectual Property or Intellectual (1)

CrankyFool (680025) | more than 11 years ago | (#6220834)

You and your lawyer are ... somewhat naive with regards to the Gnu GPL (General Public, not Protective, License). It does not indicate you must release the source for any modifications you make to programs covered by the GPL, only for modifications you make to programs covered by the GPL AND THEN DISTRIBUTED. In other words, you can make any modifications you want to the source, and keep them private, as long as you don't then release the binaries resulting from compilations of your modified source. Further, my own reading of the GPL does not indicate that simply using a GPL work such as GCC results in the software you are compiling to be ruled by the GPL; the GPL talks about "works based on the Program[controlled by the GPL]" or "a work containing the Program or a portion of it, either verbatim or with modifications and/or translated into another language." Penultimately, I think you're probably about five years or so behind the times if you think that Linux is, at this point, "only a bit player." Lastly, I'm guessing you're just trolling, right?

Re:The GPL: Intellectual Property or Intellectual (1)

danielrendall (521737) | more than 11 years ago | (#6220835)

I'm sure I'll be corrected by people who know about these things, but to my understanding, your lawyers are mistaken.

I think you're entitled to modify GPL'd stuff all you want for your own amusement, but you're not allowed to release compiled binaries of your work without also releasing the source code. So if all the work you did was internal, I think you're entitled to keep it that way, although if you have made useful changes you ought (as a moral principle) to give them back to the community.

I'm not sure of the status of GCC, but I'd very much doubt that everything you compile with it has to be released - how could you, since some things that you compile may be other people's proprietory code! And I certainly wouldn't want to be deluged by a sea of GPL'd "Hello, World!" programs...

Would anyone who is, actually, a lawyer like to comment? I'd like to be clear on these points myself :-)

Re:The GPL: Intellectual Property or Intellectual (2, Informative)

weeble (50918) | more than 11 years ago | (#6220836)

Your lawyers obviously do not have a clue what they are talking about.

Compiling software with gcc does not require you to release your software under the GPL.

If you are developing 'in-house' and are not releasing your software you do not need to release the source code.

If you use someone else's code, of course you have to comply with their licence. If that is the GPL and you want to sell your code as well as their code I should think you would have to release it.

If you incorporated a piece of Windows's code into your application, do you not think that you would have to comply with Microsoft's licence???

Linux has had Token Ring support for a long time; this looks like more FUDing and Trolling.

Ext2 is a well written filesystem and does not require constant defragging like Microsoft's filesystems do. This is lack of knowledge on your own part. I have a number of file and database servers running ext2 and ext3 that have been up for a number of years, while being heavily used and still only have 3 to 6% fragmentation.

Sorry to all others for responding to such an obvious Troll; however some fool had moderated it up.

Re:The GPL: Intellectual Property or Intellectual (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6220851)

BRAVO, BRAVO!

Successfully trolling this many people is quite an accomplishment ... there are WAY more idiots here than I thought (and that's saying a lot!)

What a bunch of morons.

Re:The GPL: Intellectual Property or Intellectual (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6220881)

What's more, this is an old one.

Re:The GPL: Intellectual Property or Intellectual (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6220854)

GPL Stands for "The Great Peoples Licence [orgsites.com] ". Get it right you capitolist pig.

Re:The GPL: Intellectual Property or Intellectual (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6220878)

You are dead right. Our busniess was foolish to skip on legal advice, and we has to release early versions of our software under the GPL.

To any business owners / managers reading this: Please, please don't listen to the Linux Maniacs. It's cheaper to avoid the GPL altogether.

poor caldera...(or should i say SCO) (1)

intermodal (534361) | more than 11 years ago | (#6220941)

You are dead right. Our busniess was foolish to skip on legal advice, and we has to release early versions of our software under the GPL.

To any business owners / managers reading this: Please, please don't listen to the Linux Maniacs. It's cheaper to avoid the GPL altogether.


if only you had released a windows distribution instead of trying that whole linux thing, huh?

Re:The GPL: Intellectual Property or Intellectual (4, Informative)

peachpuff (638856) | more than 11 years ago | (#6220880)

"So you can imagine our suprise when we were informed by a lawyer that we would be required to publish our source code for others to use. It was brought to our attention that Linux is copyrighted under something called the GPL, or the Gnu Protective License. Part of this license states that any changes to the kernel are to be made freely available. Unfortunately for us, this meant that the great deal of time and money we spent 'touching up' Linux to work for this investment firm would now be available at no cost to our competitors."

Always ask your lawyer before you sign the deal. Besides, "making the changes freely available" means giving people the source code if you give them the binaries. You don't have to give the binaries or source to anyone except the investment firm. The GPL also makes it clear that you and the investment firm can separately agree that they will not redistribute the binaries or code.

"Furthermore, after reviewing this GPL our lawyers advised us that any products compiled with GPL'ed tools - such as gcc - would also have to its source code released. This was simply unacceptable."

Replace your lawyer--he can't read. The GPL does not require you to license things under the GPL simply because they were compiled with gcc.

If you don't believe me, read it [gnu.org] yourself.

And stop trolling.

Re:The GPL: Intellectual Property or Intellectual (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6220910)

H.o.l.y F.u.c.k. THat was unreal! Reel those bitches in, Ahab!

IAWTP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6220967)

I agree with this post.

FP FP (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6220790)

FP!!

First Ost. (-1)

Luke SkyTroller (564295) | more than 11 years ago | (#6220792)

yea.

Episode 10: Situation Report (-1)

Walmart Security (570281) | more than 11 years ago | (#6220810)

The aroma of premium Samâ(TM)s Choice coffee infiltrated my nose as I sipped a cup delicately. Robert would be arriving momentarily, and I would request a situation report. He and I are, of course, the guardians of a Walmart Supercenter located inside of the prosperous community of Jasper, Texas.

Weâ(TM)ve encountered Paul Cryer, who initiated litigation after his SUV impacted my elite patrol vehicle, and miscellaneous other members of the nefarious Three Pointed Conspiracy. Our integrity, however, is the origin of our strength. We will never abdicate our store. I digress.

"Peter!" exclaimed Robert, emerging from the door leading to the lawn and garden center.

"Robert," I smiled, "youâ(TM)re fifty seconds late. I will not accept such unpunctual behavior. What if a situation occurred in your absence?"

My protégé said nothing, instead walking to the vending counter and drawing a cup of coffee. I wouldnâ(TM)t punish him this evening. "How was your day?" I asked.

"It was fine," said Robert, "but you need to listen to this. There was a situation today at the restaurant!" You see, Robert is also employed by the prestigious Catfish Diner restaurant, which is regarded by many as the most elegant dining establishment in Jasper! Their all-you-can-eat seafood buffet, although expensive, is quite exquisite. I recommend it. Once again, however, I digress.

I turned to Robert. "What was the situation?"

"Well, this man came in," he said, "a man from Houston. It was strange, though, as the emblem on his car wasnâ(TM)t" â" Robert paused â" "I mean, he didnâ(TM)t seem to be a member of the Three Pointed Conspiracy. But, as we both know from experience, such terrible people are unable to conceal their true nature!"

"What happened?" I inquired, attempting to suppress my concern. Robertâ(TM)s safety was of an imperative nature.

"Well, it didnâ(TM)t become physical," he said, "so I didnâ(TM)t need to thrash him. People were obviously intimidated, though. I walked to his table.

"âWhat would you like this evening, sir?â(TM) I asked.

"âLook, man, is there any way you can get me some Starbucks coffee?â(TM)

"âStarbucks coffee? I donâ(TM)t believe we serve that, sir. Would you like some Community Coffee instead?â(TM)

"âI donâ(TM)t drink anything that gives me running diarrhea!â(TM) he said, raising his voice as if he were insulted. âI guess Iâ(TM)ll have some Coke. Anything to keep me awake so that I can get out of this anus of a city tonight.â(TM)

"I must admit that he was beginning to offend me. However, like an experienced waiter, I suppressed my anger. âYes, sir,â(TM) I said, and returned with his drink.

"âLook, man, Iâ(TM)m sure that all of your food sucks anyway, and you only serve a buffet. Itâ(TM)s probably something that I wouldnâ(TM)t even feed my dogs, but Iâ(TM)m desperate. So, Iâ(TM)ll have that.â(TM)

"âYes, sir,â(TM) I responded, âbut our food is excellent. In fact, it is superlative. Our seafood is delivered fresh once every week!â(TM)

"âThatâ(TM)s great,â(TM) he said, laughing, âbut tell your master chef not to screw me over too badly, aâ(TM)ight?â(TM)

"I must concede that I ignored the manâ(TM)s request. I returned with a plate and some silverware, which he snatched promptly from my hands. Fifteen minutes later, I returned with his tab. âHere, sir,â(TM) I said, âthank you for dining with us this evening.â(TM)

"âMy displeasure,â(TM) said the man, handing me a car key, âthis food was terrible, by the way. If this happened at any other restaurant, I would probably shoot the chef. My Lexus is parked outside. Bring it to the front door, please, and donâ(TM)t forget: there are two towels inside of the glove box. Use the smaller one to grip the steering wheel. Place the larger towel between yourself and the seat. I wouldnâ(TM)t want some incompetent like you to contaminate my vehicle.â(TM)

"Quite desperately, I stepped outside and located the manâ(TM)s automobile. I drove it to the front door. I was just being hospitable, you know. Then he stepped outside.

"âI see the grease on my steering wheel from here, you little bastard!â(TM) he exclaimed. I began to anticipate a quarrel. âYou didnâ(TM)t use the towels, did you?â(TM)

"âNo,â(TM) I quipped, âI didnâ(TM)t use the towels. Where are you from, anyway?â(TM)

"âIâ(TM)m from Houston,â(TM) the man replied as he entered the vehicle, âan excellent city, where everybody is just like me!â(TM)"

Yawn (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6220830)

I come from South Australia and I am embarassed that there have only been 4 comments on this article. Get some priorities, it has been 10 minutes without so much as a proper first post.

Re:Yawn (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6220840)

Ok then -- *ahem*.... ASUIES SUX()R5!!11 FP BITCHES!!!

Re:Yawn (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6220841)

Being from europe I can relate to your sentiments....
To often stories related to something outside the US are bashed by idiot americans thinking their way of live is the one true way....

I hereby grant you a comment as you requested.

Re:Yawn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6220893)

To often stories related to something...
Get back to your American class, Fez.

I wonder (3, Interesting)

HornyBastard (666805) | more than 11 years ago | (#6220838)

how many of the lobbyists work for microsoft.

Re:I wonder (1)

CrazyDuke (529195) | more than 11 years ago | (#6220976)

I wonder how many astroturf in here.

(Well, it can't be too many. ;P)

Re:I wonder (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6220977)

Â¥â$, MiÂro$oft $uÂk$. âvân if Â¥ou won't bâ modâratâd up, havâ $omâ "mâta-karma"

Same old same old (4, Insightful)

geschild (43455) | more than 11 years ago | (#6220844)

The article doesn't detail the intricacies of the law so I'll just guess: government wants to make itself consider Open Source first before spending money on the propriety route.

Naturally, propriety software producers' lobying group sees their collective future sales go to hell and starts whining.

Next steps:
- Condemn the lobying group
- call on all local geeks to pressure the governement to accept the proposed ammendment.
- start an all out flamewar with the trolls on " the relative merrits of both types of software".

Now if somebody mods this up high enough fast enough, we can get this over with real soon... *grin*.

Nonetheless... (5, Insightful)

MickLinux (579158) | more than 11 years ago | (#6220909)

... I have to say that *my* opinion has been changed by the slashdot news items, and I think other peoples' may be too.

Normally, I like to choose the best software for the best application. However, the idea of public data is important.

The argument that convinced me was the pro-business alternatives that should be required: open data format, with full perpetual license to read and convert to other formats, should be acceptable for most purposes [not voting: The US demonstrates the flaws of closed-source vote tallying].

That said, I feel that even this requirement should stand only for the case of items of public record on computer. That is, you don't need MS Word to be open source/data format, if your only documents of record are on paper.

Now, people have had this flamewar going for who knows how long. But even flamewars can convince people. They moved me from "no regulation" to "encourage OSS".

After all, it is one person who decides which software to buy. But he's deciding for the property of others. Closed and open formats are not equal, therefore.

Re:Nonetheless... (2, Interesting)

geschild (43455) | more than 11 years ago | (#6220923)

To be honest, I agree that a "heated discussion" can help to form ones mind on a topic. I do think, however, that it may not be the best or even the fastest way to change someones mind.

Please remember this comes from a person who is renowned for his hard-headedness.

(fwiw, I agree with your arguments too, but that's my opinion. I also think there are other arguments in favour of government regulating in favour of OSS which is, again, my opinion.)

Re:Same old same old (2, Insightful)

Cluestick Enforcer (682056) | more than 11 years ago | (#6220961)

You're correct, as the bill itself states, in part 17(a) -

" A public authority must, in making a decision about the procurement of computer software for its operations, have regard to the principle that, wherever practicable, a public authority should use open source software in preference to proprietary software"

The writer, in his statement, expresses that the relative cheapness, flexibility and the robustness and secureness of open source products is why they should be preferred, due to their source being available freely for inspection. I find it interesting to note that the ISC is urging choice, yet the bill states that they are choosing software, not about what tool is best for the job at hand, but what tool best serves the government's needs in the long run, including cost-effectiveness and security.

Future vs. Present oriented viewpoints Re:Same old (4, Insightful)

leoaugust (665240) | more than 11 years ago | (#6220992)

Both are right from their viewpoints, but the problem is that one is focussed on the present and one is focussed on the future. And, unfortunately, the Past, the last element of the trinity of time, (Past Present & Future) heavily influences the trajectory from the Present to the Future, i.e. the massive adoption of Windows and the talent developed around it.

Lobbyists want me to focus on the Present because there paychecks are from week to week, while Linux-Spirited want me to focus on the future because their spirit gets strokes from knowing that the world may be a better place a few years down in the Future. So, when you look at what impels the Closed Source and what impels the Open Source advocate, the motivational engines are different. And if the motivational engines are different, is this battle really about personalities ?

I have the full opportunity to design a small office for an Asian Sports Body. I love the idealism of OSS, and also KNOW that the future belongs to it if the world turns out the way it should, but may have to sign my office to a Windows shop. A request for help in making this choice last week on Slashdot got me some good responses along the same lines. Why ? Because in the PRESENT Windows Platform is big enough to probabilistically hold solutions to all the problems I am likely to come across, but in Linux the world is small enough that statistically I am sure to run into problems for which solutions don't exist.

Two different viewpoints - one by which I select Windows and a different one by which I reject Linux in the PRESENT. And I accept one probabilistically, and reject another statistically.

But I choose Windows over Linux only because I have to choose today, in the Present. If I could broaden my horizon for a year or two, then it is possible that the tradeoff I have designed for Win vs. Linx won't be so lop-sided. And hence, if I could broaden my horizons a better case can be made for Linux. Bottomline, in a narrow window of time I choose Windows or other "closed source" software, but in a broader window of time I choose Linux.

I like to look at this issue as if the battle been set and both the Closed and Open guys are playing their roles on the stage. These battles have to be fought, and who fights them is not that important. What people must do has been predecided by the role they have been cast in, which is based on their motivational engine, which is based on the orientation in time that they can afford to have.

Well, after all this Matrix-like discussion, I hate to come to a cliche conclusion, but, can we cut out these personal attacks, and hash out the real issues? But, again, what is reality ? Maybe it is the Matrix. Wait, does that mean Linus is Neo?

Re:Same old same old (4, Insightful)

kinnell (607819) | more than 11 years ago | (#6220998)

first before spending money on the propriety route

I don't think cost is the main issue. The point of open source in government is that if using closed source/closed standards, a private company, possibly foreign, has control over all your data. This is sinister, and not the sort of position any democratic body should put itself in. This is the main point of all the various similar bills being considered/implemented around the world ATM. It's not about free(beer) versus commercial software - it's about control of data.

Text of the proposed bill / legislation (5, Informative)

HardcoreGamer (672845) | more than 11 years ago | (#6221017)

''The article doesn't detail the intricacies of the law...''

No need to guess about the bill - here's the text of the proposed legislation. See the bold text for the important part:


[BIL148-A.LCA]

[Advance (1)]

South Australia

[Prepared by the Parliamentary Counsel on the instructions of the Hon. I. Gilfillan, M.L.C.]

STATE SUPPLY (PROCUREMENT OF SOFTWARE) AMENDMENT
BILL 2003

A BILL FOR
An Act to amend the State Supply Act 1985.

[OPC-LC]

Contents

Part 1â"Preliminary
1. Short title
2. Amendment provisions

Part 2â"Amendment of State Supply Act 1985
3. Insertion of Part 3A
Part 3Aâ"Special provisions relating to supply operations of public authorities
17A. Principle applying to the procurement of computer software

The Parliament of South Australia enacts as follows:

Part 1â"Preliminary

Short title
1. This Act may be cited as the State Supply (Procurement of Software) Amendment Act 2003.

Amendment provisions
2. In this Act, a provision under a heading referring to the amendment of a specified Act amends the Act so specified.

Part 2â"Amendment of State Supply Act 1985

Insertion of Part 3A
3. After Part 3 insert:

Part 3Aâ"Special provisions relating to supply operations of public authorities

Principle applying to the procurement of computer software
17A. (1) A public authority must, in making a decision about the procurement of computer software for its operations, have regard to the principle that, wherever practicable, a public authority should use open source software in preference to proprietary software.

(2) In this sectionâ"
"distribute" means distribute for free or on payment of the reasonable costs of distribution;
"open source software" means computer software the subject of a licence granting a person a rightâ"
(a) without any limitation or restriction, to use the software for any purpose; and
(b) without any limitation or restriction, to make copies of the software for any purpose; and
(c) without any limitation or restriction, to access or modify the source code of the software for any purpose; and
(d) without payment of a royalty or other fee, to distribute copies ofâ"
(i) the software (including as a component of an aggregate distribution containing computer software from several different sources); or
(ii) a derived or modified form of the software, (whether in compiled form or in the form of source code), under the same terms as the licence applying to the software;
"proprietary software" means computer software that is not open source software.

PRINTED UNDER THE AUTHORITY OF THE GOVERNMENT PRINTER

its almost (0)

boogy nightmare (207669) | more than 11 years ago | (#6220845)

seriously, as i read this all i could imagine was Gates himself sat in a huge leather chair dictating this word for work to Kramer his Be-atch.

Fingers steepled.... excellllleeeennntt

S

Initiative for Software Choice? (5, Interesting)

Bloodmoon1 (604793) | more than 11 years ago | (#6220847)

So, basically if I'm understanding this right, and correct me if I'm wrong, the Initiative for Software Choice is lobbying to basically remove South Australia's choice to use Open Source Software from consideration and more or less force them into using closed source software. Kind of ironic. Groups with names that don't support their actual agenda like this should really be openly chastised by major media outlets for being hypocritical to the point of just being ridiculous, if not just made flat out illegal. Think of it as a truth-in-advertising kind of thing. A company/group/whatever's name is their best form of advertising, it forms the base of their brand recognition. So if their name is so out of whack from their goals, it's kind of like misleading advertising.

Re:Initiative for Software Choice? (4, Interesting)

henbane (663769) | more than 11 years ago | (#6220870)

Whilst I haven't done any background checking on the Initiative for Software Choice I think what they seem to be saying is that the best tool for any particular job should be picked. In a case of government contracts I don't see why this should be a problem. Just because they're favouring one side now and it happens to be yours doesn't make it a better system - if the current bill was advising to try proprietary software before open source you'd think it was ridiculous so why isn't the reverse true?

Re:Initiative for Software Choice? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6220892)

Mod parent up. He's right. The Open Source Bill seems to suggest that an Open Source alternative is ALWAYS preferred over a closed source one. Whilst many slashdotters might consider this a great boon, it's NOT "choice", which is what this ISC mob seems to be about.

Re:Initiative for Software Choice? (4, Informative)

dazed-n-confused (140724) | more than 11 years ago | (#6220932)

FYI, "this ISC mob" is Microsoft.

See Bruce Perens' article MS 'Software Choice' scheme a clever fraud [theregister.co.uk] for a reasoned demolition of their stance.

Re:Initiative for Software Choice? (4, Informative)

bakes (87194) | more than 11 years ago | (#6220906)

this Bill is a simple one, and yet, it has the potential to do great things for our state. It requires procurement people in public authorities to consider the alternative of using open source software, and wherever practicable, using open source in preference to proprietary software.

It says that if OSS is not practicable for whatever reason, don't use it. But it must be given a fair go.

Nothing wrong with that. Not prejudiced to either side (open or closed) in my view.

Re:Initiative for Software Choice? (5, Informative)

mhifoe (681645) | more than 11 years ago | (#6220925)

Whilst I haven't done any background checking on the Initiative for Software Choice I think what they seem to be saying is that the best tool for any particular job should be picked.

The lobby group consists of these people [softwarechoice.org] .

It's the usual suspects (MS included). A bill which requires Open Source to be considered will harm their business model. Therefore it must be stopped. Note that the bill doesn't prevent the use of proprietary software, it merely requires people who procure software for the public sector to consider open source. That sounds like software choice to me.

Re:Initiative for Software Choice? (2, Interesting)

Richard_Davies (250599) | more than 11 years ago | (#6220947)

I agree completely. I'd rather see a bill that states its desires in terms of needs (functionality, security, TCO, etc...) rather than solutions. If open source is judged to fit these criteria the best, it will win. I don't believe that open source needs or should have this sort of "positive discrimination". It should win or lose based on its merits. By the way, for those who are intersted, here's the bill [linuxsa.org.au] .

Re:try proprietary software before open source.... (1)

bagofbeans (567926) | more than 11 years ago | (#6220964)

if the current bill was advising to try proprietary software before open source you'd think it was ridiculous so why isn't the reverse true?

There is a difference. Open Source is free (usually) which makes a difference is all else is equal. When all else is not equal, Open Source can be modified to suit, which in itself if a powerful benefit, particularly if Gov wants to install a few thousand seats - amortising a mod may be easy.

Re:Initiative for Software Choice? (3, Interesting)

geschild (43455) | more than 11 years ago | (#6220965)

Hook, line and sinker. Why do I always go at it again? Oh well, lets get on with it:

I agree that the best solution should be sought for the problem, regardless of the origin. However, the specific benefits of open source are not engrained in the selection criteria for governement software selction procedures because these procedures have always been directed at propriety software. (Primary criteria like open data formats, access to the source code if the company goes bust. Secondary things like being able to tinker with it, audit the code during its lifetime, being able to choose another company to maintain it if they're cheaper. That sort of thing.)

By putting into law that open source should be considered, you take away a disadvantage for open source (equal opportunity). You don't give it an unfair advantage.

Because the article doesn't state the precise content of the law or an explanation of it, we can only guess whether it makes it impossible to select the best solution for the problem (oss or propriety).

This is why I say: lets just leave this one alone unless we get more info. It's not worth the fight.


Re:Initiative for Software Choice? (1)

mhifoe (681645) | more than 11 years ago | (#6220997)

Here's a link to the bill [linuxsa.org.au] .

Because it's not symetrical (3, Insightful)

iamacat (583406) | more than 11 years ago | (#6220973)

If the government buys Microsoft software, it will have to pay for software and ALSO have to pay for support only available from a single source and outside the country. If it buys open source software, it only has to pay for support and has a variety of competing companies, including investing tax money back into local economy. A government has a duty to minimize costs and if possible re-invest money into local economy, don't you think?

Now consider a private business or a citizen. If a government produces documents using proprietory software, s\he will probably also have to use the same proprietory software. If OSS is used, multiple commercial vendors will support it and people will be able to access the data using OSS software without spending additional money and on the platform of their choice.

I am not saying all software should be open source. Some projects are so expensive (think realistic 3d games) or unpleasent (think Cobol IDE) to program that the cost can only be recovered with large scale software sales. But if the open source is already available, the government should take advantage of it to save costs for itself and for private entities it interacts with.

it's not an equal choice (2, Interesting)

g4dget (579145) | more than 11 years ago | (#6220995)

if the current bill was advising to try proprietary software before open source you'd think it was ridiculous so why isn't the reverse true?

Because we generally prefer our governments not to pay money for something they can get for free. Putting free and non-free stuff on equal footing invites corruption.

Spending money should require special justification, while not spending money shouldn't. And in the case of, say, Microsoft licenses, we aren't talking a little money, we are talking a huge amount of money.

Re:Initiative for Software Choice == CompTIA (1)

Surak (18578) | more than 11 years ago | (#6221025)

From CompTIA's website (yes, http://softwarechoice.org is a pointer to CompTIA):

Protects and advances the interests of the information and communications technology industries before foreign governments, federal and state legislatures and agencies, including regulators. CompTIA's public policy staff is located in Washington, DC and Brussels with advocacy capabilities in Canada and several states.

'Information and communications technology industries' are the keywords. The usual suspects. 15,000 member companies according to their website. Who's interests do you think they represent?

Re:Initiative for Software Choice? (1)

aug24 (38229) | more than 11 years ago | (#6221029)

Whilst I haven't done any background checking on the Initiative for Software Choice

Widely believed to be MS with a wide-brimmed hat on, but no-one has proved it yet. I've done some surfing on the names that've come out so far, but never found anyone's CV or similar to see of there's any truth in it. Try it yourself: whoever Bob Kramer (signatory on the letter) is, he's not got a public persona to speak of.

I think what they seem to be saying is that the best tool for any particular job should be picked

Absolutely they are. However, to rehash this argument again, the government is entitled to choose for reasons other than ROI. There is also the non-locked-in nature to consider, and the good security per dollar offered by OSS.

In short, the Initiative for Software Choice can say what it likes, but the Australian government can do what it likes.

J.

Re:Initiative for Software Choice? (1)

torpor (458) | more than 11 years ago | (#6221032)

Whether or not a software tool is best for the job has nothing to do with whether or not its open source. You don't execute "main.c" when you run the tool, you run "main.exe".

Requiring open source to be included with all tools used by the government has one socially valuable benefit, more beneficial than 'closed source': those tools can easily be improved at very little expense.

An expense which, incidentally, (okay, 'value') is ordinarily completely arbitrarily computed by the seller according to their own economic whims, incidentally ...

What ISC are asking the government to do is give them blanket authority to set their own values on closed-source software tools with no regulation.

Yippee, inflation!

Re:Initiative for Software Choice? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6220876)

Yes, this is how the brave new double-speak PAC infested world works. If a group calls itself Initiative for Software Choice you can bet that the last thing they want is real Choice. Then again, even they realise they can't call themselves Initative for Spending Tax Money on Our Commercial Software; its just not as catchy!

The the thing we can at least be happy about is that the ISC doesn't really tend to have a real complaint. These types of bills generally stupilate that the FOOS should be considered first, but that it is O.K to use non-FOSS if no FOSS solutions exists. Even the ISC have a hard time arguing that it is only in the best interests of a Government to spend lots of money on non-FOSS all the time. They tend to get laughed at for that.

Re:Initiative for Software Choice? (3, Insightful)

buro9 (633210) | more than 11 years ago | (#6220891)

It's actually not as bad as it sounds.

The idea of choosing software based upon freedom of choice is very good.

I suspect I'm different from most /.ers though, I don't get software just because it's free, nor because it's open source. I generally evaluate several pieces of software and the one that fulfils my set of requirements and is within my budget to purchase I opt for.

This generally has led me away from most freeware and open source stuff, and towards a hell of a lot of shareware and small company stuff (The Bat! as an email client for example).

I don't like the pigopolists and general borgification, but let's be sensisble, the proposal from them to ensure that our governments don't mandate towards software that may not actually be in our interests as citizens (it may not have matured enough, for example) is perfectly reasonable.

But by that count, could the pigopolists please refrain from lobbying with such force and effectively forcing software upon governments... this only serves to defeat their own argument about choice.

Re:Initiative for Software Choice? (4, Insightful)

intermodal (534361) | more than 11 years ago | (#6220917)

that's all fine and good for your personal use, but when it comes to government use, i'd prefer they look towards open source before using my taxes to pay for something they may not have needed.

Is Windows sometimes the proper choice? yes. Is windows the proper choice for a low-level bitpusher who only uses a word processor and email? no.

When discussing work and government computers, the vast majority of business and government applications have no need for an expensive Windows license or Microsoft Office. The only thing keeping it there is proprietary formats, which seem to be something the government should move away from rather than perpetuating.

So I don't think that "the best software for the job" is the angle we should look at for government purposes, but rather "does this software do its job well enough to make it unnecessary to purchase proprietary software" or "does this software do its job poorly enough that it justifies buying proprietary software".

How's that for you?

Re:Initiative for Software Choice? (0, Flamebait)

buro9 (633210) | more than 11 years ago | (#6220946)

So a piece of software that does its job "well enough" is OK?

If taxes are miscalculated, then this is OK so long as it's a minority who suffer then? And the same of potentially life-threatening things such as air traffic control or medical systems?

Nope, not in my estimation at least. I would rather pay a little more in taxes and have the government choose the best software for the job. I suspect that in most cases this will be Open Source developed software (e.g. Linux or MySql), but I don't want them to HAVE to make that decision based on mandate. So in that small detail alone, I agree with pigopolists.

Re:Initiative for Software Choice? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6220953)

best... sig... ever... :)

Re:Initiative for Software Choice? (2, Interesting)

intermodal (534361) | more than 11 years ago | (#6220974)

wow...that was an extremely poor response and appears to have been entirely based on the fact that my comment was moderated higher than yours. But I feel I must respond.

1) So a piece of software that does its job "well enough" is OK?

Of course it is. Because if a piece of software does its job, I don't need to pay for one that does the same job.

2) If taxes are miscalculated, then this is OK so long as it's a minority who suffer then? And the same of potentially life-threatening things such as air traffic control or medical systems?

If taxes are miscalculated, that's the fault of the CPU, not the operating system. Same goes for air traffic control and medical systems. Besides...before being placed into such positions as flight control and medical applications (by the way, both are complete systems and thus not software products) they are quite thoroughly tested. That, my friend, is why we have such old systems in place right now and why they are so difficult to swap out for newer ones.

So in response to your poorly-formed and uneducated retort, I must say nay. Paying more taxes does not equal better software, in fact I would be hesitant to say that more expensive software is better for most low-level tasks anymore.

Re:Initiative for Software Choice? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6220978)

I don't know whether it's intentional or not, but your argument is seriously flawed.

"If taxes are miscalculated ... " then the software is NOT WORKING WELL ENOUGH. How obvious is that? I normally detest this word, but in this instance it seems apt: DUH!

Let me spell it out: A piece of tax software that works "well enough" is a piece of tax software that does NOT miscalculate taxes, though it may lack the frills and some of the "bells and whistles" of vastly more expensive proprietary offerings. Therefore (again stating the blindingly obvious), if the OSS app DOES miscalculate taxes it should not be used.

Often the "bells and whistles" included in proprietary offerings are of little to no value anyway, having only been included to help justify the high price of the software package (feature bloat masquerading as added value).

Posting anonymously since I've moderated in this thread (including a positive moderation of one of your earlier comments, believe it or not).

Re:Initiative for Software Choice? (1)

intermodal (534361) | more than 11 years ago | (#6220988)

Thank you, good sir. You phrased your response far better than my own. Good day :)

Re:Initiative for Software Choice? (2, Insightful)

bakes (87194) | more than 11 years ago | (#6220894)

... the Initiative for Software Choice is lobbying to basically remove South Australia's choice to use Open Source Software from consideration and more or less force them into using closed source software.

You are understanding this right, and yes, well, when the ISC promote 'choice', they mean that you are supposed to choose THEM.

You are absolutely right about misleading names - but that's the way that PR works. The AMA wouldn't have nearly the same amount of public respect if it was called the 'Association That Looks Out For Doctors Interests', yet that is exactly what they are there for.

Er, no. RTFL. (3, Insightful)

jazman (9111) | more than 11 years ago | (#6220922)

From DearSouthAustraliaRann.pdf:

The ISC strongly supports the development and adoption of all kinds of software â" OSS, hybrid and proprietary. All models have a place in the highly competitive software market. Only in this manner, through vibrant and open competition, does the whole of the market thrive, and consumers â" both public and private â" reap tremendous benefits.

Standing in stark contrast to open competition are state-mandated software preferences. These âoepreferenceâ policies strip merit out of the process by using access to source code as a proxy for ICT project success.

End quote. So all they're saying is: don't limit your choices to OSS. What they're saying is no different from what we'd say if Oz.Gov decided only to buy MS software.

Oz.Gov could easily comply with this, and simultaneously come up with a fairer method of choosing software, by simply requiring projects that need software to evaluate the cost/benefit ratio of all (or at least several) possibilities. They could require this to include at least one OSS alternative, or to balance the number of OSS solutions with the number of CSS solutions considered, with no loss of fairness. Cost of OSS is not zero, and the cost of the specialist Linux admin you have to hire needs to be considered against the easier to use Windows box that just about anyone can use. Hiring a programmer to implement the changes you need also needs to be considered against negotiation of a support deal that gets the features needed implemented by the closed source vendor. Then there's the risk factor - a support contract is perpetual, but if your specialist Linux/OSS techie quits or encounters the proverbial bus you're in a big hole.

Not everyone is a wannabe Linux hacker; those with business goals rather than tech goals need to make business decisions, not tech decisions.

Re:Initiative for Software Choice? (1)

mpe (36238) | more than 11 years ago | (#6220939)

So, basically if I'm understanding this right, and correct me if I'm wrong, the Initiative for Software Choice is lobbying to basically remove South Australia's choice to use Open Source Software from consideration and more or less force them into using closed source software. Kind of ironic.

Hardly unique though. They'd fit in well with supposedly anti-sexism lobby groups which are actually sexist, racist lobbying groups which claim to be racist. Not forgetting lobby groups which represent an atypical position as being widely held.

Groups with names that don't support their actual agenda like this should really be openly chastised by major media outlets for being hypocritical to the point of just being ridiculous,

When you have much of the mainstream media in the control of a few big corporates this is unlikely.

Re:Initiative for Software Choice? (3, Insightful)

nosfucious (157958) | more than 11 years ago | (#6220983)

Propaganda is your most important tool. Frame the argument in your terms and the enemy fights your battle, on your terms.

Do you think DRM would fly if it was Digital Restrictions Management and not Digital Rights Management? There are countless other examples of this. My "terrorist" is your "freedom fighter". "Palladium" and not "Poisoned Hardware", "Digital Millenium Copyright Act" not "Dumb Companies Moneymaking Authority".

No media or Joe Public is going to realise true nature of self-interest unless pointed out to them. Educate people around you what the acronyms mean, who's behind them, what the agenda is. Most importantly, who pays.

Let's face it, do you think that the same press release would work if it was from, say, "The Association for Protecting Software License Revenue" or (in the case of South Australia) "The Association of overseas Software Vendors that have a vested interest in money being paid to us and not to local software developers (open or closed source)".

What actually surprises me is how they (IfSC) can claim that paying money to US companies can help the local (South Australian) IT industry. Sure, the local sales office will benefit, but will it help fund one local startup? MS, Adobe, Oracle, IBM, etc (I'm not sure of the exact membership), will almost certainly NOT have an Australian major member.

Re:Initiative for Software Choice? (1)

AlecC (512609) | more than 11 years ago | (#6221004)

Not the way I read the article. They claim that the propsed law requires the use of Open Source and locks out Closed Source. Their letter, with which I broadly agree, wants to maintain competition. As well as allowing S Aus to make the best choice, competition is a good thing for Open Source. OS should, and will eventually, win on its merits, not on any legislated advantage. The only thing any legislator needs to do is level the playing field - block Microsoft FUD, sponsor real cost-of-ownership studies.

Re:Initiative for Software Choice? (1)

CrazyDuke (529195) | more than 11 years ago | (#6221014)

I've posted on this one before. Corporations and industry funding lobby groups with names that conflict with their agenda are not uncommon. It is a slant on the usual astroturfing. Basically it is a way to discredit your "enemy" by making it look like you are the "enemy" and then surrendering.

Their position makes perfect sense really. (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6220856)

Corporate entities have an entitlement to tax dollars. It's plain common sense. By virtue of the theory of the vague reference to free markets it's plainly obvious that this makes sense and should be codified into law.
The problem is when individuals try to claim these entitlements. If we spend tax dollars on the poor, how are we going to have a competitive corporate sector? The logic is so simple, and yet we still have these attempts to force tax dollars to be spent on Open Source software.

Re:Their position makes perfect sense really. (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6221021)

You act like corporations pay taxes and don't get corporate welfare. No one is entitled to be rich, so take your ass back home to the astroturfing department you came from.

MOD PARENT +1 FUNNY!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6221022)

Dat shit is hilarious. woot!

Please note (-1, Flamebait)

basser (676211) | more than 11 years ago | (#6220859)

Law and government in South Australia should not be taken that of Australia.

South Australia is the rest of Australia's joke. It's where we send our coke cans to get 5c back.
Any competion in Aus, is almost always void or has different conditions in SA.

South Australia is Australia's Canada.

Re:Please note (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6220871)

I hear their water is bad too. I also hear Adelaide is worse than Canberra when it comes to night life.

Re:Please note (1)

Ravenscall (12240) | more than 11 years ago | (#6220905)

But they have Penguins!

Re:Please note (1)

1u3hr (530656) | more than 11 years ago | (#6220945)

But they have Penguins

Adelaide Fairy Penguins [touradelaide.com]

Go Canada (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6220884)

Thanks for the compliment.

If Australia goes the way of Amerika, then it is a choice of moving to Japan or Canada. If they are threatened by a large military force controlled by a power hungry dictator, then I'll move to New Zealand.

Infernal lobbyists (4, Insightful)

mhifoe (681645) | more than 11 years ago | (#6220860)

"The ISC believes that if this 'preference' legislation were to be enacted it would severely limit software choices for South Australiaâ(TM)s government, harming not only its citizens, but also South Australiaâ(TM)s vibrant information and communications technology (ICT) industry."

Paraphrasing:
This bill will reduce the amount of money being payed to the Microsoft Corporation. They indirectly pay my salary so please don't do it.

I would urge anyone who hasn't done so to read the bill in question. It's a marvelous piece of plain speech quite unlike the normal utterings of a politician.

ISC?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6220863)

The Internet Software Consortium (ISC) wouldn't pull a stunt like this! Err, wait..

*Sigh* (2, Insightful)

ChibiTaryn (646855) | more than 11 years ago | (#6220868)

This wouldn't be the first time the State Government has done something silly. While I think that Open Source stuff doesn't get noticed much as far as State Supply goes, I don't think this is the right way to go about getting it noticed/used either.

It's all about money, not choice. (1, Troll)

Space Coyote (413320) | more than 11 years ago | (#6220885)

In business as in democracy in these times, money will buy you a louder voice. Bills like these simply give a voice to the notion that you can use some of this software for free, and a lot of it is actually pretty good. IBM won't help here, because they simply want to use Linux as a way to charge you an arm and a leg for all of their other services. The language of choice is being twisted to limit the real choices of consumers and governments.

Re:It's all about money, not choice. (1)

Tall Rob Mc (579885) | more than 11 years ago | (#6220979)

If money buys you a louder voice, isn't it the case that free software sells itself?

A penny saved is a penny earned.

no problem. (1)

Faile (465836) | more than 11 years ago | (#6220921)

"global coalition of large and small companies committed to advancing the concept that multiple competing software markets should be allowed to develop and flourish unimpeded by government preference or mandate"

no problem here, you just go about your business as usual and if you put out something good enough to compete with what's given away for free we'll talk...

Few Things (3, Interesting)

Cluestick Enforcer (682056) | more than 11 years ago | (#6220930)

In the Bill itself, its seems to be addressing "Mr President". Im unsure of whom this bill is being proposed too, but if its a Parliament bill, wouldn't it be addressed to Mr Speaker or Mr Premier?

Secondly, this ISC mob seem to be pro choice, as long as that choice is from a commercial product. From the article -

"...look to the competitive software market to acquire the best solution for a given need."

From their members [softwarechoice.org] page, i can see a few more noticeable companies, including Microsoft, yet I cannot identify any open-source companies. Not too much "choice" there, i think.

Re:Few Things (0)

Cluestick Enforcer (682056) | more than 11 years ago | (#6220975)

Correct me if im wrong, but how is the parent offtopic?

Re:Few Things (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6221030)

The mods are on crack.. You make a good point, Australia doesn't have a President. Although the Microsoft=ISC part was redundant.

Public interest, the Public Good and software (4, Insightful)

HardcoreGamer (672845) | more than 11 years ago | (#6220935)

Part of the implied social contract of any representative government is to adopt policies and legislation that are in the public interest.

It is in the public interest for high-quality, low-cost or no-cost open source software to exist and be available to all levels of society.

It is also in the public interest for their governments to be run in a cost-effective manner. Unless there is a specific technical requirement that open source software cannot meet, there is no substantive reason why OSS should not be considered and adopted in the government sector. This doesn't even address the issue of locking a government into a proprietary solution.

Contrary to the lobbyists, the bill doesn't prevent proprietary solutions from being used. It merely states a preference for OSS as a guiding principle in the decision-making process for procurement "wherever practicable."

This would foster more competition (not less) and hopefully result in higher-quality software on all fronts.

This sort of enlightened legislation definitely falls under the category of a Public Good.

Nothing wrong with this... (3, Insightful)

StarvingHick (682127) | more than 11 years ago | (#6220937)

"A public authority must, in making a decision about the procurement of computer software for its operations, have regard to the principle that, wherever practicable, a public authority should use open source software in preference to proprietary software."

So basically, what they're saying is that the government should, instead of using software that is generally low or no cost and can be modified to fit the government's unique needs, that they should use more costly proprietary software that can't be modified, so that they have to conform to whatever the program can do instead of editing the program to create more features, resulting in inefficiency.
I wonder what the Australian taxpayers would have to say about that?
Also, this bill in no way forces the authorities to use OSS if there are no OSS solutions with adequate features, so either the ISC create software that's better than OSS, or they don't get picked. Sounds fair to me.

The Mole (5, Insightful)

Viper233 (132365) | more than 11 years ago | (#6220954)

As someone who's just started meddling in the NSW (Australia)public service (local government) after several years in private IT sector, I see the call for open source in the best interest of our clients, i.e the public.

People are becoming alot more concerned with how public money is being spent. Government not only has the opportunity to save money, but also can start giving back to the public by contributing, and most importantly being seen to be contributing, to opensource software which tax payers can then use for themselves.

Although I'm not strictly in an IT position, I am known as one of the IT guys, who can unlock peoples accounts when they are unable to enter their l/p properly after 3 goes.

Unfortunately, it seems, the IT professionals who take up positions in local government come from the bottom of the IT barrel (including myself), often stepping over from other positions and taking up the 'IT person' status, and therefore lack an understanding of possibilities that open source software hold, and have been brought about already by private businesses. With a couple of years working for a small town ISP, looking after half a dozen Linux servers which ran the business, I have developed a opensource/linux background. (Oh, and of course.... constant reading of slashd^H^H^H^H^H^H^ linux Howto's)

Of the several people I have mentioned opensource, prominantly linux, software to, they have been baffled. Downloading the latest win32 OpenOffice is a great first step. Especially with the Export to pdf button.

I will be pushing opensource initiatives, taking on the burden of being the opensource mole, with already open office looking to replace our current proprietry office suite, linux on our main file/backup server, two NT2000 servers look to be replaced by a single linux server, and an old server resurected into a internet gateway. Hey... who thinks I can turn this into a reality TV show??? can't be any worse then....

Gross Misrepresentation? (2, Interesting)

samj (115984) | more than 11 years ago | (#6220955)

It would appear to me that the ISC is grossly misrepresenting their membership base by stating that 'together the ISC and CompTIA have 110 corporate and individual members in Australia'. I would suggest that a vast majority of those are individuals 'looking for the tools to develop [their] career[s] [comptia.org] '. I would go so far as to say that without surveying their membership base, to say that members of the parent organisation are aligned with the values of its subsidiary is misleading, and if I were a CompTIA member I would be most unimpressed by this misrepresentation. If you happen to be a CompTIA member, perhaps you should make it clear that you do not necessarily agree with the ISC, and that these figures should therefore be taken with a grain of salt. In fact given this creative accounting, I would be wary of paying attention to anything this organisation has to say.

I agree entirely with the ISC. (3, Insightful)

flacco (324089) | more than 11 years ago | (#6220958)

The ISC, by its own definition, is a "global coalition of large and small companies committed to advancing the concept that multiple competing software markets should be allowed to develop and flourish unimpeded by government preference or mandate."

Hear, hear! These large and small companies should ALL be permitted to submit their Free / open source software to governments for consideration, on a level playing field.

Oh, what's that you say? Your company doesn't write Free / open source software? Well, I guess this isn't your market then, now is it?

"The software must be F/OSS" is discriminatory against proprietary software vendors in the same way that "the software cannot be a refrigerator" is discriminatory against Frigidaire.

If the proprietary vendors want to compete for an open source project, they're more than welcome. Hell, if Frigidaire wants to get into the F/OSS software business, they're more than welcome to submit bids too.

Re:I agree entirely with the ISC. (1)

intermodal (534361) | more than 11 years ago | (#6221008)

hear, hear!

South Australia and Law (2, Interesting)

awol (98751) | more than 11 years ago | (#6220985)

South Australia has a history of legal innovation. Indeed, beyond the issues of suffrage for which they are well known, the system of land registration known as Torrens Title has been exported widely. One of the most interesting aspects of this is the legal definition of open source that has been provided in the Act. I am sure that JMS would be disappointed with the phrase "open source" being the legally enshrined thing for which the government departments must make consideration. I too would prefer to find "Free Software" as the phrase, even "Software Libre", but the name concerns me little.

My question to the reading populace is are we happy with the definition? It is always difficult to get such things right and ammendments can always be made to refine things, but is the definition as it stands even adequate? I think it is adequate, in fact I would go further and think that as a generic description it is actually very good.

irony (1)

chief-dot (197143) | more than 11 years ago | (#6220987)

This coming from the same government that just put forward several million dollars towards a Linux supercomputer.

Re:irony (1)

chief-dot (197143) | more than 11 years ago | (#6221027)

oh my god I'm one of "them".

Didn't RTFA, instead I just got the gist by reading the comments of people that had not RTFA.

Change the subject to "Progress" and it's all better.

SA (2, Interesting)

jtsoong (307257) | more than 11 years ago | (#6221000)

I work in SA Government.

And where we work, basically, unofficial policy, if it doesn't come with source, don't use it.

Australian Citizen? (3, Interesting)

samj (115984) | more than 11 years ago | (#6221002)

Then why are you reading this and not writing a letter yourself sharing your views on the situation. I am sure that the views of Australian citizens will weigh in more than those of a potentially biased American based organisation backed by a company who will be directly adversely affected by the passing of this bill.

It is obvious that there are plenty of reasons to use FOSS in a government environment. If there is not a FOSS product for a given task (high end databases, specialised reporting applications, etc.) then the best product may indeed be closed source. If two products are similar in features/price then FOSS should prevail. The government still gets software which meets their needs, often significantly cheaper (especially in the long run), and the taxpayer benefits at the expense of proprietary software vendor(s) who are often (but not necessarily always) charging a ridiculous amount of money for an inferior product.

Usage vs Development (2, Interesting)

Lord Bitman (95493) | more than 11 years ago | (#6221007)

I, speaking as a human, dont give a flying fuck what license a government agency is under for using software. If you disagree, you're a fucking moron.
The problem is when they need software to be developed for them. Then it should be open-source- What the people pay for, the people should get.

How does this work? Government agency B wants to use some software, so they buy it. Then they want something new developed for it, so they go to the software company that makes it, give them money, and say "make it."
All code written on the dime of the government is released into the open. It doesnt matter if it doesnt work by itself, because not the whole program was created by the government. What the people pay for, the people should get- it's unfair to expect more.

All other things I would mention are covered fully IN THE FUCKING ARTICLE.

Hello? It's for you. (2, Funny)

Michael's a Jerk! (668185) | more than 11 years ago | (#6221011)

1980 Called, and they want their Troll Back!

Shouldn't be a problem (2, Interesting)

nizo (81281) | more than 11 years ago | (#6221013)

Luckily the software that tallies the votes is closed source, so the outcome should be the way the ISC wants anyway.

Choice (3, Interesting)

ajs318 (655362) | more than 11 years ago | (#6221016)

An act of parliament that mandates public bodies {who pays their wages again?} to consider all the options before making a purchase is hardly a Bad Thing. The only convincing arguments against it are:
  1. The choice is so vast that more resources would be expended on the act of choosing than on the product chosen
  2. You are the present supplier of a product which is likely to be deemed inferior by the criteria applied for judgement.
If (1), this says: the market is saturated, all software is much of a one-ness, there is nothing to choose between it and you may as well pick the one with the prettiest box. If (2), this says: software suppliers -- or the beneficiaries of, or apologists for, their corruption and selfishness -- are influencing governments.

What does the empirical evidence suggest?
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