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Los Angeles to Consider Open Source Software

Zonk posted more than 9 years ago | from the penguins-in-the-valley dept.

Politics 324

lientz writes "According to an article at FederalComputerWeek, the city of Los Angeles is considering using Open Source software as a cost cutting measure. From the article: "...city officials could save $5.2 million by switching to OpenOffice... rather than purchasing a Microsoft Office product at $200 per license for 26,000 desktops. The savings would go to a special fund to hire more employees for the police department, a major focus for city officials right now, he added.""

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Not Surprising (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11652911)

Everything else in LA is crap - why not their software too?

Re:Not Surprising (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11653028)

I still got frost pist, you little gay weenie modding-down fuckwad. You will pay for this.

Re:Not Surprising (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11653073)

Everything in L.A. is crap? I've been plenty of other places in this country, and I couldn't think of living anywhere else. Where else can you be in close proximity to mountains, lakes, rivers, oceans, and more? Not to mention that Vegas is a short car ride away. The night life is excellent. Mexico isn't far away either if you want to stock up on inexpensive alchohol. And the women here are hot! And there are plenty of Mexicans around to do your gardening for 20 bucks.

I suspect you're just a troll, and unfortunately I took the bait.

Re:Not Surprising (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11653301)

Yup, you sure did. Now I have to find that hook disgorger thingie buried somewhere in my tackle box.

Heh (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11652915)

Now watch microsoft drop that price from 200$ to 10$....

I can just smell it on the air.

Re: Heh (5, Funny)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 9 years ago | (#11652957)


> Now watch microsoft drop that price from 200$ to 10$....

I don't know about that. I called a press conference and announced that I was going to play Doom instead of Age of Empires, and I didn't get one red cent out of the cheap bastards.

Re:Heh (4, Insightful)

goon america (536413) | more than 9 years ago | (#11652980)

No, just watch a swarm of Microsoft lobbyists descend upon the city, donating enough to local politicians to equal the amount they would save in the city budget by switching to Open Office. This solves the real problem for both parties, which for the politicos is not the city budget but the campaign budget, and for Microsoft is not profits but control.

Re:Heh (2, Insightful)

TheGavster (774657) | more than 9 years ago | (#11653299)

Microsoft is really all about the profits. If you can get a million in sales with a quarter mill of lobby money, its a smart move. Of course, this goes for any business (even the not-evil ones)

But TCO could still be high... (2, Insightful)

wasted (94866) | more than 9 years ago | (#11653023)

...due to costs associated with license administration and the risk of fines resulting from audits that find that the licenses were improperly administered. If it takes a bunch of man-hours to track the licenses and ensure compliance, the cost of those man-hours goes into the total cost of ownership. Those costs are avoided (usually) with free-as-in-beer software.

Or I could be wrong, and MS would grant a low-cost blanket license.

Re:But TCO could still be high... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11653178)

Doesn't matter... the administration will take credit for obtaining a massive concession from MS. It's not about saving money for them, it's about getting fame.

Re:Heh (2, Insightful)

oskard (715652) | more than 9 years ago | (#11653161)

I bet MS will just create another study explaining why Linux is, in reality, a more expensive alternative to Windows. Same thing with OpenOffice to Office.

I don't exactly buy it, but I can see how training and technical support are necessary yet costly in the work environment.

Re:Heh (2, Insightful)

Rhone (220519) | more than 9 years ago | (#11653240)

Except the whole TCO crap is not an issue for an office suite the way that it could be for an OS. No one needs high-priced experts to administer OpenOffice for them. It is a drop-in replacement for MS Office, as long as you don't need perfect compatibility with MS Office formats.

It's about time... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11652918)

they understand it.
Cut costs on the Windows license too.

Negotiating Ploy? (5, Insightful)

mordors9 (665662) | more than 9 years ago | (#11652919)

It just sounds like a good way to get M$ to lower their licensing fees.

Re:Negotiating Ploy? (1)

drakethegreat (832715) | more than 9 years ago | (#11652942)

Still its hard to compete with $0 dollars cause you just have to download OpenOffice. Its not like a word processor requires any support. I've never seen one fail and they aren't complicated to use. So what does microsoft have to offer with a payed product?

Re:Negotiating Ploy? (5, Insightful)

mordors9 (665662) | more than 9 years ago | (#11653005)

The general acceptance by the world as THE office suite? Most school systems use MS Office for teaching students, so the possible employee base is more likely to be familiar with it than OpenOffice. And no I am not a MS fan, I use Slack for my home desktop. But you have to accept reality, while hoping it changes.

Re:Negotiating Ploy? (2, Insightful)

britneys 9th husband (741556) | more than 9 years ago | (#11653231)

And 99% of those employees probably aren't doing anything all that complicated with their word processor anyway. Offer a half day training session on OpenOffice, give everyone a quick reference card or something on "how to do common MS Office tasks in OpenOffice", and you're done. Then offer more advanced training to the 1% that need it.

Re:Negotiating Ploy? (1)

trewornan (608722) | more than 9 years ago | (#11653280)

I downloaded, installed and started using OpenOffice without the slightest difficulty, I can't understand why anybody who can use Word would need training to use swriter. When you first start you might spend a few seconds here and there looking for a particular menu item but it's trivial and it takes no time to get accustomed to the minor difference. As far as I can see this BS about training costs is just that.

Re:Negotiating Ploy? (1)

fiddlesticks (457600) | more than 9 years ago | (#11653011)

> Its not like a word processor requires any
> support. I've never seen one fail

hmm..

*me remembers trying to run star office a few years ago*
*me thinks about Word on Macs*

Re:Negotiating Ploy? (2, Insightful)

Grax (529699) | more than 9 years ago | (#11653314)

I think the preferred solution would be to provide a large donation to the OpenOffice project. They could still save $4.2 million per year and the $1 million would be good for the project and buy valuable development time they could use to implement any features they needed for their environment.

Re:Negotiating Ploy? (2, Informative)

EnronHaliburton2004 (815366) | more than 9 years ago | (#11653350)

Its not like a word processor requires any support

"Where's the grammar checker?"

I dare say, the grammar checker is the one thing that keeps me on MS Office. Fixing my stupid wording wording mistakes as i type along is incredibly valuable. Spell check is great, but I really want the grammar checker also.

It's so transparent in Word (And it works in Outlook 2003 now) that most people barely even notice it, and would really start to miss it when it is gone.

Re:Negotiating Ploy? (1)

Detritus (11846) | more than 9 years ago | (#11653353)

I've seen Word fail on occasion, things like crashing, corrupted output files that can't be read the next time you need to edit the file, formatting that disappears or goes berserk. I've read many horror stories from people who try to use it for large and complex documents. Then there are the people who use OLE and VBA to automate processes.

Re:Negotiating Ploy? (1)

dustmite (667870) | more than 9 years ago | (#11653408)

I've seen Word crash often. In particular Word (2000, I'm not sure about newer versions) used to have hundreds of problems when working with master documents. In fact, it just didn't work, it was so horribly broken, they'd obviously pushed it out the door incomplete.

The main reason Word needs support is because it's bad, not because word processors inherently need a lot of support.

Re:Negotiating Ploy? (1)

DanThe1Man (46872) | more than 9 years ago | (#11653237)

Would the be useing the "Good Cop" or "Bad Cop" Negotiating Ploy?

Re:Negotiating Ploy? (1)

TykeClone (668449) | more than 9 years ago | (#11653341)

It's LA...

They're not going to get what they want (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11653247)

"It pretty much stands to reason that if support and the software are available for free, that are going to be some cost savings."

Sounds like a pipe dream. But do they honestly think this is the only way to beat an MS offer, to get everything for free? Or do they want support just to hold someone accountable for their mistakes?

They certainly don't consider the value they get from using OSS and the rights granted to them. They don't consider the value they get from using software that is more secure and open. Less downtime, easier to identify and fix problems, even more access and freedom to manipulate their own data through the use of such programs.

Maybe now (0)

Kipsaysso (828105) | more than 9 years ago | (#11652921)

They can consider how much money they are wasting on Microsoft OS's to.

Or maybe that one is a little further out.

OpenOffice Access (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11652922)

I'm just glad they can use the Open Source version of Access to work with their MDBs. What's it called again?

Re:OpenOffice Access (1)

fmobus (831767) | more than 9 years ago | (#11653038)

Well, they can now try a real RDBMS, like... like... oh wait

Re:OpenOffice Access (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11653039)

I seriously doubt a government entity would depend on something as flimsy as an Access MDB file.

While it may be great for keeping track of your cd collection real applications are written with real databases.

Re:OpenOffice Access (1)

Espectr0 (577637) | more than 9 years ago | (#11653070)

I'm just glad they can use the Open Source version of Access to work with their MDBs. What's it called again?

Rekall [thekompany.com]

Rekall Revealed (1)

reality-bytes (119275) | more than 9 years ago | (#11653126)

I think you were meaning Rekall Revealed [rekallrevealed.org] - the open-source (GPL) version of Rekall.

Re:OpenOffice Access (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11653296)

OpenOffice 2.0 (in beta very very soon), has a built in database application that will automatically allow folks to access (hah!) their access database information directly. The forms aren't brought over, but it's child's play to recreate them. The interface is incredibly easy to use.

And since the interface is very "access like", newer projects could easily be done in the new "Base" module with very little in the way of retraining.

Re:OpenOffice Access (3, Informative)

cttforsale (803028) | more than 9 years ago | (#11653072)

It's called
1. make your Access database an ODBC datasource.
2. Start any Open Office app and click Tools--->Data sources.

This is under MS Windows, which is what they're still using....

I know. Certainly not a replacement. But it is there...

Re:OpenOffice Access (4, Interesting)

ptlis (772434) | more than 9 years ago | (#11653194)

Er... Open Office Base perhaps? Included in the OO.o 2 preview releases it seems to be an Access-like front-end for a real RDMS, none of the built-in access bullshit which dies if there are greater than 5 concurrent connections to it.

Typical tactic (4, Insightful)

null etc. (524767) | more than 9 years ago | (#11652923)

This is the typical tactic used by governments in order to get Microsoft running back to their doorsteps, courting them with low prices.

There's nothing to see here, move along.

And a fine tactic it is. (5, Insightful)

Noksagt (69097) | more than 9 years ago | (#11653018)

The fact that Microsoft cowtows to tactics like this by lowering their prices gives legitimacy to OpenOffice.org. If MS didn't view F/OSS as a viable thread, they wouldn't lower prices--they'd pull strong-arm tactics and say "yeah--good luck with that. When your migration fails, you can come back and give us the same deal as we are proposing now."

Lowering prices not only validates OO.o as a useable alternative, but also proves that F/OSS is a truly disruptive technology--MS can't get away with charging what they want to anymore.

Re:And a fine tactic it is. (1)

n54 (807502) | more than 9 years ago | (#11653090)

Excellent point

And because it validates OO.o it also increases the chances OO.o will actually be chosen.

Re:And a fine tactic it is. (3, Interesting)

behindspace (847527) | more than 9 years ago | (#11653282)

I agree, OO.o was the best thing I ever migrated to. Everyong I know was acting like "you can't do that, you'll come crawling back to M$FT" I switched about 8 months ago, and have since converted my office, my friend who runs a computer shop (he now fully endorses OSS, and OO.o, Firefox, and Thunderbird come with all of his new computers, unless a customer wants to have M$Orafice and pay the $200+). The town of North Hampton NH is looking into the migration as well, same with the town of Methuen MA. sure, both these cities combined aren't even the size of a city block in LA, but still, it begins to prove the point that F/OSS does prove to be a powerful competitor to M$...

Re:And a fine tactic it is. (2, Insightful)

GoofyBoy (44399) | more than 9 years ago | (#11653292)

>The fact that Microsoft cowtows to tactics like this by lowering their prices gives legitimacy to OpenOffice.org.

The purchasers could have done this with any office suite. Its just that OO/OpenSource is the latest IT buzz word.

Purchasers were doing this before OO was around. And they do it in many different industries.

Writing up motions are nothing. Wake me up when they actually do something with OO.

Re:Typical tactic (3, Interesting)

bkzitalsux (858845) | more than 9 years ago | (#11653164)

This story ws covered on NPR last week (at least in the LA area). The reporter explained to the clueless what OSS was and the benefit of putting more cops on the street with the money saved. She then moved on talk about the "TCO" of going OSS, as if the status quo had none. Evidently coached (or brainwashed or funded) by MS or the reseller for the city.

I'd be amazed if LA were to switch. Pleased, but amazed.

Go LA! (0, Offtopic)

psamty (749960) | more than 9 years ago | (#11652928)

Go LA!

Police is good (5, Funny)

Space_Soldier (628825) | more than 9 years ago | (#11652939)

I would rather have more police officers than Microsoft Office licences. If the federal government did this, I wonder how many FBI agents, CIA agents, NSA agents, radiation-proof suits, and other goodies could be bought!

Re:Police is good (1)

killa62 (828317) | more than 9 years ago | (#11653079)

What I don't get is why the goverment didn't do this sooner... I mean, it's free, as opposed to 200 dollars, does the same things, and maybe has a little less support, but why in the world would the government buy overpriced microsoft products when comparable open source products are free?

Anyone have anything to share?

Re:Police is good (2, Insightful)

wmspringer (569211) | more than 9 years ago | (#11653215)

Three reasons:

1) People are familiar with MSOffice, so you don't have to train them on OO.o

2) People in charge assume that since MS is expensive and well-known, it must be better

3) OO.o doesn't make campaign contributions

Re:Police is good (1)

Neward Rylet (634838) | more than 9 years ago | (#11653298)

What I don't get is why the goverment didn't do this sooner

Because it's the government.

Re:Police is good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11653098)

switching to Linux & openoffice worked for me, i can afford many more rolls of tinfoil for making hats, and am working on tinfoil wallpaper too :^P

Re:Police is good (2, Funny)

venicebeach (702856) | more than 9 years ago | (#11653224)

Remember, these are Los Angeles police officers. Do you really want more of those?

Re:Police is good (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11653357)

Yes. LA is seriously understaffed for a city of its size. That's one of the reasons for the attitude that some LAPD officers have that they need to hit first and hit harder to make up for the lack of numbers.

I would like to see more spent on better training, which might actually do something to fix some of the problems the LAPD has.

The money is going to fund police? (3, Interesting)

GNUALMAFUERTE (697061) | more than 9 years ago | (#11652952)

- The government is the one that allows the existance of propietary software, and the first to damage Free Software (For example, with software patents).
- The government profits from Free Software
- Instead of giving part of that profit to HELP FREE SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT, it's given to other government-dependant institutions.

No intention to flame, but, how is this a good thing?

ALMAFUERTE

Re:The money is going to fund police? (2, Insightful)

mabhatter654 (561290) | more than 9 years ago | (#11653177)

First, the State govt is not who deals with software patents and outrageous copyrights...although they have much more influence on the Feds than any OSS fans could ever hope for.

The real goal of govt "profits" for patents and such is to benifit the public...the State using OSS is a prime example of that technology comming back to benifit everybody. The state's interest is in benifiting people...not generating some kind of cash flow! If the state can do the same work with OSS and not have to pay a private company millions of dollars they can use that money for other things...again, the state's interest is in acomplishing the goals to help people [collect taxes, child support, protect environment, etc] It's a misguided history of the govt paying for everything from private companies to the exclusion of other voluanteer or public interest groups. The current administration's tendency to "outsource" everything under the sun demeans the true purpose of govenrment.

Re:The money is going to fund police? (2, Insightful)

mattyrobinson69 (751521) | more than 9 years ago | (#11653197)

the use of open source software in large organisations (5.2M / 200 is a lot of licences) means 26000 people (thats a lot of people, did i work that out wrong) will get their first taste of free software, and perhaps some workers will think "hmmm, i'l get rid of that illegal copy of ms office at home and get open office since its legally free"

also, more mindshare = more developers

Yet another announcement (2, Insightful)

bigtallmofo (695287) | more than 9 years ago | (#11652955)

This is great that there's another announcement of a government agency considering OSS. Hopefully this one isn't a ploy to get cost concessions from Microsoft like so many other announcements apparently have been.

Re:Yet another announcement (2, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | more than 9 years ago | (#11653212)

Of course it is. A basic intro to game theory.

Let's say the MS price is $50 mill, OO price $60 mill (including luser training, compatibility issue etc. etc. aka TCO).

If that was the case, why should MS give a rebate? They wouldn't.

Now let's the MS price is $50 mill, OO price $40 mill. Now they consider switching, MS comes in with a $35 mill offer.

The key words here are credible threat. To make concessions, Microsoft must believe the threat is credible. That means that the cost is actually lower. So it is rational for them to suggest it, rational for MS to make a counter-offer, and rational for them to accept it.

So don't worry. OO is closing in, and sooner or later the demanded cuts get too much for MS to accept. It is just a matter of time.

Kjella

Doesn't matter either way. (1)

khasim (1285) | more than 9 years ago | (#11653400)

If it is a real attempt to migrate, wonderful.

If it is a blatant attempt to get Microsoft to lower their prices by threatening to move to a competitor, wonderful.

Either way, OO.org gets press coverage. That's better advertising than they could buy otherwise.

The more people hear about OO.org as an alternative to MSOffice, the better.

You get what you pay for (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11652956)

And when all the executives, managers, and administrators' productivity drops like a rock due to the truly awful nature of almost ALL open source products, then they will reap the rewards they've earned.

I don't understand why you people still harp on about how great open source software is.

Most of it is shit. Most of it is almost unusable.

Windows XP, Microsoft Office, and all the rest, these programs actually work. Sure they've got quirks. Sure they've got some bugs.

But open source software is nothing BUT quirks and bugs.

And yet you talk about the problems with commercial products. Blind to the fact that your beloved software development model has left you spending 70% of your time on your computer just TRYING TO GET THINGS WORKING in the first place, 39% of the time tweaking shit and downloading stupid programs, and if you're lucky, -9% of your time actually getting stuff done.

Why are you so stupid? What's wrong with you? Is it because you don't BELONG anywhere? Only other open source losers will accept you? Were you beat as a child? What IS your major malfunction, idiots?

Re: You get what you pay for (5, Funny)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 9 years ago | (#11652983)


> Windows XP, Microsoft Office, and all the rest, these programs actually work.

Get an account, Bill.

Re:You get what you pay for (2)

GNUALMAFUERTE (697061) | more than 9 years ago | (#11653065)

I Shouldn't be replying to a troll, but here it goes anyway ...

Free Software is not about technical improvement. Free Software is about FREEDOM. We want to be able to use software without being held hostages by the "owner" of the software. If we can create a better alternative to propietary software in the way, then we will be happier, but if our software is worse than propietary alternatives, we will still use it, 'cause it's free.

ALMAFUERTE

Re:You get what you pay for (2, Interesting)

EEBaum (520514) | more than 9 years ago | (#11653151)

I gotta agree with you. This is why I eventually let my linux partition deteriorate and die. For a while it was fun, but I found myself falling behind on the maintenance. With all the other stuff I have going on, I simply don't have the time or effort to significantly investigate the workings of the OS, not to mention make it work like I want it to.

I've opted to have one less thing to talk about with great knowledge in computer circles, and I haven't really minded.

The problem, I think, is that open source software wants to have its cake and eat it too. It often goes for raw functionality without usability, with the mentality of "if I can figure it out, so can you!" This is fine, if you want "open-source-types" to use your software, but you really can't complain if Joe User doesn't want to do a significant amount of research before setting up a computer.

It's like modernist composers who write art music very inaccessible to the average listener... sure, it may be an absolutely magnificent piece of music, and I'm not saying you shouldn't write it, and I'm not saying whether it's better or worse than something more common-listener-friendly. However, if you complain that nobody wants to listen to it, you have only yourself to blame.

as others have pointed out (2, Insightful)

Raleel (30913) | more than 9 years ago | (#11652963)

MS will lower their prices for the city gov't. there is no way they are paying full price. I'd be shocked if they payed more than $30 per license.

Macros (5, Interesting)

tyleroar (614054) | more than 9 years ago | (#11652972)

Gordon Haff, a senior analyst and IT adviser at Illuminata, said business value should be the main concern in transitioning to an open-source environment. "The decision-making for the state or local or federal government could be essentially the same as for a corporation," Haff said. "Does it save money when all the costs [are] taken into account? And that includes conversion costs, retraining costs, perhaps costs of getting and writing or converting software that doesn't run on an open-source platform."

That's a very good point. OpenOffice is great and all, but what if they have lots of macros written for the Office suite? Once OpenOffice has implemented compatibility with macros, there will be no reason to not switch. The other thing that occurred to me, is why do they feel like they have to upgrade? Why can't they stick with the version they have?

Re:Macros (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11653130)

"Does it save money when all the costs [are] taken into account? And that includes conversion costs, retraining costs, perhaps costs of getting and writing or converting software that doesn't run on an open-source platform."

Those are one-off costs, as opposed to licensing proprietary software again and again. If you don't think it saves money when these costs are taken into account, you aren't looking at the right time frame.

Re:Macros (1)

toddbu (748790) | more than 9 years ago | (#11653316)

"The other thing that occurred to me, is why do they feel like they have to upgrade?"

Hmmm, two things come to mind. #1 - For years, software vendors have been telling us that we need to update so that we get the latest and greatest features and for the most part we have bought into this theory whether it applies to us or not. #2 - Vulnerabilities in systems force them to be upgraded after their useful life expires. The definition of "useful life" is determined by the person who holds the code, unlike something like a car where the driver decides when to send it to the scrapyard.

Microsoft Response (5, Funny)

AfterSchoolSpecial (822854) | more than 9 years ago | (#11653000)

"The savings would go to a special fund to hire more employees for the police department, a major focus for city officials right now."

Steve B. (Or Bill G.): "You see, open source makes you less safe and secure than windows products...oh wait...crap."

This is.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11653001)

awesome. Glad to see that at least some in the government in the United States is embracing lower costs. Of course, they won't give that back to the people, they will use it for other stuff!

VLK (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11653006)

What the hell? Haven't any of these organizations heard of Microsoft's Volume Licensing [microsoft.com] program?

OSS (1)

The Old Burke (679901) | more than 9 years ago | (#11653024)

"(..)perhaps costs of getting and writing or converting software that doesn't run on an open-source platform."

Perhaps? I would think a spawling bureaucracy like the one in L.A. uses a large amount of legacy applications and old in house solutions.

And what's the rationale behind hiring more cops?
Last I checked the crime rate is dropping faster than someone can say three strike. What is needed is some heavy cost cutting across the board in the justice bureaucracy as well as more heavily armed cops to handle violent thugs on the street.

Let's start spreading our own FUD (4, Funny)

britneys 9th husband (741556) | more than 9 years ago | (#11653027)

What does a cop make, about 52k/year or so? We need to start fighting fire with fire. Here's the new FUD we can start spreading against Microsoft:

Through its licensing fee structure, Microsoft tried to take 100 police officers off the streets of Los Angeles.

Re:Let's start spreading our own FUD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11653105)

... that's for one year, if you estimate 5 years/ms upgrade you're looking at a stable increase of 20 cops.

Re:Let's start spreading our own FUD (2, Insightful)

amliebsch (724858) | more than 9 years ago | (#11653132)

Two FUDs don't make a truth.

Re:Let's start spreading our own FUD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11653397)

Two FUDs don't make a truth.

FUD is more convincing than the truth. Why do you think so many PHBs swear by Microsoft?

Re:Let's start spreading our own FUD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11653287)

...And as a result African Americans in LA have never been safer.

Eh, sorry, I kid.

Smaller communities would benefit most from OSS (4, Interesting)

TykeClone (668449) | more than 9 years ago | (#11653041)

I'm on the city council of a (very) small town, and because of that I'm on a mailing list for an Iowa municipal issues magaizine. This month they had an article in it about reducing Microsoft licensing costs - by using the state purchasing power. No mention of Open Office or any other competitors.

In Iowa, there are a few population centers, a few "larger towns", and many towns with low enough populations that they can run the entire municipal government with two or three employees. These are the kinds of places that don't have the built-in MS infrastructure and could migrate to OpenOffice fairly easily. Larger communities may have the infrastructure in place the makes it more difficult to migrate away from Microsoft.

Seeing headlines that LA is thinking about going open source is interesting, but there might be thousands of other communities in the country that could see a proportionally greater benefit from that software than LA would - but they'd never make the news.

with 5.2 million.. (2, Insightful)

ThomasFlip (669988) | more than 9 years ago | (#11653044)

you could hire people to make your own damn office sweet.

Re:with 5.2 million.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11653135)

what the hell is an office sweet? is that some kind of candy?

Re:with 5.2 million.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11653256)

It's a secretary.

Re:with 5.2 million.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11653325)

You are correct. Because they make a rustling noise when you unwrap them.

Re:with 5.2 million.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11653388)

Goddamn you're a fucking retard.

First off, you illiterate bastard, it's "suite", not "sweet".

Second, do you have any idea how much time and energy (and money) it takes to write a complete office suite? Obviously you don't, because 5.2 million is WAY TOO LOW.

disk space (1)

DrIdiot (816113) | more than 9 years ago | (#11653066)

OpenOffice tends to be more hard disk friendly than MSOffice too. A 5 MB MSWord file is less than 1 MB when saved with OpenOffice. Think of all the money they could save on disk space as well!

communism (2, Insightful)

DrIdiot (816113) | more than 9 years ago | (#11653089)

http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=05/01/14/162624 8&tid=109 Better watch out because L.A. is turning communist, according to Bill.

Pilot Program (4, Interesting)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 9 years ago | (#11653109)

Lets hope this spreads among other states too.

We are tax payers, everyone write a NICE letter to their local representatives..

Forget the simple "replace Microsoft.. they suck" angle, this sort of move saves money..

Government that's working.. (1)

tempest69 (572798) | more than 9 years ago | (#11653117)

Microsoft has been able to charge a huge amount based on a monopoly. Just the threat that they might need to fight a fair fight will make their price cave in.

I'm not sure that the city of LA really wants open office. Everybody's already trained and comfortable with MS office quirks. I'm betting that the cost of whining alone isnt worth the price break. But the threat is great, I bet that Redmond will cave.

M$ should peek and see if LA is really able to do this, letting them fall on their collective behind would be great marketing. But it would suck for the people of California.

> Storm

That's a great idea if...... (1)

sammykrupa (828537) | more than 9 years ago | (#11653138)

The people working with OpenOffice knew had to use it!

Cities (1)

cyberfunk2 (656339) | more than 9 years ago | (#11653146)

It really is nice to see gov. agencies considering solid open source software over costly, and sometimes dangerous stuff.

Wonder what the CIA/NSA uses?

CIA/NSA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11653250)

Wonder what the CIA/NSA uses?


I'd tell you, but then I'd have to... Wait, it seems we have agents near your house. Stand by, they'll pop in for a visit to uhh show you.

something for nothing (2, Insightful)

hankaholic (32239) | more than 9 years ago | (#11653172)

I'd like to see large organizations that realize a quantifiable savings due to the use of OSS contribute a small portion of the savings back to the projects that made it possible.

If using OOooo.oOo could save them 5.2 million, how about a one-time gift of 5% of the annual savings to the project leaders? Saving a net of $4.94 million would still be a huge boost to the budget, and I'm sure that OOooO could benefit quite a bit from a one-time $260k donation.

Re:something for nothing (3, Insightful)

cyberfunk2 (656339) | more than 9 years ago | (#11653201)

I'd like to see the people in charge who save money by using open source get the bonus. Now thats a real incentive not to go w/ the status quo.

If it suddenly becomes finacially incentive for the politicians to consider OSS, you're gonna be damned sure they will.

$200 dollars (3, Interesting)

manuelpl (689817) | more than 9 years ago | (#11653183)

Im not a Microsoft apologist , but the figures are wrong , at my district , right next door to LAUSD we pay $47 for Microsoft Office. This is FUD , there is no way they pay $200 , thats just wrong. Volume licensing is under $50.

Ok (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 9 years ago | (#11653186)

All you programmers out there had better make sure that all your comments in the source code are polically correct. No more talk about slaves and masters.

Well (2, Informative)

simontek2 (523795) | more than 9 years ago | (#11653208)

I wonder if they will call me. I finally opened my shop. The Open Store www.theopenstore.net

More cops? (1)

jones77 (306154) | more than 9 years ago | (#11653220)

Is that wise? [google.com]

Letting the people decide. (2, Insightful)

Thats_Pipe (837838) | more than 9 years ago | (#11653238)

Ok, cities around the country are considering Open Source. Are there going to be any sort of vote for whether a city wants to switch? Government is in place for the people and if their money is being thrown away on software that can easily be replaced then I would say most people would be in favor. If it did come down to a vote, I would expect the majority of people to go with the more cost effective solution.

Bad Move. OO not 100% compat. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11653290)

I seriously question their IT personnel for backing this decision.

I've been using OO for some time. I'm current with the 1.x branch, and have not tried the 2.x branch yet.

With that said, OO just does not render old Word documents very well. I still can't use OO reliably with older Word documents laying around in my "/home/docs" partition.

Unless they have someone dedicated to re-rendering most of their older Word docs to the native .sxw format, they're gonna have major headaches down the road.

1. Granted, it would only take a handful of dedicated personnel to re-render those docs and save them in native OO format. That shouldn't cost more than a million and a few months for that process.

2. However, you run into the problem of compatibility while exporting those OO files outside of LA offices.

Pioneers? yes. Prudent IT personnel? no.

Free software not really free (1, Interesting)

charles28c (856897) | more than 9 years ago | (#11653322)

Let's be clear, free software is not really free. I worked for a company that jumped heavily into a linux-based product and we soon found bugs in all kinds of underlying linux infrastructure... Sure it's open source, but realistically no small company that is cutting cost to deploy open-source in the first place will have the resources to go in and hack code to fix bugs. We ended up spending a small fortune in consultant costs to hire outside programmers to fix small bugs thoughout several linux subsystems... and the kicker was we were theoretically expected to release those fixes back into the open-source community. Needless to say, our executives said "screw it, let everyone else figure it out for themselves". Yes, you can cut costs with open source, but god help you if you need to fix something because you won't have the expertise to do it anymore that you'd have the expertise to recompile MS Office. This isn't a rant against open source (I use several open source packages myself), but it isn't a panacea and you still need to allocate funds for things like developing your own bug fixes. Nothing is truly free.

I never could understand Microsoft's strategy... (1)

the_skywise (189793) | more than 9 years ago | (#11653331)

Short term, getting everybody roped into a subscription based model "locks" existing customers in.

But now it shows up in the budget as "annual recurring costs" and not a one-time fixed cost.

So this stuff comes up for dicussion every year during budget time. And... it looks pretty silly to be spending 5 million dollars on "clippy" a year when you can't afford enough police to protect the city.

So now they HAVE to lower the cost of the product *and* governments are now aware of OpenOffice (which is free). Whereas if they had just lowered costs to begin with and offered some things like "free" support to sweeten the pot, they could've kept stringing them along.

(And why is this article sectioned as "politics"?)

I hope the budget in decent support. (1)

stephenisu (580105) | more than 9 years ago | (#11653368)

While I find this to be very exciting, I hope that they use SOME of the saved money to add to user support. They will need it for at least the first year or so until users/admins are familiar with the new systems.

Good and Bad idea... (1)

voteforkerry78 (819720) | more than 9 years ago | (#11653393)

Of course, open source is great, and it will save LA a jug or two of money. However, if the jugs of money will be donated to the LAPD, I'm pretty much against it. The racism and anti-black/latino actions of the LAPD in the past worry me. I would rather see the money go towards cleaning up LA's skies, because right now LA is one of the most polluted cities in the world.

This is outrageous! (1, Funny)

callipygian-showsyst (631222) | more than 9 years ago | (#11653405)

As someone who's earned a good living writing computer software and managing software projects over the past 25 years, I'm outraged about this move to "Free Software".

The Government wouldn't be able to get away with replacing other workers and contractors with unpaid volunteers--why should people who write software for a living be treated any differently?

What's especially troubling is that this move is motivated by some off-beat political agenda that makes it unpopular to support American industry like Microsoft and Oracle in exchange for using second-rate software developed by kids overseas.

I tried and rejected Open Office. It is an inferior product.

So when all software is free? (1)

b3rs3rk3r (845952) | more than 9 years ago | (#11653410)

What do all us "nerds" do with our time??? I got bills to pay? Anyone else???

I really don't get the argument that software should be free? Nothing is for free...

Heck if anything thing things that are required for humans to exists: food, power, shelter, etc should be free, but software???

Priorities???????
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