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How is the UK doing for Open Source Adoption?

Zonk posted about 8 years ago | from the so-so dept.

Linux Business 38

munchola writes "CBRonline has put together an article looking at the state of open source adoption in the UK , bringing together data on central government policy and adoption within local government, public services, education, and the private sector. While overall the transition to OSS has been successful, there have been a few setbacks." From the article: "Not all of the organisations involved in the open source proof of concept trials have proceeded with open source adoption, however. In particular, the Central Scotland Police dealt a blow to open source supporters in August 2005 when it abandoned Linux and Sun's StarOffice in favour of Windows. The police force moved to StarOffice in 2000 and later adopted Linux for a new Area Command office at Falkirk. It also worked with IBM Corp to adopt Linux for a server-based document management system to meet Freedom of Information Act requirements, claiming savings of between 20,000 and 30,000 pounds ($36,000 and $54,000) over five years on hardware costs."

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Spoken like someone from the UK (0, Troll)

neonprimetime (528653) | about 8 years ago | (#15978143)

How is the UK doing for Open Source Adoption?

Shouldn't this read "How is the UK doing with Open Source Adoption?"

Or else, "What is the UK doing for Open Source Adoption?"

Re:Spoken like someone from the UK (1)

Duds (100634) | about 8 years ago | (#15978196)

If you're somehow suggesting the title is british english you're very wrong.

It's Slashdribble.

Re:Spoken like someone from the UK (1)

deletedaccount (835797) | about 8 years ago | (#15978223)

"slashdribble" *fnarr fnarr chortle*

Re:Spoken like someone from the UK (1)

Shaper_pmp (825142) | about 8 years ago | (#15978397)

It is British english - it's colloquial British english.

It might not be grammatically correct, but it is a common colloquialism in many areas of Britain.

It's certainly not US english, right?

Re:Spoken like someone from the UK (1)

Duds (100634) | about 8 years ago | (#15978879)

It's as much US and UK.

In UK english the title means "Do you have enough open source left?"

Which is totally different.

Re:Spoken like someone from the UK (1)

Tim C (15259) | about 8 years ago | (#15979262)

Actually, the title means "Do you have enough open source adoption left?", but you were on the right tracks.

Re:Spoken like someone from the UK (1)

Aladrin (926209) | about 8 years ago | (#15978275)

Eh... That may not be quite 'textbook' english, but it's used constantly. 'on' is also frequently used. Amazingly enough, there's no law requiring people to speak english the same as it was spoken 500 years ago. It's a language, and languages evolve.

I actually find 'for' to be more natural than 'with' in this instance. It's not going anything WITH the open source adoption... It's DOING the open source adoption.

Maybe 'as far as' or 'concerning' would be better.

Oh heck, maybe there's a bajillion ways to say it and they can use whatever they want, so long as other people understand them.

Re:Spoken like someone from the UK (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | about 8 years ago | (#15979237)

How about when most people misunderstand them, like the person who understood it to mean "Do you have enough open source left?" [slashdot.org]

Amazingly enough, there's no law, physical or legal, which requires people to read your mind to understand what you mean. You're free to make mistakes, though listening to yourself as if you were the person you're communicating with helps keep you in line.

Re:Spoken like someone from the UK (1)

Tim C (15259) | about 8 years ago | (#15979285)

Strictly speaking, he didn't misunderstand it - that's exactly what "how are you doing for $foo" means, "do you have enough $foo?". Whoever wrote the title got it wrong.

Re:Spoken like someone from the UK (1)

Aladrin (926209) | about 8 years ago | (#15979388)

Hmm... Then it's the same as 'Do you have enough Open Source Adoption?'... And the answer to that question is always 'no, we could use more.' It retains an approximation of the original intent, as well.

Re:Spoken like someone from the UK (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | about 8 years ago | (#15979491)

Strictly speaking, they misunderstood the meaning the submitter expected, noticed they misunderstood it, and guessed what the meaning could correctly be from the context. We're talking about misunderstanding the meaning of the submitter, not the words they posted, which words everyone but the submitter seems to understand.

Adopt the right product for the job (2, Informative)

deletedaccount (835797) | about 8 years ago | (#15978153)

I think it's a case of evaluating the costs/benefits of different products be they open source or not. It may sound like an obvious process, but often overlooked.

In my experience (middleware), many of the open source products do the job well but require massive investments of time and expertise to get of the ground and maintain, whereas the comercial solutions come with proper support, documentation and decent GUIs. The question that needs to be asked is does it cost more for the licences or more for the manpower?

Don't get me wrong, I'm writing this on ubuntu, I develop using open source technologies and I contribute to various OS projects, but I've watched the UK government pour millions of public money into open source products that would have been beter spent on licences for comercial ones.

Re:Adopt the right product for the job (1)

PowerBert (265553) | about 8 years ago | (#15978838)

I'm intrigued. What FOSS projects has the British government poured millions of public money into exactly? All I see them doing is getting ripped off by EDS time and time again! Though to be fair it's not only EDS. I know a guy who put up a tender for a government cabling project, he didn't really want the job he just wanted to get all the paperwork and experience so he could tender in the future. His quote went in at £ludicrous money and he won! No one was more surprised than him.

If the government used more FOSS perhaps they would have more money to spend on the NHS!

Re:Adopt the right product for the job (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | about 8 years ago | (#15979474)

but I've watched the UK government pour millions of public money into open source products that would have been beter spent on licences for comercial ones.
Sure, but in the long run, maybe we'll all be better off for the money government invests in OSS. Kind of like a subsidy for a very important but fledgling industry.

Wait, scratch the "kind of like" from that last sentence fragment.

University of Liverpool (1)

linvir (970218) | about 8 years ago | (#15978169)

  1. Microsoftastic computers
  2. Javalicious CS courses

c++ elitism? (2, Insightful)

abigsmurf (919188) | about 8 years ago | (#15978321)

Java is the best language for learning OOP, it's straightforward makes sense and most importantly : doesn't cause hours of headaches as students try to figure out what's causing a null pointer exception. Considering it's no longer reallu possible or practical to start students off on some form of BASIC they need a language that's fundamentally simple and has functions built in that make sense. Expecting students to learn how to make strings is something that should be one of the first things they learn yet C requires them to either use Arrays or use object functions to do so. Needing to know more advanced concepts to make one of the fundamental data types is just one of the things that makes C a language which is a nightmare to learn from scratch.

Re:c++ elitism? (2, Interesting)

deletedaccount (835797) | about 8 years ago | (#15978454)

I have to agree with you, Java is the best language to teach in universities for the reasons you give and one more... it's an OO language that is directly applicable in the real world. I learnt all sorts of crap like smalltalk, which while giving me a solid foundation in OO concepts was worth bugger all to prospective employers. If I had to choose one language to teach at undergraduate level, Java would be it.
However, I would also argue that at least a basic understanding of C/C++ is also needed by graduates. It shouldn't have to be one or the other. Ideally, I'd say that graduates need Java, C/C++, possibly some microsoft .net thing (blurgh) and a web scripting language (probably PHP). With a those as a basis, they could easily adapt to whatever they need to do in the future, be it Perl, Ruby, Python, VB.net or whatever.

Re:c++ elitism? (1)

Omnifarious (11933) | about 8 years ago | (#15979786)

Python is a much better language. It isn't a slow bloated monstrosity with a development environment that takes at least a gigabyte of RAM to run reasonably. Additionally, you don't have a compile, edit, link cycle to worry about. It's easy to prototype out your function on the command line before putting it into your code.

Java is a big mistake. I liked it once, but I've grown to loathe it and its stupid runtime environment. It's the most overhyped piece of garbage in the IT industry today. It will be remembered in the future with the same fondness now reserved for COBOL.

Re:c++ elitism? (1)

tolan-b (230077) | about 8 years ago | (#15979947)

It's funny because you clearly don't know what you're talking about :)

Re:c++ elitism? (2, Interesting)

npcompleat (942042) | about 8 years ago | (#15982122)

As a course leader of several computing MScs I have to disagree. While Java isn't quite that bad, Python (or Ruby) is now a much better choice as a teaching language, especially for object oriented languages. Java is also not open source (yet) and universities should be leading the way in the use and advocacy of open source software.

The change is beginning - I know of at least one university that teaches its MSc students on machines running Fedora (since I helped introduce it into the labs) and I know of courses that use both Python and Ruby as first languages. I also know that my local primary school has ignored all attempts to introduce open source, in spite of being presented with the BECTA report. Should we not be expecting all our educational institutions to be leading the way on this issue?

Re:c++ elitism? (1)

Omnifarious (11933) | about 8 years ago | (#15982820)

I've started Eclipse and tried to use it. Even without having anything loaded the thing's VM footprint is 700M. So don't try to tell me you can get away with less than a gigabyte of memory if you want it to run reasonably.

And don't even get me started about Java's complete inability to do reasonable lambda expressions of having to go through the clunky reflection API to even think about treating classes as objects. I can even get that kind of power in C++, which is a significantly older language with tools that can run in a reasonable amount of space.

Java is a horrible ugly monstrosity that only exists because of some manager's wet dream about no longer having memory errors and not having to retrain legions of C and C++ programmers. Programming in it even induces COBOL fingers because of an obsessive devotion to ridiculouslyLongMethodNamesBecauseSomehowThatMakes ThemEasierToUnderstand and an insitutional inability to make useful utility facades for common tasks like creating a buffered output stream for a file.

And the worst part is, people boot an OS (some people call it a VM) every time they want to start an app. The biggest deal I've seen in the systems level Java shops I've worked in is how to write your programs in such a way that you can just start up threads in existing VMs instead of going through the pain of starting a new one. Lets just pray for synchronization errors that have threads stomping on eachother why don't we?

Re:c++ elitism? (1)

tolan-b (230077) | about 8 years ago | (#15985725)

I'm sorry but you're full of shit. You have to set a command line argument to even let Eclipse use 256 meg (which I do). I have eclipse open now and it's resident memory usage is 139meg on my 1gig system. It starts in less time than Thunderbird.

Java is excellent for large apps that need to be solid and need to be maintainable, enterprise apps basically, but even on the desktop it's perfectly capable of running as well as standard C/C++ apps. Eclipse is actually far more responsive for me than Mozilla's apps, and uses less memory too.

It's fine if you don't like Java, but that's not a a valid criticism in itself.

Re:c++ elitism? (1)

Omnifarious (11933) | about 8 years ago | (#15988425)

Well, here's the output of top on my system.

top - 23:55:24 up 32 days, 15:39, 17 users, load average: 3.18, 2.74, 2.64
Tasks: 189 total, 3 running, 186 sleeping, 0 stopped, 0 zombie
Cpu(s): 0.2% us, 0.3% sy, 99.0% ni, 0.0% id, 0.0% wa, 0.2% hi, 0.3% si, 0.Mem: 2058672k total, 2041880k used, 16792k free, 187368k buffers
Swap: 2104312k total, 605488k used, 1498824k free, 376032k cached

PID USER PR NI VIRT RES SHR S %CPU %MEM TIME+ COMMAND
2885 root 15 0 297m 222m 15m S 1 11.1 268:51.11 Xorg
31690 hopper 15 0 658m 222m 110m S 0 11.1 0:12.76 gij

Re:c++ elitism? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15988296)

How many IDE's you know were written in Python or Ruby?

Re:c++ elitism? (1)

Omnifarious (11933) | about 8 years ago | (#15988460)

This is true. I use emacs and ipython as my Python IDE. They work fairly well, but don't look nearly as slick as Eclipse. There is IDLE [python.org] and PyPE [sourceforge.net] , but they are a lot less ambitious (or, from another perspective, overfeatured and bloated) than Eclipse. But, I wouldn't generally use them as I've rarely found that sort of development tool useful. And I've made a go of using them for a long time too because everybody else has raved so much about them. I've come to the conclusion that they prefer an illusion to reality [cryptonomicon.com] .

But, I personally find Eclipse to be cumbersome and to do a great deal to obscure what's really going on. I find it highly amusing that a tool like that is all the fashion in Java. It reinforces my opinion of it as the new COBOL. A hand holding tool for programmers who don't really want to know how their computer actually does anything and want a tinkertoy programming environment that attempts to dumb down complicated things so they appear superficially simple.

Re:c++ elitism? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15980870)

In which part of the parent was C++ even mentioned? That guy might have been a Pythonista or a LISP hacker. Or indeed an afficionado of any language that makes the concepts of "function" and "class" orthogonal :p

Personally I agree that Java is the best language for learning OOP. Unfortunately, OOP is just not the best thing to learn. CS is about teaching the whole of Computer Science, and OOP is a small part of CS. It's a real shame that Java doesn't support any programming paradigms other than OOP otherwise it'd actually be quite a useful language for teaching CS, or writing real software in, for exactly the reasons you give.

Sun missed the boat there, I think.

It's certainly ridiculous to expect undergraduate students of Computer Science to actually learn about how strings and memory and CPUs work, I agree there. Really CS should just be a vocational course on computer programming, not some kind of "academic study" of computing verging on mathematics. It's as if they assume that someone committing 3 years of serious study to CS would actual know how to program already or something.

University researchers tend not to use Windows (2, Informative)

AndyTheSayer (965008) | about 8 years ago | (#15978335)

While the government and public services are discussed, I thought I'd point out that almost all computation-requiring research done in University science departments I have come across is on Unix machines. Granted, that's only 2 universities I've been at, but speaking to my friends in other science departments and institutions it seems to be rare for scientists to use Windows.

My friends working in the arts or social sciences do tend to use Windows--although they're using it for writing up, as opposed to computations for research.

Re:University researchers tend not to use Windows (1)

deletedaccount (835797) | about 8 years ago | (#15978476)

More an more that I encounter are using mac os X so that they can do all the unix gubbins and use office. Mac laptops appear all the rage for the trendy computer science researcher.

hardware or software costs? (1)

abigsmurf (919188) | about 8 years ago | (#15978384)

"It also worked with IBM Corp to adopt Linux for a server-based document management system to meet Freedom of Information Act requirements, claiming savings of between 20,000 and 30,000 pounds ($36,000 and $54,000) over five years on hardware costs."

Are those savings seperate to the savings by using Linux or inclusive? All that seems to indicate is that their new server system means they need less hardware and save money. The Linux side of things is irrelevant if the reason they're saving money is mostly because they're using a centralised server system.

UK Free Software Network (UKFSN) (3, Informative)

thingie (16450) | about 8 years ago | (#15978445)

The UK also has some initiatives such as the UK Free Software Network (UKFSN) [ukfsn.org] which seem to be doing really well. It's a zero-support ISP which donates profits to open source projects.

Love matters most in adoption (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15978885)

Well, if you make the decision to adopt, I don't think it matters if you are using open source or not. What matters most is whether you are providing a loving family and are willing to meet the child's needs.

Linux in Industry (1)

Pop69 (700500) | about 8 years ago | (#15979100)

I know for a certainty that there is at least one freshly installed Linux box in the server room of http://www.glenmorangie.com/ [glenmorangie.com] because I put it there. It's doing file sharing/storage. Hardware costs low, server OS costs nil, CAL costs nil and setup costs negligable (doesn't take long to copy a few stock config files and change a couple of domain names and IP addresses). You couldn't buy an proprietary operating system solution for what the hardware cost, indeed why would anybody want to pay more for the operating system than the hardware that runs it.

The web proxy and firewall are linux based network appliances as well.

I think this is where the most benefit is to be had from linux deployments, in the server room, not necessarily on the desktop as an office system.

Re:Linux in Industry (1)

Cruise_WD (410599) | about 8 years ago | (#15979245)

It's interesting that "not free" means it has to be Windows for a lot of people.

Almost all my company's infrastructure is running on Sun boxes. Paid for, full support, so maybe not quite as "free" as my Gentoo desktop, but probably a lot cheaper than a Windows server, and certainly more reliable than the few Windows machines we do have.

It doesn't have to be free to be reliable, secure and not-Windows.

Depends... (2, Interesting)

Cloud K (125581) | about 8 years ago | (#15979508)

As IT manager for a small non-profit, I can say that even we are still running mostly proprietary software.

The biggest hurdle is the users, I tried letting people have a go with a Linux distro, OpenOffice etc and the first thing they said was "Where's publisher?" and "How do I use this digital camera (with locked drivers for Windows)" etc etc. Far too many problems. Plus we have a fair few Access databases.

For those who only needed Word, Excel and a few other things I tried giving them OpenOffice but they just moaned and asked for the "Standard Microsoft" products.

For a while we've been using Mozilla Thunderbird, but as more and more people are needing access to their email remotely, and IMAP is far from brilliant in said client (folders refusing to delete properly and other such niggles) I think Exchange and Outlook are not far off the horizon. Simply because, dare I say it on Slashdot, Micrsoft software is generally the easiest to use in the eyes of the non-computer-literate. [With the exception of Office 2007 beta as it stands, that's bloody awful to use]

I'd love to go OSS and I'm sure in an organisation with slightly more intelligent staff it wouldn't be a problem. But this lot at my place are *very* easily confused. A shining example would be one guy today, who panicked that his box was "going beebeebeebeebeebeebeep". I went to his desk and found a ring binder sat on the keyboard. Another one, a little while ago but still there, was desparately trying to shove a floppy in a Zip drive. These are the kind of people I have to deal with, so any less-than-minor change would have them baffled for months. Trying to tell them how to do all the various workarounds and procedures usually needed in OSS software to do various things that are point-and-click in Windows is out of the question really.

The only OSS app which *has* gone down well is Firefox, perhaps because it's got a very familiar/intuitive interface for ex-IE users, it's feature-complete (I've seen so many OSS alternatives that can only be described as half-finished) and generally very well written. The staff love not having to deal with malware, popups and self-installers, even if it does take an age to load in comparison with IE.

Who knows, maybe the situation will improve eventually... but right now the demand is for "Standard Microsoft" software and giving them alternatives just tends to upset them.

Re:Depends... (1)

thephydes (727739) | about 8 years ago | (#15981988)

Interesting that this story only got a score of 2. The writer has it right. MS is so pervasive, that the ordinary user thinks it is the only way to "use" a computer. IE is the internet after all is it not? And, the less intelligent - or more technophobic - the user, the more likely they will be to resist change in my experience. The OSS community has to get into the real world and out of a foggy ivory tower. Give ordinary people what they want and they will "buy" it. Ordinary people want their software to look like MS software. They want it to operate like MS software. I have sympathy for the idealism of OSS communities, and I use FC on my machine at home by the way, but when I reflect on my colleagues at work and how they use their machines, I realise that they will in all likelyhood never even consider OSS solutions, even if you give them a disk, install it for them and spend hours re-assuring them and helping them understand how it works.
And besides which how will their children ( code for they in many cases ) play their computer games.

Big community, lots of development,little adoption (1)

Marcion (876801) | about 8 years ago | (#15980759)

The UK has lots of open source developers and a large community but how is the UK doing for Open Source Adoption?

Not Very Well at all.

#!/usr/bin/python
foo='ck'
bar='it'
progress = "fu" + foo + "ing " + "sh" + bar
print progress

I have been trying to think of famous British open source people/projects. Here is what I have come up with so far:

Xen
Mark Shuttleworth (sort of - has a British passport now and wanders around London sometimes).
Tim Berners Lee, WWW
Rob Hartill, Apache
Simon Tatham, Putty
Ian Jackson,ex-Debian Lead
Alan Cox of Redhat and one-time kernel fame
Alan Turing, father of computer science
Jim McQuillan, Linux Terminal Server Project
Dr John Pugh, MP and Linux activist

Can anyone think of any more?

Re:Big community, lots of development,little adopt (1)

ploppy (468469) | about 8 years ago | (#15982149)

> I have been trying to think of famous British open source people/projects. Here is what I have come up with so far:

I wouldn't say famous, but four more British open source projects/people are:

JamVM - a free open source Java Virtual Machine, written and maintained by Robert Lougher

Squashfs - a compressed filesystem for Linux. This is the most widely used filesystem for LiveCDs, used by most major Linux distributions. It is also extensively used in embedded systems (i.e. most Linux based wireless routers). Written and maintained by Phillip Lougher (myself).

JFFS2 - a compressed filesytem for NAND flash. Originated and maintained by David Woodhouse.

Ext3 - written and maintained by Stephen Tweedie (and others).

But... (1)

jrothwell97 (968062) | about 8 years ago | (#15989119)

There is pretty much no Linux compatible hardware around here, and as people are too lazy to demand the manufacturers release hardware, Linux is not being well adopted. Perhaps we should start an open-source campaign in Britain?
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