24 November 2006

Open Source in Government

I have been an advocate of using open source software for govenment for several years. So far, little progress has been made. Large software corporations still tend to dominate in this arena. A recent article, Open standards group to beat Microsoft at its own game, talks of part of the struggle that is in progress to create more open and free (as in freedom) software options for the public sector in their software choices. I would love to see more software being used and supported financially by government.

Why are we throwing away millions and millions of dollars on plans, requirements and specifications for software that never sees the light of day? Why aren't we spending some of that money on open source development? Because the game of selling mega software (failures) is way too lucrative.

Some traditional IT managers insist on banning open source software from their IT shops.

Why? Because it's unreliable? I don't think so. Because it's not robust? Nope. Because it's a security risk? Wrong again. It's good enough for google, Yahoo, IBM, so why not the IT manager?

Because it's free.

  • Free software developers probably aren't going to throw a nice big dinner party for you in every major city in the country.
  • Free software developers aren't going to come and schmooze you over a nice lunch.
  • Free doesn't require a multi-million dollar budget.
  • Free doesn't satisfy the ego.
  • Free isn't as much fun.

But, what traditional IT managers conveniently ignore is that if they are doing anything with the internet, they are already using free open source software.

Free software works. And that's why it's successful.

The binders that are produced are impressive... but I, for one, would much rather have my tax dollars spent on supporting software that works.

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