back to article Dave Cameron pledges to Open Source

The UK’s two major political parties have demonstrated the benefits of bringing the open source ethos into government, by getting into a punch-up over who thought of the idea in the first place. David Cameron embraced Linux, open source and bottoms-up decision-making today as he detailed his vision of a Tory innovation policy …


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  1. 4a$$Monkey

    Three things about open source

    One, nobody owns it... Open source doesn’t necessarily mean free and it certainly doesn’t mean nobody owns it!

    Two, everybody uses it... Well apart from those 'paytard' M$ users;-)

    And three, anyone can improve it... As long as they can code!

  2. Anonymous Coward


    “We also want to see how open source methods can help overcome the massive problems in government IT programs”

    By causing other problems that don't currently exist by these system being run by people with only half an idea of what they are doing which includes myself as I latch onto the latest buzz words in an attempt to make myself look like I care instead of the self serving, power hungry egomaniac I really am

    “that enables IT contracts to be split up into modular components”

    So each individual contractor can blame all the others when something fails to work. After all, they wrote their part correctly

    “So never again could there be projects like Labour’s hubristic NHS supercomputer.”

    We intend to make our own open source version of the hubristic NHS supercomputer that will also contain all of your biometrics, ID card info and every scrap of data about you all ready in a nice package for a clever hacker to take away once they gain access.

  3. Ian

    RMS at Number 10

    The sight of Billy-boy, blinking away alongside Tony Blair, each unable to decide who was the more star-struck was moderately amusing. But having spent a week with RMS lo these twenty years ago, and having met ESR a couple of times, I am looking forward to seeing Cameron holding a similar meeting surrounded by Stallman, holding a recorder, and Eric, holding a .44 Magnum...

  4. DirkGently
    Thumb Up

    Or write documententation...

    ... or proofread, or translate, or email developers to report bugs...

  5. Slaine

    the parody

    Dear Help Desk, I recently switched to Conservative 2.0.1 after a long and rather unsatisfying time trying to maintain Labour 9.8 but I have found that the two softwares are COMPLETEY THE SAME. Neither of them talks to any one else, neither of them does what I want, even if all I ask is the simplest straightforward piece of communication. Worst of all, since first installing labour I have found that my entire life has got steadily slower and less productive ... etc

  6. Jamie

    Fix all the current issues with the IT infrastructure

    The issue is part with the current system and a lot with the management who don't know thier A$$ from the actual system.

    Then you have people contracted in who don't properly know what they are at!!!

    Just wish I could have gotten on that gravey train that is the NHS database.

  7. Steven Hewittt

    When will people learn

    It doesn't make a blind bit of difference if it's OSS or closed source. I couldn't give a rats arse to be honest.

    We have a mixture of RHES, Windows 2003 and Windows 2008 servers running on one network talking to each other fine. We use both OpenOffice and Office 2007. Appliances like SSL-VPN boxes running ScreenOS link in fine with RSA and AD for authentication.

    Linux Works. Windows Works. If I need to download Adobe's Acrobat Reader or Microsoft's Word Viewer to read some 100 page "review" or "proposal" (e.g. lies and dictations) from HMG I'll download it.

    Now if the Government / Shadow Government wants to impress me as a voter who works in IT, how about ditching the stupid mentality of outsourcing and do a few projects that actually make sense, done on time and come in on budget. That will impress me, not worrying if I can read the source code to your web servers operating system.


  8. Christoph Silver badge


    What is the point of fiddling with the computer system that processes meaningless data?

    Fix the ludicrous 'targets' that distort everything into meeting those targets rather than doing actual work. The targets based on data that is so filtered and distorted that it doesn't mean anything anyway.

  9. Outcast
    Thumb Up

    M$ tax

    Someone is finally starting to "Get it"

    Shame its the bloody tories !!

    So whats the "Get it?"

    How many computers are in the civil service ?


    They all require licensing every year.

    I bet that money could build, staff & run a super hospital every year.

    Coding houses would change priorities in the bat of an eyelid with the fresh opportunities.

    It would work a damn sight better than the current systems regardless of inevitable glitches.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Erm... Haven't we seen this before

  11. Gerald Wilson

    Road to Damascus, anyone?

    How odd. Cameron didn't seem too keen on endorsing open-source when I wrote to him about it two years ago. Well, he didn't bother to acknowledge the missive, anyway. Ah well; things change.

    But then Labour didn't seem too keen when the then Minister of Defence was told that OpenBSD might be a tad sturdier than Windows-for-Warships for the command systems of his shiny new destroyers, and that was in November 2002. Of course, we now know with hindsight that the minister was busy planning an invasion at the time, so I guess software reliabilty was the last thing on his mind in those days. Perhaps things change for Labour, too.

  12. g e

    Quick fix...

    “We also want to see how open source methods can help overcome the massive problems in government IT programs”

    Surely not using EDS time and time again would fix that?

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Open source for government projects == even more cost over runs

    Last time I looked he cost over runs for huge government IT projects was not due to licences paid to proprietary software vendors but people costs paid to big SIs.

    Does anyone REALLY believe making it easier for them to tinker and change things with core products will reduce these costs? I would expect them to increase- just imagine it: Accenture to the left with their own modified Debian variant, IBM in the middle with a nicely tinkered with (but in a different way) Red Hat variant, EDS to the right with their own fiddles SUSE. On top 3 slightly differently modified versions of OpenOffice, perhaps a Koffice variant thrown in by a local PCT's favourite small vendor.

    Why do you think IBM just LOVES open source? It's because they make money on fiddling with it and supporting it.

    It all sounds like a terrible nightmare to me with even more of MY money wasted on badly managed projects.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Umm, he actually has a point, but doesn't know it

    I call irony here.

    The UK government WAS on track to go Open Source under the Tories. If you seach for "the queens webmaster" on Slashdot you'll find an interview with him when he put (sorry, the Royal website) and everything else on two fat Dells, overnight, with nobody noticing until Netcraft did a survey a month later. But it started even before that. eGIF was developed with Open Source and open standards in mind, and the Government Secure Intranet (also an idea during "Tories rule") ran at the core Open Source because anyone with an ounce of sense threw out Sun's CC in those days and used gcc + libraries on Solaris.

    But then Labour "happened". It interesting that the news story has been eradicated from the Net but I'm sure some UK people can recall the furore when Blair showed early signs of being blinded by money when he decided to partake in the introduction of W2K at MS HQ, thus implicitly suggesting UK gov approval.

    Since then, MS consultants have been thick as flies at Whitehall and with the departure of skills at gov level it was down to consultants to choose the platform.

    Now, quiz question: which platform do you think that makes more money for consultants (mainly because defects have somehow become acceptable, and thus the maintenance game as well)? Hint: it is NOT Open Source.

    So, as with ID Cards, feasability studies have not been quite as unbiased as they allege to be. The only problem is that since Vista (and now the ISO rigging) it has become so blatantly clear that the MS route has a few "issues" that even consultants can't hide it anymore.

    So this could get VERY interesting. Expect a huge surge in Gov officials being invited for expensive dinner and "strategy review days" somewhere in the Bahamas, because the ship has sprung a little leak.

    Sarcasm? Not at all. I suggest you start checking who went where after "government" service. It may prove painfully enlightening.

  15. Paul Halliday

    Setting the record straight ...

    Wow! This is soooo backward! The NHS "supercomputer" is in fact a fault tolerant set of data pools held at data centre's across Britain ... like business best practice. The NHS "supercomputer" is a roaring success and exactly what the NHS needed, having finally wrestled control of data from the myriad of private providers who simply will not work together.

    That it is deemed a failure (only in a very small number of camps) is down to (a) new contractors having not delivered their new product that was promised for years ago and (b) old providers trying to get their 20 year old POS systems (written in now dead languages) working with the new system. The system performs fine and is a huge benefit to the NHS as a whole ... if only they'd taken the full step of simply striking off non-compliant system providers from the GPSoC.

    What the Tories are proposing is a retrograde step that will put data sharing back 10 years to when we started. A lot of the country are not yet in a position to reap the benefits, given their choice of system and the Tories' proposal would make that impossible. We'd be back to swapping disks containing patient information through the post FFS!!! Stone the crows! Do these people really not have a clue?

  16. Anonymous Coward

    Anyone can modify it.

    Brilliant, pass it here.

    10 Print "I am a Programmer"

    20 Goto 10

    Wahoo, can I have a job, you useless, tree huggin, traffic light dodgin, drivel spewing, tax raising, pointless pillock?

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    An example of government IT thinking...

    The big issue with everything governmental is management. Or the utter lack of having a competant manager, and have 50 utterly incompetant idiots trying to do the same thing over an over. In the private sector, you get told what the lot up stairs want and get it done cheap enough and good enough with no screw ups.You foul up, you and very likely your managerial muppet master is removed perminantly.

    A government agency which I won't name had an adsl issue as it kept dropping off its machines. Anyone normal would yell at BT who they were using for their ISP (stupid sods). But nope, BT insisted they needed a monsterous leased what did they do? they trotted off and got it. Next off they needed a basic file server for backups. Nothing fancy. What do they go and get, first off a full 42U rack...and in come from over 200 mile away a group of folk to put it together...its a rack, its just simple flat pack sheesh. Anyhow, they come out, build it, and disappear. Then come some others to install the server. Oops..the racks a communications rack and a server doesn't fit. So off they go. Back come the original guys again, throw in the bin the original rack, and put up a new 42U rack.

    Out come the server guys again, and oops no mounting brackets for the server (it was only 4U and they had a shelf with a swtich on it, and a small UPS...8U tops used) they swap it for a standard tower! Due to the tower, being locked in the rack, which had fully sealed doors and sides, the tower cooked :P So what do they do? come out with yet another rack, this time a bit smaller in 24U, and having a fan unit in it, and bin the second 42U rack once more.

    So after a six week period, these muppets have blown over £23k (I had to ask about it due to how utterly stupid it watching them) and litterally threw away a couple of 42U racks. On a project which all that was needed was to have someone yell at BT about their dodgy adsl line, and to buy a NAS. This sums up why the government shouldn't be allowed anywhere near anything IT related, it's just scary imagining that this goes on in probably every government office in the country. If anyone in the private sector did this, they would of been out the door for this level of incompetance and wasting of time, money and resources.

    Black helicoptors as no doubt they'll come for me now for blurbing off what I saw :P

  18. David Pollard

    Remember the 'Lawyer from Lima'?

    Dr Villanueva Nunez made a bold attempt to bring Open Source methodology to Peru's government systems a few years ago. He presented the reasoning rather well.

    Sadly his 'Bill 1609' passed into oblivion. I seem to recall something about a $500 million investment by a well-known software company at around this time, but can't presently locate the reference.

  19. O
    Gates Horns

    re: Labour's pledges on Open Source

    I wouldn't believe a word of it, the Labour government have been fighting tooth and nail to keep Open Source software tooth and nail ever since they came to power. At every turn, they chose in favour of M$ or something completely proprietary.

  20. O

    correction to my previous post

    should read -

    "... the Labour government have been fighting tooth and nail to keep Open Source software out ever since they came to power."

  21. Paul


    "Cameron pledged that a Tory government would set the UK’s data free [...] he wanted to ensure people could access information"

    Might want to start by kicking the BSI up the arse a few dozen times after their sudden reversal of opinion on how to vote regarding OOXML, since that particular "standard" is unlikely to be much help in achieving such lofty aims.

    Plus they could save a lot of money by not giving every IT contract to proven incompetents. I'm sure EDS would be quite capable of making a bollocks of things whether or not OSS was involved.

  22. Tanuki
    Thumb Down

    In the land of the blind the eye-catching initiative is king.

    I don't give a flying fsck whether government uses open source, Microsoft, or a set of incantations transcribed from the walls of a Peruvian cave. To me the answer is obvious - rather than trying to do better, government [of whatever persuasion] should just promise to do *less*.

    Less regulation. Less taxation. Less 'initiatives'. Less 'innovation'. Less "strategies" and less "policies".

    Just get out of the way, government - and let ordinary people get on with living their lives.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    So what are we using today then?

    Open Source is used heavily in Gov departments today, all of the UK tax returns are done via Apache.

    The other point is some people don't seem to see the bigger picture M$ (who gives a toss?) Linux will target high cost proprietary UNIX, in particular Solaris and HP-UX.

    1. Solaris is going nowhere fast, well if it knew where it was going

    2. HP-UX upgrade means moving to Integrity - and not many people will do that

    I leave out AIX as, actually IBM have a good story here (and no I don't work for them).

    Linux will pick off the Solaris and HP-UX estates of the Gov departments over the next few years (and it will take years - trust me).

    While that is happening the Desktop will become a target, reducing cost and complexity, at which point the remaining M$ file servers will be switched to Samba nad that'll only leave home users with M$, but I really couldn;t give two figs about that lot.

    Tories/Labour/Lib Dems, the IT industry couldn't care less, it really comes down to cost and Open Source/Linux is cheaper.

  24. Anonymous Coward

    When will Steven Hewittt learn?

    <It doesn't make a blind bit of difference if it's OSS or closed source.> ... <Linux Works. Windows Works.>

    Your argument is a meaningless non-sequitur. Just because they both "work", doesn't mean there can't be huge differences in how they work, how efficient they are, how cheap or expensive they are, how easy or hard to integrate with other systems and applications, etc. etc. - your argument assumes a model where the only criterion for distinguishing between the two alternatives is "Does the computer power up and show the desktop and can you run applications?". In the real world where people have huge networks and hundreds of thousands of users operating massively complex applications to support, the differences you've just skated right over make a MASSIVE difference to the end-results and effort spent getting to those end results.

    < do a few projects that actually make sense, done on time and come in on budget. That will impress me, not worrying if I can read the source code to your web servers operating system.>

    FFS yourself! You want them to get projects in on budget, and you don't think there's any difference between, for example, the cost for a hundred thousand windows licenses and the cost for a hundred thousand linux licenses? I guess you don't know the difference between "LOTS" and "ZERO" then.

    Sure, if the only difference between windows and linux was whether or not you could read the source code, you might have a point. But it isn't, and so you don't.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Anyone can modify it pt 2

    void main()




    printf("I am a programmer");



  26. Sceptical Bastard
    IT Angle

    IT and government don't mix

    I've asked it before, I'll ask it again: WTF *is* a 'Minister for Transformational Government'? Is he as useless as his job title suggests?

    As to the story, when I see the word 'politician' or 'government' in an El Reg headline or teaser, I immediately think "Where's the IT angle?"

    Apart from the saving of licensing fees, it will make little difference whether government IT projects use open source software or proprietary software because (as others have pointed out above) the problem is with project management and with outsourcing to money-grabbing incompetents like EDS.

    Now a question for man-of-the-people 'Call Me Dave' Cameron. Is your personal laptop or home machine Mac, Linux or Windows?

  27. Mark Davies

    Maybe Dave's speeches are randomly generated from buzz words?

    Every time I hear the Tory leaders talk about IT it is as though someone has generated a bunch of random sentences filled with the latest IT buzz words. Whether this is open source or not makes no difference, the best tool should be selected for the job on the basis of its merits for that job. Poor management of the IT projects and internal politics (especially for the NHS projects) have been the real show stoppers and open source will not solve those problems.

    Having Dave spout about IT is like me spouting about, oh I don't know, sixteenth century Indonesian wood carving. I could look up some applicable words on the net, chuck them innappropriately into a sentence and then clap myself on the back. But I can't be a*sed...

  28. Francis Irving

    Cameron doesn't mean "open source" literally

    Cameron is using the term "open source" very loosely, as non-software engineers are prone to these days.

    He's partly meaning "open knowledge" - i.e. having the information and data that Government produces freely available to its citizens. And he's partly talking about "open standards", i.e. allowing competition in Government IT, by preventing vendor lock in.

    Both seem pretty clear wins to me.

    Whether he means "open source" as in the operating system and web platform being open source vs. Microsoft is largely irrelevant to the argument, as is whether he means "open source" as in the actual source code to the application being open source.

    Saying that - both those seem to be working fine over at (where yes, at least one bug was fixed by an eyeball from the many reading the source code)

  29. Anonymous Coward


    Hate to burst the 'open source is cheaper' bubble but...

    I work in for large 6th form college as assistant manager. If governments get the kind of discounts we do the cost difference is surprising. About 12 months ago we did a full analysis of moving all 600+ desktops and a dozen high spec servers to linux. Our campus agreement allows us to have ANY MS desktop OS we like, ANY version of office and a whole load of other stuff along with massive discounts on server licenses. As long as we pay the campus agreement we can automatically move to new versions without worrying as they get released.

    We cost up SUSE, red hat and mandriva. We had to use enterprise licensing but got an educational discount. When all the sums were done, we found that the overall difference in licensing costs per year for the same kind of deal (automatically eligible for new versions not just updates, management tools etc) were negligible. Once we factored in the costs of retraining staff, redoing documentation, support contracts etc, all 3 came to far far more than the Microsoft option.

    We were forced to conclude that we could not justify the expense of a complete migration and we remain a mainly MS organisation, although we do run linux on a couple of servers, the laptops and as our thin client OS.

  30. This post has been deleted by its author

  31. Mister Cheese

    etc etc part 3

    while echo "I am a programmer"




    Or (in my first foreign language):

    10 REPEAT

    20 PRINT "I am a programmer"


    None of this 'GOTO' crap, please.

  32. Not That Andrew

    If Crapita or EDS get their hands on it ..

    It doesn't matter if it is proprietary or open source. If Crapita, EDS or any of the other usual suspects get involved, they will still manage to cock it up and get paid billions to do so.

  33. Anonymous Coward

    @ When will Steven Hewittt learn?

    Generally speaking, when you are installing hundreds of thousands of anything, you want someone to shout at when things go tits-up. That is why corporations and governments going for GNU/Linux generally make contracts with companies like Mandriva, Redhat, IBM, Oracle and yes, even Novell. Generally they don't install Debian or roll their own. While it is significantly cheaper than even the bulk discount you might get from Microsoft for so many copies of Windows, it is still significantly more expensive than free.

    And yes, configured properly, a Windows based solution CAN work as well as GNU/Linux. Better in some circumstances, just as a GNU/Linux or mixed solution works better in many cases.

  34. David Pollard
    Black Helicopters

    Fund raising, as in Peru?

    "Afraid that Peru may adopt a bill decreeing the use of open-source software in all government systems, Microsoft apparently enlisted the American ambassador in Lima


    Not all the pressure come from the U.S. government. Bill Gates was in Peru recently, too, making a donation of $550,000 to the national school system."

    plus a great pic linked on that page as 'donation'

  35. This post has been deleted by its author

  36. John Latham

    @AC re:Costs?

    "If governments get the kind of discounts we do the cost difference is surprising."

    The massive discounts from MS are because they are buying the "mindset default" for the next generation of adult employees. Congratulations for selling our kids. I'm sure Coke and Cadbury's would also offer "massive discounts" to push their products in schools. Is that OK too?

    "We cost up SUSE, red hat and mandriva. We had to use enterprise licensing but got an educational discount."

    Why are you paying money for GNU/Linux licences? Presumably because the "enterprise" versions contain non-free management tools? Are there no free alternatives? Is a 6th form college school really an "enterprise"?

    "Once we factored in the costs of retraining staff, redoing documentation, support contracts etc, all 3 came to far far more than the Microsoft option."

    Well done. You've proved that change costs money.

    I'm also not clear on why a 6th form college needs 600+ desktop computers. I thought 6th form colleges were about education, not training. What are you running, a typing school?


  37. Simon Ward

    Re: Costs

    "Why are you paying money for GNU/Linux licences?"

    Chances are he's not - what he *will* be paying for is a support contract.

    Big difference.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Paul Halliday

    lol, you should go into comedy.

  39. Steve

    @Math Campbell

    Out to the West, another small department was running for years on a proprietary UU1.0 platform dating from the 1950s. Uncoordinated attempts to introduce a free open-source model there resulted in a major system crash, and ultimately the client-server approach was replaced by a centralized processing unit, running Lab71 and directly controlling several remote peripheral devices.

    That allowed the system to be brought back up, but coredumps were frequent, especially when isolated open source applications attempted to use resources not assigned to them. Centralized maintenance costs were also high, and outsourcing was proposed on several occasions.

    Upgrades over the years to Con79 and NuLab97 changed little, but a move to hypervisor-based virtualization in the late 90s showed promise, permitting multiple applications to run on a single system within older proprietary environments. This dramatically reduced the incidence of coredumps and greatly increased overall system stability. Concerns over the security of interprocess communications, and the possible expansion of virtual environments into the kernel, resulted in users downgrading one virtual enviroment from experimental Beta UU2.0 software back to a stable but limited and less functional version of DUP1.1. Another environment running Open/IRA3.0 is still suspected of containing proprietary elements, although users are reported as being fairly happy with current performance levels.

    The system today is reasonably stable, and maintenance costs have been slashed substantially. It is clear that, for the majority of users, a stable and familiar platform with low support costs is more important than religious adoption of proprietary or opensource models. Many users have little or no interest in the overall operating system, being concerned primarily with questions of local resources, but whether this view survives the next five-yearly upgrade cycle, only time will tell.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @John Lathom

    Congratulations for selling our kids. I'm sure Coke and Cadbury's would also offer "massive discounts" to push their products in schools. Is that OK too

    It has nothing to do with selling the kids and everything to do with trying to get the best value for money. If Apple were better and cheaper for our needs then we would go with them for the most part like I know for a fact blackpool college did. From what I know of previous systems before I arrived, years ago everything was bought from and managed by Novell. Don't mistake your own anti-ms stance as being perfect for everyones needs.

    Why are you paying money for GNU/Linux licences? Presumably because the "enterprise" versions contain non-free management tools?

    Partly and partly because many licenses only allow the software to be 'free' if it is used at home for personal use only. Once you place it in a commercial environment you have to pay for it.

    Are there no free alternatives?

    None of an acceptable standard that would allow us to do our job without spending too much time messing about. We are only a small department managing a large site. We would also need support for any issues that we may come across that we do not have the experience in troubleshooting. Support costs money.

    Is a 6th form college school really an "enterprise"?

    We are not a school. We are an independent 6th form registered as a private business although we do receive a large proportion of our funding from government. Also many software licenses only cover up to high school to be eligible for educational pricing. Adobe for example, specifically excluded 6th forms from their education CS3 licensing until about 12 months ago. I am happy to say that we were instrumental in getting that policy changed and now in part thanks to us, colleges all over the country can now license CS3 for around £3000 per site, not almost £400 per desktop.

    Well done. You've proved that change costs money.

    Yes it does. We operate on a budget. Are you going to dip into your pocket to provide the extra cash needed?

    I'm also not clear on why a 6th form college needs 600+ desktop computers. I thought 6th form colleges were about education, not training. What are you running, a typing school?

    Then you have no idea about a modern educational establishment. Every classroom needs a computer for student registration, running the interactive whiteboards etc. We have 200+ classrooms not counting offices. Teachers in all departments seem incapable these days of teaching a class without the use of a computer as there is always panic should one fail at the start of a lesson. We attract a large number of I.T. and computing students which we need to accomodate so we have a dozen computer suites. Some departments like English insist on having 2 or 3 PCs in each classroom for student use. Media have 2 suites of Macs. Music have a mixed suite of Macs and PCs. Art also have seperate suite. Our library (or learning resource centre as they now have to be called) has just under 100 PCs.

    You see how all these numbers quickly add up? Not to mention we have to fulfill government criteria of having 1 computer per 3 students. And despite these numbers at every years intake when timetables etc are being organised management still complain that there are not enough to go around to timetable everyone in. We currently have around 1600 full-time students (plus some part-time, plus adult education so about 2000 in total) so we fulfil the governments criteria at 2.6 computers per student but only because every year we include staff only machines in those figures. Take those figures away and we would have to buy a lot more to meet the 1:3 ratio

  41. Slaine

    anyone can modify it (4)

    rem Thanks for the update Mr Campbell

    rem I met your dad Ming (Menzies) a few years back

    rem really nice chap he was, and still is

    rem shame about the backstabbers in the UK Parliament

    rem any other country respects age

    rem and equates it with experience

    Store 0 to keyboard_input

    Do while keyboard_input = 0

    Get keyboard_input

    Write ("I am a programmer")


  42. R M Crorie

    Too late for the Microsoft Government Gateway...

    ... in respect of which I've now received an explanation as to why it (and the Self Assessment web site) will NOT accept my RFC2822-compliant e-mail address, which gets rejected with a terse "illegal e-mail address" message.

    Basically, the site complies with the GovTalk "standard", and that's it - too bad about *international* open standards. The letter states: "The difference between the GovTalk e-government standard and RFC822 includes variations around allowable characters... you are able to use our online services, but you will need an email address that is compliant with the GovTalk e-government standard..."

    So, basically, that means the official HMRC position is:

    - Microsoft built our system, so tough if it doesn't work properly;

    - Microsoft standards are better than everyone else's international standards, to which we see no good reason to adhere;

    - you can use our services, but even if you observe international open standards you will get second-class service and be unable to use all of our services, unless you comply with Microsoft's "standards";

    - Microsoft is going to own the Internet anyway, so just get used to it and stop arguing.

    Remember, the Government handed over its intellectual property rights to the Government Gateway to Microsoft *for free* so that the latter could market it elsewhere, an astonishing decision over a publicly-funded programme, even if it doesn't comply with open standards.

    So, nothing new there then. The worrying thing about this is that this demonstrates official Government endorsement of Microsoft's continuing abuse of its monopoly position, despite the hundreds of millions of Euros Microsoft has recently been fined for doing exactly that. And no-one at HMRC sees any problem with it... I still have an "illegal" email address, even though the whole issue has been debated between us using exactly that address!

  43. Guy

    @Math Campbell

    Whilst I applaud your couragous decision to upgrade to SNP0.7, which in certain circumstances runs better than Lab9.7 particuarly in regard to hidden resources being input into the MPbackpocket.£££ subsystem, which curiously was never documented, or if it was the subroutine shredder.doc would be called to intervene. However there does seem to be the problem that SNP0.7 does not have the required quorum voting rights in order to run the full system, without relying on Lab9.7 or the trial programs LIBdem0.0, or the highly unpopular C+U to agree with it. I would also be concerned with the new hardware requirement required for this Os as it seems that the more processors that you have working and the harder they work, the more resource they would be required to give up to maintain their current sockets, this could also lead to there being a shortage of resources collected by the OS to provide services to the processors that were available under Lab9.7. It is also worrying that this OS may have the ability to branch off from which has been functioning perfectly for centuries and form proprietry software, which nobody has a clue what it is doing and when it will do it

  44. Mark

    Before you Luinix hippies all vote Cameron

    I was pleasantly surprised by NuConservative under Cameron until I learnt he was heavily in bed with Cliff Richard (!) over extension of Copyright.

  45. Edward Rose


    2000 strong 6th form, blimey that's big.

    Well, you are spot on right, a lot of OSS stuff isn't up to scratch. How about one of the suites being converted to *nix and making sure there are [group] projects each year(s) to get these kind of things up to scratch. You can cover everything from social 'engineering' to software engineering (and maybe hardware to play with different concept input devices). I should have gone into teaching......

    As for retraining staff how to use it? What are you smoking? I'd put money on less than 5% of UK teaching staff knowing how do do anything other than open Excel or powerpoint from a menu. Not hard to simulate under *nix, and if they can't re-learn they really shouldn't be teaching anyway. So training costs should only apply to administrators. Which is, IMHO, a worthy investment.

    So I generally agree with your sentiments, although as has been stated schools get better discounts then flat bussinesses because MS are damned smart. Governments normally pay more than flat businesses, because it's the inexhaustable tax money covering the costs.

    Why don't the *nix providors cotton on and run a one off (per org) free in school training for people. Okay, it'll cost the person going out for a week or whatever, but hey, well worth the cost (same applies to LUGs, they can offer to give schools free training in Linux if they wish to trial a few machines - remember TRIAL! - charity is what keeps communities alive).

  46. This post has been deleted by its author

  47. Slaine

    @ Mark

    "Cameron ... in bed with Cliff Richard". Eeeeeeeeuch... that's going to takes weeks of therapy to take the nasty image from my fragile mind.

  48. SpitefulGOD
    Gates Halo

    Dear oh dear

    How will open source make things transparent? what a crook of shit, it's down to the data sharing and that's were that tud of a convention "e-GIF" comes in.

    How the hell is it going to change if it runs on Apache or IIS, another bunch of dreamers, thanks for the extra Billion on the Tax bill you tards!

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    campus training

    "Why don't the *nix providors cotton on and run a one off (per org) free in school training for people. "

    Talk to Sun about the Campus Ambassador program. Sun pay one of your staff/postgrads to be an on-campus advisor/evangelist. Obviously intended to encourage you to use Sun kit etc., but useful all the same. It can get your students direct contact with Sun engineers.

  50. b4k4

    @sixth form AC

    You should take a look at Debian Edu. It scales to the size of all the schools in a Norwegian city. It could easily run your college for zero licensing cost. Then you could spend your adobe license and the MS bribery money (wait a minute - you still pay them to push their products on children, right?) on a bit of training for yourself. As for your CS3 brag - congrats on helping Adobe push their stuff on tomorrow's designers. Another generation of vendor lock in can only be good for software innovation right?


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