back to article Dear Obama: Please consider open-source a waste of your time

Last week, several big names in open source tossed a letter at American President Barack Obama, urging him to mandate that no government IT purchase be made without someone scrutinizing the software license. "Dear President Obama," it read, "please consider open source." The letter contained all the classic elements of an open …

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  1. wim
    Linux

    cost effective ?

    Maybe the government should start working with fixed budgets instead of just using more tax money. If open source is indeed more cost effective than closed source they will have an incentive to consider it. I guess the day a government that doesn't waste tax payers money is the day that linux will be truly desktop ready for everybody.

  2. Saucerhead Tharpe
    Linux

    ted, give it a rest

    Ted

    You post, you post an anti-Linux/open-source rant. It seems to be all you do.

    Why not try something else?

    Even if it is an article examining Linux that is not pro, just doing something intelligent and dispassionate would be a change.

  3. Henry Wertz Gold badge

    I agree

    I agree that writing to the prez will do nothing.

    BUT, "lets use crap software because we've always used it" is an AWFUL argument, and I do agree with Redhat etc. writing a letter, even if it's probably pointlessl. Deptartments. continuing expensive, insecure deployments of Microsoft software... expensive copies of Oracle... etc. should not be used unless there's a damn good reason for it.

    For special projects, agencies should insist on having the source. (I think a medical records system would be a FINE example of this). As it is now, it's all too common to have a vendor work on a project... if it doesn't work out, the vendor and product are scrapped and it's all started over with the second vendor. If the agency has the source, if the vendor works out things work exactly as now (agency keeps paying vendor for bug fixes and feature requests.) If it DOESN'T work out, the second vendor has the option of fixing this code up rather than having to start from scratch.

  4. myxiplx

    Drivel

    It's articles like this that make me wish el reg allowed me to filter out authors the same way slashdot does.

    I don't know whether to call this article Trolling, FUD, or just the sad result of Microsoft brain washing, but either way reading it was very much a waste of my time.

  5. John PM Chappell
    Thumb Down

    Agreed...

    myxiplx has it right, still I wasn't being productive anyway, just drinking my tea before the day starts. Oh, for the MS zealots who always seem to turn up; I use predominantly MS software (that's just how it is in Windows development) so don't bore me with some pseudo-religious strawman about how we all hate MS because they are successful or something.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Efficient health care is not a bad thing.

    "... as they don't understand that the inefficiencies in health care keep a lot of people in work."

    Excellent argument. I know so many people work in the medical sector because they love the paperwork aspects of it, and it would certainly be a tragedy if those trained medical professionals came into contact with more patients. Heaven knows there isn't enough actual "medical" work to keep them busy if the paperwork were streamlined. Just think of the work for opticians alone in helping doctors to read faxed, hand-written medical transcripts.

    I suppose you publish on-line because you are still protesting all the jobs that were destroyed by the use of offset printing in the publishing industry? Public access to an efficient, high-quality medical system is at least as important as the ability to have computer layout and a colour photograph on page 3.

  7. Steve

    What planet are you on?

    "Because if the idea was really that good, it would thrive without a federal mandate."

    How do you reconcile that with...

    "You can put the best engineering in the world into your product, but if you don't know how to market, your project will rot in the source repository."

    The best way to market something is to make it sound good to the guys in charge. Governments are all strapped for cash at the moment and they're saying "This will save you some money and let you make some 'feel good' announcements". Whether they are telling the truth or not is irrelevant - this is government lobbying.

  8. Steve

    Good article

    Nothing wrong with Open Source, but begging to the new president of the USA is pretty weak.

    To be honest, from the point of view of everyone other than a geek, there's no difference if the code is open or not. It needs to be usable and reliable. That's pretty much it. Unfortunatly FOSS is only really getting started on the former point, and let's face it - a big point that Ted was making is that the FOSS crowd can't bloody market it's products.

    He's got a point!

  9. TeeCee Gold badge
    Happy

    @myxiplx and Saucerhead

    I take it that neither of you bothered to read the second page then?

    Nice one Ted. Hook, line and sinker.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Let's keep it real, shall we ?

    Open source can be used just as much as the "ball-and-chain" commercial products we all know and love (?). What needs to change in order for open source to be adopted more readily is the way in which an organisation implements it - by that, I mean, full source-code review and robust business functionality QA and sign-off before an open source solution is made available to the general population. It can be done, but it needs a mind-set change and closer collaboration between business and IT.

  11. Jack Harrer
    Linux

    Guys...

    To some extend he's right.

    Problem with Open Source is marketing. Nothing else. Stuff is marketed by geeks and as much as appealing for geeks, other people are not impressed. Community needs to deliver a message that can be understood, not some technical mumbo-jumbo. I'm still surprised that RedHat, Novell and Ubuntu haven't approached any newspapers to write about Open Source. Not an advert, mind you, but a reasonable articles to compare, to make people understand that it's nothing to fear about. We know how it works - but majority of population has no clue. All that needs to be delivered in lowest common denominator format, so no pompous academic words - no. Make it a software for average people.

    //Rant over ;)

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Sad, but true

    @myxiplx & Saucerhead Tharpe - As a worker in the Public Sector (UK, not US, but same mindset), I can totally vouch for the accuracy of this article.

    We have upper management who will buy the software they are familiar with, and completely ignore any cries to evaluate other software that does the same thing either a)better or b)cheaper or c)both.

    You try to tell them why software B is better than software A, they just put on their 'I'm technically incompetent and am not even going to listen what you are saying' hats and continue signing that massive cheque for that massively shite piece of software.

    Upper management in the Public Sector are the worst for their software procurement habits. Not being in a money-oriented company where every major purchase must be justified and accounted for, these people buy systems worth 10k plus like I buy toothpaste, and then complain when support and upgrades cost an arm and a leg and you have to remortgage your house just to increase your Concurrent Access Licenses (Business Objects, I'm looking at you!).

    This isn't an anti-open source article, just telling it the way it is.

    Paris - As her software procurement practices are probably more robust than the muppets in public sector management.

    Anonymous - just incase the boss' winged-monkeys read El Reg.

  13. Tom Paine Silver badge
    Joke

    Hey, Ted

    How's your start-up doing?

  14. nicholas22
    Thumb Up

    Yup

    Ted Dziuba in top form :)

  15. Francis Boyle Silver badge

    Yeah, sure Ted*

    * for the uninitiated, a catchphrase from an old Australian sitcom used when a certain blowhard Ted Bullpit** went into one of his inevitable rants.

    The show was not noted for its subtlety.

  16. This post has been deleted by its author

  17. Jay
    Linux

    Open source saves our company $500,000.00 a year

    And that saved money goes to hiring more employees and increased training for our IT staff. Our CFO gets it. We are profitable and are expanding in this economic slump. Thanks to Linux, Apache/Tomcat and Java we are saving $3,000,000/year on licensing alone and we are more productive then we were with our old closedsource model.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Go

    Ted changed my life

    Keep it coming... "If you take two parts pathological aversion to risk, mix it together with one part apathy and a jigger of laziness, what you get is the government workforce culture."

    BEST QUOTE EVER

  19. John Latham

    A good start...

    ...would be for the procurement people to properly examine the IP issues before signing a services contract.

    I've seen cases where government pays for a load of software to be written, believing they will own it, and it turns out the contract says all software assets are property of the supplier. This is justified because some monkey copy-pasted some util classes from a code repository, thus the new software becomes a derived work.

    Also, for some reason ending up contractual dispute/stalemate/court isn't seen as a failure, and the possibility of this isn't seen as a risk. This is the only explanation I can think of for why govt proceeds merrily with obviously shaky-looking procurements with huge IT suppliers.

  20. Christian Berger Silver badge

    Well but open source gets money out into the public

    I mean if you hand 1 Million to microsoft it will end up in the pockets of a few managers. From where it probably will go into some hedge funds buying some companies in order to destroy them.

    With open source solutions the local admins will suddenly be possible to actually do something. Fixing a machine will be more than just re-installing the OS several times until some non-user accessible configuration is right.

    Closed source software barely is good bang for the buck if you want employment, unless you want it in India.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    open source just wants to make money off the Govt.

    I resent the comments, I have worked for both private sector and public sector, a state. I saw much more waste in the private sector. You want to get fired by the govt.? try working for a state the word is layoff, un-paid days off, etc. but not fired. "tax payers" seem to want it all. lots and lots of services, oh but don't tax us, the police have to show up when we call, but don't tax us, we want teachers to baby sit our children, but don't tax us. We want to vote on laws to spend money on our pet projects but when the govt has to cut other programs to cover the newly voted on and mandated programs they get mad at not cutting the "pork", even when there are layoffs and staff is not able to keep up. So lets say we take a federal agency that has 30,000 employees all running novel on the servers and for desktop communication and microsoft as the desktop suite. The IS dept. is able to cover all the needs and keep everything running well. How much do you think it will take in time and money to retrain all the IS staff and users? I'm not saying its a bad idea but do you think the "citizens" will like the idea of spending money when there is a "perfectly good" way of doing things now? My experience is that the "taxpayers" want the change but with no impact to them, and they don't look to the long term, they are concerned about NOW not two years from now. If you can convince red hat and the others to donate their services, products, and training for free (absolutely no cost what-so-ever) for the next 5 years you may have something. But as the private sector is in business to make money, off the tax payers if possible, I cant see it.

  22. Syd
    Boffin

    English

    > They have used Microsoft and others in the past, and they works.

    I believe the correct form is...

    "They have used Microsoft and others in the past, and they works *innit*?"

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    You simply don't get it

    I am sorry for the Open Source bigots but this article touches a nerve (in the positive way).

    It's not about Linux or Open Source. It's about how Open Source today is positioned on the market.

    From the customer's point of view (being govt. or public companies) I can assure you that talking of "Religions" (Linux vs Windows or whatever) does not make any sense.

    Talk about runing costs and heads will start turning at you.

    Moreover: pretending for Open Source to be a recipe to rationalise public administration is just silly (and I am not talking of the social consequences).

  24. amanfromMars Silver badge

    Don't wait for Help or Incentives/Virtual Permissions, just do IT if you can

    "If open source is going to make any real headway in the government, there needs to be an incentive to choose it, not a rule. "

    Ted,

    Would a threat which collapses Systems be enough of an incentive to choose/use it? And it is very easy for open source and ITs Source Sorcerors/Wacky Wizards and Witches to manage the Windows environment.

    * Permissions smack of One still being in Child Mode with Unresolved Issues going Far into the Future of One's Own Life ....... a Lack of Sustainable Effortless Vision.

  25. This post has been deleted by its author

  26. Seán

    Ted, I'm in tremendous pain

    So charging lots of money for software is an incentive and charging no money for well written software is not an incentive. I'm sure if I work at it I'll be able to figure it out but for the moment your word puzzle has bested me.

    Don't confuse the unkempt hair and possible birkenstocks of opensourcers with patchouli doused hippys . The open source movement are .commies and they are dismantling the stranglehold of capitalism on those without capital. They turned on, tuned in, read dilbert and dropped out.

    Lastly the vast majority of reg readers are not opposed to open source so I don't know who this bullshit article was meant to entertain.

  27. Peter Labrow

    Your argument is not sound

    Sometimes, to get the right thing done, legislation is needed. An example: if the Disability Discrimination Act in the UK and Section 508 in the US, most Web site developers would have done squat about Web site accessibility and most businesses would have no awareness of their requirements. The current status quo is not a level playing field as you suggest, where software is assessed on its own merits. Microsoft - and other big companies - spend millions in soft-dollar marketing to get their products promoted into governments. When that fails they apply pressure and in some cases drop their prices drastically to keep the business. Open source does not have the financial lever. The final say is that when it comes to taxpayers' money there SHOULD be a legal requirement to consider cheaper solutions that are as effective with an open mind. Nope, I don't use Linux and I'm not a freetard - but I think I'm more open-minded that you.

  28. raving angry loony

    One exception

    The fact is that using open source is better for the economies of all countries save one, the USA. Why? Because most if not all the big software sellers are American. And from what I've seen a lot of open source software isn't. Given the amount of coziness between the US government and US companies, they're mostly part of the same clan really. That's what an plutocracy is all about after all. So for the USA, their government buying Made-in-America software actually makes sense. For them.

    For the same reason, it makes no sense for the government of any other country to be buying Made-in-America software, putting all the control in the hands of American corporations, and sending all the profits outside the country. Therefore, it's all the countries that aren't the USA that should be pushing open source software in their governments, and outlawing the use of that closed source foreign crap.

  29. Grant
    Dead Vulture

    Reg please add filter by article

    After wasting 2 minutes on this article (you can read articles with no content pretty fast), I really want a way to filter out by byline.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Exactly

    As someone who previously worked on govt medical project, I agree with this article wholeheartedly.

    As far as "cost effective" - cost of licenses can be very small compared to the overall TCO. This is especially true for the government, where the huge bureaucratic behemoth needs a swarm of consultants, trainings, seminars and the whole supporting organization for the software. As much as OSS advanced in the recent years, I don't think it's ready for the US govt. Or you can say that US govt is not ready for it.

    Also, remember that MS provides source to the govt. So the argument about "transparency" and "having the source" doesn't carry all too much weight.

  31. Saucerhead Tharpe

    Aw, he's just acting up

    I did a search for Mr Dziuba after posting above.

    It is obvious he's a young guy, wants to make a name for himself, so this is his method, trying to be IT's answer to Frank Black.

    Aw, bless.

    You're no Frank Black son.

  32. Gerry
    Thumb Down

    What's your problem?

    To the author of this article -

    What's your beef with open source anyway? I suppose that's what's really at the bottom of your rant.

  33. Frank Silver badge

    So what should they do?

    I didn't know the author was Ted until I read these comments, then I went back to the article to check - yup, it's Ted; a bit more mellow that I'm used to but the old cynicism shines through if you scratch away those finely crafted and swearword free sentences.

    OK, they made the wrong pitch, but it can't have done any harm and maybe, just maybe, the Prez will ask someone about this and a little awareness may spread to the right places?

    In reality, I'm sure that there are many able and aware people at various levels of government who have thought about this for a while and maybe even tried to do something about it. After a short time, horrible reality (as described by Ted) will have hit them and they'll have decided that not rocking the boat is an easier and a safer way to live.

    So Ted, how can the open-source people make headway in government procurement? What should the approach be and how should they go about it? It's a tricky problem and needs long term planning, monitoring................ It's not easy is it?

    Maybe there are readers/commenters out there who have experience and examples of where open-source has been able to make headway in the government swamp, and also tell us how it was able to happen.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    RE: "For special projects, agencies should insist on having the source"

    Which, in the real world of bespoke software development will triple the cost if you're lucky, quadruple it if you're realistic and make it a double monkey fudge bucket amount bigger when the invoice comes in.

  35. Lars Silver badge
    Go

    Please Santa

    Try to avoid beeing looked-in with one vendor or any one vendor.

    Simple as that. I fully agree.

    Useless optimism, perhaps, who knows.

    But as there is a new Santa in Town wish lists have to be made. (and they are).

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Linux

    Easy to criticise while not being constructive

    The article criticised the action of Open Source advocates without giving as much of a hint of any positive alternative approach. What does the author want the Open Source advocates to do? Sit on their hands? Go and start using closed source software themselves and forget all about open source alternatives?

    It is very easy to be an arm chair critic without doing anything useful. The letter that was written to the President may not have a great impact as such - but it is just the beginning. It is just the first step. May be if the President says a few good words publicly about open source alternatives and may be starts using it himself it would make a very good start.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Jack Harrer

    No, the problem with OSS / Linux / Freeware etc. is that it is not supported.

    Big companies and governments are not prepared to invest millions if they do not have the security of the vendor's support infrastructure at the other end of a phone.

    All other arguments are missing the point by a mile.

    End of.

  38. Tom Silver badge

    When MS goes bust

    what happens - its gradually becoming apparrent to those even not in the know that MS have been winging it for years - they have to wait for the Samba project to document their inter-machine communicatione before they can get them right. They cant even write code for a standard that they spent billions creating. It wasnt maliciousness that caused them to create OOXML over ODF - they are not up to the task of writing something more complicated than space invaders game: theyve given up on flight simulator!

    Even now they're offering $1/4M to someone who wrote a virus - they're obviously desperate for someone who understands how windows programming works.

    Zune, rhymes with tune and thats about all. XBox - popular if you can sell it at a huge loss.

    In 10 years time when they have fizzled out who will be left holding the ordure - governments who use open standards and open source and may actually utilise their data - or those that repeatedly pay those who know better to build rubbish systems to build more rubbish systems that, as they are closed source, are 'maintainable' by nobody.

  39. Daniel

    Again, with the 'proprietry will prevail because w're all tallentless lazy bastards' argument

    This seems to be the last line of defence. "People are to lazy, too stupid, too scared. They'll wonder where the 'Blue E' has gone because (hearty, commisioned-ranks-only chuckle, here) they're all IDIOTS - hohoho".

    If the argument really has got to the stage where these authors are saying that users deserve Windows because they're too tallentless to be worth anything better, then where does this picture sit, in a labour market where anyone with any iota of tallent is fighting, tooth and nail, to hang onto their jobs and demonstrate that they're still worth a salary?

    In a market where dozens of Windows sys admins are being pitched out of their Halo 3 - I mean SERVER - rooms, and into the dole queues... how many of those guys are going to lazily and stupidly hunt around for another company daft enough to pay them to sit in a cupboard all day playing computer games, while wondering whether they should get around to rolling out that patch, that Microsoft issued last autumn? Perhaps a few of them will realise that playing computer games all day, and acting passive-agressive towards 'stupid users' with network problems, might have been a contributory factor in why they're suddenly living on 50 quid a week?

    Or is Dzuiba simply saying that HE's too stupid, and we're all very mean for using a technology he doesn't understand? Is there a sense of panic, in his writiing - while we wonders what he'll do, when there's no one left, to pay him to write patronising articles about how users are idiots and deserve the crap that IT foists upon them?

  40. Eponymous Cowherd
    Flame

    Was there any real point to this article

    No, really.

    What was the sodding point of writing this witless pile of drivel.

    So Pres Obama has been lobbied by a bunch of open sourcers. Big fat hairy deal! I suspect he has had letters from everyone and anyone 'congratulating' him and asking him to consider their own particular niche. I expect he got letters from Microsoft and Apple. I expect he got letters from the American Guinea Pig Breeders Association and the Guild of American Nose Pickers as well! I imaging the pile of congratulatory letters containing a 'by the way' arriving at the White House would a mile high by now.

    And 99.999% of them were probably consigned straight to the bin (trash can), where they belong.

  41. John

    They're only asking to be considered.

    Most people buy MS because it's the only thing they've ever used and they're comfortable with that however that brand loyalty allows a company to stagnate and therefore cease to be value for money even though it's still the "only" choice and very popular. This is a bad thing for the consumer and the government is a consumer in this case.

    Maybe there are better alternatives, maybe using some of these alternatives would reduce the monopoly that MS has and therefore force them to improve their standards for interoperability and price.

    Capitalism requires competition and maybe it IS the job of government to encourage this where the risks can't be justified in the private sector. That said we also don't want governments wasting money so it's something that needs to considered very carefully but to not consider it is wrong.

  42. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: Reg please add filter by article

    Here's an idea - when you click on an article and see that it's by an author whose work you never enjoy, simply click the back button and choose another article. Would that work for you?

    If you don't like, you can filter off.

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Tharpe & others

    "You post, you post an anti-Linux/open-source rant. It seems to be all you do."

    As opposed to most commentors' anti-anything-not-open-source rants?

    "Why not try something else?"

    Good idea. Think you guys can do the same? I'm betting not based on precedent.

    "Even if it is an article examining Linux that is not pro, just doing something intelligent and dispassionate would be a change."

    Well, in fairness there are usually intelligent points made in both articles and comments for each side. As for dispassonate, open source fans zealots have a tendency to quikly fall into name-calling or other insults after trying to sound reasonable and then being patronising don't work.

    @ myxiplx

    "I don't know whether to call this article Trolling, FUD, or just the sad result of Microsoft brain washing, but either way reading it was very much a waste of my time."

    Do the usual and call it all of them. Or the classic "MS shill" argument. After all, people are only likely to disagree with you if they're paid, aren't they?

    It is interesting to watch the patterns of how people post. It seems that whenever there's anyhing that isn't a foaming endorsement of open source, there's a deluge of people ranting. Ironically, when someone actually rants against open source, they get all pouty and whinge how 'Your negative comments don't help anything." People have told you before - your rabid preaching probably puts people off more than anything. Maroons. Still, at least there've been a few reasonable open source fans here.

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    Hang on a minute.... this isn't all my fault!

    Sorry folks, Ted's right.

    What's more, all of you whining that it's senior management not having the balls to step outside the Microsoft compound, are wrong.

    I am Senior Management, responsible for IT in a UK public sector organisation, and I can personally guarantee that the license status - which is all we're really talking about here- has precious little to do with my decisions when picking suppliers and software.

    Many many commenters are speaking as if decisions on major procurements are made in some kind of vacuum, where the first (and perhaps only) decision is whether something is FOSS or not. I have to take a really broad view of fitness for purpose, and FOSS ain't it for me at the moment, but there's a few general points out there that influence my thinking when spending public cash.

    First off- FOSS sounds great, but how do I get FOSS products that work for me?

    Secondly, many folks are speaking about "alternatives" to Windows apps as if one can simply swap out components and replace e.g. Word with OOO.

    Thirdly- "It's free, therefore you save money!"- ORLY?

    Looking at these in turn:

    I've just committed my organisation to a million pounds worth of spend on our principal line of business application deployment project. All of that spend is going on closed source, proprietory products. Why? Because they are packaged up as a solution, (albeit one slightly adapted by the supplier) for my organisation. The present day FOSS alternative would have been for me to employ a stack of staff to develop something from a bunch of scattered components, which would then have had to have been solely supported by yet more expensive staff. Why on earth would any sane person do this? Alternatively, I could have approached RH and entered into an expensive support contract with them, after providing them with the source code, and gone through roughly 100 years of contract negotiations where they argued over various bits of the code, so as to get it into a shape they would be happy to support. Why bother? The closed source option already came with this supplied. On top of that, there are disbenefits to being the only organisation in a sector to use a system, so following the crowd does make sense from a practical point of view.

    Secondly- dragging the odd FOSS component into an enterprise does have significant risks and pain in the arse aspects. At one level- I have another supplier and set of patches to manage. Not that much of a bother if you have a set of 50 staff in your IT team, but for me, it's an issue, as we run a tight ship. At a user level, they are being given software they haven't seen before. Thirdly- legacy documents require tweaking to get them into OOO (which is the most likely candidate for adoption). Their spreadsheet app has limited compatibility with excel, and like it or not (and I definitely don't) many chunks of organisations are run of excel workbooks.

    Finally, please quit with this "It's free, therefore it's cheaper than paid-for software" shit. FOSS is more expensive, end of story. Even if you have a team of 20-30 die hard freetards manning the IT department. Support for FOSS is improving, but it's a million miles away from where it needs to be to tempt folks like me who are solely responsible for supporting a business of 200 staff, all of whom care not one iota about whether something is "free- as in beer" or "free- as in speech" or whether it comes with a certificate of authenticity from Redmond. At the moment, I cannot begin to build a sensible case based onROI or payback on FOSS products. They just simply do not stack up on a direct costs basis, even before you look at BI and other indirect costs. Office standard costs me £34 a head, and with that I get happy users, and good support, and products that integrate with our email and other proprietary apps. I estimate I'd be at least £25 a head worse off a year using OOO (and as I say- that's direct costs: training for users, and integration into our infrastructure. No lost productivity factor included- these are all fairly hard figures)

    Lastly- and I never directly asked this question, but we touched on it in the answers above, but it's still a biggie: Linux has a limited skills base out in the wider world. I have a stack of roughly 100 CV's on my desk now for a 2nd/3rd line Engineer role. About 15% have Linux/Unix skills. Many of those 15 folks have a salary expectation above what I'm willing to pay.

    Having said all that, I won't say no to open source, but the FOSS world just need to start selling the stuff better, making it integrate into what's already out there, get it working in a financial sense, and then make certain IT staff have the skills to support it.

    Flames- because I know that's what's gonna happen next.

  45. Dennis Price Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    Ya'll can write letters to the Dalibama all you want......

    ...I'm building a fort.....

    Black helicopters because I just wasted two days of my life reading The .Plan...or the Stimulous... or the Recovery... whatever it's called.... and judging by all the bread and circuses - that letter might just work....

    <heavy sigh>

  46. Robert Flatters
    Heart

    Fight for the presidents ear

    There is no doubt that the letter had all the haul marks of a sales pitch, instead of been written by a number of non company boys....hell even i thought about writing to the president at one point, but thought better of it. I would be of little supprise to still find some of Obarma people not able to connect to the system yet.

  47. Gabor Laszlo
    Flame

    @Ted: One word - Limux

    http://www.muenchen.de/Rathaus/dir/limux/english/147197/index.html

    Would you like your bullshit sauteed or fricasseed?

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Pointless

    A few points, from a MCSA/E, working for a Microsoft Gold Partner who believes that in the office, Microsoft does offer the best bang to buck ratio.

    Why are you paying this guy?

    What is the point in this flamebait?

    What the hell happened to journalism?

    What is the author trying to say?

    Zealotry in any form is ugly and purile. This op-ed being particularly bad. Is it "cool" or "trendy" now to post vitriol as fact? Is this a Youtube comments page?

    Thumbs down because im genuinely dissappointed, to the stage i have registered (sic) solely to comment on this piece.

  49. james
    Linux

    Dear Ted...

    you sir, are an asshat.

    Good luck with the purchasing of a closed source operating system every 2 years or so to maintain security and compatability, I wil be simply updating my opensource OS to each new version free of charge. Hows that for reduced overall cost?

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Re: "Sad but true"

    "We have upper management who will buy the software they are familiar with, and completely ignore any cries to evaluate other software that does the same thing either a)better or b)cheaper or c)both."

    Not ruling out the fact you have a poor boss, but could it just be the case that you are looking at the problem with a much narrower viewpoint than your boss? What's your definition of "better"- compliance with the GPL? Usability? Support availability? Compliance with Audit requirements? What about "cheaper?"- Capital cost? TCO? Annual Support costs? Financial viability of the supplier/support company? Let's face it- bosses think about things in terms of solutions, not software. Software's a part of the whole, but it ain't it by a long shot.

    "You try to tell them why software B is better than software A, they just put on their 'I'm technically incompetent and am not even going to listen what you are saying' hats and continue signing that massive cheque for that massively shite piece of software.""

    Again define "Better", and while you are at it, would you care to think about how you are telling your bosses that B is better than A? I can guarantee that if you start of with a technical reason they'll be thinking you've just put on your 'I'm technically competent but think I know all the answers to a bunch of things that even God only has limited insight into" hat.

    And God help you if you start talking about the GPL license and "why it's a good thing".

    God knows, I really *really* wish IT management was only about technical issues, but it's not, and no amount of hoping, praying, alcohol and/or scientology will make it so. The sad truth is- decisions like Linux vs MS or FOSS vs Closed Source really has very little to do with technical matters. Those decisions have even less to do with matters of principle. It's all people issues, finance and timing.

    Paris- because she knows she's not got all of the answers

  51. barry
    Stop

    Second Comment

    Was the first one modded into oblivion for accuracy or what?

    My traffics going elsewhere.

  52. Anonymous Coward
    Go

    Ah... This is just the start?

    I think the President will find himself unexpectedly inundated.

    In the 'folly crunch' part of the 21st century he and his colleagues are likely to be swamped by canvasers, UK equivalent lobbyists, meals and meetings (doing lunch?) ... all or mostly because a treasure chest of public funds is about to be made available.

    Unlike the UK I hope our cousins will keep transparency and accountability foremost along with a respect of that what has, may have been or may be provided from public funds and kept in the public domain (the UK model is to pay for it from public funds then either sell it back to the public or charge the public for using it via third party purchase by auction).

    Another UK-type phenomena is the attack by lobbyists. When large (as in very large to huge) sums of capital are involved a modest commission of single percentage figures can be enough for a lifetime.

    (Go used but procede with caution preferred)

  53. Eric
    Thumb Up

    Wasted opportunity

    I agree with your point and would add that many of your observations regarding the inertia and apathy in the public sector are true (in substance at least) across the pond as well.

    But even over here many of us have been infected by the optimism that is being felt in America after the election of Obama. This makes the argument that an attempt like this is futile a little too glass half empty for my taste. If the government workers are too risk averse and apathetic to accept OSS then surely Pres. Obama is the man to sort it out, This makes it all the more disappointing to see the OSS community shoot itself in the foot (again) by wasting an opportunity to put OSS on the agenda by sending the pres. a lame sales pitch. Was it my imagination or was there actually a paragraph in there stating that OSS should be given the same consideration in law as accessibility for the handicapped? OSS is like the handicapped? Really?

    I also agree that emphasising cost is misleading and looks far too obvious coming from so many CEOs. The argument that not having to pay for and IDE license significantly reduces the cost of development is laughable. IMO the most compelling arguments for OSS in public sector are those that address the dangers of vendor lockin, proprietary wrappers around public (open) data and collaboration. Unfortunately these are not given center stage in the letter, they're given a light airing a few paragraphs in and juxtaposed with a bizarre comment relating platform agnosticism and quick deployment.

    Another thing that doesn't help is people immediately attacking any article that paints OSS in a remotely negative light. I couldn't see anything in this article which criticised open source software.

  54. Giles Jones Gold badge

    Serve big business as usual?

    Maybe if the governments of the world served their citizens instead of big business then we wouldn't keep having these financial meltdowns.

    Open source should always be considered in any IT project. Payment to the people developing the software used in government IT projects should be for doing the work, not for numerous proprietary software licences.

    We should own the full rights to the finished system and have access to the entire source code. This ensures any future changes will be possible by any IT contractor and avoids expensive fees for future changes. The original developer cannot then hold the government to ransom and the system would not then have to be rewritten from scratch if the government declined the quote by the original implementer.

  55. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Everybody seems to forget what open source means.

    Open source software and free software are entirely different things. It's important to remember the distinction. Microsoft, for instance could open up the source code for the Windows kernel and still charge for the operating system and support. The paid support model is the one Canonical are promoting to business at the moment. RMS can be annoying, but his idea behind OSS is sound. If you actually read the FAQ at the gnu website, you'd understand the concept. The GPL has never been about free as in cost, rather free as in allowed access to the source code.

  56. Anonymous Coward
    Boffin

    Costs

    "it dramatically reduces cost - that is, until you need to call in a consultant like RedHat to come set the thing up and make it inter-operate with your existing systems."

    That sad old argument. Again.

    I'm sick to death of hearing this one. The Anti-OpenSource brigade love to pretend that proprietary software in general is somehow cheaper to set up and support than OSS.

    BOLLOCKS.

    I've worked in countless companies where vast teams of analysts, programmers, helpdesk operatives etc are retained and paid to fix, maintain and otherwise run proprietary systems and applications. This is ADDITIONAL to the enormous sums paid to the vendors in 'maintenance' and 'support' fees. Thats also not counting the never ending effort to train users to work the software. Yes, you still have to train users to use M$ Word, and no they don't 'just get it' any better than if you stuck OpenOffice under their nose instead.

    "there needs to be an incentive to choose it, not a rule"

    At the moment, there already exists an unwritten rule in most companies - if the software doesn't have a hard and fast license and vendor contract, then its not a viable option.

    The license and support agreement somehow give IT management some kind of comfort feel, that if they have a problem with the software they can just call the vendor and have it fixed. Well have you actually tried that? I have, numerous times. It usually ends up that I spend significant amounts of my own companies resources liasing with the vendor, and often end up having to fix or work around the problem myself. Occasionally a vendor does quickly produce a proper solution, but not often. Have you ever tried to get support from Microsoft? What a big fat waste of time. Your support fees are basically money down the drain there, and would be better spent on training your on site support personnel.

    @AC - Hang on a minute

    "Many of those 15 folks have a salary expectation above what I'm willing to pay"

    I think you'll find that many of those 15 folks have a clue and could quickly get to grips with your environment and make it run efficiently. The rest can probably set up a Windows server and might even be able to make your Exchange server work ... but you get what you pay for. Your description of how you run your IT department sounds like the sort of company that stifles their staff - maybe sending them on the odd lame M$ certified course from time to time to learn where M$ have moved all the buttons and check boxes to on their latest GUI re-hash. I have worked in shops like that for too long, and it seriously limited my career development. If you actually give them the freedom to learn and develop their skills outside of the M$ box, a lot of them would suprise you in ways which may actually start saving you a whole bunch of money in the long term.

    Geek - because flaming is a waste of time and aggro.

  57. Jim
    Gates Horns

    By Ted Dziuba (Microsoft employee # 12345634)

    Thanks for that enlightened article Ted - or should I say Steve Ballmer

  58. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    The President should worry about the decline of the gross domestic product..

    You mean Windows?

  59. Doug Glass
    Go

    OSS Rev. n+1

    <yawn> BFD

  60. Wize
    Stop

    The open source product may be better, but it just won't be used.

    Ok, your budget is tight. Open source is free and saves you cash.

    Its not the only factor to be considered.

    You have to train staff up on the open equivalents.

    Various systems will require tweaking to get them to work properly (eg, you could have a bit of software to launch word template documents. It would need tweaking and so would the template files).

    Not so many IT people know how to support the open equivalents, so will require extra training or a more expensive outsourcing company.

    You know the boundaries of a tried and tested solution from a tried and tested provider. Unknown territory is risky.

    Incompatibility issues. Other departments may not be changed over, so documents might not be so easily transferable.

  61. Jonathan Richards
    Thumb Up

    Dear Dziuba

    "Dear Obama", you wrote. How endearingly 19th century of you.

  62. Anonymous Coward
    Linux

    thrive without a federal mandate ..

    > if the idea was really that good, it would thrive without a federal mandate. Plus, it's way easier to legislate your way to success than it is to market your product.

    Microsoft don't seem to think so, which is why it spends major moola in Washington ..

    "As part of the changes in Microsoft’s Washington office, Matt Gelman has been promoted to senior director for congressional affairs"

    http://techdailydose.nationaljournal.com/2008/12/microsoft-names-congressional.php

    http://wikileaks.org/leak/microsoft-head-of-government-affairs-supports-obama--raises-money-at-work.txt

    "Microsoft also lobbied the federal government on numerous other issues, including Internet security and crime, privacy, health technology, patent reform, software piracy"

    http://www.s5h.net/linux_news/7/a/42661_UK-Government-Versus-Bribery-Which-Microsoft-Loves--Dell-Fraud-Charges.html

  63. kissingthecarpet
    Pirate

    I develop in Windows

    and use Debian at home. The few times that we have tried to get (paid for) help with dev problems that are caused by admitted MS bugs, it just sounded like they were reading an MSDN web page(in broken english). In the end we've found our own answers.

    I had a small bug in a nightly test build of Firefox. I reported it, and it was fixed very quickly, with continuous email updates of the state of the bug.The difference surprised me, & I'm biased.

    If MS can take the piss, they will, like all large monopolistic corporations.

    Has it not been said many times that if the aforementioned corporations were humans, they would be considered to be sociopaths. They can be very charming, and seemingly competent, but I think current events tell us what we need to know about big business.

  64. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Open?

    At the moment I'm working on a medium sized project where commercial is going head to head with open source for a government project. I am representing the commercial software and in some respects it is far better than the open source counter part and in others much worse (hence the AC posting). I will be doing my best to present the commercial solution in the best possible light because the author is paying me to do so. Nobody here seems to be representing the open source side if they were I am fairly sure I'd be out of a job.

    But other the other side of the coin. If I need to get any kind of assistance to make the commerical product look good then the author will do his best to make sure it happens. What hope have I got with open source? Sure I can post something on a forum and hope that someone had the same problem as me in the past and fixed it. And if that is how the product is supported during a sales pitch phase then what hope is there for the customer once they have selected the product. If the customer does choose the commercial product at least they know that there are real people they can pay to get help.

    Let me put it another way. Suppose you were in the market for a new car and you are not mechanically minded. You go to dealer A and ask about the warranty and her says for X thousand here is 5 years cover, or you go to dealer B and he says I'll chuck in the Haynes manual and possibly some spanners. Which one are you really going to buy?

  65. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Sarah Bee

    Didn't the front page used to carry the author's name at one point? That'd certainly make it easier to ignore the rantings of a particular hack if one didn't like him/her/them/it.

  66. Anonymous Coward
    Alert

    @Hang on a minute.... this isn't all my fault!

    "I am Senior Management, responsible for IT in a UK public sector organisation"

    That's just given me all the information I need about the value of your contribution. The Public Sector's track record in IT is dire.

    It' not all or nothing. You can have Windows XP but use Open Office instead of MS Office and many companies will support Open Office products; besides you can deploy MS Office for "knowledge workers" if they really are power users - power users won't be calling a help desk for application support. Similarly, most private sector companies will use both Windows Server and Linux / proprietary UNIX deployments for application servers.

    The key is to get best value for money wherever possible taking a long term view. Any muppet can make "easy" choices. Oh wait, I forgot, Public Sector...

  67. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Answer me this

    First of all, why do the FOSS jihadists insist on putting down MS professionals? Just look at the bile spouted by AC - More above! Just because someone has chosen to focus on one set of products doesn't automatically mean they're inferior to those that have chosen another. There are idiots in both the major camps.

    Now, answer this. As an IT professional that has focused on the MS sector, I have a vast array of training courses either tutor led, CBT or books to choose from to expand my knowledge. There is an industry supported certification path which demonstrates competence in the products.

    Where is the FOSS equivalent? Those 15 applicants might be brilliant, they might also be useless. What certificate program is there to enable employers to filter the wheat from the chaff? I know that the final selection should be through interview but unless you have a FOSS expert on your team, how will you know if the applicant is bullshitting or not?

    The ongoing cost of supporting FOSS is something its supporters choose to play down because, at this moment in time, it's expensive and there is a much smaller pool of expertise to draw from. That's why it is usually discounted from comercial and public sector projects.

    So, stop flaming and whining and develop your product to make it a viable alternative because right now it isn't.

  68. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Halo

    Re: Costs, and comments on my earlier post

    "@AC - Hang on a minute

    "Many of those 15 folks have a salary expectation above what I'm willing to pay"

    I think you'll find that many of those 15 folks have a clue and could quickly get to grips with your environment and make it run efficiently. "

    Sadly, no- but it's not because they aren't technical. They've got all kinds of tech experience. The problem is that they seem to value that above all else. In a smaller organisation, with a fairly straight forward infrastructure, I don't want or need people who know tech to the nth degree but have no documented or demonstrable skills elsewhere. I want people who can identify what helps the business and who can talk to customers. Sadly, it's not often a case of getting both tech and people skills (at least not in the sample I have on my desk).

    "Your description of how you run your IT department sounds like the sort of company that stifles their staff - maybe sending them on the odd lame M$ certified course from time to time to learn where M$ have moved all the buttons and check boxes to on their latest GUI re-hash. "

    Not actually true, but I recognise your description from places I have worked.

    "If you actually give them the freedom to learn and develop their skills outside of the M$ box, a lot of them would suprise you in ways which may actually start saving you a whole bunch of money in the long term."

    This is *exactly* what I'm after- but I want them to go one better and extend their skills beyond the *technical box*, not just the MS one. After all, the kind of tools (MS/Novell/*nix/whatever) engineers use is a point of detail, it's whether the tool is fit for purpose is the important point. IME, being very techy don't necessarily make you smart enough to pick the best tool all the time.

    The business and people skills are critical for getting the right questions asked of us in the first place and those are the tricky tools to find in typical IT staff. (As an aside: our (MS) environment does actually do what we need it to, therefore, a bit of AD plus exchange plus a few other odds and ends is more than sufficient for what the organisation needs from a technical sense. I think this is because it's a brand new infrastructure and a young organisation- it's not just because MS do great products, as we all know they leave a bit to be desired in some circumstances)

    Your experience may be different, obviously, but our needs are catered for.

    A weasel point on costs. People come trained in MS, so it's a cost, but not one I have to pay.

    Finally- why do you think I'm anti-(F)OSS? I'm not at all- FreeBSD and Debian rule my personal desktops and laptops. I just think that there's no sensible way of adopting (F)OSS at my place of work- and I'll bet my reasons for avoiding it are pretty much the same as many other folks. And none of those reasons are because I'm too stupid to consider anything but MS.

  69. Saucerhead Tharpe
    Linux

    Open source or not

    Actually as a public UK IT sector worker I AM aware that management tends to default to Microsfot or A. N. Other large company as a default.

    By a curious quirk of fate I did a wee bit today in work countering some ant-open source stuff in a meeting last week.

    But the point I took was that you buy the best fit for the job and you don't throw away the money you already spent on licences.

    What you SHOULD so, in your role as trying to find the best fit for the job is to CONSIDER Open Source as one option.

    In fact, since out bit actually does a fair amount of app development, we could even consider open source tools and environments.

    if it turns out that the benefits of the microSoft product are better value for money then go for that, if it isn't don't.

  70. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ted misses the point

    Ted's starting point is to question the wisdom of the OS proponents writing to Obama.

    Err, on what basis ?

    Some of these proponents are commercial enterprises (e.g RH). They get wind about one of the biggest hand-outs in history about to happen (800bn), and they want a piece of the action. Surely this is what they should do, and what their shareholders would mandate?

    How well they put their case is a different matter.

  71. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    @ Hang on a minute.... this isn't all my fault!

    Well written and well said. I was wondering if anyone would write a real world situation in this thread. Most OSS people I encounter totally over look the costs of support, training, more specialised internal staff. The fact that a UNIX professional can cost twice as much and more than a MS equivalent seems oblivious to those whom only look at initial purchase cost.

    Another thing OSS fans tend to overlook is with back office solutions. When you have a product sitting on a nice powerful server the actual cost of the OS becomes insignificant compared to the hardware, plus also refer back to my previous comments as to staff comments.

    Oh and for the record, my first personal build was using Slackware with kernel 1.2.7 and my most recent OpenSUSE 11.1.

    @ Cost

    So are you a first or second line support technician with delusions of adequacy ?

  72. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    I'm actually serious with this ...

    I am most certainly not sure whom the title of greatest bigot should go to. The Apple fanboi community or the Linux Geek commune.

    I am never surprised at the instant vitriol developed by members of the above communities when ever their pet OS is criticised. You'd think the world was coming to an end, The Devil was at the gates and the Beast with the number 666 was roaming the information highway.

  73. paul
    Dead Vulture

    My first comment on this site...

    ...after reading it for years. It is also my last.

    I don't know why Sarah Bee finds it necessary to defend Ted Dziuba(s) - I'm pretty sure he can take the flames.

    Like one of the commenters has put it (rather eloquently I thought): my traffic shall go elsewhere. You're not posting news or opinions any more only pointless rants. Rather like mine - only mine's a comment and not a featured article on the front page. I can't believe I got annoyed to the point of actualy writing a comment like that.

    Bye.

  74. David Hicks
    Linux

    Lol

    I find this whole debate funny, especially given that the NSA and other US federal agencies are investing heavily in Linux and software (both FOSS and closed/proprietary) that runs on it.

    These shrill denials of the use/worth of FOSS are amusing at best, at worst they are the cries of idiots.

    Want support for linux? You can get it cheaper than windows + support. And with just as many guarantees.

    Companies and government agencies are already investing in FOSS.

    Mandating that government departments at least consider it alongside the proprietary software can only be a good thing. Especially as it is our, public, money that they are spending, so keeping the fruits of the labour made under that budget open and free for public use should be a priority. Just as scientific research done with government funding ought to be available to all, so should everything else that isn't a security risk.

    Using our tax money to develop non-reusable, privately owned, closed off software ought to be a last resort.

  75. David Simpson
    Flame

    double dose of Bush

    "We, the authors, are proud to live and work in the nation that elected you and hope your presidency will be as successful as your campaign,"

    Yes guys you also live in the same country that elected Nixon, Regan and a double dose of Bush so don't feel to proud of yourselves.

  76. Rambo Tribble

    The Real Motivation

    Whether it is the NSA, the DoD, or your local parking meter crew, the chief reason to use Open Source in government is to bring government under governmental control. That's as opposed to the current situation wherein money and industry control government to the considerable detriment of the larger population so governed.

  77. dr2chase
    Thumb Down

    It's not just "cost"

    Above and beyond the cost, there's the issue of being held hostage to products you don't control, ensuring that all citizens have no-to-low-cost access to the data, and that the use of non-open formats doesn't constrain other product purchases or development, and that data formats remain readable in the future.

    In the world of standards, I was not terribly surprised the first time Microsoft Excel failed to understand an ISO8601 date, but it still doesn't (Mac, 2008). At least not, as well as OpenOffice.

  78. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: @Sarah Bee

    Regardless, we're talking two clicks - one to find out the author's name, one to get the hell out. Is that really a massive drain on anyone's time? Really?

  79. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: My first comment on this site...

    I wasn't defending anyone. Show me where I was doing any defending. I was just pointing out the very simple fact that you can fairly easily avoid any author on here you choose with very little effort.

    Lordy.

  80. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: My first comment on this site...

    Oh yes, sorry, and - bye!

    Ah, I remember the days when I used to take my bat home because the internet had offended me.

  81. Alexander
    Flame

    worse than scientologist's

    Ted hit the nail on the head, and i think his point is very clear if the open source scientolgist's want to Beat the E as they claim , then forcing the issue by trying to get legislation to force open source on goverment is pathetic and not how one should try to bring a product to market.

    Usally products that are popular and sell well like MS product OS, server,desktop,virtual...is becuase they are better , and no not an MS fan boy I quite like a few flavours of Linux but is miles behind in support,functionality and Intigration....deny that all you like but the reality of the current os and software market won't change by flaming every topic or author that says otherwise.

    Me I choose what ever is best for that solution for the average user Home or SME and Corparate markets MS is king because it is BETTER and the markets agree's. (end of arguement)

    Stating a claim is easy, validating it is critical to one's arguement. and right now the world say's MS is better and that is why it has the market share it does, statements like "that is because users are stupid or dont know" , or "or the MS all powerful mind crontrol the causes everyone to use MS" bold , stupid and delusional... per chance where you the group that sent the letter to Obama.

  82. Sean Baggaley
    Flame

    @AC ("Costs")

    "I've worked in countless companies where vast teams of analysts, programmers, helpdesk operatives etc are retained and paid to fix, maintain and otherwise run proprietary systems and applications. This is ADDITIONAL to the enormous sums paid to the vendors in 'maintenance' and 'support' fees. Thats also not counting the never ending effort to train users to work the software. Yes, you still have to train users to use M$ Word, and no they don't 'just get it' any better than if you stuck OpenOffice under their nose instead."

    I note you spell "Microsoft" as "M$". Quite what an old BASIC variable has to do with Microsoft escapes me, but I tend to find most people who use that particular variant seem to believe it is (a) funny, and (b) implies Microsoft are only about making money.

    Point (a) is demonstrably incorrect. Please stop it; it just makes you look like a tool. (I'd post the traditional link to XKCD's take on it, but I'll assume you can use Google,)

    Point (b) is a fair observation, but one which is equally applicable to pretty much every large OSS company like RedHat and Canonical, neither of which offer support for free. ALL businesses are machines for making money. It's not rocket science. Whether you agree with Microsoft's particular business tactics isn't particularly relevant or germane; last time I checked, Microsoft didn't make databases named "Oracle" or "DB1", nor are they in the same price-gouging league as Adobe.

    I'll say it again: ALL businesses are there to make money. RedHat is a business.

    Finally, your attitude towards Microsoft-specialist IT engineers is simply bizarre and bordering on insulting. Do you seriously believe that because something is *easier*, it is therefore less valuable or worthwhile than something which is *unnecessarily hard*? Is administering a UNIX server really all that more manly and macho than administering a Microsoft one which does much the same things, only more easily and with far less tedious mucking about with abstruse text files?

    Or have you considered that maybe, just maybe, the reason Microsoft-specialist engineers are *cheaper* than their UNIX-skilled counterparts is because there are *more* Microsoft-specialist engineers around? The law of Supply & Demand is a fairly basic one in economics. Maybe you should try doing some actual research on a subject before commenting on it.

    It's people like you who make businessmen -- you know: those people who don't sit in front of computers all day and have a *life* -- treat the GNU and FOSS movements like the whackjob pseudo-religious cults they truly are.

    (Can we have an "Evil RMS" icon please?)

  83. Robert T
    Go

    Open Source? Open Standards, baby!

    I think that it's far more important for Governments and large organisations to settle on patent free Open Standards* rather than a particular product or ideology. I also think that the best open standards are those which have a freely available source code reference implementation (even if it sucks). If a commercial venture invests the effort to make a better implementation, and it is chosen by some organisation, then that's great! If there's enough demand, an open source implementation will also arise (and if not, nobody can whine about it), or at least other commercial options (thus maintaining competition).

    * It's not an open standard if nobody can make heads or tails of the documentation.

  84. Peyton

    Seems to understand government jobs

    But lacks specific knowledge. As an example, Red Hat has been DARPA approved for years... these type actions require approval from congressional oversight committees... Regardless, there's always an impetus to at least look like you're trying to save money... big push for java years ago for that reason... el prez is already making a big display by capping salaries... I'm just skimming the surface, but these are all reasons why these open source types would want to make sure they're on Obama's radar in their attempts to gain ground from MS/traditional UNIX.

  85. amanfromMars Silver badge
    Coat

    Obviously Change is giving some Fat Cat Feather Nesters the Jitters.

    What sort of bod visits here for years, then makes a first comment, which in essence says nothing of value other than it will be his last? ...... [ paul Posted Monday 16th February 2009 13:53 GMT]

    Lay off the hard drugs, paul, they do not agree with you. And you don't float around in an Octopus do you ...... which would be another valid enough explanation for the flame?

    Here, have another one and we'll try to create a Beacon of Light in the Darkness of Greed and Perverted and Subversive Feed.

    "Regardless, there's always an impetus to at least look like you're trying to save money... big push for java years ago for that reason... el prez is already making a big display by capping salaries... I'm just skimming the surface, but these are all reasons why these open source types would want to make sure they're on Obama's radar in their attempts to gain ground from MS/traditional UNIX." ...... By Peyton Posted Monday 16th February 2009 15:21 GMT

    Here appears to be such a tale, Peyton...... "One linguist, previously pulling in an annual salary $270,000, will now make about $91,000 -- if that person continues his warzone work for the Human Terrain project, that is." ..... http://blog.wired.com/defense/2009/02/more-hts-mania.html

    What half-witted moron would think to make war an attractive business?

    Answers on a postcard please to some tax dodging, obscure Faith Foundation.

  86. William Andrews
    Linux

    You suck Ted

    Ted, lay off, you're just a total (MS) softie! Stop the BS

    Linux rants!

    Live it, love it, Oss!

  87. Mathew Snyder

    I don't understand the hate

    So, why are so many people up in arms over this? Especially folks that live in a country with so many socialist mandates?

    Quite frankly, I think it is a good idea to consider open source software. While idealogically I'm in favor of the "free as in freedom" side of it, I'm more concerned about the "free as in beer" side of it when it comes to what the Federal government is spending. I don't know if you've looked out your window lately but we're all in what has been called a global economic crisis. Saving money on technology infrastructure is quite a good way help stave off the already growing deficit.

    Yes, Red Hat would charge for a consultancy if it were needed. However, bringing in an outside party should always be a last resort. Hiring experts who would provide internal support should always be the number one option. Besides, how much do you think is being spent on commercial licenses AND consultancies to fix problems?

    I suppose I just don't understand where the hate comes from.

  88. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    IT Mythology

    Ah, yes, the enduring myths in IT; there as dependable as sunrise. The mainframe is dead. Three-hundred commodity pizza boxes is cheaper and more reliable than a single tower system. Open source software will eventually drive all the producers of proprietary solutions out of business. Open source solutions are more robust, reliable and feature-rich than the stodgy old, worn-out softwares they are intended to make obsolete. It's all bunk. None of the claims has ever been proved true.

    I've been hearing this rubbish the entire 18 years I'vbe been in this business. The claims reappear whenever the latest group of CS graduates hit the streets, with a thimbleful of experience in the latest and greatest new savior solution. Open source solutions will not eclipse proprietary ones. It'll never happen. Why? Because Open source itself is somthing of a myth. An open source solution is only open source until it finds a buyer. Can you say MySQL, which is now a Sun product? Glassfish? Linux itself? Oh sure, you can still download these products for free. For now anyway, but if you want support -- well that's where you're going to get bent over. And though that support may cost an arm and a leg, it is usually rather bad.

    Open source software has its place, just not in the mission-critical data center. I've never met an open source solution that wasn't buggy and significanlty less reliable than one of the leading proprietary equivalents. None of our AIX or Solaris boxes have ever been hacked, but the Linux boxes we had were. Our WebSphere server stays up and loaded for months, while our Tomcat servers must be recycled on a near weekly basis, because of memory leaks. Our C apps are rock solid, fast, efficient and reliable. Our Java apps continually throw exceptions and chew through inordinate amounts of memory becasue of its bad garbage collection. Yet the newvies insist that these are superior solutions. All it takes is a few years of in-the-trenches experience and a couple of lost jobs for them to come round and abandon the bleeding edge solutions for those proved to work.

  89. Anonymous Coward
    Happy

    Department of Redundancy Department...

    That is the wittiest thing I've heard all day.

  90. Mathew Snyder

    Speaking of myths

    "Open source software has its place, just not in the mission-critical data center."

    Tell that to all the enterprises that use it to run their datacenters. Google, Morgan Stanley, the Italian Ministry of Economics among the many.

    I'm going to guess, Anonymous Coward, that your opinion is skewed.

    All software is buggy. There is no such thing as the perfect app and Microsoft has proven that time and time again. As has all the open source projects which release updates.

    "An open source solution is only open source until it finds a buyer."

    You are confusing the openness of the software with the freedom (as in beer) of the software. Open source does not imply freeware. Linus Torvalds has expressed this himself, he the creator of the Linux kernel (that said, let's make sure we understand that technically speaking Linux is only the kernel while a distribution comprises the entire package of apps and the kernel). You can easily go to the MySQL website and find its source code. Additionally, you can find different tiers of MySQL licenses; some free some not-so-free. Likewise for going to kernel.org and finding the source code for Linux.

    It seems to me the only stodginess is your inability to see past your little world and into that which already exists. A world in which Linux (using the general application of the word) is already running a vast portion of the worlds network infrastructures. No, it isn't top dog. No, it likely won't be for a while, if ever. However, it is here to stay and for good reason: reliability and cost.

    Think what you want, Anonymous Coward, about the viability of Linux, but it has already proven you wrong.

  91. David Hicks
    Thumb Down

    @ Mythical AC

    "Open source software has its place, just not in the mission-critical data center. I've never met an open source solution that wasn't buggy and significanlty less reliable than one of the leading proprietary equivalents"

    Linux is already in the mission critical data centre.

    Or have you never heard of google? That critical enough for you? Or were you talking about governmental, really critical stuff? Like the NSA and their custom versions with the SELinux extension?

    Your view is waaaaaaaay out of date.

    As for reliability, I've had many more problems with HPUX than I've had with Linux. Solaris and AIX tend to be as reliable as Linux in my experience, but are much less pleasant to use for the average sysadmin/developer.

    Keep on shilling away, but I'm afraid your side lost the server room game some time ago. Even mainframes are now running a flavour of linux as often as not.

  92. Not That Andrew
    Alien

    Is Amanfrommars making sense?

    Is amanfromMars making more sense than normal, or are the Penguinista making even less sense?

  93. Mike Gravgaard
    Linux

    Open source

    Could someone answer me this question: Why don't people see open source as a good thing?

    We aren't shouting use open source because it's better, its because it allows you to manage what you actually use the software for more efficiently.

    If you really don't understand why you use a software package and update to a new version for no reason then you have a hole in your head.

    I can see open source being a very helpful - I work in a local council in the IT department - my team's budget drops year on year, this means we get less money for techie software tools and training, now in my opinion, I can either:

    1) Get less training (i.e. dumb down my job and future prospects).

    2) Learn new skills and use open source software to aid by current job.

    I know Microsoft training MCP qualified people who hate open source and I don't understand why but what annoys me; is that these people are higher in the sphere of inflencience than me yet they don't understand something which could be benefical to them.

    Mike

  94. amanfromMars Silver badge
    Alien

    Dumbing IT down to Capture the Markets and Create ITs Playing Fields

    "Is amanfromMars making more sense than normal, or are the Penguinista making even less sense?" .... By Not That Andrew Posted Monday 16th February 2009 19:00 GMT

    He must have something for sale/leaselend, Not That Andrew, or even give away whenever the price is right ......... "Re: Coincidence?" ...Posted Monday 16th February 2009 12:45 GMT .... http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/02/16/subs_crash/comments/

    Do you think he is also BetaTesting for Snoopy Spooky IntelAIgently Designed Stealth Systems too and trailing Chummy Bait to attract the Deadhead Pool Sharks for a Spot of MODified MaJIC? And to ask the Question is to imply the Answer normally.

    A little something QuITe Astute for Lord Drayson and the Prince of Darkness to compare notes on if they don't want to look like the Ignorant Fool and Arrogant Tool. England XXXXpects and all that .......... although Nelsonian they may not be ...... although they are hereby cordially invited 42Be dDecisively.

    Splice the Mainbrace for a Splash of Courage for the dDutch Initiative ...... which surprisingly King Google does not return but Cuil covers admirably. A Paris Chink in the Search Giant's Armour Algorithm?

    Now there's a Novelty to Build upon/Pursue/Embrace, Extend and Distinguish.:-)

  95. jake Silver badge

    During the meanwhile

    I just landed yet another contract to convert a school system from MS & Apple to Linux & BSD ... In nearly every case, I landed the contract because I had converted a member of the School Board's day job over to FOSS and they were happy with the result.

    No, FOSS isn't for everybody. But in certain situations, it makes sense.

    As a side note, I had a government contract once. Never again, not even if they promised to make me the nation's Linux/BSD/GNU czar ... The bureaucracy is a nightmare.

    In case Obama's minions are reading this ... I know, it's hardly likely ... But in just in case (you too, Governator), here is how to trim waste in Government ... GET RID OF ALL THE USELESS MIDDLE MANAGEMENT PAPER PUSHERS! Seriously ... For example, head for your local DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles, MOT to the Brits in the audience). How many people are employed there? And how many, exactly, are working at any given time? Now do the same at your local City Hall. And the State Capital building. And your public works yard. (And hello, AT&T, PG&E, Verizon, Comcast, et alii ... it'll work for you, too.)

    While I'm on a roll, speaking of Vehicles ... Want an increase in State income, Arnold? Get rid of the "Exempt" status for city, county & state vehicles. Make 'em pay a license fee ... Would create money in both the license fee, AND would force places to sell off all the trucks, cars, buses & etc. that only get used once or twice a year.

  96. Joe
    Thumb Down

    keep a lot of people in work

    "the inefficiencies in health care keep a lot of people in work"

    True enough, but I'd much rather employ those same people as greeters at Wal-Mart, or if they don't have the skills and temperament to deal with the public, perhaps as fact checkers for wikipedia, telephone sanitizers, or maybe a rare few of them could write articles for the Register?

    Just because the inefficiencies of the current system support massive employment doesn't mean we should continue it.

  97. Michael
    Stop

    @ Grant

    "After wasting 2 minutes on this article (you can read articles with no content pretty fast), I really want a way to filter out by byline."

    It's called "your eyes".

    See "By Ted Dziuba", stop reading. Why does a developer need to code that which you could more easily accomplish by not being a f*ckwit??

  98. blackbelt_jones
    Linux

    Shouldn't have wasted my time.

    Once again, I fall for the cheapest trick in the IT journalist's book. Mention open source in an article with a provacative title, and they will come from allover to click on your page and post something in your comments section. They won't be able to stop themselves, even if they're on to you-- and , so, here I am. Damn you.

    The proposal is "reasonable" but "toothless"... in other words, it's a small step that's not going to fundamentally change anything right away. So what's the problem? Why not take a little time to broaden government's view of software options? Why are we talking about this so heatedly If it's not going to matter?

    The OS wars are eventually going to stop being big news. Linux isn't going away, and neither is Windows, and I have to ask myself how many more years before tech journalists will be forced to resort to such outlandish extremes as having relevant information or something interesting to say in order to generate interest. Based on what I'm reading here, I think that's really going to suck for you.

  99. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What's open got to do with it?

    The reason you have shit commercial software is marketing departments.

    Most open source that is any good has zero marketing, as soon as you add the propeller headed marketing nerds it all goes tits up on the quality of the software.

    Perens has just done a bit on Slashdot, and really turns one off to open source as he envisages it.

    Still with all that said, if you want to make money, you have to sprinkle on the marketing egg gloop, but as they say just don't over egg it.

  100. Trix Bronze badge
    IT Angle

    Funny

    I work for a govt department - we use RedHat Linux. We run Windows with an AD inside the network as well. I don't know of any govt depts here in Oz that don't have some Linux dotted around somewhere (particularly at the network border, and often on appliances).

    So, yeah, whatever, the best tool for the job, eh?

  101. jake Silver badge

    Oops.

    In haste to get a post out (the farrier had just pulled in), I type(o)ed:

    "Get rid of the "Exempt" status for city, county & state vehicles."

    Not state, of course. That would be silly ... and create more bureaucracy & paperwork.

  102. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's not that simple

    Think about the size of the federal government. Think about the amount of time and training it would require to convert all the applications currently based on Microsoft (or Oracle, or IBM, or ESRI, or ...) to open-source equivalents, for both the users and the IT staff. Such a conversion would not be trivial.

    There are issues with support, compatibility with existing systems, ITAR restrictions, you name it.

    I can see individual OSS applications being adopted on a case-by-case basis; I'm working on a project for the .mil that's Linux-based, and I've seen other OSS applications here and there. But forget about converting the entire IT infrastructure of the federal government to OSS; cleaning up the Augean stables would be a snap in comparison.

  103. Frumious Bandersnatch Silver badge
    Linux

    surprisingly good article

    Despite being a bit of a free software fanboi, I liked a lot of the points made. Mind you, that's probably more down to style than substance. From the number of comments posted, I'd say "nice tori-hiku job".

  104. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    "very few things short of a felony conviction will get you fired from a government job"

    ...except being a member of the wrong political party, or not being a narrow-minded right wing zealot. Remember GWB and the US attorneys ? Or is that too factual for you ?

    Perhaps Obama's fondness for Mac, and the cost savings of not shoveling dollars into M$ will actually cause Open Source to grow, Perhaps even paying some Americans to write new software needed for open medical records will help.

  105. Apocalypse Later

    Letter drop

    When the refugee physicists from Europe wrote to the president during world war two, to get him to think seriously about an atomic bomb, they had two things going for them. The first was they got Albert Einstein to write the letter, and the second was that they could credibly tell him that the Nazis were already working on it.

    You won't find anyone of Einstein's stature to front a letter for open source. That would be Bill, if anyone, and he won't do it. So unless Al Qaeda are all installing Ubuntu on their laptops the missive will probably make it no further than the mail room incinerator.

  106. rob
    Jobs Halo

    Ted repeateldy posts the same article

    This author is completely biased against Open Source and is a total Microsoft fanboy, he just hides it behind a very thin veneer of American hot dog stand merchant turned I.T. "expert".

    His previous articles stated falsely that only the Linux based netbooks had been returned at a higher rate than the XP based ones. This is incorrect, as the CEO of Acer himself stated that the return rate for both are around the same.

    Ted's article

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/11/17/dziuba_netbooks_and_smartphones/

    Acer's article

    http://www.reghardware.co.uk/2008/10/22/asus_ceo_shen_speaks_out/

    This author is probably the worst journalist I have seen, and seems to only ever write articles that trash Open Source and put Microsoft up on a pedestal

    I am currently installing several RH Linux based servers to join an existing RH Linux cluster in ... A government department!

    When rolling out large installations, there are usually consultants / contractors involved in both Open Source and Proprietary. For example, Most of CA's software require planning and a consultant to assist. When an enterprise make big decisions in regards to software, they will most likely bring in a consultant to assist. So why is it any different to bring in a consultant to assist with Open Source roll outs?

    How about giving it a rest Ted, we're on to you, the game is up.

    Balmer because he's obviously lining your pockets

  107. Martin Usher
    Stop

    Have a think about what you're saying....

    An application suite shouldn't be some huge glop of code but rather a bunch on interacting components. As a user I need well defined and stable interfaces and well defined and stable components. If you can supply me with a closed source component (and agree to maintain it at a reasonable cost) then fine. What I won't agree to do is wrie you a series of blank checks to provide a bunch of voodoo that may or may not work and which you may or may not choose to maintain. You're paid to solve problems, not create them.

    I prefer FOSS solutions because life's too short to play games with software suppliers. The only reason why they're closed is they want to write for Windows using the same tools and techniques that they used for the last customer and invariably delivering the same mediocre results. I push back because I don't want yet another VCC++ project that's bulky, late, slow and unreliable. I've got work to do.

  108. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Drivel

    Long time reader, first time poster. I've seen a lot of drivel on this site but I just cannot help but comment on this piece of dreck. The government, namely the Department of Veterans Affairs, already uses a piece of open source software called VistA with a GUI interface called CPRS. This is a secure, rock solid, versatile and feature-rich product which has been undergoing development and refinement for the last 20+ years. It originally started out as a command line application for basic data retrieval. The current version has basically been around for some 10 years and contains the entire patient record from the time stamp of when a medication was administered to a patients radiology file and everything in between including order entry. It is arguably better and has been on a per patient basis considerably cheaper than any of the proprietary crap on the market. Indeed, it is so good that many physicians actually factor its use as a reason to work for the VA. I should know as I use VistA daily. The author's failure to mention VistA which is perhaps the *only* truly integrated and functional computerized medical record, open source or otherwise, shows either shocking ignorance or bias.

  109. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    Whats wrong with paying a fair price for software?

    We want the government to set an example by paying A Fair Price for whatever they use. That includes software.

    To do otherwise distorts the market, which costs jobs. IT jobs, in this case.

    As an aside, why do the "programmers should absolutely never be paid" crowd think that is how they can stick it to Microsoft? Take a look, Microsoft is doing OK. Tandem, Sun, Pryamid, etc, etc have taken the hit. Linux killed the Unix programmer, and MS seem to have avoided the carnage, more or less.

    Mr President, if you want an IT industry - pay for your software, and keep a programmer in a job.

    (Disclaimer: I do not and have never, directly or inderectly, worked for Microsoft, SUN, IBM or any other IT vendor).

  110. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Re: @Sarah Bee

    Point taken, although in my defence I should point out that I'm trapped at the end of a ridiculously slow internet connection that's shoved through a Citrix server that . . . pauses . . . on a regular basis and only offers me IE6. Just getting the thing to open a page takes me back to the days of 14K modems and the like (just like the virtualization project here has taken us back to 1970's unreliability). Sigh...

  111. Whitefort
    Thumb Down

    Yawn

    >>>It's articles like this that make me wish el reg allowed me to filter out authors the same way slashdot does.<<<

    Totally agree, and I just wanted to say so, even if it means patting the author's huge ego (yuck!)

    by adding yet another reply to his pointless rant - which is presumably all he wanted, anyway...

  112. Roland
    Paris Hilton

    Flawed

    well I have to say the article there missed many points about open source. When the French government considered going OS, Microsoft slashed their prices of their products saving the French taxpayer many millions of euros. Whats wrong with a little competition?

    As for Obama's note suggesting that "investigating open source" means linux and open office on every desktop, I think people are having far too narrow a viewpoint of what OS projects there are. As for the other rant of "well RedHat may give you the software for free, but would then charge you for support", isn't that what Microsoft do anyway?

  113. amanfromMars Silver badge

    Blame the Shame on the Global Program but only if you are going to Virtually Change IT, Universally*

    "As a side note, I had a government contract once. Never again, not even if they promised to make me the nation's Linux/BSD/GNU czar ... The bureaucracy is a nightmare." ....... By jake Posted Monday 16th February 2009 21:08 GMT

    jake,

    On the next government contract, insist, as a matter of irrevocable contractual obligation on their part, that you remain devoid and aloof/free of bureaucratic impediment or involvement. They pays the cash and you do your thing. It speeds things along so much better whenever one is not loaded with carrying excessive, unnecessary baggage, and thus is a much better arrangement.

    "Oops. In haste to get a post out (the farrier had just pulled in), I type(o)ed:" ... :-) That must be one for the classics archive, El Reg.

    Nice One, jake.

    Anyone for Tea and Crumpets/Crown cakes?

    "very few things short of a felony conviction will get you fired from a government job" ..... By Anonymous Coward Posted Tuesday 17th February 2009 00:59 GMT

    Apparently the chances of that happening in a government job have rendered the Justice and Police System both a laughing stock and an accomplice to felonies perpetrated, AC.

    The Present Preoccupation is to ensure that a precedent is not set with one major prosecution of a dodgy leader, leading to the total collapse of their executive privilege national defence security secrets defence strategy. And the Banking sector would also think to avoid censure along similar lines, although they/everyone runs the gauntlet of Abe Lincoln's ....“You may fool all the people some of the time, you can even fool some of the people all of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all the time.” ..... and with the Masses becoming Smarter more Quickly than those who would think that they [the masses] are easily led to Server to Executive Privilege and Wishes, it is a Battle which they are very quickly losing with their every documented and shared action being attributable to them for accountability and responsibility.

    And such perverse Shenanigans would render them personally responsible for any terror Action and its Liabilities and would quite legitimately subject them to Executive Sanction/Global Retribution and/or Renegade Action.

    And one would wonder at the Folly/their Lack of Intelligence in thinking to pursue and/or endorse such a Subversive and Self-Incriminating Course. It is not as if a Common or Garden/General or Applied Ignorance can be used in any Defence whenever the Dangers are so well documented and Universally Shared, is it?

    That would then suggest that it is a Premeditated Destructive Course and a Proven Guilt, the Inevitable Result of all Investigations.

    * As in bring in new Heads and new Systems sitting Above and In Control and/or in Replacement of the Present Chaos Engine Management Board Executing Officers .... Rogues

  114. Alexander
    Stop

    crazies

    You lot are fecking nuts , totally past the point of no return. "waste of my time " yada yada..... so why did you post then ?.

    open source is second best.

    open source has poor suport

    open source is free( so is a scientologist palmphlet and cancer)

    open source is championed by technicaly deluded.

    open source has a piss poor backoffice.

    open source is not for the mainstream. ( post any stupid comment and i will stab you with a large sword of reality and stats, ).

    Because it is "open source" does not mean the software is freindly or the people that make the majority of the project nice people.

    Take linux for it to make inroads in the desktop market it has to have fundamentaly more support in backend software and server flavours..until then as my 14 yr son would say STFU NUB.

    appluad's Ted for Baiting the reality challenged lovely's among us.

  115. Michael Nielsen
    Linux

    Commercial software better ?

    Well I was on a contract, where I was taken in as a technical resource for the customer in negotiations with a supplier of a backup software solution (the customer wasn't too hot on the price tag). The customer wanted a really simple hot backup, they did not want anything sofisticated.

    The company with the backup solution wanted roughly 100 000 pounds for the base software, and 30 days of consulting time to install and configure the software, at a cost of 1000 pounds per day. I think I offended the company presenting the solution and costs, when I laughed at their prices, I'd been working closely with their engineers for weeks, and knew the system.

    I presented a solution which did cover the customer's needs, at a cost of 14 days of development and test, at a lower daily rate then the backup company presented. If it wasn't for the fact that I have a reputation of only saying something if I can do it, I would have been passed over..

    However, using standard technology, based in foss, and standard unix, I wrote a backup system that backed up 20 odd servers, and was fully configurable, so that additional systems could easily be added, and yet, the cost to the customer was around 2000 pounds total, including all software, to which the customer had the rights. (the backup company wanted to hire me after wards lol.).

    The problem, however, is usually managers are afraid to try other solutions than what the quick talking sales representation tells them that they need. Personally if I wasn't a technical person, I'd feel rather like a fish out of water too, and opt for the "safe" but expensive option, espc with all the TCO hype.

    It does sound implausible that a solution based on scripts, free software,and so forth, could indeed satisfy a customer requirement, when the big sales force is talking software for 100 000s.

    It is like some big clever sales force presents the solution as being the Eiffel tower, when in fact what the customer needs is a garden shed, this is not nearly as uncommon as one would think, just look at a lot of the public software projects scandals, a lot of them, could really use a bit of the KISS principle.

  116. Anonymous Coward
    Happy

    Ted. Teddy...

    "It is better to keep your mouth shut and let people think you are a fool, rather than open it and leave them in no doubt..."

    Nice rant Alexander. The same applies to you. Microsoft are not number one through having a superior product. Never have been. The reason why Microsoft products are so prevalent now is that of legacy, and their kit was also originally the cheapest, as was the Intel architecture. It's not that the user will need much retraining, TBH, most are lucky if they get any in smaller shops, and frankly if they need it for the Office apps in his day and age questions over their employment must be asked, harsh I grant you. No. The majority of IT 'Professionals' and decision makers would need retraining. This is why being mono-skilled is a bad thing. Sure get your MCSE. It is very useful. Also know about other systems. Be multi-skilled, not OS myopic. There are an awful lot of legacy apps out there too, but virtualisation is leveling that particular playing field, where open source software 9 times out of 10 is the best solution.

    @Anonymous Coward (Tuesday 17th February 2009 06:32 GMT)

    Open Source doesn't mean free. What part of it don't you get? The name is very clear. The source is available, and you are (here's the clever bit) FREE(!!!) to do with it as you wish. At no point does the GPL say that you have to give the software away without charge, only that you INCLUDE the source code with software, or at lease make it available to those that have purchaced the software, and if you are really generous, you can give the uncompiled source code away for no charge! It really isn't that difficult to understand. Redhat, for instance, sells a product called RHEL. It's an OS. There are, like Windows, different flavours available; e.g., a server version and a desktop version. They make you pay for this software. With it, you get support, depending how much you have paid. You can, if you wish, download ALL the source code and compile it yourself for free, without support though. Apple do something similar with OS X. The kernel is open source and you can download it for free to tinker with as you wish. The sparkly GUI is closed however.

    Goverment agencys should e made to look into the OSS option. If the Microsoft/Sun/Apple/HP/Bloke down the pubs solution is the best overall, go with it. Don't dismiss something because it's out of your comfort zone. Accountants do that, and look where thats got us...

  117. Charles Manning
    Thumb Up

    Ted is right about medical software

    Look at the GPL's no warrantee clause. No medical IT manager will read further than that. Install any unwarranted software and your ass is fried when the hospital has an admin glitch.

    Ted is a trolling moron on some other points though. Open source does provide a utility-like service by forming the basis for many systems. Open source is fundamental to almost every major software company apart from Microsoft.

    Many OS projects are well supported by Google and others. Many projects do need funding but they'd be unlikely to benefit. Like most pork, the money would likely be intercepted long before it gets to where it needs to be.

  118. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    Linux

    A truth

    If you are a buyer for a big company wide system, then the actual cost of the software will be a very small part of your expences.

    Cost of the installation and configuration

    Cost of the training

    Cost of the support

    Availability of the support (especially important if you're a 24/7 outfit)

    For example Having a company charge £1000 per seat for a closed source OS based system and £950 for an opensource system means nothing if the opensource support is only 8am-5pm week days only and the closed is 24/7

    Having said that, for our robots, I can create a samba config on a linux box to run a a data server for them with a nice cron job to back up said data directories to the uber server in the back office.

    Cost: nothing.... How much to buy a copy of windows server to do the same thing?

    ..(and yes I know its a small trivia example... but it suits us)

  119. blackbelt_jones
    Linux

    You know, it occurs to me

    (Quote:} "open source has poor suport

    open source is free( so is a scientologist palmphlet and cancer)

    open source is championed by technicaly deluded.

    open source has a piss poor backoffice.

    open source is not for the mainstream. ( post any stupid comment and i will stab you with a large sword of reality and stats, ).

    Because it is "open source" does not mean the software is freindly or the people that make the majority of the project nice people.

    Take linux for it to make inroads in the desktop market it has to have fundamentaly more support in backend software and server flavours..until then as my 14 yr son would say STFU NUB." (End of quote)

    None of these generalizations and half-truths explain why licensing should not be considered. Really, is it not being considered already? Is our government entering into legally binding contracts without reading them? How can this be controversial?

    (Quote:) "As an aside, why do the "programmers should absolutely never be paid" crowd think that is how they can stick it to Microsoft? (End of Quote:)

    You don't really believe anyone thinks that programmers should absolutely never be paid, do you? I've read that IBM spent a billion dollars on Linux Development. I'm guessing some of that money (i.e., pretty much all of it) went to programmers. Richard Stallman, the author of the GPL takes great pains to explain how programmers can make money with free software. You may think his business model sucks, but he believes programmers should be paid. You either don't understand the position you're arguing against or you're deliberately misrepresenting it.

    And why should I care about sticking it to Microsoft? Some may disagree, but I think Microsoft makes software that works pretty good, and they deserve a chance to make a buck in a free and fair market. I don't believe in Microsoft monopoly, but I don't belive in a Linux monopoly, either.

  120. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Is he always like this?

    Man, filter by author. This author seems like someone who invested heavily in Microsoft training, realised Linux solutions do a better job (Apache has always been at the head of the Web Server market, not IIS simply because IIS is bloat, plenty of features, but features almost no one wants or would rather unload to save on RAM, that, and Windows licensing costs, together with yearly support contract which I'm sure is astronomically priced). then going in to denial through spending all that dosh on training thats just going to go to waste.

    Begging to the president is silly, but OSS quite often does provide people with a better alternative. Sorry, $40,000 licence fee per socket for Oracle is stupid. MySQL Enterprise costs that for a farm of unlimited MySQL Enterprise servers, and includes enterprise support so if you get really stuck you're covered. This is the one thing that the commercial offerings need to understand. If you offer a product up for businesses, and price it up at a sum no individual or hobbyist can afford, the only way to study the product (and therefore recommend it as a choice to organisations) is to either pirate it (the not so legal way) or go for a cheaper alternative (The open source way). Don't get support going the open source way unless you pay up, but we don't need it if we're hobbyists who just want to play and understand how to use a software package. The support is compulsary if you go commercial and get a software license, VMware is guilty of this, price up VI3 at one price, then later say you MUST buy support with it which adds several hundred GBP to it. Suddenly it's not a good deal anymore.

    That, and if I were a director of ICT, I'd rather hire someone with an excellent knowledge of a software product (that learned it at home rather than on two-week work experience) than someone who has just done odd tasks. People who have learned a product at home are far more likely to have the knowledge and expertise to recover from disasters. Someone (or a team) who have all learned something in their own time, and to great extents would be far more valuable to me than a team who know just a little bit between themselves. I was actually hired as a sysadmin for my deep knowledge of Linux, Apache, PHP and MySQL, as well as the Microsoft alternatives they already had (Being a Microsoft Technet Subscriber saved me here, but I had to scrimp and save to afford the yearly subscription as I had been out of work for some time (No IT work experience, but had college certificates, which didn't amount to much it seems).

    Microsoft is good where their Active Directory comes in. It's powerful and comes as part of Server 2003/2008. Linux will take everything else over however unless you're one of those who fails to evaluate everything before taking the leap.

    Paris because I'm sure she's evaluated all the choices.

  121. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    @Michael Nielsen

    And will your solution work across hundreds of organizations in thousands of individual offices?

    How about *after* the truck hits you?

  122. Alex
    Paris Hilton

    Unbalanced - no real discussion...

    Silly unbalanced article, open source applies to certain things better than others... why wasn't that even given a look in? There are grey areas that are far more interesting to discuss in these forums..

    After the terrible Vista a lot of people are considering Linux,. nb I use Windows XP, I'll probably wait for Windows 7.... but I do GET both sides of the argument.

  123. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
    Anonymous Coward

    foomf

    Uncle Sam can play with OSS when he pleases. Ever try SELinux, courtesy of NSA? (Oh, yes, sir, I hadn't noticed the desk abrasions on your forehead, sorry.) Ever use Expect, developed at NIST? I'm sure anyone who cared could do a quick inventory and find lots of .gov sites cranking out Apache headers.

  124. Travis Vowinkel

    Open source better than windows!

    Windows in my opinion does not work. At home I work with an Apple Mac Book without problems; at my place of work I am forced to use Windows, one problem after another. I use Neo Office at home on my Mac, it runs so smoothly. Reading your comments I can but presume that you have never tried open source software or that MS has bought your soul. Modern day thinkers with brains realize that companies, institutes etc., should not rely on one system, but should spread their data over several systems. This again shows me that you have not done your homework.

  125. Basil Fernie
    Coat

    Before getting heated about Ted...

    do some bio checking. Latest I read, is that he is an intern at Google. An Oompah-Loompah - with a very limited metaphor domain?

    One wonders if he is aware what platform Google relies so extensively on to run its enormous operations. Surely he is! Therefore this piece is either an expression of massive, possibly treasonable, dissatisfaction with his management's choices - projected away from his own environment onto a governmental backdrop - or more likely it is a cunning piece of GoogleFUD designed to avert possible competitors to the Googlopoly away from stable low-cost OSS platforms and to keep the great unwashed mob of M$-developer/support slaves happily employed for the nonce, therefore not pressing yearning eyeballs against the ports of the chocolate factory and endangering TD's sweet employment terms.

    If the latter, watch this space for the soon announcement of a Google-cloud-based national medical records system. What an ideal diversification/extension of their current technology! For the cheque-signer, tried and tested database/search facilities, low costs, comparatively little or no retraining, numerous 24x7 support personnel. For the Oompah-Loompahs, guaranteed job security for at least a decade.

  126. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    Yet another flamebait comment

    Ted is pretty close to dead-on when it comes to the Public Sector on this. Government doesn't work the way most does; in fact, when it comes to software licensing, they're buying it in such massive quantities that they get the deepest discount available.

    In our corporate environment, we pay about $200USD annually for our Microsoft EA. The EA includes XP/Vista, Office 200x Professional. $600 every three years for products that everyone is familiar with, that all of our clients and vendors use to send data back and forth, as well as integration with our email, document management, instant messaging, service desk, software distribution, software patching, directory services, and CRM suites. For 1,000 employees making an average of $25/hr who are able to bill for $50/hr, it takes about 8 hours per year to recoup that cost.

    When comparing the costs of F/OSS with closed source software, there is absolutely no way that I can start relationships with new vendors, upgrade/migrate/transition all of my thousands of desktops and servers, enforce global standards for desktop management, leverage enterprise-wide 802.1X from a single interface, or any one of a hundred other technology and business tasks I need to do to keep running. I would have to coordinate with my clients to ensure that any software macros or custom application scripting would work, thereby increasing development time. I have about 140 custom-developed applications that would need to be updated and regression tested. I would need an army of well-trained staff to teach my "I only use Windows XP and Microsoft Works at home" how to use OOO, and then another army of service desk folks who were fluent in both Microsoft Office and OOO to be able to help users with branfarts remember how to do tasks the new way.

    Then I have to worry about all of my purchased and customized LOB software, integration with special hardware, migrating document management and email systems, supporting mobile devices, and other special hardware with integrated desktop components (integrated scanner/copier/fax devices, especially).

    At that point, all F/OSS has done for me is cause a lot of headaches with cost me a fortune in both hard and soft costs for training and application/data migration. It would (conservatively) take an average of 8 hours of data migration and PC refresh per employee, 40 hours of training on new desktop productivity, ERP, financial, sales, and other applications, and productivity reduced to about 70% for 6 months while they become proficient on the replacement applications. We're looking at 160 hours per employee for lost time, which will hopefully be a one-time hit. If I'm making $25/hr net per employee on my 1,000 employees, that's $4m that I have to figure out how to recoup. My ramp-up software costs for new employees will be minimal, but my training and lower-productivity costs will be higher.

    Factor in the IT time (if I contract it out at $50/hr for the desktop refresh/data migration parts, and I need 8 hours per desktop/user, that's another $400,000 in labor), and my cost is $4.4m to change out my closed-source stack to an all F/OSS stack. Versus my $200 per year per employee to maintain my current licensing, it's over 20 years before I break even.

    With today's economy, we might not even make it 2 or 3 years. The cost argument for F/OSS just doesn't hold water.

    And we haven't even talked about server applications, or any application redevelopment that needs to be done, nor have we discussed how I'm going to administer this environment. Additional training or hiring of IT staff and consulting services, etc. And I still probably want to maintain some level of vendor software support, because it's impossible for any staff to have all the answers for all products in the environment.

    In the public sector, where the scale of users and applications is multiplied by thousands, there's no way it's economically feasible. Even if all of the software licensing, implementation, data migration, and support costs were "free - as in beer," there's still potentially millions of man-hours wasted for upgrades, re-training, and troubleshooting with a whole new set of tools.

    Government is already horribly inefficient as it is; how would you justify to the taxpayer even 20 lost/wasted/less productive man hours per year for the US Federal Government's 920,000 employees?

    While F/OSS products may be better, more secure, more stable, or any of the other flame-bait arguments that get used to support it, the financials just can't support it yet in the public sector.

    Mine's the one with the ROI calculator in the pocket.

  127. jake Silver badge

    @AC 20:16

    "Mine's the one with the ROI calculator in the pocket."

    That's nice.

    In the time you (probably) spent typing up and proofreading your missive, I could have (probably) converted a member of your family to a personalized subset of Slackware.

    You can babble on and on about how the installed base is too massive to shift, but some of us are quietly going about the job of helping folks understand the reality of FOSS, and installing FOSS systems in places where it makes sense.

    NOTHING is too important to be left in the backwaters of history. Not even Microsoft. And not even Linux or BSD, for that matter.

    But by its very nature, FOSS will be here for the foreseeable future. Get used to the idea, learn what it means, or be left behind.

  128. Seán

    @AC

    You'll be unemployed soon and then you'll be wondering where in your overinflated nonsense figures and inability to understand technology you went wrong.

    My particular favourite was

    "Factor in the IT time (if I contract it out at $50/hr for the desktop refresh/data migration parts, and I need 8 hours per desktop/user, that's another $400,000 in labor), and my cost is $4.4m to change out my closed-source stack to an all F/OSS stack. Versus my $200 per year per employee to maintain my current licensing, it's over 20 years before I break even."

    Ho ho ho, not only will you be unemployed but most of these hideously expensive desks will be for sale too. Ridiculous nonsense departments are being scaled back these days.

  129. James
    Linux

    Catch22

    Unfortunately there is the real issue of moving over to opensource when you are firmly entrenched in a Windows culture. I work in support for desktops and servers for many thousands of NHS workers, and I can honestly say than you could probably tell them that you're going to upgrade them to the next version of windows, and install linux instead. They wouldn't know any different with KDE on. Seriously, most desktop users really don't care. There is a lot of truth though about the customized applications for windows desktop and server that would make any kind of migration a nightmare.

    It could be done and would take a government mandate to force the issue. It would be a painful transition to OSS but I firmly believe it would be a better move than sticking with Microsoft in the long run. However, I've yet to see any realistic migration plan from an OSS community that would allow a large organization or company to migrate to OSS and it not cost an arm and a leg in support in the short term. Short term pain, long term gain. This isn't the mentality of world culture anymore. If it was then we wouldn't be facing the credit crunch. Something has to change and government policy is a good place to start.

  130. Anonymous Coward
    Joke

    When quality does matter...

    "Quality code isn't enough of an incentive." hahaha tell that to the DoD and crew of the USS Yorktown, remember...

    http://www.wired.com/print/science/discoveries/news/1998/07/13987

    Seems to me when quality of the code matters certain departments of the government actually make the right decisions...

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