[CLUG-chat] Government's commitment to FLOSS???

Walter Leibbrandt walter at translate.org.za
Mon Jun 21 17:31:50 SAST 2010

Op 21/06/2010 15:03, het Riaan Nolan geskryf:
> Let me define "get real" ... Ubuntu was born right here in South Africa, the
> "Google of Linux" in my opinion, yet government are to thick to even
> know/care
IMHO, a reference to Ubuntu (and its South African origins) is quite OT 
here. Ubuntu, specifically, is unrelated to the government's open source 

As Karl Fischer summarised it for me, their policy states that open 
source solutions should be used for new developments unless a better 
proprietary solution exists.

Firstly, notice that "open source solutions" is used, because the policy 
does not simply refer to software used, but also standards (as specified 
in the MIOS [1]). The most important part, though, is that the policy is 
applicable to *new* development. This is understandable, as it is 
impractical (and would be VERY costly) to replace its entire 
infrastructure with open source alternatives. What they are probably 
doing at the moment is claiming that Microsoft/proprietary solutions are 
"better", for whatever reason(s) and/or definition of "better".

The case of the IEC site was also mentioned. As I understand it the 
reason for the success for open source in that case was that it was 
claimed that the site (and the IEC by implication) discriminates against 
people without IE (which it did, of course) and is therefore 
unconstitutional. In the context of democratic elections (and thus 
democracy) it is a hypocrisy, which warrented the media attention the 
case received. Nevermind the reported cost involved, but I digress... 
The interesting part is that the government's OSS policy (and MIOS) did 
not really come into play there. This shows (to me, at least) that the 
policy is not followed and/or not taken seriously/into account in all 
government departments - other departments are doing great, though.

In this case CIPRO is guilty of the same discrimination. Plain and 
simple. It's also a new development and should therefore at least be 
implemented using open standards, if not also using OSS.

Not being anything remotely associated with a lawyer, I cannot speak as 
to the actions you can (legally) take, but I hope this would (at least) 
lead to stern conversation with or letter to the person/people 
responsible or the appropriate minister.

[1] http://www.oss.gov.za/

Walter Leibbrandt                  Software Developer
Recent blogs:
* Ubuntu PPA for Translate Toolkit and Virtaal

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