UK petition about switching government systems to open source software


Prometheus

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I just saw this on another forum, and figured that I'd re-post it over here, too, as I think it's a rather worthwhile thing for British residents to be signing, considering the state of our economy.


It's a petition intended to get the powers-that-be to switch to using open source software that won't cost the taxpayer a fortune in licensing fees, just as other governments and major institutions have already done worldwide.


The petition's text reads as follows;

Migrate all government IT to Linux based systems


Responsible department: Her Majesty's Treasury


In these austere times it seems that UK government is looking to save money everywhere except in it's own "people nuetral" infrastructure. Up to now all savings have come at a cost to the population. However, the vast majority of UK government IT systems are still running on Windows based systems, which come with hefty licensing costs.


Linux operating systems have fully matured and are used by some of the largest institutions and governments in the world. Coming with no licesnsing costs, following initial migration costs and training costs the savings would be substantial.


We therefore petition the government to undertake a full review with a view to migrating systems to open source systems as soon as possible,

Obviously, only British citizens/residents can sign. If you feel that the issue of the government using expensive software at our expense is an issue, please consider signing.
 

Mr Rob

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It's more than just licensing fees, too. Frankly, I don't think there are any open-source people who mind paying for software, Red Hat would be a valid solution.


Really it's just the act of future proofing things. Like open standards for documents. I'm told my university has thousands of documents/spreadsheets that are currently unreadable. Why? They were using the most popular software in the 80/90 (Lotus something), and you can't really do much with it now.


The sad thing is that this petition will get a good amount of support, the UK'll go to Microsoft and say "we are jumping ship", and Microsoft will say "but wait, there's more!" and give them a better deal to preserve the monopoly.
 

Prometheus

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Agreed on all points. The anecdote about your university highlights the other huge problem that can associated with this sort of thing.


It would be a shame if this petition were to be undermined by "better deals", though...
 

vadsamoht

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It would be a shame if this petition were to be undermined by "better deals", though...
If it is, then at least your government will have more money to spend on other things. In my experience, though, the main reason institutions refuse to migrate to Open Source OSs is that there seems to be an assumption that open source means that the system is easier to hack into.
 

diligentcircle

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I don't like the way this petition is worded. It talks about the benefit of migrating to GNU/Linux as being reduction of costs, which might happen to be a benefit (depending on what GNU/Linux distro you use), but it shows that whoever wrote this hasn't a clue what free software and open source software are. Either that, or they have a total disregard for the real advantages of using GNU/Linux (and other free software) rather than Windows (in particular, not being shackled by Microsoft or some other company).
 

Prometheus

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^ Or they're trying to make it understandable to the vast majority of people, in as few words as possible. Our economy is incredibly bad, and the wording as it currently is will make the idea understandable to more people than vast explanations about the other benefits.


It is a shame that they didn't make a brief note about open, accesible document formats and suchlike, though, as that's something that could have been written in a way that the majority will understand.
 

Mr Rob

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It is a shame that they didn't make a brief note about open, accesible document formats and suchlike, though, as that's something that could have been written in a way that the majority will understand.
To be fair, I doubt people understand accessible documents and standards, because most people don't realize that there are other word processors out there. Or they look at OpenOffice and friends and simply ask why it doesn't work well with MS Office. And then I rant more.
 

Binky

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I'm sure there's something ironic about .doc/.docx being so badly documented - can't quite work out what though <_<
 

Prometheus

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I'm sure there's something ironic about .doc/.docx being so badly documented - can't quite work out what though <_<
The fact that .docx/"Microsoft Office Open XML" was at the centre of "ISOGate" and was granted fast-tracked status as an "open standard", back around when ODF rightfully earned its status as an open format, perhaps? ;)
 
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diligentcircle

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^ Or they're trying to make it understandable to the vast majority of people, in as few words as possible. Our economy is incredibly bad, and the wording as it currently is will make the idea understandable to more people than vast explanations about the other benefits.
Just because people will understand it better doesn't mean it's a better explanation, especially if it's a false explanation. With everyone thinking the whole point of moving to GNU/Linux is to get rid of costs, it becomes easy for Microsoft to just say "hey, we'll give Windows systems to the government at an extremely reduced price (or for free)!" Then the people who signed the petition will think "OK, problem solved!" and give Microsoft a victory.
 

Prometheus

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^ That is very true. I didn't consider that outcome. :(
 
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