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GNU is Not Unix

German Governmental Agency Says: Use Open Source 94

belbo writes "An official team of the German Ministry of the Interior has released a statement which examines the possible use of Open Source software in the German administration. The statement concludes: "Linux and FreeBSD and accompanying Free or commercial software provide a stable, cheap, low-on-resources, safe and sufficiently supported environment even for professional offices." Does this mean I can write my next tax declaration in Vi? ;-) "
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German Governmental Agency Says: Use Open Source

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Germany is investigating Scientology because of their involvement with the clown [geocities.com]. The clown wants to prevent sleep in Germany. The clown was responsible for much of the sleep deprivation research conducted in Germany over sixty years ago, and he wants to see it continued now that Germany is reunified.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    What is an IRS form? It's a mechanism to allow the IRS people to enter your data into a database and to crunch it there.

    What we need is a set of common formats which can be reliably understood by open software. So, if the IRS allows digital submissions, they can specify their requirements in some database template which we would then fill out using a generic database editor.

    By understanding several formats, we could have a multiplicity of solutions but would escape the imprisonment of proprietary solutions which are seeking to keep us fragmented. Plus, organizations all over the web could count on the ability to hand data from one system to another. And building this generic database editor into HTML (or whatever they're working on these days) would eliminate the insanity of passing 1200 arguments in an HTTP request. :)

    So, if multicolumn text were one of the standard formats, you could indeed use vim.

  • More seriously, if they accept taxes in free-form ASCII, and you've got a version of vi new enough to support umlauts (or you're willing to do EMACS), maybe it'll work.

    The format for electronic tax submission in Germany (on sloppy as well as via the internet) is called ELSTER (www.elster.de [elster.de]). The ELSTER library is free (as in beer).

    There is some irony in the name ELSTER (Elektronische Steuererklaerung, electronic tax declaration), since it is also the German word for magpie, a bird which is supposed to steal valuables (like the tax authorities :-)).

  • So what is a "self-service impulse system" anyway?

    -Lars
  • As far as I know there _is_ no translation of "Open Source Software" to German. There sure isn't a German word for software, neither for source, and so the choice is between "Offene Source Software" or "Open Source Software", and the choice is easy.

    In Dutch it would be even easier, because Open is also Open. Hmmm, hold on, Source in Dutch could be translated as Broncode (souce code, literally), so maybe in German it could be something like Brunncode... Nah, doesn't sound like anything.

    OSS it is, and OSS it will ever remain. :)


    )O(
    the Gods have a sense of humour,
  • From Operation Clambake:

    {
    ...where they become brainwashed slaves. There they work a hundred hour week for almost no pay. There they are subject to every cruel whim of their masters. It is a living hell that they endure because of the conditioning they have received and this now perverted sense of ethics that they have accepted. The "Sea Org" is the ultimate in brainwashed slavery. They are expected to work harder and harder to achieve ever higher targets of production. If they fail to meet their targets there are various penalties. One of them is to be put onto a diet of beans and rice and to miss sleep. Another is to be sentenced to a period on the RPF (Rehabilitation Project Force). This is the equivalent to "hard labour". Such is the extent of their brainwashing that they actually write "success stories" when they complete their sentences.
    }

    Yes, I know, I've read about Scientology. It's evil. It's twisted. But it does come close to describing many of my best friends, and I hope to join a very similar organisation in the near future. They call it "grad school". Be afraid.
  • The German Goverment "Gets It" the use of open source helps in keeping certain cost down. Allows you to add extentions to the software you use. Also allows you to audit the software you are using at the source so there are no question about certain things.

    http://theotherside.com/dvd/ [theotherside.com]
  • Well, I might begin to sound like one of RMS's zealots at this point...Although I feel that this is a good thing, they miss the whole point of what free software is about: the precise weakness of 'open source' as a term. Free software is about freedom, not about price. The real reason why free software is stable, low on resources, and so well-supported is because of this freedom. And we shouldn't forget this.
  • I've been looking for a list of governments, universities or school districts that have a policy of using open source or open standards, or at least evaluating them impartially.
    Many places use windows because that's what everyone uses and that's all they know.
    If nobody is doing this I am willing to maintain such a list.
    Contact
    kmcclary@cuug.ab.ca
  • <I>As long as you can convince the congressmen from the state of Washington or Virginia or any of these places that it's worthwhile not to give lots of money to lots of American companies, you have my support. </I>

    A politician not paying money for software can hand out tax breaks, or spend the money on something more visible.

    Either way there is no loss for American companies, all you get is a different distribution of money. Using open source do not transfer any money to foreign entities, buying from a company may very well do as they cut costs by having foreign subcontractors.
  • <I>and you've got a version of vi new enough to support umlauts</I>

    This is usually not a problem. Umlauts etc. are handled by loading the appropriate keymap and fonts. 8-bit clean apps need no more than that, and old popular software is normally 8-bit clean.
  • Danke. Wie du siehst ist Babelfisch nicht nötig; ich habe sowieso den Artikel gelesen, aber ich wollte schon den Artikel jemandem zeigen :-(

    Anyone else? I've looked in my Netscape cache but no go.

    Chris
  • That's all very nice, but will they *mandate* the use of OSS packages?

    "Linux is a stable reliable platform..." "You must use NT. That is our standard"
  • As long as you can convince the congressmen from the state of Washington or Virginia or any of these places that it's worthwhile not to give lots of money to lots of American companies, you have my support.
  • Actually, with all the words directly imported
    from English, German can make up that difference
    easily :-))
  • The open SOURCE software got a substantial Anschub lately by Linux.

    Enough said.

  • Well,in Germany there *is* a format for submitting tax forms electronically, it is binary, encrypted (no idea of how strong that encrypt is)and can only be used from the usual financial packages like Quicken et al. together with transaction numbers obtained from the revenue service. Maybe somebody might come up with an approved OSS prog for taxes?
    The format, btw is called 'ELSTER' (ELektronische STeuerERklaerung, which in English means magpie...
  • Hey - good news. I really had trouble to convince those people in the public sector they have to use open software to meet their need ( less money every year, fewer people to run their systems...).
    I hope the administration will make the things clear up to the last member of the chain - too few people read slashdot and I know people have not heard the news!

    Flori
  • "Yup, it all boils down to apps again"

    No - it all boils down to what kind of apps.

    If the typical application is MS-Word or something
    similar that is expected to be installed on millions of platforms, then the marketing costs
    exceed by far the costs of development. Conversely
    if the application has a limited installation
    potential - something to be used by at most a
    few hundred civil servants, then the development
    costs a paramont. In this case, the quality and
    developer friendliness of any UNIX/Linux/(X)emacs platform far exceeds that of any MS-Visual-Studio
    type of development environment (I speek from 25
    years UNIX and 8 years Windows/*/NT experience.)

    Madonna
  • "...the freedom and openness that actually make Linux/BSD good."

    Only half true - I wouldn't give two hoots for Linux/BSD if it were just free (as in speech). Its the quality which counts. One of Ritchie's and Thomson's major objectivies were to create an OS under which they themselves would like to work. Hardly, I thing, a Microsoft ojective.
  • That was the coolest translato, but this one is cool too:

    In the industry open SOURCE software (OSS) wins increasingly in meaning for the moment.


    So OSS "wins in meaning". How true.
  • This is interesting in light of the German government's recent decision to consider blocking mp3 servers from the router. Now, all of a sudden, freedom means something to them?

    Of course not. Methinks they chose Linux/BSD because of the stability and price (beer not speech). All of this without realizing that it is the freedom and openness that actually make Linux/BSD good.


    void recursion (void)
    {
    recursion();
    }
    while(1) printf ("infinite loop");
    if (true) printf ("Stupid sig quote");
  • Of course they should use open source instead of commercial software since it's saving tax payer money and is ultimately more reliable (which means more efficient employees).


    _______________
    Articles, Reviews and Resources for Web Developers [webmaster-resources.com]
  • Of OSS in general (like the grant they gave to the GnuPG project a while back). I wonder if we'll start seeing that in the US as well (ie, instead of hiring someone to code a program, donate money to help provide a OSS version). That would be cool - tax breaks for US kernel hackers. :)
  • nobody is gonna email you with such a stupid anti-spam feature... like i'm gonna waste time removing letters or rot13'ing them... why don't you just use some free mail account you don't care about. when it's full of crap use another address.

    LOL. Since you haven't decoded it, how do you know the address is ever real? :)
  • Here german is somewhat more exact then english.

    German is in general a little bit more exact, I believe. That's why every German text is at least 1/3 longer than any engish text.
    The German language has simply more words, I think. Take "Flummi" for example - it's a small little rubber ball that bounces like hell, kind of like Flubber....
    Just my $.2 re the German language....
  • This sounds like Communistic propaganda!

    "Hey, guys! Over here! I've found one!!"
    "W-What?"
    "Time to die evil Communist!" A gun is pointed at the evil communist's forehead.
    "B-but clearly sharing is better and mo-more efficient."
    "Bah, that's what they all say. Everybody in their right mind knows the free-market is stronger!"
    "Okey, I admit it. I'm an evil Communist trying to convert you superior Americans. I want to live in your luxurious spendor, but the KGB cover-salary doesn't cover such expenses."

    *BANG*

    "Another strike for the US! Huzzah! Huzzah!! Huzzaaah!!!"

    - Steeltoe

    What do you do to limit yourself today?
  • I think most governments (perhaps except in the Netherlands) wants to avoid this word, freedom, as much as possible. Why? Well, it's the source of all downfalls of governments. It causes crimes, looting, riots and revolutions. The more you can limit people's freedom, the less they can group together to fight against your propaganda and strickt laws. Or do some other questionable and immoral activities, like watching filth on the Net. Side note: Having a state-religion is perhaps the most powerful way to do this btw, wether it be capitalism or some other older religions.

    Of course, this argumentation is flawed viewed from the population, since the people defines the state and not the other way around.

    Neither corporational or governmental embodiments are the final answer to our evolution. Neither are the intention behind them, there's plenty of horrific examples of good intentions gone wrong. I think the only way is to get rid of elitism, and start spreading information freely so everyone can make informed decisions to grow on and see what's really going on. Just like in Star-Trek. ;-)

    - Steeltoe

    What do you do to limit yourself today?
  • There is of course a german word for source, it's Quellcode. There is even a german word for software but i cannot remember it at the moment, its not in widespread use. But you could use the term "Programm" interchangeable with software and wouldn't get beaten for it.

    Of course "Offene Quellcode Programme" sounds amazingly stupid to a german ear. So we borrow the english Version Open Source Software or call it "Freie Software". "Freie" means free as in speech not beer :-) "Free" as in beer would be "kostenlos" (at no cost). Here german is somewhat more exact then english.

    Just some rambling.

  • it's not only the grammar. the frequent use of compound words adds to this too. (see Mark Twains essay The awfull German language [boondocksnet.com] for this)

  • A possible translation of Open Source Software is:
    Open => Offen(e)
    Source => Quelltext
    Software => Software
    but I think nobody would use this. :-)
  • The correct translation is: OSS-Operating-Systems
    for the German: OSS-Betriebssysteme
  • A bad idea right from the start? I guess I'm kinda cynical about _all_ religions. I'm not sure if judging their origins makes much of a difference, and I'm not going to charitibly assume they were not put their to controll the masses. Every one of the can have really cool people and have horrible jerks.

    -coyo

  • I'll paint with a broad brush here. A religious orginization wanting world domination? Shocking! A religious orginization with jerks in it? Shocking!

    Look, our puny human meat minds are not likely to suddenly underand Truth or Creation anytime soon. Believe what you think you should. Believe what is most fun to believe, and be cool and stuff. If you're wrong...oh darn. You made a wrong choice of manymany choices (and maybe none of the choices you see is the right one). It's pretty likely you'll pick wrong.

    -coyo

  • by Arcanix ( 140337 )
    I think it's sort of amusing how they use the term "Open Source Software" in English instead of it's translation into German.
  • Isn't Open Source Code about internationalism? At least Linux has a Finish creator and not somebody from Seattle (who left a backdoor in his OS for the biggest Spy-Agency of the world). Do you seriously think that Open Source Code will be used for hegemonial purposes? Give me a break. Get over your animosities, this is the 21st century.
  • Aber Sepp, das ist ja wunderbar!
  • It's great to see more countries going OSS in their administration. First the French, then the Germans and tomorrow the WORLD.
  • At the Delhi College of Egg we have a Linux lab and an NT lab. Guess where the students spend their time?
  • Actually, that's not so offtopic as you might think:

    While I think it's somewhat paranoid to believe that Diskkeeper could be more dangerous because it originated from a Scientology member (M$ certainly does have the full sources and compiled them themselves, further, a defragmenting solution does have less access to your data than a video driver), this anti-hype could actually lead to the conclusion that every proprietary software is potentially dangerous: If you can't look at the sources, you can never know what the software really does - whether it is from Scientology, Microsoft or the NSA does not matter then. Don't trust an operating system you don't have sources for.

    That the German government is discovering this at the same time they discover that Open Source software is less expensive and better is maybe coincidence, maybe not.

  • (Actually, the only German term is Opensourcesoftware or Open-Source-Software, ie adapted spelling, but there's no German word for it.)
  • Actually English (250,000+) has over twice as many words as German.

    Well, if you count kindergarten as an English word, but not as a German word (because it is just composed of Kind[er] and Garten)...

  • First the French, then the Germans and tomorrow the WORLD.

    Nope. Tomorrow is the European Union [eu.int]'s turn. With the French and the German gov't supporting OSS, this should be a snap.

    The World will take until next week...

  • It was not the government decision to do this mp3 block thingy It is just something the recording industry would like to see implemented, but I personally doubt that it would ever clear legal hurdles (or be immediately overturned by the Bundesverfassungsgericht (=German Supreme Court))
  • I think that real life could use some more of the open source mind ... It comes very close to real democracy, in contrary to what most governments try to make of it ...
  • Well, I read a little about that scientology on that page and it sounds like any other religion I have seen. The only difference is the motives, and I don't think that changes the outcome at all.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Linux and FreeBSD and accompanying Free or commercial software provide a stable, cheap, low-on-resources, safe and sufficiently supported environment...

    Stable, low-on-resources, safe. These are key words, folks. These comments reinforce the point that many in the open source community make that, rather than chase Microsoft, we must "stay the course" - continuing to produce tools that are of the highest quality in all respects.

    Kudos go to the multitude of open source contributors (and let's not forget the folks who document the stuff, as well!) whose efforts have resulted in such high praise from the German Ministry of the Interior!

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Strange. I'm a German and I'm fascinated by the progress our government has made since it was elected in 1998. But now, I'll leave this great country because of monetary reasons (hi USA!).

    I'll certainly miss the open and liberal minds of our politicians. The old government was crying for more control of the Internet while the new one gives money to Open Source cryptology projects and even recommends the use of encrypted communication channels.

    Why the hell do I have to leave for the puritan US government. ;-(

  • > I'll paint with a broad brush here.
    > A religious orginization wanting world
    > domination? Shocking!

    I knew that my original comment wasn't quite as clear as it should have been (sorry, English is not my first language).

    Anyway, sure, almost every religion believes to be the only true source of wisdom. Nevertheless, there's a difference (although we are going way off-topic now): Scientology has, by its deepest core, an unethical and questionable background. Read some background info about Scientology (both pro and contra) and make up your own mind.

    It is, of course, always left to one's own opinion what is ethical or not. Nevertheless, Scientology isn't (IMHO) a good idea gone wrong, it doesn't have some "jerks in it". It is a bad idea right from the start.

    ------------------
  • I didn't meantion that because it's debateable whether or not proprietary formats are "bad". You wouldnt want your encryption algorithms open sourced. A single "proprietary" document format would be much better than a free spec, that way everyone could build a reader/parser/manipulator that would behave in the same fashion as someone else's with a standard document spec.
  • Government agencies really ought to take note of GNU software. One of the biggest reasons is price, an office of FreeBSD or Linux boxes is going to be ten times cheaper than the same office with M$ products. Besides initial cost, the same hardware will be competitive for many years (many of the government computers in my city are old Sun machines from back when it was SunOS). Besides price there's the benefit of having third parties do the development and programming. A 50,000$ grant to an Open Source project goes alot farther than 50,000$ in software licenses. I think it's a great idea for government agencies to push Open Source, workstations and servers is what Linux and the BSDs do best.
  • Did anybody mirror/cache the page in question. It's dissapeared! If you follow the link now you get 'Not Found'

    Chris
  • This is interesting in light of the German government's recent decision to consider blocking mp3 servers from the router. Now, all of a sudden, freedom means something to them?

    Sigh... Why do people always assume that because a government behaves in some ways like a single entity that it in fact is? Governments are composed of many, many, individuals; they perform many, many jobs. Some people in the German government have the job of recommending the ways in which technology, specifically computers, should be used within federal offices. These ones are recommending Open Source.

    Of course not. Methinks they chose Linux/BSD because of the stability and price (beer not speech). All of this without realizing that it is the freedom and openness that actually make Linux/BSD good.

    Well, I understand, you probably didn't read the article, since it's a bit much for Babelfish, but you should have realised they're saying a lot more than: 'Use Linux/BSD 'cuz they're cheap!' As a matter of fact, they present a very detailed accounting of the advantages of OSS, including the key arguments of better security (through transparency) and freedom from control by any one corporation (never named, but in my opinion implied), as well as a detailed plan of how Linux and friends could be installed at all levels of the government. I don't know if this document carries any weight with the decision-makers, but it is a ringing endorsement of free(speech) software of all stripes. The authors are clearly OSS geeks.

    Chris
  • It comes very close to real democracy, in contrary to what most governments try to make of it ...

    Actually open source is more like a meritocracy, or do I suddenly have a much say as Linus, as to what goes in the next kernel? Not that I want it, mind you, I'm much more interested in working kernel that one which is voted on ;-)

    Chris
  • > One of the biggest reasons is price

    A good reason indeed, but a better one IMO is the open standards used by truly open software, which will let a government (or society) avoid the chains that come with having all their documents, communications protocols, etc. be wrapped in proprietary formats.

    --
  • > As long as you can convince the congressmen from the state of Washington or Virginia or any of these places that it's worthwhile not to give lots of money to lots of American companies, you have my support.

    Remember: all America was in favor of the SuperCollider until the decision came down about where it would go, at which point everyone but the winning state turned against it.

    Personally, I think that's a bad way to manage science, but at least it tells us a lot about state-oriented politicians and money. Perhaps we could mobilize the same sentiment here? What's good for Washington and Virginia is bad for the rest of the country, at least if you look at it in terms of sources and sinks for a megawad of cash.

    If the politicos are willing to fuck science over that kind of parochialism, surely they should be willing to ditch MS&AOL over even larger sums of money?

    --
  • Religion began when the first rogue met the first fool.

    So it was, so it is, so it ever shall be.
  • Sorry, I didn't manage to get at the original link in time myself. However, this has already been covered last week in this article [msnbc.de] at ZDF.MSNBC (interestingly!). It's in german, but I'm sure you all know how to use the fish.
  • "You must use NT" specifies a single product from a single vendor.

    "You must use OSS" specifies a whole class of products from many different vendors/sources.


    So I don't think the latter is two-faced. If they said "you must use Linux" then I would call it two-faced, and if they said "You must use SuSE Linux" I'd strongly consider it to be two-faced.


    I wonder if SuSE/Redhat/... are all out because they are not 100% open-source? If so then Stampede, Debian and *BSD will get a sudden surge in popularity :-)

  • A bit back, I submitted an article that the Norwegian was also seriously considering moving to Linux. If I remember correctly, their decision was not only based on the fact that Linux is free, but that, in switching to Linux, they would be reducing or eliminating their dependence on Microsoft, a U.S. company.

    Chris Hagar
  • As far as I could pick out from what has been going on at /. and from Bruce Schenier's (I hope I spelled it correctly) book on the DDJ CD, the real security is in the keys. The algorithm should be public, and subject to public (at least peer) review. Closed source algorithms are merely security through obscurity, not good enough when it counts most.
    And with respect to the spec, if your implementation is consistent with the specifications, then any program should be able to read the document properly. If the implementation is inconsistent, then its a situation like having a new proprietary format, bad for all of us.
  • More seriously, if they accept taxes in free-form ASCII, and you've got a version of vi new enough to support umlauts (or you're willing to do EMACS), maybe it'll work. Much more likely that they'd want some kind of spreadsheet form (no macros, please! :-), or XML notation, or something that handles name/value pairs.


    The other obvious format is bitmap, e.g. G3 Fax or GIF (if they've fixed the patent silliness), or PBM/PNM/etc.

  • I would have posted the entire article but my boss would kill me if I /.'d our server ;-)

    Open SOURCE software in the federal administration

    Summary

    In the area of the public administration to a large extent workstation PC in the office area as Clients, more efficient systems are used also than servers. Many authorities are at present before the function of the separation of old systems. In the industry open SOURCE software (OSS) wins increasingly in meaning for the moment. OSS is used into authorities in the server area already the longer one and proved there than extremely reliable solution (aspect of the availability).

    During the processing of classified materials the aspect of the privacy is the center of attention. Here OS self-service impulse systems offer prerequisites by their special possibilities of configuring, on which in the Federal Office for security in the information technology (BSI) projects were already begun, which have the development secured PC and its safe on and integration into networks as a goal.

    In the office surrounding field with its special requirements at user friendliness open SOURCE software was however so far only meagerly used. With the development of graphic surfaces, which are not constituent of the actual OS self-service impulse systems such as Linux or FreeBSD, the open SOURCE page drew even however with commercial products. At application software, which puts to a graphic surface on such, there are in the meantime several Office packages as OSS. Among other things the package StarOffice of the company SUN for the commercial application is available and free of charge available for the OS self-service realm.

    Besides providers of commercial Office software portiert such as Corel, Oracle, Informix or SAP their products on OS self-service impulse systems, so that in the meantime extensive options exist.

    Already today the possibility exists of covering the office request completely by means of open SOURCE often commodity. A successful migration strategy must be directed with consideration of the available configuration toward a coexistence of the software of different manufacturers.

    Situation within the authority area
    The situation within the office area of the federal administration is coined/shaped by the application of officecommunication packages of a manufacturer. Besides is the information technology before substantial challenges and high requirements from the political area, whereby on a noticeable increase of the budgetary provisions cannot be counted at the same time. Under this edgeconditions shrink from many IT responsible person transferred into another IT world. Indicated as reason frequently to high costs of conversion, in particular too hightraining courses spends. The present situation is intensified still by the fact that for the application of the current in each case software packages usually new hardware is necessary, since the available hardware the performance requirements of the new software does not become fair.

    The disadvantages which are due from this dependency are various. The products are often expensive and of frequent release change characterized. Documents will usually stored in proprietaerem format, can by older program versions not satisfying documents of newer versions be processed. The use of proprietaerer interfaces makes more difficult or prevents the application of competitive software. User can not surely to be that the product range, on which it created itself is continued also in the future.

    In the past there were numerous occurrences, which questioned the reliability of commercial operating systems and hardware particularly also regarding the privacy. A deficiency of such operating systems and also commercial Office packages is that the program code cannot be seen. During the 57. The federation andthe countries formulated the commisioners for data protection assigned conference the data security therefore a resolution about " transparency hard and Software"[3 ]. They recommend to use the users of modern technique " only such products, whatever ensure a transparency of the operational sequences ".

    Also interesting:

    Is open SOURCE software safe?

    The disclosure of software alone means still no security. Because usually users, in addition, programmers, at all will not be able to determine whether a certain program is safe. Only a small set of specialists will be after detailed study in addition able. All different are thus dependent on information second-hand.
    Despite at present still open questions their disclosure is however the in any case fundamental prerequisite for the evaluation of the security of software.

    With open SOURCE software is fulfilled this. In addition it comes that the creators are always in particular well-known and attainable. For problems in the technical literature and in the Internet solutions offered [ 1.2 ].

  • It's not the first time they're saying OSS is good (which of course is a good thing), but they don't ever act on it.
    Every time I get a new passport or something I look at their screens, and they're still running on SuckOS (NT 3.51 last time I was there).
  • Of course they should use open source instead of commercial software since it's saving tax payer money and is ultimately more reliable (which means more efficient employees).

    I am giving you the benefit of the doubt and assume that you just forgot to put the smileys at the right places, but this undoubtedly there are some of us here that actually think this statement has any truth in it.
    The fact that one uses open or closed source software doesn't mean anything in itself when it comes to costs. True, with open source there is generally no fee that needs to be payed, but to see this as a major cost saver is incorrect. The costs in any IT-related project within organisations is generally not associated with software nor hardware, but with the amount of man hours needed to complete the project. Espescially when specialist knowledge needs to be hired from third parties the costs are rising like the amount of Guinness in an Irishman on Saint Patricks day. After the roll-out of a project the cost is in the ease of use for the user and in the cost of keeping everything up and running.

    At the moment the cost of running open source based software on server(-like) configurations is probably tied with that of various closed source alternatives. It all depends on what you want, who you have working for you and what kind of other systems you use. The cost of open source on user-systems is probably still higher then that of various closed source alternatives. Most notably MS-Windows based products, but for some uses the Mac comes to mind. Even if one accounts for BSOD's and related stress issues, loss of working hours etc. A properly configured system is still a cheaper option then Open Source because the money for an organisation is in the applications and in the added value that a worker gets from those apps.

    Yup, it all boils down to apps again. Though i must say that in certain areas this gap could be bridged quite easily. Espescially there where users are doing data entry, where all data goes to a large database(eg: call-centers), most screens are designed espescially for that database. With that in mind, new systems in this area could be as easily build to work with an open as a closed source environment.
  • Uh-oh! These people clearly didn't read today's earlier Slashdot Article [slashdot.org]!

    If they did, then they'd know how "insecure" Open Source is. :)

    --

  • Is anyone out there actively lobbying the government to officially endorse OSS solutions rather than proprietary software? It seems to me as a taxpayer that I would like to see the vast number of government projects out there actively evaluate Linux as well as Solaris and NT as platforms.

    Alot of us are trying, believe me. &nbsp Most of us have OSS snuck in the background but contributing none the less... &nbsp The more "public" uses are seen at NASA [nasa.gov] with their Beowulf cluster [beowulf.org] and at NIST [pgroup.com].

    There's a FOSE [fose.com] conference coming up next month and one of the seminar tracks includes a session on Linux. &nbsp However I wish that more on OSS was scheduled to be discussed at this. &nbsp The timing of FOSE is really good considering all that's going on right now, but seems no one in the D.C./MD/VA area appeared to push it for this year's conference...

  • Maybe the reason is that the german govt. is afraid that microsoft will put in backdoors for the CIA and NSA to exploit Cant do that with open source
  • French gov have also a law proposal for *exclusive* use of free software (logiciel libre, in french). If it is accepted, no french administration could use commercial or closed source software after 2002. It seems the OSS is beginning to take over the world...
  • AFAIK Scientology is classified as a cult / sect here, and not as a religion. In fact, I think they are registered as a company. Furthermore, scientology is under observation by the internal intelligence agency (Verfassungsschutz) for allegations of plotting to overthrow the democratic system and for trying to infiltrate the government.
  • by Frater 219 ( 1455 ) on Monday March 20, 2000 @02:50PM (#1188755) Journal
    Please see this article in c't [heise.de] about Scientology [xenu.net]'s relation to DisKeeper. Please note that the headline refers only to Windows 2000 being "banned" from government use, not from private use.

    Executive Software is not only run by a Scientologist; it is a member of WISE, the World Institute of Scientology Enterprises [wise.org]. WISE member corporations are operated for the benefit of the Church of Scientology, even though the CoS is supposedly a "nonprofit religious organization" and the WISE orgs are for-profit corporations.

  • by WillAffleck ( 42386 ) on Monday March 20, 2000 @01:46PM (#1188756)
    Babelfish said that it means that the German Federal offices can use Open Source products. Not you, just the office workers. Which jibes with my rusty German understanding of the document.

    So, if you work for the German Federal government, you can go ahead and use Open Source software now.

  • Using open-source products is good government. In fact, I think it helps to mollify one of the real problems of most modern states.

    usually, when the government spends money on a project, only one group in the population benefits. Although this is often a large group, there are almost always some people who are left out.

    But with OSS, when the government works on a special program designed for one group, the whole community benefits, because the whole community gets free source. And more, since in the course of the project it's highly likely that the government-employed programmers will contribute patches, code, ideas, etc. to other projects.

    So, not only is OSS good for government, it also constitutes good government.

    Want to work at Transmeta? Hedgefund.net? AT&T?

  • by Software Cowboy ( 9112 ) on Monday March 20, 2000 @02:11PM (#1188758)
    When I was a govt contractor, we were using the GNU tools and perl on several Department of Defense projects because the were the most portable around. Of course these were Unix based projects.

    Is anyone out there actively lobbying the government to officially endorse OSS solutions rather than proprietary software? It seems to me as a taxpayer that I would like to see the vast number of government projects out there actively evaluate Linux as well as Solaris and NT as platforms.

    Not only would they be getting a high quality, low cost platform, the code that the government contractors develop could be fed back into the community. The govt develops a considerable amount of software and while much of it is specific to its needs, there are other areas such as infrastructure where having an OSS solution makes sense.

    If they used OSS software as the basis of building their systems, it would prevent a lot of the reinventing of the wheel and proprietary lock-in that occurs now.

  • by ContinuousPark ( 92960 ) on Monday March 20, 2000 @02:24PM (#1188759)
    In a somewhat off-topic note, Wired News ran a story [wired.com] yesterday about MS's problems introducing Win2K in Germany. It seems that Win2K comes bundled with an defragmentation utility called DisKeeper; now, this utility was written by a company called Executive Software and the German government has a problem with this because Executive's CEO is a member of the Church of Scientology. Under German Law, state and federal governments can't do business with a member of the Church of Scientology (maybe someone knows exactly why, I don't). So there were rumors over the weekend that MS was disclosing (parts of) the Win2K code for the German Govt to examine. Just thought this might be interesting.

  • by Hanno ( 11981 ) on Monday March 20, 2000 @04:18PM (#1188760) Homepage
    > Under German Law, state and federal
    > governments can't do business with a
    > member of the Church of Scientology
    > (maybe someone knows exactly why, I
    > don't).

    For more info about Scientology (plus a lot of English translations of the German governments' view on this self-declared "church"): http://www.xenu.net/

    Quote: L. Ron Hubbard (founder of Scientology): "Writing for a penny a word is ridiculous. If a man really wants to make a million dollars, the best way would be to start his own religion"

    To sum it up: Scientology claims to be a church, but Germany (among others) does not grant this organization this status and generally calls Scientology's beliefs and practices unconstitutional.

    The German government sees Scientology as an oppressive psycho-cult that uses its "church" status to hide behind laws that protect religions and grant tax reductions.

    Scientology, firm in its belief that it is destined to "clear" the world to make it a Scientology-only place, has repeatedly engouraged its members to use dirty and illegal tricks against non-members for the (financial) benefit of the cult.

    Now you may understand why having a core application of an operating system used by most businesses and governments world wide under the control of an unethical, mad cult creates a bit of an eery feeling for some folks.

    Sure, Microsoft is jokingly called the evil empire, but nevertheless, Scientology *is* an evil empire.



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