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GNU is Not Unix

EU IDA Study On OSS 103

Werner writes ""European Commission Interchange of Data between Administration" (EU IDA) study on the use of open source software in the European public sector - you can get it in PDF or DOC."
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EU IDA Study On OSS

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  • by tooth ( 111958 )
    Interesting that they publish a study on OSS in .doc, MS's *closed* doc format.

    Why not just simple .txt or html?

    • To their credit, they also have PDF... But this seems to be irrelevant anyways, as currently their site only shows a white page.
    • Re:.doc? (Score:4, Flamebait)

      by pinkNoise ( 191176 ) on Monday September 17, 2001 @04:33AM (#2308252)
      Interesting that they publish a study on OSS in .doc, MS's *closed* doc format.

      Because free software WYSIWYG word processors are inferior, and because M$Word is the defacto standard in corporate and goverment officies.

      How many would have been able to read an AbiWord document? Or an OpenOffice document?

      They did produce a PDF too, so it's not like they are completely closing the document.

      Preferably they should have released it in plain text or HTML too, as you said, or RTF. Of course that would have lost the fancy formatting.

      Seems like we need a good open standardized WYSIWYG oriented xml based format for editing and storage. PDF and PS is a bit problematic to load into an editor... How good are the various formats used by open source word processors and office suites? Could they settle on one format to standardize?

      • what about the word in StarOffice. IMHO it is a better word processor than M$ Word, as well as it is free (or atleast it was last time i checked). Open? no. Free? yes. Granted RTF and HTML would have been better ones to pick, but IIRC there are some nasty things that can happen to RTF when using M$ Word (plus, isn't that one of their formats anyways?). HTML however I have never seen messed up.
        On a side note: why don't they just release the document in an ascii text file, skip all these unnecessary formats. Also, why don't we see more of StarOffice in the world?
      • by ajs ( 35943 )
        Seems like we need a good open standardized WYSIWYG oriented xml based format for editing and storage.

        AbiWord provides a just this. See the file format section of the AbiWord FAQ [abisource.com] or the AbiWord XML DTD [abisource.com].

        Enjoy!

      • Re:.doc? (Score:2, Informative)

        by gnugnugnu ( 178215 )

        > How many would have been able to read an AbiWord document?

        Anyone who downloaded the ~3MB of Abiword from Abisource.com.
        I dont think it would be unreasonable to offer it in abw format, Its not like Adobe Acrobat Reader comes as standard with windows.

        its beyond me hy they dont just offer it online in HTML and then offer the other formats for anyone who wants to print it (or even Zipped Html for those who want to read it offline).

    • by Hew ( 31074 )
      Not very surprising. In my experience, the PDF and Word documents (in that order) are the Lingua Franca of the EU for publishing and exchanging documents.
    • well, yes and no.

      Yes: .doc is microsoft's closed format.
      No: staroffice can open it
      Yes: staroffice is not OSS
      No: It should be

      With the advent of staroffice, I can now read all docs that come in the mail and such in l00nix, instead of having to reboot to windows or even worse, manually parsing the .doc to get the plaintext out of it. People should start publishing things in .sdw, the official staroffice format, and boycott the .doc; although this may seem hypocritical, because soffice is not OSS, we need to at least try to use formats not associated only with microsoft and their affiliates. Soffice is the first, and so far almost only alternative (then again, emacs is STILL better) to msword. The only downside to it is that they stole the MS interface...(which is also legal, btw) ;-)
  • The link leads to an empty page... Could anybody post a mirror?
  • by BobDowling ( 115624 ) on Monday September 17, 2001 @04:32AM (#2308250) Homepage
    The site requires JavaScript enabled. If it is not enabled it says that you should be running with Frames enabled. (D'oh!)

    This URL (http://ag.idaprog.org/Indis35prod/doc/333 [idaprog.org]) seems to have the fundamental page.
  • OSS advertisement? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by weinford ( 97037 ) on Monday September 17, 2001 @04:33AM (#2308253) Homepage Journal
    I got the first part of the set of PDFs, and at a first glance I thought it was an advertisement for OSS projects, nothing else. It reads like "KDE is the greatest thing you've ever seen". But fortunetaly it's not so blind and lists some risks of OSS as well:
    • Lack of accountability.
    • Reduced set of supported hardware.
    • Reduced set of business applications.
    • Lack of guide-lines. (meaning "which application should i choose from the 234827525823 different ones?"
    • No guarantee that development will happen.
    • Some limitations regarding high-end installations.

    Being an OSS fan, after this I was happy enough to find a decent list of "possible reasons" to use OSS in public sectors nevertheless, most notably they found out about Security and Privacy, which they even seperated from another bonus, Freedom. Did RMS write this report? I think it is definitely worth reading!
      • Reduced set of supported hardware.

      I'd argue that it's a different set of supported hardware.

      For example, my Acer Travelmate 507 and Creative Webcam Go that I want to use for videoconferencing:

      • Win2K: No sound.
      • SuSE: No webcam.
      • (As shipped) Win98SE: Buggy sound. The webcam works, but I need to keep my meetings short.

      You pays your money, you takes your chances.

    • "No guarantee that development will happen."

      As opposed to proprietary software? What guarantee is there? Well, with Free Software, if you can afford it, you can hire someone to maintain it. With proprietary software, if the vendor dies and nobody buys the product and dev team, you're screwed.
      • Lack of accountability
      • No guarantee that development will happen

      The other points I can agree with, but how are these points any different from closed source software? For point one, if you haven't already, pick any proprietary software license agreement, read it and weep. For point two, what kind of guarantees do you have with proprietary software? With Free software, you at least have the option of continuing a project yourself if it stalls. Granted, everybody can't do that, but with a discontinued closed source product you are fucked.

      Cheers //Johan

  • 'Political' Reason (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Spikelalala ( 521517 ) on Monday September 17, 2001 @04:51AM (#2308270) Homepage
    Vey interesting set of arguments from one of the pdfs. A very interesting political argument for the use of OSS. In interviews most IT managers expressed worries over a dominant vendor rleationship with Microsoft and expressed a desire for alternatives from independent private vendors. Doesn't this have relevancy to the Microsoft lawsuits, especially when you consider this was published by the European Commission. Perhaps the technology directorate and the competition directorate can agree on this and launch an action with the European Court.
  • Quality quote (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Spikelalala ( 521517 )
    This from the first pdf: "the word 'free' in free software is used as in 'free speech' and not as in 'free beer'" Wow, I never though an EU document would include the phrase free beer.
    • Re:Quality quote (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Janon ( 137970 )
      Wow, I never though an EU document would include the phrase free beer.

      Why not? EU employees get lots of it, especially officials.

  • Hmmm... (Score:5, Funny)

    by J'raxis ( 248192 ) on Monday September 17, 2001 @05:41AM (#2308327) Homepage
    So the EU IDA on OSS in PDF and DOC includes the FSFs GNU and BSD UNIX but not MSFT, MS-DOS or otherwise, because of the actions by the US DOJ over MSIE, even though they FUBARed the whole thing because of W.

    HTH.
  • Since the side seems dead at the moment, lets talk about something else... Several people pointed out that .doc and .pdf are not open source format. Remember, while the .pdf format is well documented it is not open to change.

    So why is there no open alternative to PDF? How come no one is using Postscript directly outside of printer-related tasks? PDF is good but there could be potential problems in the future, think GIF here.

    Not to be a troll but if Microsoft comes up with some new portable document "standard", someone will work on an alternative before they release the damn thing...

    To bring this back in topic, this sounds like a pretty good OSS idea. Right? Maybe EU should look at some XML-based portable document format with special "clues" for language translation since their members are from so many different countries with their own written languages. (hehe, nice save? ;-)
    • This is probably even more off-topic, but bear with me:

      Just managed to get the company to buy a Mac. This is for a 700 employee MS-purity site (MS everything bar HP-UX boxes for Oracle). Have to say the experience made me go "ohh" in a quiet little voice of stunned amazement. Incredible combination of Linux/*BSD internals with a glorious user interface, and the whole thing reeking of design and quality.

      However the relevant bit about all this was the rather groovy way the desktop is displayed, with all the natty minimise / maximise animations. Apparently this is all done on a PDF variant called Quartz [apple.com]. Seemed pretty good to me.

      We've already been hearing from AtheOS [atheos.cx] not using X [slashdot.org]. Perhaps (and this is where I come marginally more on-topic) there's some mileage in merging the current efforts on xPDF, or some open alternative, the great work on Quartz from the Apple fellows, and binning the antiquated X interface. You could allow for all sorts of more up-to-date features a la Citrix's ICA, e.g. encryption, compression and the like, plus allowing better app serving in the ASP model.

      Aegilops

    • How come no one is using Postscript directly outside of printer-related tasks?


      Don Lancaster [tinaja.com] uses PostScript as his primary programming language.

      You can do some really cool stuff with it, as is discussed at length on his site.
      • How come no one is using Postscript directly outside of printer-related tasks?

        Because it's an awful format. For example, if you have a document which is expecting to go to A4 sized paper, you can't print it on letter sized, and vice versa.

        • Printing onto paper *is* a printer related task. We're talking about using it for other things, such as screen rendering, etc.

          What I pointed to was the use of it as a general programming language. Don Lancaster uses it as such. He even builds robots that are controlled by PostScript (he calls them flutterwumpers).

          As a format instead of a language, GhostScript can do a lot of neat stuff with it. If I were grabbing a document to print, I'd take PS over MS DOC anyday.
    • So why is there no open alternative to PDF? How come no one is using Postscript directly outside of printer-related tasks? PDF is good but there could be potential problems in the future, think GIF here.

      In computer science and mathematics research PostScript is still the dominant document format. The problem with PostScript is that it gets increasingly hard to produce conforming PostScript with MS products. For Win3.1 there was a PostScript printer driver. By now all you can get is PostScript for a specific printer. And then MicroStupid will add some header that make the generated files non-conforming. The best way to produce PostScript documents is still dvips.

      So while PostScript is definitely better than PDF (I have had severe problems with printing PDFs, but not with PostScript files), there seems to be some marketing pressure to move to PDF. I have no idea why they are doing this, but I hope GhostScript keeps up the PDF support. Acroread on Linux is not able to print a lot of PDFs, while gs is usually.

    • Actually, Adobe has *published* the specifications of PDF, which is the primary reason that Apple switched to Quartz (e.g. they could use it without forking over $$$ to Adobe). Nowadays that spec is implemented by XPDF and Ghostscript.
  • Unfortunately these documents don't seem to present a balanced picture. The bias stands out so much that they are effectively useless to me to advocate Linux in organisations who I think would have value in considering it.

    Yet again, it is a case of advocacy blinding sense. :-(
  • there actually has been a wide debate here in Finland if public sector in small communities should switch from Windows to Linux because of the high cost of M$ products. Sadly M$ seems to win this fight - People are just too used to use M$ products. Sad indeed...
  • yeah yeah, they didn't publish in an open-spec

    i'm Applixware user (currently anyway -- i don't like staroffice's desktop metaphor, i want my dox floating in their own icons as first class apps)

    .RTF, while originally from Microsoft provides a decent interchange format

    but XML is it baby for interchange in the future

    that and it GZip's so nice with all that PHAT text in there ;)
  • My dad has worked for Unisys for 25 years, and has often commented how much they are in bed with Microsoft. While I will continue to read the document, I have a difficult time believing that the report could truly be objective.

    This is a link to Microsoft's Partnership Profile [unisys.com] on Unisys' web site.

    "Unisys and Microsoft have had a working relationship since the early 1980s, and a strategic partnership for over 10 years, meeting the information technology needs of clients. Today Microsoft products are an important part of virtually all Unisys solutions and technology platforms. Because of the increasing success of this relationship Unisys has been named a Tier 1 partner for Microsoft.
  • Oh jeetje. Dit is een test die minpunten moet krijgen.

Somebody ought to cross ball point pens with coat hangers so that the pens will multiply instead of disappear.

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