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GNU is Not Unix

Campaign for Free Software in the Bundestag 317

mpawlo writes: "According to Swedish IDG.se, the president of Microsoft Germany is outraged over the Bundestux campaign. The campaign aims to put Linux in the Bundestag (German Parliament). He has sent a letter to the campaign workers - some of them members of the German parliament - stating that Microsoft is not a threat to democratic values (as argued by the campaign). Kurt Sibold also states that the only thing achieved through the campaign is a public slander of Microsoft." Also reported by the Register, if you prefer English.
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Campaign for Free Software in the Bundestag

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  • Poor bill (Score:2, Insightful)

    by lexcyber ( 133454 )
    He is loosing the war on software. As the years go.

    I think apple should port Mac OS X to x86. That would be cool.

    I hope the swedish gov. will do the same.
    Eventualy , move away from MS. Unless they
    prove themself beeing better but I doubt they
    will change into a more useroriented
    businessmodel. They are used to the money.
    But one day it will be gone.

    • Re:Poor Bill? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Saint Fnordius ( 456567 ) on Thursday February 07, 2002 @07:30AM (#2966564) Homepage Journal
      Swedish government? Porting the Mac to x86? Huh?

      First off, the first link points to a Swedish news site (instead of German newswires like Stern or Heise), but the debate is raging in Germany. Microsoft was taken off guard by this petition, and by the amount of support it has been receiving. Thus the "wounded bear" attitude in Microsoft's open letter.

      Second, this is about Linux on existing computers, a market Apple definitely does NOT want to enter. Apple makes hardware, and writes its own interface above Darwin/FreeBSD. In Apple's eyes, the OS is only there to sell its own hardware, not for profit. But this isn't the place to beat THAT horse carcass.

      Third, AFAICT the only one seeing this as a War is Microsoft. Microsoft is playing a Monopoly/Risk sort of game, where the winner drives all other players from the board. Apple is playing a totally different game, one where you win by being the best/coolest/owning the McGuffin. Linux advocates are sometimes playing one game, sometimes playing the other, but rarely do Linux users/advocates all play the game, or the same rules, or share the same goals.

      I personally find the goal of the petition worth supporting. My personal taste runs towards Apple, but I'm willing to see the massive benefits of using existing hardware (if for no other reason than to save landfill space). And Linux is, at the moment, the best option.
      Oh, some links to other reports, in German:

      Stern:
      http://www2.stern.de/computer-netze/news/topnews /i ndex_45450.html

      Spiegel:
      http://www.spiegel.de/netzwelt/politik/0,1518,18 02 42,00.html
      http://www.spiegel.de/netzwelt/politik/0,1518,18 09 33,00.html

      Heise Online:
      http://www.heise.de/newsticker/data/odi-01.02.02 -0 04/


    • Instead of apple porting OSX to x86, it would be better for users of Linux to improve the Desktop on Linux until its as good and eventually better than OSX.
    • Re:Poor bill (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Arnulf ( 541551 )
      Are you implying Microsoft will dwindle and be a 'normal' player in the market in the future?

      I think nobody can state this with certainty. There are too many variables in the 'equation'.

      So to speak.

      For once there is the .NET campaign. While the idea of a common development platform accessible by almost any language (that has a compiler for it) is brilliant; -- The thought of Microsoft controlling the Intermediate Language (some sort of Esperanto for developers, only one-way) gives me the shudders. I mean: instead of processor manufacturers giving out C-compilers for their architectures, Microsoft could dictate to processor manufacturers, which instructions would be supported or not. Okay, this is only a worst case scenario. I'm probably way off here.. hopefully. ;)

      Windows will not go away so easily. If Microsoft is successful pushing .NET, maybe they could also introduce their own version of a network protocol stack, that could gradually replace IP. Again, this is wildly speculative. But none the less, it could be possible.

      Back to Topic:
      Bundestux.de has made some quite bold statements. I don't know if this will help them. On the other hand, if they act too timid they'd be ignored for sure. While I like the idea. If they reach their goal, it could backlash: dedicated MS Windows users will feel discriminated. That's for sure.

      Unfortunately I don't know a solution. Maybe they should leave the choice to the members of parliament themselves. If some decide to use Windows, or Linux, or MacOS in their own offices, let them.

      What do I hate about Microsoft? And why do I hate Microsoft? I mean, I bought (legally, no pirating) licenses for DOS5, DOS6, DOS6.22, Win3.1, Win95, Win95b, Win95OSR2, Win98, Win98SE! I have the handbooks and keys to prove it! In the last 10 years I assembled about five PCs and installed all these OS's by hand. Granted, I've also installed FreeBSD and got a stack of FreeBSD versions (from 1.0 till 3.1). And the computer I'm typing this on is an iMac (not the new one) running OSX.2.

      But I'm a sucker for computer games, especially for the PC, and Windows is the platform where most of my coveted games are running on.

      So why do I hate Microsoft?

      Because they almost force me to 'upgrade'! Which is a misnomer, because I have to acquire a new license each time. As I perceive it, they use their OS and their applications as leverage. Like a knife where its handle and blade is replaced turn by turn.

      They introduce new features in their next office package. Because Windows has to run this, they introduce a new Windows version to cope with these new features. Then they have to improve the new Windows version, because it is always buggy on a new release. This, of course, leads to a new Office version, which interfaces with the improved Windows version better. And nobody can stay behind. Everybody has to keep the pace, because newer versions of MS Word have a hard time reading documents written with older versions of MS Word.

      This is especially true with environments like parliament offices, where I think document exchange is important. It is certainly possible to exchange documents between different versions of MS Word, but I think MS is speculating on lazyness and peer pressure here. ("please upgrade, I'm sick of manually converting your old stuff to read it ...")

      And I have to tag along. Despite not even using any Office package! I'm using my PCs for gaming only! To make matters worse, the next big thing is published by Microsoft itself: Dungeon Siege. ARRGH!

  • by MrBandersnatch ( 544818 ) on Thursday February 07, 2002 @06:42AM (#2966437)
    should be using open source software. Yeah Germany. Apart from the fact that open source software IS of good enough quality now to be practicle to use and deploy it would save the tax payer MILLIONS of (£$E) every year, create a host of jobs AND improve the very software that was being deployed.

    Time to hassle my MP ;)
    • should be using open source software. Yeah Germany.

      Without the source how can a government be sure that the software cannot be used to spy on them or to be used to attack them? Also governments hold onto inforation for a long time, such things as census data are held for a century before being relased. Wouldn't do much good if in the future it was a case of "Here's the 2011 census, but no-one had been able to read it since 2015"
      • Without the source how can a government be sure that the software cannot be used to spy on them

        They cannot, indeed there is plently of evidence the Microsoft have already installed a backdoor in the CryptoAPI, as part of the US Government Echelon project.

        NSA key to Windows: an open question
        http://www.cnn.com/TECH/computing/9909/03/window s. nsa.02/

        Eavesdropping on the Planet
        http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/Blum/Eavesdrop pi ngPlanet_RS.html

        Microsoft collaborating with US spymasters
        http://www.theregister.co.uk/content/archive/659 8. html

        http://www.google.co.uk/search?hl=en&safe=active &q =_NSAKEY+Key+Microsoft+CryptoAPI&btnG=Google+Searc h&meta=
    • Some figures on the total software development spend of the BIG governments would be interesting - but on a 10 minute search I can't find ANY info.

      I assume its huge. If all the work on systems NOT involving national security (for obvious reasons) were made open source and free these budgets would be creating a vast resource.
      • I assume its huge. If all the work on systems NOT involving national security (for obvious reasons) were made open source and free these budgets would be creating a vast resource.

        Probably even more important that systems which do involve national security exclude proprietary software. Especially from foreign companies or any which could become foreign owned in the future.
    • by ackthpt ( 218170 ) on Thursday February 07, 2002 @09:22AM (#2966885) Homepage Journal
      Ok, let's enumerate the advantages

      Source is open, no sneaky CIA or Microsoft or script kiddies spying on formative legislation, intelligence, etc.

      Saves big zorkmids on license fees (the tender spot for M$, government is a HUGE customer and can establish the trend for business and education software standards used, see all those zorkmids departing the pocketbook)

      Costs some zorkmids for support and mods, but you actually get support and mods you want, rather that support and mods the closed vendor feels like providing you, creating competition in the support market (a GoodThing)

      Built-in extortion of government having to "upgrade" (and shell out really big zorkmids) every few years for upgrades because M$ announces it will no longer support Windows n

      Customer driven market. What the customer wants/needs isn't anticipated (and turned out in an incarnationof one-size-fits all), but tailored to the needs of the customer. If the Bundestag says "we want x that does y, in z way, then someone can step up and do it, it may take time, but of course others can benefit as it adds to open source.

      As to suggestions that open source isn't good quality or pracicable (muchly as part of M$ whispering campaign against Linux, Open Source, etc.), much of that would be addressed by an expanding market.

      If it succeeds, props to the Bundestag, way to show some moxie!

    • it would save the tax payer MILLIONS of (£$E) every year, create a host of jobs

      Ummm... contradiction anyone? I mean, I can see how it would save the taxpayers money initially, because they don't have to pay licensing fees. However, if it creates jobs in the government IT sector, how is that going to save them money? It will only save them money if the licensing fees exceed the salaries of the additional workers (this is the same old TCO debate, no need to re-hash it).

      The other economic factor is the all-too-often neglected factor: boredom. From time-to-time, economies get bored, and then they become depressed because they have nothing to do. So far, the only answers we've found are socialism (New Deal, WPA, CCC, TVA etc.) and militarism (Nazis, Italian Fascists, etc.). Militarism has the virtue of providing a quick fix by reducing the number of job applicants and giving workers something to do after the conflict (rebuilding). Socialism has the virtue of killing people more slowly and in an apparently civilized manner (increased alcoholism and obesity of people on the doll, inferior socialized medecine, etc). The FDR brand of socialism was really not as bad as the wealth-transfer version used in the "great society". A lot of the New Deal projects actually produced work of enduring quality.

      So, the real question is what will we *do* when Microsoft isn't there to tax and spend? Do you really think the government's tax and spend will be better than MSFTs? When was the last time MSFT plowed billions of dollars into a missile program? I say, down with the EU, up with MSFT. Buy your MSFT shares today, and join the Monetary Democratic Republic of Microsoft. Vote for officers that you can trust. They promise citizens that they will use your tax dollars to create cool things like the X-box, and not build any weapons systems unless their competitors force them too.

      Do it today! Your company is calling you. Don't let the Germans get bored again!!!

  • Choosing software JUST because it's open sourced is just as bad as choosing software just because it's closed.

    The proper way to choose software is by looking at the individual problems you are trying to solve and deciding what will best fit.

    and anyway, how did you THINK Microsoft was going to respond?
    • by Black Parrot ( 19622 ) on Thursday February 07, 2002 @07:31AM (#2966573)


      > Choosing software JUST because it's open sourced is just as bad as choosing software just because it's closed.

      Perhaps "just because it's open sourced" is merely shorthand for "just because of several things that immediately follow from being open sourced", namely -

      • auditability (for spyware), and
      • maintainability (for when you need something the vendor doesn't care to offer, or when the vendor isn't quick enough to close a known exploit), and
      • not having to go down with the ship if the vendor enrons.
      Those sound like excellent reasons for choosing a product in the current business environment.

      • not having to go down with the ship if the vendor enrons.

        What an excellent use of the word! I propose we lobby the OED to include "enron" as a new verb in the next edition :-) I enron, you enron, he enrons, they enron etc...

    • Choosing software JUST because it's open sourced is just as bad as choosing software just because it's closed.

      No it isn't. Not if you're a government: it's a really bad idea to give a commercial entity complete control over all of your documents (which are, or should be, public). I'm no open source / free software zealot by a long stretch of the imagination, but I've never understood why governments do this. IMHO, your public responsibilities as a government agency far outweigh the reduced ease of use civil servants may experience when working with something that isn't Microsoft.
      • Not if you're a government: it's a really bad idea to give a commercial entity complete control over all of your documents (which are, or should be, public)

        It's a bad idea even if the commercial entity is based in your country, it's an even worst idea to do this with a foreign owned commercial entity.
        Quite often government data is kept private for a period of time, then made public. The last thing you want is for this data to end up in a format which is 10, 20, 50, 100 years obsolete....

        I've never understood why governments do this. IMHO, your public responsibilities as a government agency far outweigh the reduced ease of use civil servants may experience when working with something that isn't Microsoft.

        Assuming Microsoft stuff actually is easy to use in the first place, which is debatable. Even the "everyone uses it" argument ceases to mean anything which the national government of a large country uses something else.
        • Assuming Microsoft stuff actually is easy to use in the first place, which is debatable.

          Well, ok, but at least they already *know* how to use Word. You won't believe how resistant "ordinary users" are to learning something new.
          • Well, ok, but at least they already *know* how to use Word. You won't believe how resistant "ordinary users" are to learning something new.

            How can they possibly cope with something like MS word, which has been through several different versions in the last few years?
            The same people would be made fun of if they made as much of a fuss about anything else.
            • The basics haven't changed at all, though. They've just added extra fl^H^Hstuff, fixed a few bugs etc. You can switch from Word 1.0 (Mac) to WordXP and be up and running in no time.
              • That's totally untrue, for purposes of this argument. If you're a Word 1.0(Mac) "power user", then you will be TOTALLY lost in WordXP, and have to relearn the location and names of almost every function you use. Since this is the case, you may as well switch to Staroffice or whatever. If all you want to do is type a memo, sure, there won't be any migration problems - but there won't be any to StarOffice, either.
  • by pubjames ( 468013 ) on Thursday February 07, 2002 @06:52AM (#2966466)
    The arrogance of Microsoft is just amazing. They keep trying to make us believe that they have changed their ways, but they really haven't.

    What will it take for them to get it into their heads that they are just a supplier? If I found out that one of my clients was seriously considering an alternative product, I would be there grovelling, pointing out the benefits of staying with my company, maybe try to negociate a discount. But no, Microsoft are outraged! They've been slandered!

    You would have though they would have learned from the Licence 6.0 fiasco. It's nice to see that the europeans (at least France, Germany and the UK) have the guts to stand up to Microsoft and consider alternatives. Why isn't this happening in the US?
    • It's nice to see that the europeans (at least ........ the UK) have the guts to stand up to Microsoft.

      Erm, from where i'm sitting, all I can see is this bizarre threesome consisting George Bush, President Blair and Bill Gates. And Mr. Blair is the GimpBoy peforming ludicrous ass-li.... anyway, i get carried away with myself.

      The UK gov have just signed deals with MS for software for parliamant and the National Health Service. Oh, but dont worry..... 'Ol Tony got a great deal from his bestest mate Bill.

      ffs
      • The UK gov have just signed deals with MS for software for parliamant and the National Health Service.

        OK. But actually I was thinking about The Infrastructure Forum, which represents many big IT purchasers in the UK, including some government departments. See here [bbc.co.uk] and here [tif.co.uk]. To my knowledge nothing like this exists in the US.
    • Time for the free software advocates to freakout over all the governments discriminating against their products by chosing Microsoft. It's disturbing Microsoft is bold enough to think that they have enough voice to oppose any hint of a drift from their systems and label it discrimination against their products.
      • It's nice to see that the europeans (at least France, Germany and the UK) have the guts to stand up to Microsoft and consider alternatives. Why isn't this happening in the US?

      Bear in mind that this is a protest against the German government's reliance on closed source (i.e. Microsoft), not a statement that Germany is open source friendly.

      Perhaps the difference between Germany/Europe and the USA is that Europeans are more inclined to take their grievances straight to their (federal) parliament rather than to their local (state) representatives. I'm not making a value judgement about either system, just mentioning that the USA is more region/state-oriented than most European countries.

      Incidentally, the statement in this petition that the UK is pro-open source is highly spurious. The British President - sorry, sorry, technically he's still known as the Prime Minister - is so pro-Bill that it's actually embarrasing. Some UK government departments have made noises about looking at open source, but that mostly seems to be a negotiating tool to get cheaper Microsoft licenses, just as the mention of the UK leading the way in open source in this petition is intended to stoke the fires of Anglo-German rivalries. Politics, all politics.

    • You would have though they would have learned from the Licence 6.0 fiasco. It's nice to see that the europeans (at least France, Germany and the UK) have the guts to stand up to Microsoft and consider alternatives.

      Sort of, there are obvious exceptions such as the UK NHS deal.

      Why isn't this happening in the US?

      Microsoft is a major earner of foreign currency to the US for one thing///
    • The US is a bunch of weenies when it comes to big business.

      We allow GM foods of shaky nutritional quality and proprietary GM seeds that wreak havok on regular crops by crossbreeding with them. The EU bans this stuff, the US says we don't even have a right to know if we're getting GM crops.

      Trademark lawsuits between legal firms and individuals with the same name have shown that, in the US, you don't have the right to your own name.

      Heck, we allow firms to manufacture torture devices for export.

      Why not let M$ run amok, too?
  • Trusted software. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by AntipodesTroll ( 552543 ) on Thursday February 07, 2002 @07:02AM (#2966491) Homepage
    Governments should be using software they can trust, and trust is earned, never gained.

    Windows has some good technology in it, and it is nowdays a halfway-decent product. The problem isnt windows, its Microsoft.

    You just plain cant trust Microsoft, one bit. You dont evven have to ascribe to malevolence. I'm not saying they are nessesarily evil, I am saying they are unreliable. Their attitude to fixing their broken and insecure software (whatever proportion of it you think fits that description) is poor to non-existant, and getting worse. And if they arent going to take the US government seriously (DoJ) then we know they dont even care about any other government, once the licence fees have been paid up.
    • Governments should be using software they can trust, and trust is earned, never gained.

      This would tend to exclude proprietary software, especially propriatary software which does not originate from within their own nation.
      Without an ability to actually see the souce code you'd be in effect asking a government to put faith into a foreign commercial entity. Why should a (not corrupt) government even think of doing this?
  • freedom (Score:5, Insightful)

    by daniel2000 ( 247766 ) on Thursday February 07, 2002 @07:07AM (#2966506)
    I guess the Germans understand "free market" better than the Americans, without a viable alternative there is no freedom of choice, if there is no alternative to choose there is no free market.

    The free market needs maitainance, if it gets dominated by colluding huge companies that can kill competition (or just purchase it) then the term free market is just an advertising jingle.
  • by Krapangor ( 533950 ) on Thursday February 07, 2002 @07:08AM (#2966509) Homepage
    It's not about Linux or Windows being better or cheaper.
    The US has admitted that they spy their allies. So why using an US system ? That's a raving security problem. You never know how much backdoor-infested such a system might be. And even code audits won't help with a system with millions of lines of code. They won't never find any decent hidden backdoor.
    The Linux question is about security not about money. However nobody admits this because they don't want to piss off the US.
    • Speaking from experience, the worst security problem is the users themselves, not some back door a US agency snuck into the software you use. Some years ago, a friend of mine got himself a nice old laptop that was no longer being used over where his father worked. As soon as he got it, he took it to me so we could figure out how to turn it into a portable music making device. It turned out that nearly all of the software was still installed and that no one had bothered to wipe the hard disk before giving away the computer. Documents were easily recovered by using Undelete. Needless to say, we were amazed at this ...

      the guy's dad worked for the Dutch military police!
    • This point has already been raised in the debate.
      As a result, MS has offered to disclose the source.
      This move isn't really too unusual for MS, and the
      usual (ND-) agreements would apply.

      But I have to say that I doubt that the necessary
      resources exist to check the code thoroughly.
      I would prefer our government to use Linux.
  • From the petition:

    * South Korea just ordered 120.000 open source office solutions and is looking to save up to 80% of previous costs.
    * Great Britain plans the mandatory introduction of open source software in the public sector.
    * The development of secure software with openly accessible source codes plays a central role within the EU commision's IT initiative "e-europe".


    It seems they forgot about South Africa
    • It also seems they didn't do their research right. Great Britain is *not* planning the mandatory introduction of open source software in the public sector.

      There have been a couple of initiatives examining the suitability of various open source systems in the public sector (as an example, they just started looking at open source as a potential component of the next police 'IT platform'), but they're by no means about to throw out the massive investment they have in all government departments, merely in order to jump toward open source.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 07, 2002 @07:15AM (#2966519)
    This is a translation of the open letter from Microsofts German Head, Kurt Siebold. I am native German, excuse the bad english, if i got things wrong, its my fault and not my intention:

    Translation:

    Dear Sirs,

    i address you with this open letter in your function as the first signers of the werk21 ( the originators of the campaign ) campaing www.bundestux.de. With some astonishment i noticed that you share the opinion that ".. the introduction of a free operating system in the german bundestab ( the german parliament ) would be a necessary signal for reasons of competitve policy, national policy and democratic reasons."

    In your declaration you claim that it is necessary to use democratic rules in the use of IT as well and you conclude that therefore ".. it would almost be the duty of a democratic country to use free software".

    I conclude from that, that a country that does not use Linux must be undemocratic or at least does not fulfill its democratic duties.

    Well, there may be understandable pragmatic reasons to vote for the use of open source software, though you will understand that from my point of view i have equally understandable pragmatic reasons to think that better reason exist to suggest the use of Microsoft products for the Bundestag.

    But what does the decision for or against a operating system have to do with "democratic rules" or "duties of a democratic country" ?

    Open source software is, as you mention, not in itself a guarantee for free competition, as well as a decision for products from my company ( Microsoft ) at this time, as well as in the past, is not and must not be a "undemocratic" decision. As the first signers you pressure members of the parliament to create real competition by making a decision for open source software as the only alternative.

    What you do with your support for this campaign is a public discrimination of our products ( Microsofts) and services to be a hinderance ? to democracy. As my 1300 co-workers in germany feel with such claims, i was able to learn from numerous e-mails. The impact this has for our partners, uncounted small and medium-sized software companies and with our clients, who do not feel limited in their understanding of democracy, i can only imagine.

    Therefore i apell to you: Let us, in the interest of a best solution for the staff of the parliament, return to a pragmatic discussion. I dont mean with that, that a discussion is only pragmatic if it results in a decision for microsoft products. It should though, be based on an assessment of cost and ability of the products and services in the light of the needs of the users.

    yours sincerely,

    Kurt Siebold, Microsoft Germany
    • by KjetilK ( 186133 )
      Kurt, in your open letter, you write:

      In your declaration you claim that it is necessary to use democratic rules in the use of IT as well and you conclude that therefore ".. it would almost be the duty of a democratic country to use free software".

      I conclude from that, that a country that does not use Linux must be undemocratic or at least does not fulfill its democratic duties.

      No, this is not a correct conclusion to draw.

      However, for a democratic system to work, nobody must be excluded from participating in democratic processes. Nobody must be excluded from disseminating information, based on whether or not they can afford a specific piece of software, nobody should be forced to accept a specific software license to participate in a democracy.

      Microsoft has historically, is an important principle in their business model, excluded those who do not accept their license from using systems developed by Microsoft. Whether or not this acceptable at all, may be an issue for the open market, but it certainly is not acceptable in the context of democracy.

      Free Software is built on other principles, and therefore, it is better suited for governmental use. Linux is just one implementation of these principles. You are free to make another implementation, and you are free to make other implementations of the same systems. This freedom is essential to fulfil democratic duties. If Microsoft is unable to ensure these freedoms, then Microsoft products must be abandoned.

  • linux (Score:4, Interesting)

    by sireenmalik ( 309584 ) on Thursday February 07, 2002 @07:18AM (#2966527) Homepage Journal
    My first real experience with LINUX came at the Uni of Stuttgart. Almost every lab/computer pool is running linux. I am sure other Unis here in Germany are doing the same. I dont want to flame but i recall the remarks of one German that a **** system like Windows would never be made in Germany, its too unstable. I can only agree with him as i see the Germans's passion for precision, stability and quality. You decide which OS come naturally to their minds.
  • by AftanGustur ( 7715 ) on Thursday February 07, 2002 @07:35AM (#2966587) Homepage

    The chances may be slim, and a conspiracy theory involved, but still, this [cnn.com] is a good reason not to trust Microsoft.

  • by Diabolical ( 2110 ) on Thursday February 07, 2002 @07:38AM (#2966596) Homepage
    MS has done this same thing for YEARS without being retributed.

    Now they are on the receiving end, they are outraged... in my opinion this is outright hypocritical behaviour... Perhaps they should learn their lesson. It is never EVER a good idea to try to look good by throwing dirt at competitors. The only way for them to go is to show they are better by creating better products and take a more modest attitude.
  • I believe the German for "Monkey Boy" is "Fallhammerjunge" according to Babelfish [altavista.com] and "I love this company" translates as "Ich liebe diese Firma".

    This could be useful stuff to know for the next convention of MS Gmbh...
  • Goose - Gander Time. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sallen ( 143567 ) on Thursday February 07, 2002 @07:54AM (#2966633)
    What's that old cliche`..what's good for the goose is good for the danger?

    I find it interesting MS is going so far as to be saying they're being discriminated against by comments made about Microsoft.

    Wasn't it fairly recently Ballmer and those of his ilk in the MS empire were saying Linux / open software was 'unamerican' and 'communist'?? They oviously don't mind criticizing when they're playing hardball or violating antitrust laws but if they're on the end of the comments, they're so offended and being discriminated against.

    Speaking of anti-trust laws. Though convicted, have they yet said 'gee, guess we did it.' or so much as 'sorry'. I don't believe they yet acknowledge it, even to themselves. Guess that's why I have little use for them.
  • ...the President of Microsoft Germany is outraged...
    Maybe it's just too early in the morning, but am I the only one who felt a chill at the sight of a totalitarian regime's name placed before "Germany?" Anyway, the first thought that came to mind was that a Microsoft Reich would have a Fuhrer, not a President.

    Going back to sleep now... wake me up when the discussion's over...

  • I don't have a problem with Microsoft applications and operating systems being used by the German government. I have a problem if the Bundestag install Suse and StarOffice everywhere.

    I want a variety of systems, ok, it may not be quite so easy to manage, but it means that your complete network doesn't get trashed because of one stupid vulnerability.

    However, in crtical systems (either because of availability or confidentiality) then I want open source. Even there, I would like to see multiple system types though, i.e., OpenBSD as well as Linux.

    Mind you, Microsoft applications and operating systmes are far from cheap. Buy them with OLP and you keep paying. Buy them as a one-off and there is a lifetime on the software before you pay for upgrades.

  • Microsoft (Score:3, Insightful)

    by buckrogers ( 136562 ) on Thursday February 07, 2002 @08:08AM (#2966662) Homepage
    >> Open Source software," he continues, "is not per se a guarantee of free competition."

    This is true, microsoft embraces and extends open source software all the time. BSD socket code and kerberos come to mind. But never anything with a GPL license.

    It is so hilarious that they are claiming to be discriminated against, after all those years of Microsofts anti-competitive behavior. I bet a lot of companies complained that microsofts tactics were unfair too. And the courts agreed. Microsoft is a convicted criminal, on 7 counts that are just short of the same charges that they use to put away mob bosses for life.

    Microsoft should just consider this to be an innovative method of competition. Open standards, learn them and love them.

    Fully open file formats and compliance with non encumbered open standards is the future. Microsoft has already proven time and time again that proprietary software with hidden code is not secure. It is more expensive and it just isn't as flexible. Every other piece of computer equipment got 10 times cheaper and 100 times more powerful over the past 10 years, but the software is no faster now than then. And it costs more, it is now the most expensive single part of a computer system.

    Of course there was a reaction to this inequitable pricing and the illegle tactics required to enforce the monopoly. Free software. The vast majority of open source software is written by highly experienced computer experts who are sick and tired of dealing with computers that look pretty but constantly crash and lose work.

    Look for computer science to begin rapidly advancing with open sharing and improvements to be made with total comunications in the precise languages used to communicate our intentions to computers.
  • I'm kind of curious that the the issues of ordering desktop PCs without paying for a Microsoft OEM Licence could be interesting. A number of vendors will still insist on you buying the system with an OS, which they will then refund you for, if returned unopened.

    I don't know how this works now in this world of preinstalled systems but it was a legal entitlement that several local people tested. Getting that refund wasn't easy though. Maybe the Bundestag will do better!

  • by markj02 ( 544487 ) on Thursday February 07, 2002 @09:25AM (#2966899)
    He sees his bonuses greatly diminish if the German government adopts Linux.

    Seriously, it really is an important issue if interaction with government entities requires the use of specific software available only from a single vendor, and that is what is increasingly happening. Microsoft can stay in the race by scrupulously opening up their file formats so that real interoperability with non-Microsoft applications is possible. But, so far, Office and other Microsoft applications still produce files whose format does not appear to be completely documented and that cannot be read and manipulated reliably by other applications.

  • Bastion of Freedom (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cholokoy ( 265199 ) on Thursday February 07, 2002 @09:35AM (#2966940)
    I find it ironic and amusing that America, which prides itself the bastion of freedom is now behind in seeing the logic behind open source and the freedom it is trying to uphold.

    A few centuries ago, America's forefathers unshackled itself from a perceived tyranny that now is at the forefront of a similar fight. While European kingdons then tried to consolidate their power over the conquered lands, America was leading in the fight for democracy that pretty much erased the power of monarchs in the 20th century. With democratic power being undermined by multinational corporations that can buy their way into laws that are favorable to them, I find it amusing that those nations that favored power to the few are now espousing freedom for the many.

    Before they were called monarchies. Now they are called multinational corporations. And the tables have turned.

    I wonder where this will bring us.
    • This is not exactly new -- the progression from monarchy to oligarchy to democracy to decline and a return to monarchy was described by Macchiavelli quite some time ago, and is observable in the history of the classical era.

      As Thomas Jefferson observed, people are willing to put up with all kinds of crap before they will get off their duffs and do something about it. For the majority of Americans, life is easier than it ever has been in human history; these are not people who will be leading the charge to anything except their own bank accounts. Revolutions are something that happens in poor countries, not rich ones.

      On the other hand, I'm not sure I'd say that Europe is doing much better. This is, after all, the community of nations that stood by while tens of thousands were being murdered in the less fashionable half of the continent just a few years ago, and I have noticed that the governments of western Europe haved rolled over on important issues every time the US throws its diplomatic and economic weight around. This isn't to say that the average European approves of their governments' actions any more than the average American does (excluding, of course, the current war hysteria), but standing around taking convenient potshots at other countries has a nasty way of blinding oneself to one's own faults. Trust me -- I'm an American, and we are world-class experts at this sort of self-destructive hypocrisy.

      Fight the good fight, but leave the arrogance at home.
    • The use of 18th century words are confusing in a 21st century context.

      The American forefathers' notion of "freedom" and "pursuit of happiness" has very little to do with what we consider "freedom" and "happiness" to mean. For them, it meant the freedom own and run their own businesses (tabacco plantations, farms, manufacturing, etc.) and not pay huge amounts of tax to the British government. Happiness to them was the ability to own a business and make a shitload of money without a government taxing their profits and regulating their responsibilities.

      The difference you are drawing between the leaders of America in the 18th and 19th centuries then and the leaders of America today is in definition only. Their actions are exactly the same.. the striving for the freedom to build big businesses that operate without government intervention and to not be overly taxed.

      With democratic power being undermined by multinational corporations that can buy their way into laws that are favorable to them, I find it amusing that those nations that favored power to the few are now espousing freedom for the many.

      Before they were called monarchies. Now they are called multinational corporations. And the tables have turned.

      I disagree. There is no "democratic" power in a democratic country unless you mean capitalistic power and military power. I agree this isn't very different from the monarchies of old. The only real difference is the preception of representation.

  • Domino theory... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by rainer_d ( 115765 )
    a lot of governments consider using OpenSource in different areas.
    Microsoft fears, that once a government (especially Germany, which is a very large IT-market) "falls" to
    Linux et.al., others might soon follow.
    And they know that people don't return very often to Windoze. Governments even less so.

    cheers,
    Rainer
  • One OS is anti-American the other is Anti-democracy. Who would've thought that OS's could evolve to that point? People are even voting for the OS of there choice depending on which moral value, license, etc. each OS represents.

    This gives a whole new meaning to elections. Let's just hope that politicians won't sue the OS's for unfair competition :)
  • by Cynical_Dude ( 548704 ) on Thursday February 07, 2002 @12:30PM (#2967973)
    A German Member of Parliament replied to Microsoft Germany's letter.

    Original (German) [spiegel.de]

    Google translation [google.com]
  • stating that Microsoft is not a threat to democratic values

    What part of public funds going to support a private industry is democratic? If a government is going to spend tax dollars on software, it should use and develop software that will directly benefit taxpayers.
  • Teh translations of the Bundestux campaign, including their own, are may be just a little harsher than the original piece in the statement about Microsoft in the context of Democratic Values.

    I may be wrong but my perception of the original German text is more along the lines that Microsoft is not an added value to the Democratic process, thus kind of implying Democracy would be better served with an Open System.

  • I just read on Heise [heise.de], that a study [heise.de] of Infora [infora.de] considers Windows as the better solution for the Bundestag.

    According to Infora, Linux indeed has the better server abilities, and should be used for eMail servers and groupware solutions in Bundestag. But for the parliamentarians it would be much better to stay on Windows.

    Seems like one of Linux's biggest problems again: It's not as good as Windows on the desktop.

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