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The Almighty Buck

Japan Takes A Look At Open Source Software 298

irish_spic writes " Accorting to this AP story (in yahoo news), the public management ministry is setting up a panel of scholars and computer experts, including Microsoft officials in order to study the use of Open Source software in the government. The article cites concerns about costs and security as the reason for the study. Me wonders if they are serious or just trying to get discounts from MS."
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Japan Takes A Look At Open Source Software

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  • Haha!!! (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    RMS, me love you long time!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 20, 2002 @07:22PM (#4719736)
    Japan finds linux zealots, looks at slashdot. Japan gets scared.

    Japan calls Microsoft instead.

    The end.
  • Microsoft? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Talennor ( 612270 )
    And why would anyone being payed by Microsoft want to support open sourced software? especially when they'd get so much money otherwise?
    • Re:Microsoft? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by athakur999 ( 44340 ) on Wednesday November 20, 2002 @07:26PM (#4719766) Journal
      I think that's the point. The panel would be pretty useless if it was only composed of OSS advocates, as they'd only hear and consider one side of the story. The closed source side needs to be there to give them the pros and cons of closed source, allowing them to make a better decision. That's the theory, anyway.
      • Re:Microsoft? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by praedor ( 218403 ) on Wednesday November 20, 2002 @09:49PM (#4720533) Homepage

        Ya'll do NOT get it. The panel shouldn't contain OSS partisans NOR M$ lackeys. It should contain ONLY individuals capable of running an OBJECTIVE study one way or another. All you get with this nonsense are two opposing sides calling each other names (metaphorically speaking). It is a foregone conclusion that the OSS people will push the great benefits of OSS while the M$ clown will spout how great M$-crap is, blah, blah. No objectivity anywhere to be seen.


        An objective panel made up of objective individuals who run a faithful study on total costs, and benefits, top to bottom, money-wise and moral/political/freedom-wise.


        Anything else is bullcrap.

        • Re:Microsoft? (Score:2, Insightful)

          by x3ro ( 628101 )
          and where do you think you're going to find these magical people? :P

          objectivity itself is a nice idea, but, like platos ideal forms, is simply a figment - it doesnt actually exist anywhere. the only people who would truly be neutral are people outside the industry who dont work with computers. and they wouldnt be knowledgeable enough.
          • I am not a computer "scientist" nor economist, blah, blah, so I am not one to actually DO such a study but...though I use and love Linux, I absolutely could be objective. Howso? I am a SCIENTIST. I only give a crap about reality. It doesn't matter what my personal conceits or preferences, if the data doesn't support my personal preference for the answer, then that is that. One MUST accept reality. I would be quite happy on several levels if the result did favor my personal biases and preferences, iceing on the cake, but I am certainly capable of conducting an OBJECTIVE study no matter my biases.


            The data is the data, the results the results, it doesn't matter one way or another if they are to my liking or not, they would be reality. They would be fact.


            If I can do it, then anyone else can do it too. But this panel isn't setup to be this way. It is setup for partisans pushing partisan agendas with no desire for a true and faithful study.

  • The panel on Open Source is to include Microsoft representatives? How can that sentence even be written without laughing out loud... I'd have gotten first post if I could have held a straight face!
    • by b0r1s ( 170449 ) on Wednesday November 20, 2002 @08:07PM (#4720048) Homepage
      Would you rather they simply post an "Ask Slashdot?". Would you want a group considering adopting DRM technologies to only hear speakers advocating DRM, or would you want anti-DRM speakers to be heard as well?

      When you study things, you find pros and cons. Is there any better way to see two sides of a story than invite both advocates and opponents of a given issue? If Open Source is indeed superior, it will be shown through discussions from both sides. If the presence of MS representatives is sufficient to show disuade Japan from adopting Open Source, then there are obviously faults that need to be fixed.

      You don't study technology by gathering together a bunch of advocates: you study technology by pitting advocates against opponents.
      • My only hope is that the committee will be savvy enough to know when M$ (or is it M¥?) is being disingenuous.

        Of course here in the US we can easily discern whether this is the case: Just check to see if their lips are moving.
  • Ironic.. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by joshua404 ( 590829 ) on Wednesday November 20, 2002 @07:23PM (#4719740)
    The ultimate closed source society ponders adopting open source technology..
    • Re:Ironic.. (Score:4, Funny)

      by Dark Paladin ( 116525 ) <jhummel@joh n h u m mel.net> on Wednesday November 20, 2002 @07:25PM (#4719754) Homepage
      Now, if the article was about *China* or North Korea that would have made sense.

      But Japan the most closed society? I mean, come on! Isn't the national mascot an Italian Plumber?
      • until a giant evil koopa took his place(after stealing the plumber's girlfriend).

        nbfn
  • by koganuts ( 526569 ) on Wednesday November 20, 2002 @07:24PM (#4719747)
    Oops [slashdot.org]. :)
  • Does it matter? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Iguanaphobic ( 31670 ) on Wednesday November 20, 2002 @07:24PM (#4719750)
    Me wonders if they are serious or just trying to get discounts from MS.

    Does it really matter? The end result is more press, more mindshare and for them to come right out and say that they are concerned about security is just... excellent. Soon the rest of the worlds governments will all be running Linux and the US will become a technological backwater. I guess if I want to stay employed here, I should start working on that law degree.

    • Does anyone remember the Peter Sellers flick "The Mouse That Roared"?

      I think a few nations have been watching that recently.
  • by lingqi ( 577227 ) on Wednesday November 20, 2002 @07:28PM (#4719781) Journal
    Just some observation I have since I am in Japan and everything.

    Microsoft (or BSA, anyhow) seem to be spending a lot (i mean a LOT) more money here on "anti-piracy" campains than in the US.

    Trains are usually littered with BSA (piracy is crime) posters, and they have a HUGE (like maybe 40 feet across) sign in front of Shinjuku station (you know, downtown tokyo and all).

    At the same time, I havn't seen free-software related stuff at all since I have been here. It might be the language barrier, but ancedotally speaking, I don't think I am seeing the same % of shelf space devoted to linux than in the US.
    • Interesting.. I would bet they are playing off of the lower/repressed impulse to ignore/break the law in Japan. I once heard that in Japan, criminals expect to get caught.

      Regarding Free Software in Japan.. At the Japanese bookstores in San Fran and San Jose (Kinokuniya), there are translations of the O'Rielly books available. Plenty of stuff on Linux and Unix as otherwise as well. The material is available. Perhaps not the mindshare.

      I wonder what slashdot.jp [slashdot.jp] has to say about all this.
    • You know why the BSA spends so much on advertising here?
      Every company I'been at here has a major piracy problem - from the OS to applications. It's not condoned, but there's a 'nudge-nudge, wink-wink' atmosphere that makes it easy to turn a blind eye.

      By the way, if you want to see free-software related 'stuff' here, go to a bookstore. Currently, the following magazines dealing with free software are widely available:

      Software Design
      Linux Magazine
      Nikkei Linux
      BSD Magazine
      FreeBSD Press

      How many does the US have? Linux Journal, ummm....

      if you want to buy a distribution, Laox Computer-kan in Akihabara has a fairly good selection.
    • by pao93 ( 555117 ) on Wednesday November 20, 2002 @08:51PM (#4720281)
      I am also in Japan and work in a technically related sector. There is lots of free-software related stuff around here and if anything, it's at least on par with what's in the west. Most people I work with are pretty aware of Linux and there are a scattering of machines around the network, just like it was back home. In my own case, I use it primarily as an internal web and samba server for my department. Just walk into any book store and there's at least 3 good quality Japanese linux/unix magazines. Huge sections in all the book shops on linux. There's lots of linux and unix only shops in Akihabara. Sure, you see lots of Microsoft propaganda and the BSA stuff occasionally but it's hardly huge. I mean, come on, last week one of my trains was ALL (as in 100% of the space) Apple advertising and the next one was all GAP advertisements. I've yet to see the same from MS or the BSA (though i might have been lucky and not hopped on that train). Anyways, that being said, the big problem in getting it adopted wide scale here is going to be the same as anywhere else: lack of ease of use on the desktop, compatability with office or the other Japanese Word Processors, etc etc. And it probably won't be as cheap as we'd like to believe. This being Japan i'm sure the company contracted out to install all these systems in the government will charge a fortune in service and support fees. Trust me, having been involved in negotiating several major software contracts here, nothing comes cheap, even if it is something being run on OSS backbones. Hey, maybe that's what this is all about! Some corrupt politician is probably doing this to get money from one of his sidelines so he can afford to go the more expensive snack bars...
  • Does anyone else think Microsoft Employees would be bias? I think the panel should only include people who are not bias and experts in the field of open source and security. This definitely rules out Microsoft.
  • FreeBSD? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Gareman ( 618650 ) on Wednesday November 20, 2002 @07:30PM (#4719795) Homepage Journal
    My understanding is that BSD is fairly popular in some Japanese companies right now. A college friend of mine was the guy who translated the FreeBSD docs into Japanese. Linux might be a bit too political, but BSD OS's seem to take the conservative, stable approach. --gary
    • Re:FreeBSD? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Telastyn ( 206146 ) on Wednesday November 20, 2002 @07:45PM (#4719907)
      iirc there's far more japanese developers for the BSDs, so it probably stands to reason their colleages and friends probably know about them more. Very important for things that (at least until somewhat recently) depend on word of mouth.
  • Considering the present state of the Japanese economy, I'm sure free software is looking pretty good right about now to a lot of people.
  • by RazorJ_2000 ( 164431 ) on Wednesday November 20, 2002 @07:33PM (#4719824)
    Anyone who has read that cursed SP3 EULA, and is concerned with MS's continually increasing use of force over their User Base (read: DRM, activation, etc) can't be too surprised by this. Yes, MS products are expensive and for 15yrs+ have become a constantly increasing % of an overall system cost. Big surprise. It's no wonder that slowly, country after country is starting to either re-evaluate their stance, or altogether shift away from MS products.
  • I'm almost ready to say that Open Source is a perfect fit for government work -- it's generally cheaper to procure than commercial software (potentially as expensive in the end if you factor in TCO, but that's besides the point), more likely to support a feature set with stability (commercial software may offer more capabilities overall, but may not fully support your hardware), and permits software development done for the government to also directly benefit the people, something not entirely possible with commercial software.

    However, I'm concerned with issues regarding security. We have all heard the old saw regarding closed source vs. open source: 'Security through obscurity doesn't do the job', however this begs the following question: when does handing the enemy a blueprint of the fortress make guarding the castle easier? With Open Source, I'm concerned that not only are hackers being issued a blueprint for an attack, but that they can also build flaws into the system before it is even implemented!

    Irregardless of the benefits Open Source can bestow on the government, it brings with it a flaw of extraordinary magnitude. Witness the problems caused when the latest flaw is discovered in BIND or ftpd, or when a trojan is actually placed in the software people use to protect their system (tcpdump)! Maybe the Japanese are just trying to wrangle a better price out of Microsoft, but I think it's possible they don't want to be left unguarded a couple of months whence after picking the cheaper solution.

    Open Source is a bargain that offers far more than what you pay for; however, its track record with security is spotty, and who do you sue when things go wrong?

    • by CMRichar ( 610129 ) <`ten.imretrahc' `ta' `cirtnexe'> on Wednesday November 20, 2002 @07:42PM (#4719890)
      ...and who do you sue when things go wrong?

      is it just me, or is this one of those really, really american things to say? just that when something goes wrong, it's not "What went wrong and how can we fix it so it doesnt happen again" but "It went wrong, sue the fuckers!" (Insert rant about responisbility, parents, and Columbine here). Why is it that people cant possibly say, "oh, I fucked up, because i didnt read the freely accessible instructions, but instead have to blame someone else? just my $0.02.....

      • Your ideas are nice in an abstract way.

        But this simple: your boss comes to you and says "We are doing this new venture. You have to make it work. Here is your budget and requirements".

        The budget does not cover any new employees or positions. It covers not that much of anything. And it demands 99.99% or higher availability over the course of a year.

        Saying "well, it went wrong, oh well" isnt acceptable.

        You need a SLA. Thats Service Level Agreement. Probably more than one. You need one for power. One for temperature control in your server room. You need one for bandwidth (actually, you need two for bandwidth). You need one for your server hardware and/or software.

        SLAs have strings attached. Basically once the machine is configured patches get tested by the provider on a parallel machine. A strict testing program/regression testing regime is introduced.

        | This is all standard procedure.

        And when someone breaks their SLA - YOU SUE THEM. This is serious stuff. This isn't a joke. People pay money for this stuff. Linux/Windows/Solarius/HP-UX/AIX - whatever it is people pay real money for SLAs with this stuff.

        In a nice world, no one wkould ever need to sue. Systems would run, testing regimes would be agreed to, SLAs would be upheld. But its not. And thats why we have courts.
    • by xenocyst ( 618913 ) on Wednesday November 20, 2002 @07:54PM (#4719959)
      To answer and continue your analogy: Yes, we give the enemy the plans to the castle, but we also give a whole shitload of castle designers and defense experts the plans, and they go over them with a fine-tooth comb and make sure our castle is well designed. While this is more true in the BSD world than the linux world, the same applies top both. Programmers can't build trojans into major software because anyone looking at the source, who has the right experience, will see it and it will be removed. This is the basis on which OS works.

      Also note how quickly trojans slipped into major OS software are discovered, usually very quickly (matter of hours?) of the trojaned software being posted. Specifically, compare that to the (lack of [days, weeks, never]) speed with which M$ updates major security holes in thier products.
    • ..and who do you sue when things go wrong?


      Read your Microsoft EULA lately? Whom do you sue when Windows goes wrong?

    • However, I'm concerned with issues regarding security. We have all heard the old saw regarding closed source vs. open source: 'Security through obscurity doesn't do the job', however this begs the following question: when does handing the enemy a blueprint of the fortress make guarding the castle easier? With Open Source, I'm concerned that not only are hackers being issued a blueprint for an attack, but that they can also build flaws into the system before it is even implemented!

      This is a risk regardless (as opposed to irregardless, which is not a word) of the openness of the source. Which MS product shipped with the "Netscapeengineers are weenies" backdoor password?

      Irregardless of the benefits Open Source can bestow on the government, it brings with it a flaw of extraordinary magnitude. Witness the problems caused when the latest flaw is discovered in BIND or ftpd, or when a trojan is actually placed in the software people use to protect their system (tcpdump)! Maybe the Japanese are just trying to wrangle a better price out of Microsoft, but I think it's possible they don't want to be left unguarded a couple of months whence after picking the cheaper solution.

      I assume you mean "Regardless" (without regard or without regarding) instead of "Irregardless". (It's not a real word, but it would mean the opposotie of the sense youwere trying for if it was a real word.)

      OpenSource will almost definately get you faster patches (at least compared to MicroSoft's security-though-denial strategy). Also, remember when MS shipped a CD with a virus-infected product? (Does someone want to find me the /. story or another link?) You can manuallycheck for all known types of flaws/malicious modifications with OpenSource. With closed source you can run virus checks, but it's usually infeasable to decompile and look for back doors.

      Open Source is a bargain that offers far more than what you pay for; however, its track record with security is spotty, and who do you sue when things go wrong?

      Who do you give thr death penalty after a suicide attack? If you fall back on the legal system or the prison system, you've got problems. When was the last time a customer sucessfully sued MS for damages due to faulty products or neglegent design/coding practices? Spotty scurity is usually better than rock-steady-awful security. There's also a lot to be said for being about to do your own audts instead of having to trust the vendor.

    • when does handing the enemy a blueprint of the fortress make guarding the castle easier?
      When you know that the enemy can get a copy of the blueprints anyway. If your security depends on the enemy not knowing where the walls of the fortress are, he has a powerful incentive to gain that knowledge, and once he does the security is gone. So let him know where the walls and doors are, by opening the blueprints up for public comment before you break ground to make sure the design is sound, But make sure that you change all the combinations on the locks from what the contractor set them to, so even if the enemy bribes him, he can't compromise your security.
  • Talk about changing
    Lots of press surrounding us
    Big discount from MS
  • by r_j_prahad ( 309298 ) <r_j_prahadNO@SPAMhotmail.com> on Wednesday November 20, 2002 @07:36PM (#4719847)
    [...] the public management ministry is setting up a panel of scholars and computer experts, including Microsoft officials..."

    In other news, the farmer has invited a group of forest critters, including some foxes, to guard his hen-house.
  • ...being that they've been one of, if not the most, innovative nations in recent decades that linux should be their top choice of operating systems. everyone knows that the japanese are most intelligent race of people on the planet. if they got into using linux and developing for it, imagine the possibilities from there. the "microsoft-way" would definitely become a thing of the past.
    • Japan is NOT the most innovative nation, or anywhere close to it. Ask around. Japan is good at adapting, miniaturizing, or cheaply producing (read: efficient manufacturing processes/lots of hard work) items invented in more open, meritocratic societies.
  • BRAVO (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Yo Grark ( 465041 ) on Wednesday November 20, 2002 @07:38PM (#4719862)
    Finally, someone doing it right.

    For years companies have been pitting competitor against competitor until in the end, the customer gets the right bang for the right buck.

    Too many times I see Slashdot going on about how evil Microsoft and how great open source is, now thanks to Japan, we have a Showcase for PROOF POSITIVE what the world at large wants to know.

    Microsoft or Open Source?

    You don't think this is a testbed for something better?

    Committee Meeting, Day 1 9:00am

    MS: OpenSource Bad
    OS: Microsoft Bad
    Japan: Why?

    MS&OS: Shit good question.

    Justification is the key, and when spending money the way the Government does, getting 3, 4, 10 different companies via'ing for the business all leads to better justification.

    OS or MS: We Won the Bid/Implementation because Japan wanted this this and this, we proved we had it, they didn't.

    You get the picture /rant off.

    Yo Grark
    -Canadian Bred with American Buttering
    • Re:BRAVO (Score:3, Informative)

      by Xtifr ( 1323 )
      > MS: OpenSource Bad
      > OS: Microsoft Bad
      > Japan: Why?

      > MS&OS: Shit good question.

      Actually, I think the OS response would be: see here [linuxtoday.com] (the open letter from the Peruvian Congressman). And MS will probably have some dubious claims about how untrained monkeys can't necessarily administer linux/bsd boxes.

      But I agree that it's a good thing that Japan is allowing all interested parties into the debate.
    • Re:BRAVO (Score:5, Funny)

      by nicodaemos ( 454358 ) on Wednesday November 20, 2002 @08:38PM (#4720214) Homepage Journal
      Yo Grark ranted ...
      Committee Meeting, Day 1 9:00am

      MS: OpenSource Bad
      OS: Microsoft Bad
      Japan: Why?

      MS&OS: Shit good question.


      Committee Meeting, Day 1 6:00pm

      OS: If you look to page 3, you'll now see the pie chart showing server breakin percentages. It shows you that running an OS server will mean you have only 10% of the risk of being broken into versus running a MS server product.
      MS: You know, it's getting kinda late. It's a tough question which one is better, why don't we discuss it further over dinner and drinks ... we'll pay, of course.

      Committee Meeting, Day 2 9:00am

      OS: On page 5 we show a breakdown of virus propagation by operating system. Note how almost all viruses known to man are propagated by MS products [satirewire.com].
      MS: Excuse me, after that hard night of booze and broads, I thought everyone might be hungry so I arranged to have some breakfast catered to our session. Why don't we pick up again after we eat?

      Committee Meeting, Day 3 9:00am

      OS: Now on page 9 we can compare the cost savings of using free and open source products over proprietary ones.
      MS: Can I interrupt just a second, I've got an announcement to make. It's come to our attention that Japan is routinely devastated by attacks from Godzilla [gojistomp.org]. Because he's a concerned philanthropist, Bill Gates has decided to donate $100million dollars to Japan towards rebuilding efforts in the aftermath of these tragedies.

      Committee Meeting, Day 4 9:00am

      OS: On pages 18-26, you'll find a list of technical features that were created by open source products. On pages 27-39 you'll see how Microsoft included those features into their own products and then claimed how innovative their products are.
      MS: Japan, I see that times are kind of tough right now so I've gone out on a limb and asked Bill if we can get you a deal on our software. We're going to be able to sell you Windows at $100 a license, that's below our cost to make it [theregister.co.uk], but you can have it if you sign a 5 year maintenance agreement. I'd hate for you to miss out on this offer, because otherwise you'll have to pay the higher prices later. By the way, what's the address of your political committee? I want to make sure to contribute to your reelection campaign [opensecrets.org].

      ..... Post commission decision ....


      MS: We're happy to report that the Japanese government found our products to be more innovative, secure and cheaper than open source software. This head to head competition was brutal, but we think the better software won out in the end.

      Yeah, I'm happy someone's doing it right too.
  • Simple comparison (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mao che minh ( 611166 ) on Wednesday November 20, 2002 @07:42PM (#4719893) Journal
    The Japanese are very reasonable and straight forward thinkers.

    Microsoft: expensive, slow development for fixes, laughed-at-by-main-stream-media security, closed source - which further stifles development, foreign, you support a monopoly

    Linux: cheap or free, rapid and constant development and bug fixes, industry reknowned security, open source, it is "yours" once you embrace it, you support a grass roots movement of heart felt computer users and developers

    It doesn't take a genius to figure this one out.

    • by Valafar ( 309028 )
      This isn't directed at anyone specifically... just a thought that crossed my mind.

      I'm curious why Open Source automagically means "Linux"? Why aren't they looking at FreeBSD? If security and "open" code is their main objective, it's most definately a better value proposition, as it is truly "free". It runs KDE and OpenOffice just as well as Gnu/Linux does, and is more reliable as a server.
      • Why aren't they looking at FreeBSD?

        I would be they are... lots and lots and lots of BSD developers in Japan.

      • Re:Simple comparison (Score:3, Interesting)

        by HiThere ( 15173 )
        Open Source automagically means Linux, because most of the open source distributions that I know are Linux. Period.

        Any of the BSD Unicies would also qualify. So would Hurd. And I'm sure that there are others. But Linux distributions are the ones that I know. And they're the ones that I can "sort of" depend on to stay Free Software, rather than being co-opted.

        That "sort of" is a nod to Lindows and Xandros and United Linux, who seem to be trying to bury the "Free Software" aspect. Also to various patent lawyers and clerks, who seem willing to let large corporations patent adding 2 and 2 to get 3.9999987, or numbers close to it.


  • panel of scholars and computer experts, including Microsoft officials in order to study the use of Open Source software in the government.

    On one side you have the scholars and computer experts, and on the other, you have Microsoft.
  • by qwijibrumm ( 559350 ) on Wednesday November 20, 2002 @07:46PM (#4719911)
    It seems that a lot of people are wondering why MS is on this evaluation board. I am by no means a fan of Microsoft, but has the very name come to immediately spawn that much distrust in anyone who even hears them out?

    The reason MS is on the board is simple. As it says in the article, Japan doesn't want to base their (potential) migration on hearsay. Simply put, they want to hear both sides of the story. I know a lot of us have heard the MS side of the story and dismissed it as garbage, but not everyone has.

    Why do so many of us critisize somebody for trying to objectively attack a subject like this?
    • by Bagheera ( 71311 ) on Wednesday November 20, 2002 @08:09PM (#4720060) Homepage Journal
      Interesting reasoning, and certainly valid. I just wonder what "professional" representation the Open Source community will have on this panel.

      I don't see anything wrong with Microsoft telling their side of the story. But the Open Source community doesn't really have that "single front PR department" that MS has. How will the panel hear both sides, if only one side is speaking?

      • It really doesn't matter who they get for an OSS rep. The fact of the matter is any reasonably OSS experienced IT professional can make a strong argument for OSS. It takes a marketing pro to make a good argument for MS.

        And there goes that lack of bias I was trying to have on this subject.
        • I can imagine that they send Joe Programmer. He shows up late in ragged jeans and tennis shoes. He hasn't taken a shower in one week.

          MS Rep: "The TCO of running OSS systems is ..."
          [Joe Bursts in]
          Joe: "FP!!! Linux Rulz!"
          Chair: "Uhh... It's nice to have our OSS representative here, MS Rep please ..."
          Joe: "Look, not sure who ask the Devil to be here, but Linux Rox, ok?!"
          Chair: "We'll get to your opinion after we hear about the discounts -- I mean -- opinions MS Rep has to offer."
          Joe: "Dude, chill out, wagalimasta, k, brutha?"
          MS Rep: "As I was saying, running OSS causes you to pay more money to your own people in your own country. You should pay less and only 90% of the gross will go back to Redmond."
          Joe: "WTF?"
          MS Rep: "Excuse Me?"
          Joe: "I just have one question: Can you make a Beowulf out of these so-called products?"
          MS Rep: "Uhh..."
          Joe: "Look Mr. Chair, they're dead in the water. Isn't the evidence conclusive!?"
          [Now the odor eminating from Joe Programmer begins to infiltrate the premises.]
          Chair: "Mr Programmer, we're going to have to ask you to leave."
          Joe: "Why?! That tramples on my rights! I have the right to be like this okay! This is how I am -- my Genes preprogrammed me, alright! It's all about Globalization and ANIME, okay!!!!!!!!!!!!"
          [The members in the meeting room look at each other dazzled as Mr. Joe leaves.]
        • You can't tell me than any reasonably experienced IT professional will pitch solutions to clients; unless he is a "pre-sales engineer" or similar position whose job consists 30% installation, 20% short-term (make sure things were implemented correctly) support, and 50% marketing/sales. Most of that sort has a small staff of support techies at the home office that they can call when they can't figure out the diagram for the cabinet they're plugging in to their client's existing network.

          Ninety out of 100 techs I know do not want to talk to the customer; and are glad for someone else to do the introductions and teach the software. Except in a few cases, how many instructors do you know also code or work in network operations at the same time? It's my opinion...!!! I know a lot of folks that work all day and teach a college or certification class at night.
    • ...has the very name come to immediately spawn that much distrust in anyone who even hears them out?

      Yes. Have you read any of their recent licenses? Have you noticed their "benevolent" contributions to governments, and people who work in them? I can think of no reason to not immediately distrust them, until AFTER they have proven that, in this instance, they were acting honorably. I've notice that perhaps twice in the past three decades. And I haven't been certain about those. (It's hard to be certain just who they are about to ask for what favor.)

    • They should NOT have a place on the board.

      The very fact that there is more than one person to speak for OSS should be revealing to the Japanese.
  • by terkozer ( 521819 ) on Wednesday November 20, 2002 @07:49PM (#4719931)
    http://www.asahi.com/business/update/1116/005.html [asahi.com] For those of you than can read Japanese.
  • 16 Months time (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Alain Williams ( 2972 ) <addw@phcomp.co.uk> on Wednesday November 20, 2002 @07:55PM (#4719966) Homepage
    Did you notice the finish date for the study? March 2004, yes 2004 not 2003! It is not as if it is a big study - only $410,000.

    Governments when faced with something that they don't like often make it go away by commissioning a study, by the time that it comes out the fuss has died down and everyone has forgotten about it. I hope that that is not what is happening here. If that is the case, this is one 'fuss' where events will overtake the report.
  • Agh (Score:3, Funny)

    by m1a1 ( 622864 ) on Wednesday November 20, 2002 @07:56PM (#4719969)
    Somebody set us up the penguin.
  • have Ellen Feiss [apple.com] on the panel?
  • From the article:
    Japan lags behind Germany, the United States, China and other nations looking into or using open-source software such as Linux, which can be used and modified for free.

    I've heard about how Germany and China have switched/are switching to alternative operating systems, but since when was the United States using open-source software? The last i checked, even the Navy's fricking BATTLESHIPS ran on Windows 2000.

    Am i behind the times, or are these guys on crack?

    :Lav

  • Mozilla! (Score:3, Funny)

    by mh101 ( 620659 ) on Wednesday November 20, 2002 @08:16PM (#4720096)
    Of course Japan like OSS software. With names like "Mozilla" who can blame them?
  • From the article:Japan lags behind Germany, the United States, China and other nations looking into or using open-source software such as Linux, which can be used and modified for free.

    Last time I looked at the stats for various domains .mil (US MIL) was the only one that I saw where MS had an overwhelming dominance for web servers. (big surprise that they've had hundreds of boxes broken into?). .Gov was almost 50/50 and .us was only slightly better.

    If they were talking about the US government being behind Japan, I think that they never bothered to check the statistics.

  • This is ridiculous (Score:4, Insightful)

    by CableModemSniper ( 556285 ) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .odlapacnagol.> on Wednesday November 20, 2002 @08:46PM (#4720255) Homepage Journal

    I can't believe how many posts I've seen that go along the lines of:

    Micro$oft on the PANEL? ROFLMAO. It's not Objective! They'll never pick OSS! Who puts Micro$oft on a panel about OSS?!?!

    Meanwhile, all the posts poiting out how dumb this is havent risen above a 3.

    Newsflash zealots, to be "objective" you have to have viewpoints from ALL the sides, not just the one you want to win. The Japanese are doing the perfectly correct, and intelligent thing by including Microsoft on the panel.

    • by praedor ( 218403 ) on Wednesday November 20, 2002 @09:39PM (#4720498) Homepage

      No. To be OBJECTIVE does NOT mean what you think it means. You cannot have individuals with a known bias on the panel and call it an objective or reasonable "study". It is already known a priori what "conclusion" the M$ rep will have. It would be just as bogus to have Stallman on the panel.


      If you want the panel to come to a reasonable conclusion, then its members must be objective, period. An M$ rep is not objective. This panel is not looking for a real answer, it is looking for India-style "gifts" (that cost big in the not-so-long-run) from M$.


      If they truly wanted an objective study, they would have brought in analysts who don't actually give a damn one way or another, but will actually run an objective study without having an inkling as to the way it is "supposed" to come out (in favor of M$ in this case because that is the only reason to include such a person).


      You CANNOT have an objective look at the scientific evidence supporting the fact of evolution by including creationists. You cannot have an objective study on whether it is cost effective and good policy in general to use OSS with M$ reps on the "objective" panel.

      • http://www.m-w.com/cgi-bin/dictionary?va=objective [m-w.com]

        "... b of a test : limited to choices of fixed alternatives and reducing subjective factors to a minimum."

        Find me two perfectly unbiased analysts to make this decision. You can't, short of people who are completely unbiased because they don't know anything about the topic.

        The definition talks about "reducing subjective factors to a minimum" By including Microsoft as well as OSS adovcates they are trying to balance the panel.

        I agree with you about Stallman, but if the panel had been made up of just Stallman and the FSF the slashbots probably would be appaulding Japan over their selection of a well-rounded panel.

        Since you can't find a truly objective person you have to balance everyone's views. As an old cliche puts it, there are three sides to every story, your side, his side and the truth. Japan wants to find out the truth, not Microsoft's story, and not OSS's story. By putting members of both extremes on the panel they are doing the best possible in the real world to get an objective analysis.

  • You know... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by yamcha666 ( 519244 )

    It would be kinda pathetic to see MS stoop as low as to discounting their product just to sell it. Hasn't it always been thought that one must use the best tool for the job?

    If MS spent more time trying to make their operating system and other products the best "tool" in the world, then OSS would have no chance.

    Than again, it just looks like the nations are playing Microsoft just to save a few bucks.

  • We'll get Linus to Send the Beowulf Pengiun to wipe out Tokyo.
  • TCO (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Foddrick ( 13702 ) <mark@donkma i l .com> on Wednesday November 20, 2002 @10:05PM (#4720587) Homepage
    I was thinking that for non-US governments TCO is not as much as an argument as MS would have them believe. If using linux or any other open source solution requires staff to be paid more, then those staff will come from the same country. Therefore this will keep that money in the local economy rather than pouring it into MS coffers. I you were a foreign government would you rather give money to a) your citizens or b) foreign megacorp ?
    • by njdj ( 458173 )
      If you were a foreign government would you rather give money to a) your citizens or b) foreign megacorp ?

      You implicitly assume that politicians will do what is best for the people they represent. I wish you were right.

      In fact, politicians will push public money towards people who "contribute money" to their re-election funds. Doing the right thing for the voters does win a few votes ... but an expensive ad campaign seems to win far more votes. It happens in the US too (DMCA etc).

      In this case the "foreign megacorp" (M$) will probably regard a few $million, or even tens of millions, to key Japanese politicians a good investment, since it will make $billions out of a continued monopoly in Japan. This is what really drives political decisions. OS hasn't a chance.
    • by horza ( 87255 )
      If using linux or any other open source solution requires staff to be paid more, then those staff will come from the same country. Therefore this will keep that money in the local economy rather than pouring it into MS coffers. I you were a foreign government would you rather give money to a) your citizens or b) foreign megacorp ?

      I think the usual idea is for a government to cut its IT costs so that it can spend the money on other things such as health and education. If the extra cost outweighs the license fees, plus the cost of downtime through inadequate security and viruses, then a government is unlikely to switch (imho)

      Phillip.
  • I have to wonder... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Daengbo ( 523424 )
    OK...I swear that I am not BSing this...
    My long time student, the Japanese technology advisor to the Thai government, just went back to Japan, where he holds a fairly high position in the ministry there. My interaction with him for many months (on his request) was to bring up timely and interesting technical stories for discussion to help him improve his (already wonderful) English. We did much talking about OSS vs. proprietary software, DRM, etc... He was enormously interested in the uses of OSS in the government. Anyone on the inside know of a Nobuaki involved in this?
  • by dwheeler ( 321049 ) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @10:10AM (#4722299) Homepage Journal
    There is a Japanese study, simply called the Linux white paper 2003 [mri.co.jp], that studies current use of Linux in Japan. If you don't read Japanese, a summary of the material is available in Why OSS/FS? Look at the Numbers! [dwheeler.com] in the market share section. Look for the point that starts with "A Japanese survey found widespread use and support for GNU/Linux; overall use of GNU/Linux jumped from 35.5% in 2001 to 64.3% in 2002 of Japanese corporations, and GNU/Linux was the most popular platform for small projects." Note that this is the percentage of corporations using it at all, not the number of total machines, but it certainly suggests interest by the Japanese corporate world. Various other statistics are quoted as well.
  • M$ is part of this...

    I can save them the 50M Yen, the time and tell you the recommendation they'll give. "Throw money at M$"

    Japanese are definitely not incoruptible. Just ask the Yakuza.

    There'll be kick-back deals happening in the initial process of deciding on where to hold the closed-door meetings and who should cater the meals and "entertainment."

"No, no, I don't mind being called the smartest man in the world. I just wish it wasn't this one." -- Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias, WATCHMEN

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