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GNU is Not Unix Software The Almighty Buck

Malaysian Government Prefers Open Code 210

Suresh Gnasegarah writes "All Malaysian government technology procurement will now have a preference for open source software (OSS), under the Malaysian Public Sector Open Source Software Masterplan. The masterplan's near-term targets includes: 60% of all new servers able to run OSS operating systems, 30% of office infrastructure -- like e-mail, DNS, proxy servers -- on OSS, and 20% of school computer labs to have OSS applications such as productivity suites installed. Looks like old Bill's scare tactic that OSS software kills jobs didn't quite work. Another victory for the open source software movement!"
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Malaysian Government Prefers Open Code

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  • 20%? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by lavaface ( 685630 ) on Sunday July 18, 2004 @02:13AM (#9729312) Homepage
    Victory? While it's a step in the right direction, I think the matter is far from "victory" as the OP surmises.
  • About Arthur (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Wtcher ( 312395 ) <> on Sunday July 18, 2004 @02:16AM (#9729331) Homepage
    As far as making a real dent in software sales there... well, let's just say that I went to four or five different malls in Malaysia when I was there and not once did I see any legit software offered.
  • by XMichael ( 563651 ) on Sunday July 18, 2004 @02:29AM (#9729389) Homepage Journal
    I've travelled much of the far east, and my experience has been that Microsoft has primarly dominated the markets. Microsoft donates huge amounts of money (relative to there economy) to forign university's which basically provides them with free Microsoft products.

    I'm suprised to see a government in a developing nation pass up on the potentially huge amount of money that Microsoft would willing pump into there universities.

    xoduszero []
  • by syrinje ( 781614 ) on Sunday July 18, 2004 @02:35AM (#9729412)
    Good for Open-source, bad for the world at large and for mainstream US industry in particular.

    Cost is not the only criterion here. It is a sad truth that countries which suspect/fear that the US will cut off their access to technology by issuing a Department of Commerce export notification are increasingly turning to Open Source as a viable option that circumvents real or prophesized export controls.

    Does that make Open Source unpatriotic? If it is, who is culpable? Is Joe Coder a traitor because he fixed a header file macro in an Open Source project which helps to bypass US laws? Will Ashkroft send his goons to nab Joe? What if Joe lives in Switzerland or New Zealand? Will Ashkroft still send his goons anyway?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 18, 2004 @02:40AM (#9729425)
    This will probably be marked as a troll, but here we go:

    You say it's all about choice, and that the best product will win, and then celebrate when that choice is taken away, and it's in your favor. Governments should choose the best software for the job, period. Not because one is open source, vs. closed source, that shouldn't matter, if the people of the government are paying taxes, it should go to the best product that does the job, for the lowest TCO. But again, if a government said 100% of the machines have to be windows, you'd guys bitch that it's unfair that windows was just chosen without a competition. ;)
  • I wonder.... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by cr0y ( 670718 ) on Sunday July 18, 2004 @02:43AM (#9729435) Homepage
    If open source is accepted within govt, and that governemnt starts pouring cash into specific projects, how many programmers will work for free if they see that the leaders of those projects are making money and they aren't? might send ripples through what we know as open and free....
  • by rossz ( 67331 ) <> on Sunday July 18, 2004 @02:53AM (#9729479) Homepage Journal
    Less govenment money spent on paying companies to write custom software, which is nearly always over due and over budget, is less money wasted. That means less taxes. That means more money in the hands of consumers to spend. Which means more jobs.

    You skipped basic economics in school, didn't you?
  • Re:About Arthur (Score:5, Interesting)

    by raju1kabir ( 251972 ) on Sunday July 18, 2004 @03:12AM (#9729542) Homepage
    As far as making a real dent in software sales there... well, let's just say that I went to four or five different malls in Malaysia when I was there and not once did I see any legit software offered.

    Not sure when you were here, but I don't know of any malls where you can't buy legit software (okay, at Plaza Imbi, you have to look hard).

    At the big computer malls (an Asian phenomenon not seen in North America, and no, Fry's ain't shit in comparison) in Malaysia there will usually be a couple dozen very in-your-face places selling a few hundred different packages for a flat rate of RM5 (US$1.25) per CD (which results in the funny situation that Linux costs more than Windows). Some of them are set up on tables in the halls but many of them are clearly leaseholders with proper shops. Occasionally there will be a "legit" side-business (selling mobile phone accessories or something) but usually they don't even bother.

    Side-by-side with them are respectable shops selling shrink-wrap software. I do see them making sales, so some people clearly either buy the moral argument, or they see a value in getting the manuals and support. The margins on the pirate CDs must be tiny, so at the end of the day the legit vendors may still be more profitable.

    Yesterday up on the 3rd floor in Low Yat Plaza (where I was buying a USB hub, thank you very much), right alongside the pirate stalls, I saw a 1.5-meter-tall stand-up display in the corridor advertising the benefits of purchasing legal Microsoft software. So obviously someone's been through there.

    On the main topic of this article, I must say it takes me quite by surprise, because I really don't see much Linux at all in Malaysia compared to neighboring countries (including equally piracy-agnostic Thailand). Maybe Bill Gates committed some egregious cultural faux pas while he was here last week (Offered the PM's wife a swig of brandy? Used his turn signal?).

  • by raju1kabir ( 251972 ) on Sunday July 18, 2004 @03:19AM (#9729566) Homepage
    The US government pays businesses a ton of money to write software. I currently work with such a company. If the US government decided to use all Open Source a lot of people would be out of work.

    If the work is useful, it is unique and/or custom. And open source offers more opportunities for customization than closed-source anyway.

    The Malaysian government choosing to use Open Source has just reduced the amount of money that will go to businesses and therefore employees. Which means lost jobs and/or fewer people being hired on.

    It seems like you are arguing in favor of specialized welfare programs for computer programmers who don't otherwise offer any value to the market.

    Otherwise there's no possible reason to write the same things over and over and over again. It's like having every agency in the government outsource their own national census.

  • by Corpus_Callosum ( 617295 ) on Sunday July 18, 2004 @03:29AM (#9729592) Homepage
    The US government pays businesses a ton of money to write software. I currently work with such a company. If the US government decided to use all Open Source a lot of people would be out of work.
    Commoditization of operating systems and other common software is inevitable. It is neccessary. Consider it infrastructure - in order for the really fun stuff to ever happen, we have to stop re-inventing and charging for the basic stuff.

    Let's let the industries based on re-coding the same old proprietary systems die so that new industries that can push the frontiers of computer science may be born. So long as the majority of the competent computer scientists and engineers in the world are working on new versions of Oracle, Windows, Solaris, Office, proprietary government procurement software, etc.., those new frontiers are just a dream!

    Personally, I say good riddance.
  • Re:20%? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by spektr ( 466069 ) on Sunday July 18, 2004 @03:44AM (#9729625)
    While it's a step in the right direction, I think the matter is far from "victory" as the OP surmises.

    If open source / open standards gained a solid 1/5 market share and was able to hold it, then the monopoly would be broken and no one company alone could dictate closed "standards". I would count this as a victory (alas, it hasn't happened yet in the area of office software). Especially because I'm sure that after this a landslide would occur, because the popularity of Office is founded mainly on its monopoly position - tautologically speaking: it's popular because it's popular (and doesn't interoperate well). The moment people start asking why the .doc they received from their government-agency / company can't be rendered satisfactorily by MS Office and the helpdesk of the government agency / company tells them that they could install the same Office package they are using for free - that would be the moment when MS Office becomes a niche product for fanatics.
  • by SmallFurryCreature ( 593017 ) on Sunday July 18, 2004 @03:50AM (#9729643) Journal
    Countries have said this before and some even are following through but usually it happens before Gates visits. This happens after a visit and an alarmist speech AND it hasn't worked at all.

    Poor MS. Why if this continues they may actually have to concentrate on selling a good product rather then scare the customer into staying with them. I am crying for all the MS coders who will loose their jobs, ignore the hysterical laughter that is just my way of showing grief. Really.

    Anyone know the travelling plans of IBM or Novell or Sun or HP?

  • by lavaface ( 685630 ) on Sunday July 18, 2004 @03:54AM (#9729655) Homepage
    The notion of open source software make the entire notion of the nation-state a little ridiculous. Governing solutions are mostly local. It makes sense that our tax dollars should go to open source--why duplicate a solution? Just change the parameters to reflect local rates.

    As media solutions fall into the hands of the general populace, we can expect the "fundamental" notion of individual countries to continue to erode. There will be a strong fight against this trend, but the fact of the matter remains: the governed will always outnumber the governors. The trick is that the governed must be educated. This is the difficulty.

  • Re:funding? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by GbrDead ( 702506 ) on Sunday July 18, 2004 @04:30AM (#9729740)
    Donating source is much better, IMHO.
  • Right ON! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by PotatoHead ( 12771 ) * <doug@openge[ ]org ['ek.' in gap]> on Sunday July 18, 2004 @04:34AM (#9729748) Homepage Journal
    This is exactly what drives me toward OSS. I want to see the change because, as it stands now, we can plot our futures on the corporate roadmaps and that sucks.

    Personally, I strongly agree with you.

  • Re:Able to run? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dnaumov ( 453672 ) on Sunday July 18, 2004 @04:59AM (#9729795)
    Havent seen much IBM Power4 and Power5 boxes, have you?
  • Re:20%? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 18, 2004 @05:05AM (#9729805)
    No, no no, nothing is guaranteed. This post reeks of naivete, fostered by the community here at slashdot. There is so much money invested in open source, we can't afford to have anyone think it's guaranteed. If you think it's a good thing, you have to accept that there are people trying to combat it, with good reasons of their own, plus loads of cash to help them spread the good word. If you forget that fact, if you ignore those people, you foster weakness. I'm glad we hear so much of microsoft's fud here, but what we don't know is capable of killing us, and this willfull ignorance is not a good thing for the open source community.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 18, 2004 @06:43AM (#9730033)
    I'm not sure about that particular concern. But you're entirely right to be worried.

    When Linux and other Free (and Open Source) software becomes mainstream, it will be swamped by capitalists using and abusing it. The people who understand and believe in Free Software will be a minority. Even the majority of people contributing code to the Linux kernel will have different motivations from what we're used to.

    Eventually, this will lead to code forks. The mainstream folks will be disatisfied that their wiz-bang DRM etc didn't make it into the software, so they'll all agree to make their own version. And they'll have the marketing to sell it. Sure, it will still be Open Source. And it will still be popular. But it won't be Free.

    That's precisely why RMS is worried about the term Open Source subverting the term Free Software: the fundamental point is lost. And, hence, Open Source is destined to be nothing more than a brief break between this Microsoft, and the next one.
  • Re:funding? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 18, 2004 @06:43AM (#9730034)
    Of course. Look at the kernel changelog. Search for SuSE. They got many people on their paylists that do kernelwork and quite a bunch of KDE staff. Other distributor should so as well and there are also other firms (big players and small fishes) that allow OpS developers to spend a part of their worktime to GPL/...-Projects.
    But I don't kno about Gouvernments. Many people only see the cost free but not the code free in the OpS Movement.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 18, 2004 @07:26AM (#9730128)
    Anonymous for a reason. As a tester on IBM's xSeries servers in one of their large labs, our focus is on RHEL & SuSe (Novell) offerings. Yes, we still go through the motions with M$ but there is a concerted effort on supported versions of Linux. The desktops are being migrated to Linux as well. Recently a lab was set up in Taiwan to mirror the efforts here in the states. Read the writing on the wall as you wish.
  • by zogger ( 617870 ) on Sunday July 18, 2004 @08:28AM (#9730250) Homepage Journal
    ... in the Islamic countries to try and create their own economies not based on pure interaction with the west. The World Islamic Trading Organisation [] is partly behind these trends in a way. They are seeking to develop sustainable economies not so directly tied to non Islamic nations and concepts, such as fiat(phoney) currency and usury based banking. Free software would naturally fit into this goal, as it can be "theirs" without a single legal hassle and it's just as good and freer to use, along with eventually replacing the US dollar as the worlds reserve currency,and especially in the Islamic nations as "the" currency. They created and are starting to use the Islamic gold Dinar and the silver Dirham [] for this purpose. They need software, and wanting to just divest themselves from the necessity of shipping cash to redmond and other closed source places in the west, plus to encourage local production and identity, it just makes sense for them to discourage (eventually) even the use of pirated software and just go open source. It follows their goals exactly in other words. There is a transition period that will occur,of course, but eventually it will happen almost completely. MS= USA in their minds, so they know it's not in their best interests to fund them. they will take what they will take, but they have no overwhelming desitre to keep paying the west for all the "things" they need, now that they can see the non western nations are really where all the "stuff" comes from, and that they the Islamics own the bulk of the worlds recoverable energy in the form of oil reserves. You are watching what in essence is a huge divorce in progress, that is occurring in many nations. It's just now really starting to take off, I expect it to increase exponentially in the coming years.
  • by WarMonkey ( 721558 ) on Sunday July 18, 2004 @09:52AM (#9730523)

    The poster asks:

    Does that make Open Source unpatriotic?

    In large part, that depends on your definition of patrriotism.

    The US was born from and originally dedicated to rebellion against undue authority. Now, on a global basis, the US government attempts (somewhat successfully) to BE the undue authority. This course of action is not in the interests of the typical American, so there's a compelling case that anything frustrating those aims of the US government is, in fact, far more profoundly and genuinely patriotic than the mindless drive for Empire.

  • Re:20%? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dmaxwell ( 43234 ) on Sunday July 18, 2004 @10:51AM (#9730840)
    When the US government started using Hollerith cards to do the 1890 census, they spent quite a few millions more on that than the last census. It wasn't that the cards were more inefficient, far from it! Those tabulators worked so well compared to humans sorting tally sheets that the government would do card-run after card-run to find say all farmers in the Midwest with more than 4 children. The equipment was just begging to be used and they used the hell out of it.

    Something similar could happen as FOSS takes more hold. As FOSS codebases grow, we'll see more and more minutely detailed projects from businesses an d government agencies. The so-called TCO may well go up some but the flexibility of FOSS will let the equipment be used more fully.
  • by zogger ( 617870 ) on Sunday July 18, 2004 @12:41PM (#9731473) Homepage Journal
    ... themselves-and others, under orders, and under the influence of societal and religious and governmental brainwashing. Hmm, Seems like I have seen that before... hmm, did they speak arabic?? Lemme see if I can remember... oh ya, I do!

    Nope. They spoke 'merkin near as I recall.

    What you are implying is over simplistic and not exactly what I was saying. I will attempt clarification. They are adopting open source for all the same reasons anyone else is, PLUS, by adopting it, it helps them to get independent.

    In-dependent, they are tired of being de-pendent.

    What you said, is true of them to a certain degree in the past, but now they know there is no future in remaining dependent and as economic colony states of the west. Of course they will do their best to trade to their advantage now, who wouldn't?, because they have been taken advantage of for a long time. Most of the nations in the muslim world have had weird rulers foisted on them going back to the turn of the last century, they are just annoyed with the western influences on their culture and on their lands and in their economies. They see no need any longer to just sell their raw resources for piddling low profit, when they can trade it for a lot more, and develop domestic industries. And all their populations need real employment as well, you expect them to ignore that? They can also look at geopolitical reality, they just saw the US take over the second largest oil fields in the world, and the largest concentration of fresh water in the middle east(do NOT forget that part in the iraq war, even though hardly anyone ever mentions it), both critical for nation building and for advancing their own nations. And they can add the sums same as everyone (except for most lusers who depend on the 6 o clock news and their brokers for data),and they know the oil will run out soon for all practical purposes,within the next generation, they can see as oil drops below peak and as demand quadruples in the next 15 years they need to do something about that reality, so they are entering a crash program of modernization, all over. any nation that doesn't will either suffer greatly or be forced into becomeing a looter nation, same as the US has become. For most purposes, that's what the US is now, a looter nation, we are dropping any pretense of manufacturing anything except for war and police/paramilitary *things*. These other nations can clearly see what's coming for them.

    Now they have the internet in all those nations now, and travel is common. Whether that will mitigate some of the more radical islamic tenets remains to be seen. You would hope so, but I think the US invading iraq set that back-completely borked it- for another generation, if it ever comes back at all. The young people in those nations were gradually becoming more secular and westernised, now they are returning to islamic fundamentalism, because they see no practical future for them with the anglo/us/israeli axis of maximum profits and command and control as their future-and who would? There's nothing in it for them other than what they have had for a long time, a 1-2% ultra rich transnational based series of puppet governments, or rule by nutjob fundies. The best they can do is to try something different, and that would revolve around developing their own economies, starting with more practical use and savvier trading of their oil and national labor pool, and developing their own currencies based on what they value-gold and silver instead of western bankers created out of thin air pieces of debt paper, and to use their oil better, which they are starting to do. For instance, saudi arabi is still the big dog with oil, but also is putting the most into solar energy and in advanced water desalinization. Malaysia is heavy into developing industry and manufacturing. Pakistan is developing a huge engineering base, and so on.

    Don't expect them to live in the past any more than you do in other words, they may be different from you, but collectively they aren'
  • by jotaeleemeese ( 303437 ) on Sunday July 18, 2004 @01:26PM (#9731686) Homepage Journal
    Malaysia had (perhaps still has, too lazy to google) a white elephant project called the "Super Multimedia Corridor" that was suppossed to be a hub of High Tech development and innovation (with things like housing for higtech employess with broadband internet, nevermind Malaysia is a country with stringent censoship).

    One of the advisors for this project was a certain Bill Gates. That they are turning around like this has a huge impact since they must be ignoring "advice" (i.e. FUD) from Gates whose opinions just 5 years ago were regarded as gospel.

    This my friend, is BIG news in Malaysia for sure, one of the biggest exporters of computer related stuff in the world.
  • by ShaolinTiger ( 798138 ) on Sunday July 18, 2004 @10:56PM (#9735017) Homepage
    Let me quality my position first, I am a Brit working in Malaysia for an MSC status company (Multimedia Super Corridor []). I shall be shortly moving to my new office in the intelligent city..(CyberJaya []).

    Our company is heavily adopting open source software as I believe many others are, we are using SAMBA 3.x as our PDC/File Server, FreeBSD as our Firewall/NAT/Router/Traffic Shaper, Another *nix machine in the DMZ as Tomcat/mail server, as the productivity suite for the Windows machine, Thunderbird as the mail client and so on.

    As mentioned above piracy is predominant here, the main reason being cost, as a poster above explained the cost for many things here is higher than Europe or America (if you use economies of scale not a direct currency conversion). Cars are expensive, housing is reasonable, food is cheap, technology stuff is average, software is EXPENSIVE. Most SME's here don't have domains, they are still using workgroups as the cost of Win2k server is prohibitive (The salary per annum for an average employee). Pirated software is easy to get (within every decent sized housing area there is 2-3 places you can go) and cheap ($1-2USD per CD). People do buy orginal software, but usally only larger companies and people who want to play online games (for example Warcraft III you need an original, unique CD key to play on

    People are finally realising using pirated software is bad, and that licenced software is too expensive to be economically viable and as open source awareness spreads these are becoming more realistic alternatives. As far as I know many small companies are adopting Linux and OSS software packages or at least conducting some kind of testing/integration. There are quite a few Open Source advocates and groups/mailing lists here: From what I know the state of OSS looks good here, there are regular conferences, meetings and things going on towards the advancement of open source usage in the Malaysia I.T. community. (P.S. frist psot as a non-AC)


A committee takes root and grows, it flowers, wilts and dies, scattering the seed from which other committees will bloom. -- Parkinson