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Why Open Standards Matter 158

Tina Gasperson over at Newsforge (Also owned by VA Software) has an interesting writeup about her experience at the Government Day sub-conference at LinuxWorld Boston. Government Day addressed some interesting issues including some of the more tangible reasons behind supporting open standards. From the article: "Speaking to the audience of government workers, Villa said, 'Maybe 2006 is not the year that Linux ends up on your desktops.' But, he encouraged them, if they begin using software that supports open standards now, such as Firefox and, then when Linux is ready it will be that much easier to make a switch. 'And maybe you'll decide not to make that switch,' Villa said. 'But at least the choice will be yours.'"
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Why Open Standards Matter

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  • by advocate_one ( 662832 ) on Monday April 10, 2006 @06:45AM (#15098139)
    erm... we're talking about Open Standards here, NOT Open Source Software... if your software, (whether OSS or CSS) supports Open Standards, then your data cannot be locked in.

    If the standard is Closed (ie proprietary), then the owner of the standard can change it and you are stuffed unless you stick with the software provided by the owner of the standard... this, of course, leaves you open to your data being held hostage subject to you remaining on the upgrade treadmill...

    if you are using Open Standards and the supplier of your closed source software software goes belly up, then your data isn't held hostage or lost because someone else is highly likely to already support that same Open Standard

  • by arendjr ( 673589 ) on Monday April 10, 2006 @06:52AM (#15098153) Homepage

    A very good illustration was made by David Wheeler at LinuxWorld about the importance of open standards, and it's probably even easier to understand for non-techies:

    [...] He went on to show the audience, through another word picture describing a 1904 fire in Baltimore, how open standards can prevent unhealthy dependence on one vendor. "Firefighters were called in from all the surrounding states," Wheeler said. "But all they could do was stand and watch the building burn, because their firehoses would not fit on the fire hydrants." A standard fire hose coupler could have prevented much of the destruction. [...]
  • by houghi ( 78078 ) on Monday April 10, 2006 @07:12AM (#15098188)
    While DSL is fine for the regular hacker, I dont know if a 10 year old will be confortable with it...

    OK, I asume you are refering how Betamax was better the VHS technically. First they are both closed standards, so no matter who won, the closed standard would win.

    There are plenty of closed standards that are accepted. Look at the music CD. I believe it was Philips that collected the benefits for that for a long time. Not sure if they still do.

    There is a difference between closed standards that you let nobody else use (like *.doc), closed standards that you control, but let others use (like *.pdf) or open ones that are made by a commity (like *.html)

    Naturaly the public must accept these standards and the governement must enforce the use of these standards.(meter, celcius, gram, liter, ...)
  • Re:author mistaken? (Score:5, Informative)

    by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Monday April 10, 2006 @08:06AM (#15098310) Journal

    Not open.


    Not a file format. iTunes does, however, work with standards such as MP3 and MP4. Neither of these are quite open, since you need to pay a small royalty to implement them. AIFF, also supported by iTunes, is open, however.


    Probably counts as half-open. You are free to download the spec and implement things that write SWF files, but not things that read them.


    This is an open standard, and is the official container format for MP4 bytestreams. Not all of the bytestreams embedded in MOV containers are open, however, but it is possible to put something like a Vorbis/Theora stream in one.

  • by CastrTroy ( 595695 ) on Monday April 10, 2006 @09:08AM (#15098480) Homepage
    when you're at work you don't need to install things (the one thing I think windows makes so much easier than linux)

    You haven't used Linux in a few years have you? I find that most of the time installing quality software on Linux is no harder than installing the windows counterpart. Most of the time, you don't need anything outside your distro's packaging system, so installing and finding stuff is much easier. If you try to compile everything from source, you're going to have problems. And you'd have the same problems in windows if you tried the same thing. I install all my software in Mandriva from the RPM's which are provided, add a couple extra download sources, and there's almost no piece of software out there that isn't available.
  • by ajs318 ( 655362 ) <sd_resp2@earthsho[ ] ['d.c' in gap]> on Monday April 10, 2006 @09:19AM (#15098510)
    CDDA was invented in the mid-to-late 1970s; so even if there ever were any patents covering it, they will have expired by now. However, the "COMPACT disc" trademark is still protected; and no licence will be granted for its use on any equipment or discs that do not meet the published standard as amended. Hence this mark is notably absent from certain digital audio discs which deviate from the Red Book specification.
  • Re:author mistaken? (Score:3, Informative)

    by luge ( 4808 ) <slashdot@tie g u y . o rg> on Monday April 10, 2006 @10:07AM (#15098673) Homepage
    We certainly use some open standards, but what I was getting at in the talk (I'm the speaker) was the next layer up of closed standards- .doc, ActiveX, AIM/Yahoo Chat (XMPP is not widely used at all yet), etc. Those are the things that lock you into proprietary platforms.

"my terminal is a lethal teaspoon." -- Patricia O Tuama