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User Journal

Journal Journal: The bottom line: Linux in Government

Recently, I read the book "The Best Democracy Money Can Buy" by Greg Palast. While I'm not a great fan of his writing style (he could easily out-do Geraldo Rivera in sensationalism), he does bring up some interesting points. Among the most interesting to me is the idea behind privatization. Privatization, as touted by the IMF, WTO, and most recently, Bush administration, is an attempt to minimize government by contracting out the functions of government to private companies. In addition to contracting out the actual jobs (defense, research, etc), privatization advocates also want to privatize oversight of contractors. These ideas are mirrored on and and other sites.

You might be wondering what all this has to do with the Linux adaptation in government. We always argue that Linux is cheaper, it's open source, and in many cases better than the proprietary alternatives and thus should be automatically adapted. But the problem is that government in many countries is no longer of the people, by the people and for the people. Palast, Mother Jones and others have pointed out with increasing desperation that governmnent is setup and run by corporations with no oversight. Witness the Halliburton debacle in Iraq. Halliburton was chosen with no bidding to reward friends of the VP. So long as the trend towards no-bid contracts with no oversight continues, there is little or no hope of getting Linux in the door.

Linux and Open Source Software espouse the philosophy of empowerment of the masses. Linux and the internet as it has been allow for the free flow of information upstream AND downstream. This is problematic for the corporate world which has increasingly sought to control the information we consume and how we consume it. By and large, an informed and educated public is not swayed by marketing and is harder to manipulate. Thus, Open Source software is coming under increasing fire as it gains prominence because it threatens the bottom line. To see more connections between geopolitics and Open Source Software adaptation, see Willy Smith's


Journal Journal: Informing the Popular Media about Linux

While listening to the NPR show "Here & Now" from WBUR in Boston today, they mentioned the recent plethora of worms and viruses affecting Windows computers. Three options were offered by the experts on the show: to wait for the trusted computing platform from M$ and thereby lose your ability to control your computer; to go to Macintosh since there are fewer viruses and thereby lose your ability to buy software since fewer programs are written for Macintosh; or to just keep wasting time and continuing to patch ones M$ system. I queried the producers as to why Linux was left out of the line-up. The response from producer, Alan Coukell, was as follows: "Thanks for your message. We did talk about Linux but had to cut it out for reasons of length. The bottom line from David, and from other computer literate people I've talked to, seems to be that most people still find it pretty difficult, even impossible, to get it running on their home machine. Thanks for writing." Is this true? Red Hat 8.1 installed instantly for me. The Morphix CD gave me a fully configured and working Toshiba 1410 laptop in about 2 minutes with internet access and all. Lycoris installed flawlessly on an old P233 I run. What gives? How can we get the word out to the media that Linux is easy to configure and use?

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Anything cut to length will be too short.