Should All Government IT Systems Be Using Open Source Software?
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February 10 '19 at 01:50 AM
By EditorDavid from
Slashdot's world-domination department
Writing at Linux Journal, Glyn Moody reports that dozens of government IT systems are switching to open source software.
"The fact that this approach is not already the norm is something of a failure on the part of the Free Software community..."
One factor driving this uptake by innovative government departments is the potential to cut costs by avoiding constant upgrade fees. But it's important not to overstate the "free as in beer" element here. All major software projects have associated costs of implementation and support. Departments choosing free software simply because they believe it will save lots of money in obvious ways are likely to be disappointed, and that will be bad for open source's reputation and future projects.
Arguably as important as any cost savings is the use of open standards. This ensures that there is no lock-in to a proprietary solution, and it makes the long-term access and preservation of files much easier. For governments with a broader responsibility to society than simply saving money, that should be a key consideration, even if it hasn't been in the past.... Another is transparency. Recently it emerged that Microsoft has been gathering personal information from 300,000 government users of Microsoft Office ProPlus in the Netherlands, without permission and without documentation.
He includes an inspiring quote from the Free Software Foundation Europe about code produced by the government: "If it is public money, it should be public code as well. But when it comes to the larger issue about the general usage of proprietary vs. non-proprietary software -- what do Slashdot's readers think?
Should all government IT systems be using open source software?
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