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[OS:N:] Re: open-source-now-list digest, Vol 1 #465 - 8 msgs

On Fri, 10 Jan 2003 open-source-now-list-request redhat com wrote:

  I'm reading this as a digest, so will reply that way.

> From: "narm" <narm go com jo>
> To: <open-source-now-list redhat com>
> Date: Thu, 9 Jan 2003 23:06:26 +0200
> Subject: [OS:N:] Need Your Help Friends!
> Reply-To: open-source-now-list redhat com

> This is a multi-part message in MIME format.

Note: It really would be nice if people turned off HTML in this forum.  
It doesn't add anything to your message, but makes the digest version very
hard to read.  Please go to
http://helpdesk.rootsweb.com/listadmins/plaintext.html to learn how to set 
your software for plain-text email.

> Dear friends,
> I need your help friends ... I am writing a paper about Open Source
> Software and Linux in general, and also about Open Source Software and
> e-governments so please if you can help don't wait.

> How can you help?
> -----------------
> 1- Send me any information regarding e-government and Linux which
> governments have switched to open source and Linux, and please include
> your references.

  I don't have this information compiled yet, but out GOSLING Community
will be working on this in the new hear.  
http://www.goslingcommunity.org/ The Canadian Government has sent out an
RFP for a Government of Canada Free/Libre and Open Source Software (FLOSS)  
Study, and an overview of such things at this point is part of that study.

> 2- What is the main things that makes Open Source Software better than
> Closed Source Software for governments/e-governments.

  I liken vendor neutrality to policy party neutrality -- if a government 
service was not offered to you as a citizen because you didn't vote for 
the same political party as formed government, you would have a huge 
scandal on your hands.   The same applies to software neutrality -- you 
ability to interact with government should never be hindered by the 
temporary choices of a government agency.   Your personal technology 
choices are personal, and as long as they conform to recognized standards 

Note: "defacto standard" is a synonym for "incumbent monopoly", and
simply doesn't apply in this case.  It must be a vendor-neutral,
royalty-free (to implement -- IE: no royalty bearing patents on the
standards) open standard.

  I am drafting an article for a presentation I will be doing twice in 
April (One for a government audience as part of NRC's GovNet03, and once 
for a mixed audience as part of Real World Linux 
http://www.realworldlinux.com/ ).  

For those interested in the early rough draft, it is at: 

Note:  I realize this is a RedHat sponsored list, but I happen to be of
the belief that what operating system you run is largely a personal
choice, but that the Office Suite, Email and browser applications you run
can have impact on everyone you communicate with online.  For this reason
I consider these communications tools much more critical than an operating
system.  I hand out copies of http://www.TheOpenCD.org/ to people running
Microsoft Windows as it is much more important to get people onto FLOSS
tools in this area than switch their operating system.

  I have started to talk to local computer dealers about having this CD
bundled with their systems.  It would be a huge win for our community to
have OpenOffice.org/etc being pre-installed on existing purchases of
Microsoft Windows.  It is also much easier to accomplish, and once they
are hooked-on-FLOSS then their next purchase may be a computer without the
Microsoft Windows (Or MacOS-X, or any other proprietary OS).

> 3- How LUGs can introduce the Open Source concept to others who don't
> know about it, and how can a LUG help in educating the community about
> Linux and Open Source Software.

  LUG's are just one avenue, but not everyone is going to be willing to be
part of a computer users group.  LUG members won't recognize it, but many 
of us are simply too geeky for the average person ;-)

  Even more critical is to set up venues for training such that people can
jumpstart their involvement. Start with office suites, email and other
Internet communications tools.  Try to not focus on "Linux" as switching
an operating system is the hardest way to make the change, while switching
one application at a time is more useful and will be much less frightening
to people.

> <html xmlns:o=3D"urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" =
> xmlns:w=3D"urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:word" =
> xmlns:st1=3D"urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" =
> xmlns=3D"http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40";>

...etc..ick ;-)

> From: "ekunin" <ekunin snet net>
> Date: Fri, 10 Jan 2003 08:39:39 -0500
> Subject: [OS:N:] Re: Linux in Schools (cont'd)

  I just joined this list, so have not read anything previous, but this 
analogy seems to be entirely wrong.  

> I do not think Honda automobiles would be as popular as they are if
> there were a Debian Honda, Red Hat Honda, SuS Honda, Mandrake Honda-you
> get the idea. I haven't taken a survey, but I suspect more than 90% of
> the people who buy Hondas want to turn the key and drive off the lot.

  First, Honda is a brand name that interoperates on the standard we call
a 'highway'.  It takes similar fuels to all other cars, has a similar user
interface, runs on the same roads, and many of the internal parts are
interchangeable with other vendors.

  I will disagree with your statement by describing it in terms of a more 
valid analogy:

  I do not think that automobiles would be as popular if there was only
one brand of car, or if the brand of the car determined what roads it
could run on.  The interoperability with roads, user interface and fuels
between Honda, Ford, Chrysler, Toyota, Mazda allowed the automobile to
become as popular as it became.

  Most users want to jump into a car and drive it.  They don't want to
know what is under the hood, but they do want to know that a mechanic can
fix it.  A car that could only be repaired at a specific dealership would
not be popular, as road-side assistance would become impossible.  A car
that a radically incompatible user interface would not be popular, as
extremely minor tweaks such as having the steering-wheel on the
left-or-right confuses many people.  A car that had its own branded toll
roads to drive on would never be popular, as this destroys the open
network of highways which automobile transportation depends on.

  FLOSS is not a brand, but is an open interoperable set of tools (often
implementing open standards) which any number of branded vendors can do
value-add on.  While Linux has a defensive trademark, it is not a brand
but is one FLOSS project.  Linux has many distribution vendors who have
taken the Linux kernel and other FLOSS libraries, tools and applications
and bundled them into a commercial package.  Like the fact that any car is
pretty much interoperable with any road, applications written for FLOSS
operating systems and libraries will be interoperable with any of the
'branded' distributions of FLOSS operating systems.

  Cars became popular *BECAUSE* there were multiple interoperable brands
of cars, not despite it.

  Lack of interoperability is a vendor choice, and is most often done to
create artificial vendor dependence.  The solution to the problem is for
citizens to start to outright reject the products of vendors who try to
'own' captive audiences through not being interoperable with open
standards.  The solution can simply never be that everyone uses the same
vendors solutions any more than the solution to "world peace" is for all
humanity to bow down to the same king.

BTW: All this being said, I don't own a car and am a user of public or
otherwise shared modes of transportation.  Then again, I don't own any
proprietary software and am only a user of/consultant for/contributor to

 Russell McOrmond, Internet Consultant: <http://www.flora.ca/>
 Any 'hardware assist' for communications, whether it be eye-glasses, 
 VCR's, or personal computers, must be under the control of the citizen 
 and not a third party.   -- http://www.flora.ca/russell/

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