[clug] Your Best arguments please

Martin Pool mbp at samba.org
Fri Aug 8 14:33:26 EST 2003

Excellent points, Doug,

I think yet another point Sytsma is missing is that governments
typically do not just download some software or purchase it from a
store.  There is an increasing trend for it to be let as
total-solution contracts, where support will in the first instance be
provided by somebody like HP.  The question of whether the upstream
developer provides good support is much less important than whether
the systems integrator feels confident in supporting the product.

If the tender specifies that the solution must (or should) use open
data formats then tenderers will try to make that happen, whether by
using open source software or otherwise.

In answering the paper, you might also point out that Sytsma has just
graduated; does not have a real CS, IT or EE degree and not from a
credible CS school; does not describe any commerical or government
experience.  His organization has, to be polite, a rather different
agenda than just the effective functioning of a democratic government.
Of course he's entitled to his opinion and it should be considered,
but only with appropriate weight.

I'm also amused to note that acton.org is running

  Apache/1.3.28 (Unix) PHP/4.3.1 PHP/3.0.18 on Linux. 

and using PHP for the web site.  What a bastard, contributing to the
destruction of intellectual property, breakdown of markets and decline
of the West! :-)

> 2a There is a point (which Sytsma doesn't make) that OSS doesn't guarantee
> interoperability. Without adequate documentation and published standards to
> allow the code to be navigated, OSS might as well be closed.

Yes, you can imagine a situation where the tender responses include

  large integrator; closed source and formats; high bid

  large integrator; mixed open and closed source; mostly open formats;
  moderate bid

  up-and-coming integrator; open source solution; open formats; lowest

It would be nice to have the government at least have openness as a
criteria to consider.

> 4a There's half an argument here. I think that it's obvious, looking at most
> OSS packages, that they're written by Morlocks for Morlocks[*]. I also think
> that, with things like OpenOffice and Evolution, this is changing.

I think this is one reason why it's better to specify formats, not
licensing, at least in the short term.

> 5. The Thomas Aquinas quote seems to be to be off-base. There are more
> distinctions than just privately owned and commonly owned.

>From very vague memory, Aquinas was pretty solidly opposed to any kind
of democracy...

> 6. Sytsma asserts without evidence that TCO of OSS will often exceed that of
> proprietary software without evidence. 

Obviously a fair consideration of TCO should be part of the tender

> 6a. TCO arguments should also include the amount of time and money lost
> through outages, viruses, worms, security holes ...

Anecdotally, many organizations in Canberra have suffered hours or  days of
downtime this year through Microsoft vulnerabilities...

my opinion only

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