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Canadian Federal Government Mulling Open Source? 117

Posted by Soulskill
from the free-as-in-moose dept.
An anonymous reader points out a CBC report discussing a request from the Canadian government for information about open source software and free proprietary software. Evan Leibovitch, an advocate for open source, says the government's interest was spurred by a desire to reduce expenditures during the recession. "...Leibovitch said he hopes the request will lead to government policies that give 'a level playing field' to vendors of open-source software services, who provide technical and administrative support to companies that use open-source programs. He alleges these service providers currently face barriers when competing with proprietary software vendors in the government procurement process. ... When the government purchases software, it often assumes that it will have to pay for a licence and asks software vendors to bid for the contract, McOrmond said. Vendors of open source software services don't respond to that initial call for tender because they have no licences to sell. But then, the government might ask for a separate round of bids for providing support services for the software, which open-source vendors could provide."
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Canadian Federal Government Mulling Open Source?

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  • Stereotypes (Score:4, Funny)

    by conureman (748753) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @01:17AM (#26853441)

    It may not be PC, and I reckon I'll be labelled a troll, but the word on the streets is the Canadians use more common sense than us.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      You haven't seen our kitten-eating Prime Minister then. Here he is [wordpress.com], just prior to eating lunch. :)
    • by bigjarom (950328)
      As someone who is completely unbiased on this subject I have to agree with you.

      --
      I *might* be from Canada
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Sentry21 (8183)

      There's been an abundance for the last eight years, the cost has dropped substantially.

  • Very good idea... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RyanFenton (230700) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @01:19AM (#26853451)

    Most likely, it'll just end up with them getting better offers from Microsoft and other companies - but a policy of promoting open source as a preferred quality in software is still at least a good philosophy to promote.

    There's likely still too much of a practical dependence on folks who will only be comfortable with the idea of using Windows to just do any major switch - but the change in policy to demand a more even playing field will likely reap great rewards, as it has with many other nations making similar decisions.

    Ryan Fenton

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      There's likely still too much of a practical dependence on folks who will only be comfortable with the idea of using Windows to just do any major switch

      To expand on your point:

      I used to work for a department of the Canadian federal government (in IT). We used quite a bit of open source.

      But there were plenty of people that didn't. Including some people in IT. There were quite a few people, far into their careers, that were set in their ways (like most places). In this instance, that refers to using and admin

      • Even if people feel "attached" to Windows, you can still push an open source policy by embracing VLC Player, OpenOffice, and other open applications. If the people bitch tell them, "We listened to you. We compromised and met you halfway by not switching to Linux and staying with Windows, but now you need to meet us halfway. OpenOffice and other programs are free alternatives, and in this economy we must do everything we can to save money."

      • >>>MSCEs are not just loyal, but are invested in Microsoft. Turfing Windows means turfing/converting them too!

        Any good MSCE ought to be able to learn multiple operating systems (Amiga,Mac,Wintel,Linux). I suspect any unwillingness is due to laziness rather than inability.

        • "I suspect any unwillingness is due to laziness rather than inability." Which is exactly the point. People ARE lazy, and they are quite happy for Bill Goats or his successor to do all of their thinking. They are more than willing to put up with idiotic non-functioning security measures which are advised by lackwit "experts", because the alternative would require them to exercise the grey matter they carry around on their shoulders. If people WEREN'T lazy, America wouldn't be the most obese nation on ear
    • by jvillain (546827)
      I sent in my responses yesterday. After reading their questions I can say it is a good thing they sent out an RFI.
    • by Jurily (900488) <jurily@NOSPam.gmail.com> on Saturday February 14, 2009 @02:27AM (#26853757)

      Most likely, it'll just end up with them getting better offers from Microsoft and other companies

      Which, incidentally, is the real news here. Did you notice the shift? A couple of years ago they'd just shrug it off, now a government migrating to Linux is credible enough to seriously consider.

      Stage 1 complete.

    • by HartDev (1155203)
      I was born in Canada and have to deal with the Canadian border about once a year and they are pretty money grubbing, so they might move towards Open Source just to save a buck, but the border guards are a bunch of clowns too, bugging the less incriminating people because they are the easiest to bully and fine, so they might have too much trouble figuring it out. Canada is a great country mind you, just not the border, at the Sweetgrass/Coutts checkpoint.
      • by Curtman (556920) *
        Right, and they hand out coffee and hugs at the U.S. border crossing? Those are very unpleasant people.
        • by HartDev (1155203)
          I completely agree with you, in the past it was usually the American border that gave us the hard time, but the worst experience in my entire life is brought to you courtesy of the Canadian border, I drove all day and night and got to the border, I was clear to go and my truck stalled and wouldn't start, all I need was a little jump, well they search the entire vehicle and found nothing, questioned me and found nothing, finally the young kid who must have been one of the newest border guards got all kinds
          • by Curtman (556920) *

            I am going to try and become a citizen of the US (instead of just a permanent residence) I think the government here still has a chance.

            Wow, after they elected G.W.B. twice.

    • Green Party Platform (Score:5, Interesting)

      by clarkn0va (807617) <apt,get&gmail,com> on Saturday February 14, 2009 @03:35AM (#26854053) Homepage

      Open Source software was part of the Green Party's very thorough and thoughtful election campaign. Too bad most Canadians never bothered to read it.

      I see it still features on their web site [greenparty.ca] as a current issue. With a minority government in power and the threat of a coalition or vote of non-confidence always looming, it's hard to say how much pull the Greens really have, having failed yet again to win a seat in parliament.

      • by AikonMGB (1013995)

        Without a seat in parliament, I'm going to go out on a limb and say effectively none.

        Aikon-

        • Very true, I see a lot of reluctance of people to accept a new way of thinking, yet they are so tired of the old. I'm not saying the Greens are an ideal party, but some of their ideas are well thought out. I'd be happy to see them have a few seats though, introduce some new legislation.
        • by mrsquid0 (1335303)

          >Without a seat in parliament, I'm going to go out on a limb and
          >say effectively none.

          The main influence that the Green Party has is that they tend to act as a bit of an anchor to stop the NDP from drifting too far away from a reasonable environmental policy. Many of the people who vote Green used to vote NDP, so the New Democrats are somewhat aware that they need to make an effort to stop more of their base from migrating to the Green Party.

      • I know most of the people in my family did not vote for the greens because of their name, not their platform.

      • by chdig (1050302)
        The leader of the Greens had called Canadians stupid [youtube.com], compared the government's environmental plan to Chamberlain's appeasement of the nazis before WWII, and then ran a loud mouth campaign that ended up in few votes.

        It's very easy to stand up on a pulpit without any responsibility to a real chunk of the electorate, and spout out ideas. With three political parties already established in Canada, it'd be far more constructive if the Greens worked from within one or more of them, than haplessly going it on
  • Mulling simply indicates the early stages of contract renewals, not necessarily a tug on the tiller.

    SameOldSameol...unless they wake up before signing day and understand that it actually takes money to renew a contract, in which case, given the times, 'free' has a nice ring to it.

  • by bogaboga (793279) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @01:28AM (#26853493)

    I just do not understand why a government "just mulling Open Source" as the headline says, is news worthy. It's just a gimmick. For this to even have a chance, Open Source Software would be alive and well in Canadian schools but this isn't the case.

    Rem,ember this is one country without a domestic car concern...the only such country in the entire so called G8! Canada? Give me a break!

    • by bigjarom (950328)
      How do you define "a domestic car concern" ?
      • by conureman (748753)

        I suppose he thinks that stuff in Windsor is all foreign-owned?

        • by bogaboga (793279)

          Oh yes it is.

          Just tell me one that is Canadian own like GM of U.S.A.

            • by bogaboga (793279)

              Man, do you know what you are talking about? You link to *GM*. GM is of the USA period. Decisions about the so called General Motors Canada are made in the USA. Got it?

              This might interest you. General Motors Canada refused the Canadian version of the Auto Industry bailout. You might want to know why....because the decision was made in (you guessed it)...the USA! This is the company you are saying is Canadian?

              Secondly any Canadian bailout waited for the US version because the folks in the USA call the shots.

              • by Curtman (556920) *

                do you know what you are talking about? You link to *GM*. GM is of the USA period.

                Not entirely [canadianeconomy.gc.ca]. Like it or not, your country needs the rest of the world more than the rest of the world needs you.

              • by GraZZ (9716)

                What you're describing is the can be attributed to the effects of the emerging North-American Union rather than Canada being a weak auto market. If our the US and Canada hadn't been so buddy-buddy in 1918 then Canada wouldn't have allowed GM to acquire McLaughlin Motors of Oshawa [wikipedia.org] (now headquarters of GM Canada) and they would have been our automaker.

                If the EU had existed pre WWII do you think that there would be as many automakers in Europe as there are today? I bet the UK and German automakers would have

            • You linked to a wholly-owned subsidiary of GM.

              GM Canada counts towards Canada's GDP but towards the United States of America's GNP

    • by vux984 (928602)

      Remember this is one country without a domestic car concern...the only such country in the entire so called G8! Canada? Give me a break!

      http://www.zenncars.com/ [zenncars.com]
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ZENN_Motor_Company [wikipedia.org]

      You insensitive clod. ;)

    • I just do not understand why a government "just mulling Open Source" as the headline says, is news worthy. It's just a gimmick.

      May I suggest reading the article instead of the Slashdot headline? For those similarly disinclined to click the link:

      Public Works and Government Services Canada is accepting submissions about "no-charge licensed software" until Feb. 19 through Merx, a government website that allows vendors to bid on contracts ... The Merx posting is the first time the government has ever made such

    • by Sibko (1036168) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @07:05AM (#26854789)

      Rem,ember this is one country without a domestic car concern...the only such country in the entire so called G8! Canada? Give me a break!

      I don't get it. What does Canada not having a 'domestic car concern' have to do with their adoption of Open Source?

      Could you put this in a car analogy for me?

    • by anon mouse-cow-aard (443646) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @11:51AM (#26856085) Journal
      > Rem,ember this is one country without a domestic > car concern...the only such country in the entire > so called G8! Canada? Give me a break!

      You are aware of something called the auto pact. Basically the deal is that we agreed to allow Canadian makers to be taken over in exchange for complete integration into the north american market. So our branch plants of automakers represent approximately double the number of employees, per capita of population in comparison to the US.

      We didn't get the names, but we got the jobs. Canadians used their noggins for what was important to them. And the most popular segment in the late nineties was the Chrysler Mini-van, which was designed and built in Canada from day 1 until today, where it is now sold as a VW Touran.

      As for being alone in the G8... Name me a British automobile brand that is still in British hands, and still in business. Show me a Russian car you can buy in North America (nope, no Lada's) Please attempt to find an affordable Italian Car in North America. Fiat doesn't exist here. Your choices are: Alfa, Lambo, Ferrari, ... If those count, then check out: T-Rex, http://www.auto123.com/en/car-reviews/new/2008-t-rex-1400r-road-test-video?printable=1&artid=91050 [auto123.com] or zenn http://www.zenncars.com/ [zenncars.com] there are a half-dozen other boutique style manufacturers.

      Further, there are many non G8 countries with automobile brands, such as Korea, Sweden, India, China, Brazil, etc... So what's your point?

      P.S. Canada's Bombardier is:
      #1 manufacturer of train wagons in the world, to the point where folks are considering anti-monopoly rules.
      #3 manufacture of aircraft, after Boeing, and Airbus.
      oh, and they started out in Snow mobiles, and are still big there.

      So on the one hand, there are other G8 countries without meaningful presence in one of the largest auto markets in the world (North America), on the other hand, some G8 countries' manufacturers' are economically insignificant. On the third hand, the presence/absence of an auto brand says little about the overall economy... and many non G8 countries have auto brands. So It's hard to see how that could be a condition of entry into the club.

    • Rem,ember this is one country without a domestic car concern...the only such country in the entire so called G8! Canada? Give me a break!

      No, Canada has the Bricklin, and we all know how well that turned out.

      You are right, you speak hard truths, but you're right. The Canadian market isn't big enough to support a car industry, except through reciprocal agreements with our best friends, the USA. As for the Japanese stuff, it's ASSEMBLED in Canada, much like Ikea furniture is ASSEMBLED in your living room - it's not a product of your innovation, testing, or manufacture: its factory is a slightly larger Allen key, that's all.

      Detroit/Windsor build

  • by russlar (1122455) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @01:33AM (#26853517)
    If it's Debian-based: Ehbuntu
    If it's RPM-based: Toque
    • by robbrit (1408421)
      If it's Gentoo-based you could install things with ehmerge.
    • by SIR_Taco (467460)

      Well... we used to have Corel in Ottawa... but we all know what happened to them

      • Don't remind us about how depressing things are in Ottawa for tech.

        Somehow we ended up we two scabs (Corel, Xandros) and no heroes. Nortel imploded, Cognos was bought up by IBM.

        Open source in Canada's federal would be sweet. But they should use this oppurtunity to help incite free software developpement. Encourage a company to form and offer a "Government of Canada Linux", something that could also be used in the provinces, so they're all on the same page using open standards. Tighten it with SELinux, exami

    • iglubuntu

    • Lets call it Canux :-)
    • by Flammon (4726)
      Bob Young is from Canada so I'm leaning towards Red Tuque. (Tuque instead of Toque to give it a more bilingual feel.) T
    • by TihSon (1065170)

      I once tried suggesting to the local LUG the idea of advocating for a Canadian made distro. They were looking for ways to make themselves relevant again after years of waning import. I even gave it a name; Canux.

      Never have I seen so many people with so much education work so hard to miss the point.

      Remind me again why I should suddenly believe we have the vision and foresight to make this work?

  • Give it time, they may be "mulling it over", but by the time Microsoft spreads a bit of cash and fud they'll be back in the fold... The more things change, the more the corruption remains the same...
    • by the time Microsoft spreads a bit of cash and fud they'll be back in the fold... The more things change, the more the corruption remains the same...

      It's not corruption. It's "business entertainment expenses". And "above board price bidding". And so forth.

      No offense, but it's strictly business. And they're really great at it.

      Have we done our part in helping people who uses Linux? Or we simply ignore them?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by initdeep (1073290)

        of course we've done our part.
        We've told them to "RTFM"....

        We've told them "you don't really need that program anyway, use this crappy open source version instead"....

        We've told them "Well if it doesn't work just go into the CLI and type in blah blah blah and then recompile and use this other weird ass workaround"......

        We've told them "well next time make sure your device works with linux before you buy that amazingly popular peripheral"......

        We've told them "Well this open source program does MOST of the s

        • Thank you very much for your reply! Yes, I get your point - Red Hat GUARANTEES a level of support for businesses.

          It was my fault that I conveyed the wrong meaning in my question. It seemed like "Have we humans done our part to support Linux in business and government? Or do we simply tell them to F-Off and RTFM?" Your answer answered these two questions correctly.

          I've actually meant to ask "Have we personally done our part to help newbies who dared to install Linux and had problems? Or do we dismiss th

  • sp. Eric Leibovitch should be Evan Leibovitch, I know him and think he'd appreciate the correction ;-)
  • They're going to get a visit from the chair throwing monkey dancing CEO in the MS corporate jet. Probably playing Flight of the Valkyries as they swoop in from the south.

  • Typo: Evan not Eric! (Score:3, Informative)

    by kbahey (102895) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @02:31AM (#26853775) Homepage

    It is Evan Leibovitch, not Eric!

    Fix the typo in the summary.

  • by flyingfsck (986395) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @02:54AM (#26853887)
    Canada is primarily a Windows shop, but there are many Solaris, BSD and Linux server machines all over the place. Desktop use is very limited, but there are some. The primary problem with desktop use is Active Directory and Exchange. Lately, MS Outlook works fine on Crossover and Active Directory is handled well by Samba Winbind, so the barriers are falling.
  • by Hurricane78 (562437) <deleted@slashBLUEdot.org minus berry> on Saturday February 14, 2009 @07:29AM (#26854869)

    In the one game, that you would absolutely and totally win every time, you don't play, because of such a silly problem?

    You have licenses to sell. Licenses for $0.00! Is that so hard? And if they are not accepting that, then give them some fantasy value, that is much lower that everyone else, but still above their bullshit limit. After all, it's not illegal to sell open source. No matter how you turn it... There is a way to always win this thing, but you do take it? Come on!

    Some people just have to be hit with a cluestick... many times... ;)

  • Linux is used all over the Government. As are lots of other open source pieces of software. This study is primaraly to get it moved toward the desktop. That is to make the PHB more confortable with it.
  • Read the summary closely:

    But then, the government might ask for a separate round of bids for providing support services for the software, which open-source vendors could provide.

    Think about what this means. I may be reading too much into the word "separate" here, but hear me out.

    If the government first buys software, then buys support, then the ability of open-source vendors to make a real bid is constrained by the choice of software made in round one.

    If open-source vendors compete to support the same platform, then advocating the use of that platform in round one is basically being the pioneer with the arrows in the back: you bear the cost of enabling bot

  • This seems like a good thing. I'm all for more open source software in government.

    Our current government is however composed of half-wit partisan hacks. Genuinely bush-light.

    "...government's interest was spurred by a desire to reduce expenditures during the recession."

    They say and do mind-blowingly stupid things like that while presenting their spending stimulus bill.
    They will look for ways to reduce government spending while looking for ways to increase government spending.

    Heck of a job Harper.
    God help u

  • Gimme a break... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by rakslice (90330) <rakslice&gmx,net> on Saturday February 14, 2009 @08:51PM (#26860005) Homepage Journal

    I applaud the effort by government IT to have more in-house knowledge about open source software (and about what software offerings are available in general).

    But I don't really understand what it is about the procurement process that is a barrier to open source software.

    If the procurement process involves publishing an open request for proposals (RFP), and then accepting bids from interested parties, then presumably anyone can read the RFP, doesn't that mean that any interested member of the public can figure out how to accomplish that with open source software, and then put in an offer to license it to the government for whatever they want?

  • When dealing with the species known as the Canadian bureaucrat, my experience as a linux and OSS advocate have been predictable, uniform and unfortunate. Any mention of OSS of any kind, or even the merest mentioning of the word linux, causes immediate ridicule, followed quickly by vilefication, contempt, scorn, then dismissal.

    To say they tend not to be open to the idea of OSS would be an understatement of the grandest proportions.

    ... but that's just my experience ... ymmv.

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