The Concrete Benefits of Open Source Software

Following up on an earlier blog posting, Indian Open Standards Policy Finalized, I read an article published in the The Hindu, one of India's leading newspapers, about the concrete benefits of this policy. It also provides a very meaningful template for open source advocates to see how well an argument can be made with the proper framing of facts. Here is a quote from the third paragraph:

SCOSTA [the Smart Card Operating System for Transport Applications] was a standard developed for smart card-based driving licences and transport-related documentation by different State governments. It was developed by the National Informatics Centre in collaboration with the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur. Despite attempts by proprietary lobbies to make the body opt for a proprietary standard, the NIC and academics went ahead and developed an open standards, one that comprised technological specifications that were entirely royalty-free, and put up the specifications on their website. By doing so, they made a huge impact on the entire market.

Indian Open Standards Policy Finalized

Venkatesh Hariharan reports:

After three years of continuous running battles, India's Department of Information Technology has finalized the national policy on Open Standards. Over the last three years, we worked with our friends in government, academic, civil society and the media to push the Indian government in favor of a policy that mandates a single, royalty-free standard. With this, India becomes another major country to join the growing open standards movement.

India's e-governance standards portal is at and this is the link from which you can directly read the policy document.

Of particular interest is Clause 4.1.2:

The Arc of the Moral Universe is Long...

Nearly six years ago Google launched a new project to promote and support open source software development: Google Code. Back in those days we had Intel Pentium 4 processors that ran at 533 MHz (or 800 Mhz if we were lucky), and contained 125M transistors using a 90nm process. Amit Deshpande and Dirk Riehle, working for SAP Research, uncovered evidence that in 2004 there were approximately 125M source lines of code (SLOC) of open source software in the world. Fedora Core 3 had 1652 packages, and SE Linux policies protected only 13 of them (apache , dhcpd, mailman, mysqld, named , ntpd, pegasus, portmap, postgresql, snmpd, squid, syslogd, winbind). Six years is a long time ago! At that time, Google Code did not treat all OSI-approved licenses equally. Some were definitely more equal that others. But a lot can happen in six years...

Report from CONSEGI 2010 Conference

Last month I participated in the third annual CONSEGI conference in Brasília, Brazil. The first CONSEGI conference was organized in 2008, and though it was organized by and for the Brazilian government, it speaks loudly and clearly with an authentic open source voice. In that first meeting, the CONSEGI declaration stated their disappointment in the appeals by several of their ISO/IEC national bodies being dismissed by the ISO and IEC technical management boards in the Standardization of Office Open XML, and criticized the ISO/IEC for "inability to follow its own rules". The declaration called into question credibility of ISO/IEC, with the signers asserting that they will no longer consider ISO standards to be automatically valid for government use. In 2009, CONSEGI hosted the 3rd International ODF Workshop and established the Brasilia Protocol, which commits its signatories to use ODF internally, with each other, and ultimately in their electronic interaction with third parties and the public. (I was a signatory to that protocol representing Red Hat.) And so I was very excited to see what CONSEGI 2010 would set as its agenda.

The "Project Description" of CONSEGI 2010 contained this paragraph which really highlights the answer to the question "why open source?" in Brazil (or in any other Democratic government):

The citizenship vision that goes under CIT (Communication and Information Technology, aka ICT) public politics of the Federal Government has as reference the collective rights and not only the sum of the citizen individual rights.

Think about that for a moment or two...

Creating a FLOSS Roadmap, brick by BRIC

Last year I attended Open World Forum in Paris. It was a lively conference with broad representation of industry leaders, community organizers, and government officials and administrators. The warm reception by the Mayor's office in Paris (at the Hôtel de Ville) underscored what has become increasingly obvious in the analysis of economic statistics: open source software is appreciated, in Paris, France, and Europe. My reflections on the subject of last year's topic, the digital recovery, were captured in the blog posting From Free to Recovery. This year, the agenda of the Open World Forum (Sept 30-Oct 1, 2010) is more ambitious, and I am pleased to be on the program committee, an editor of the 3rd edition of the FLOSS 2020 Roadmap document, as well as one of the organizers of a think-tank session focused on, and beyond, the role of open source software and the future of the BRIC thesis.

Why Open Core has a problem and is not a problem.

Pamela Jones, of Groklaw, thinks that OSI has a problem in Open Core. I think she has it backwards. The Open Core (most notably SugarCRM) folks have a problem. They'd like to convince people that they can achieve the open source effect by having two versions of their code: an open source version, and a proprietary version. They'd like to convince people that their proprietary code is going to benefit from the open source effect. Good luck with that!

Malaysian Government has reached 97% OSS Adoption -- WOW!

When I started working on GNU C++ in 1987, I could almost feel the course of history changing with every line of code I wrote. When I started Cygnus Support in 1989, I was convinced that it was only a matter of time before companies began to realize that proprietary software restrictions did nothing to help their competitive advantage and everything to harm it. And though early funding for my work came from government agencies (US DARPA in 1987 and French INRIA in 1988), I never quite expected to be visiting and promoting open source in Malaysia [short version] [longer version]. Yet such is the reach of open source software! Now the Government of Malaysia proudly reports an astonishing 97% adoption rate for open source software in this new report:


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