Canadian Gov RFI on FOSS

Bob Jonkman bjonkman at
Sat Feb 7 20:26:08 UTC 2009

In my experience with Municipal government, it takes many years and 
hundreds of thousands of dollars to research, discuss, evaluate and 
acquire RFI, RFQ and RPPs for something like backup software or an e-
mail system, but this is never done with desktop operating systems.  
Instead, the research &c. is done for desktop hardware, which comes 
already bundled with a de facto standard OS.  Same for office suite 
software -- Different software is not discussed, only different 
suppliers of the same, de facto standard office suite.

Don't underestimate the importance of this RFI.  That the Federal 
government even recognizes an alternative to bundled and proprietary 
systems is a major step forward.

(MERX isn't used by the municipalities that I'm familiar with, so 
there may be smaller municipal or provincial governments that have 
requested input on FLOSS, but it has escaped my attention).

>From a quick glance at the overview, this RFI concentrates on 
Free/Gratis, not Free/Libre.  Proprietary, closed software available 
at no cost (ie. IE) is part of the target here.  Fortunately, one of 
the first questions asks whether the RFI's definition is an 
appropriate one (hint: the answer is "No").

Prof. Nash's Wiki [1] appears to be an excellent launch point for a 
response, but Canonical needs to provide its own response as well.  Is 
there something already in progress?



-- -- -- --
Bob Jonkman <bjonkman at>
SOBAC Microcomputer Services              Voice: +1-519-669-0388
6 James Street, Elmira ON  Canada  N3B 1L5  Cel: +1-519-635-9413
Software   ---   Office & Business Automation   ---   Consulting

On 7 Feb 2009 at 7:57 John Gill <ubuntu-ca at> wrote
about "Re: Canadian Gov RFI on FOSS[...]"

>Actually,  IE7 is a good example to use to highlight the difference between
>free and open software.  Like you say, the government does not think twice
>about installing IE7 -- so strange they need an RFI on free software.
>If free is the only criteria they are concerned about in this case, then
>really they should just treat it like all the other software they purchase,
>except that the price is a bit lower ;)
>It was a bit disappointing to see the wording of the RFI, but a good
>opportunity for some education.
>2009/2/6 Daniel Robitaille <daniel.robitaille at>
>> mcr at wrote:
>> >   Also be aware that the RFI does not say open source.
>> >   It says, "No cost Licensed Software", so it would include, for
>> > instance IE7.
>> >
>> My experience with the federal government is that they know really well
>> how to obtain, install, and use IE7.   I don't think they need a RFI for
>> this :)
>> Daniel

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