[ubuntu-uk] public services

Alan Bell alanbell at ubuntu.com
Sun Jun 26 09:01:40 UTC 2011

On 25/06/11 11:45, Yorvyk wrote:
> On Fri, 24 Jun 2011 20:24:51 +0100
> Carlos Ferreira<carlosemferreira at gmail.com>  wrote:
>> The UK team should be talking to Universities and other public services,
>> doing advocacy and trying to figure out what the obstacles to the adoption
>> of free software are, and how they can be overcome. In fact, it's something
>> I'd like to do myself.
> The problem with this idea is that you have to find somebody with influence who is willing to listen to some oik that's just wandered in off the street and is telling them their IT strategy is wrong.  That's how it was described to me by a senior IT bod at a council.  His suggestion was that Canonical need to be doing this sort of thing with professional 'sales' people.
they do, we sometimes work with them. There are several consultancy 
companies working with local governments and at national level to 
promote and advocate software freedom. I am involved in some of this and 
hope to give a more wide ranging update on it in a few weeks.
>   Also the philosophy of Open Source doesn't really wash,  what’s needed is numbers in Pounds Stirling.
Somewhat true, but vendor lock in is a bit of a driver. A lot of the 
standard Free Software arguments don't really apply at government level.
"you can adapt the software to your needs" - "yeah, we just pay them to 
do that"
"what if your requirements are not on the vendor's roadmap" - "we tell 
them what their roadmap is and they do it"
"what if the vendor goes out of business?" - "nobody goes out of 
business if they are trading with us"
"what if you want to audit the source code to see what it does?" - "we 
demand to see it and they let us"

so they actually do understand and value the benefits of software 
freedom, they just are used to paying for most of it. Economic arguments 
have some traction, freedom to reuse software is of value, freedom from 
having to count users for license compliance is of value.

Anyhow, back to the point. The stuff we should be doing as a LoCo is 
providing a community for the public and private sector to join. With 
community support there is no helper/helpee distinction, and I don't 
want to create one, it is a user group that shares technical support 
knowledge and helps each other, not a technical support service. The 
public sector at the moment has a real lack of community understanding, 
they are used to, and comfortable with, a customer/vendor relationship. 
The main failing I see at the moment is a tendency in their open source 
strategies to attempt to treat "the Open Source community" as a 
supplier, I don't want them to procure stuff from the community. I want 
them to join and be part of the community.


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