Saturday, January 23, 2010

Driving open source in San Francisco (and maybe elsewhere too)

In the face of historic budget deficits, what can one do?  How about saving millions by not buying proprietary software licences, installation and training?  The alternative?  Forget the licences - just buy the installation and training.  More here on both how to effectively drive open source software policies in municipalities, as well as why, via Mr Penguin's Twitter feed.

So how about doing the same here in Britain?  Schools, councils and other public bodies are overrun with proprietary software licences that not only allow the providers to essentially own your intellectual property (without their software your data is worthless and migration costs are often horrendous) but also dictate when and how often you need to upgrade.  Neither of which happens with open source software which uses open document standards.

Interestingly, there is an official British government website on the subject but it tells this rather curious, and what's more, unhappily non-committal story:
Welcome to Open Source Academy. Our aim was to encourage the use of Open Source Software by local authorities through knowledge sharing and practical advice.

The OSA project ran from May 2005 and completed March 2006. Since then we have maintained the site because of the high level of interest.

We are unable to continue providing the resources needed to update and have therefore frozen all activity on this site.

For more information on the latest Open Source/Standards isues please link to the Open Forum Europe website.
If, however, you're interested in pursuing this subject - and you really ought to consider doing so - you might want to try looking through this case study on Bristol City Council's experience with the software suite StarOffice, based on the freely available and downloadable OpenOffice.org.

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