Despite Financial Destruction, Greece Not Favoring Open Source Software

from the all-inclusive dept

As you may have heard, Greece isn't having the best fiscal time of things these days. Oddly, as Glyn Moody noted previously, such dire straits haven't really gotten the country to focus on the important things when it comes to the internet and technology. Now, unless a few open source software groups get their way, it appears that the country with money problems will once again turn a blind eye to open source software in upcoming government purchases.
The ministry published a request for tender in November, seeking suppliers of 26,400 laptops, 1760 servers and 1760 wifi access routers. The value of the contract is set at just over 15 million euro. The purchase will be partly financed by the European Regional Development Fund. The ministry is asking for laptops and servers that can run either a ubiquitous proprietary operating system or Linux. But, say the Greek Linux User Group (Greeklug) and Eel/lak, a Greek open source advocacy organisation founded by 25 universities and research centres, the technical requirements clearly favour proprietary solutions over open source. "The specification is a copy of the proprietary vendor's e-mail and office software."
As someone who gets to deal with government bid contracts, I can assure you that this is extremely common. It's often the case that these kind of request for bids begin with an end product in mind and then develop the bid language to conform to that product. For anyone who wants to actually put together their own effective solution for consideration, it's incredibly annoying. But for a country with the kind of money problems that would make a homeless guy with an addiction to gambling on crack consumption laugh, to linguistically exclude an open source and less expensive software option is simply dumb.

Unfortunately, Greeklug and Eel/lak aren't expecting the Greek government to listen, so they may have to take their complaints elsewhere.
Both are also appealing to the European Commission, hoping that Commissioner for the Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes and Commissioner for Regional Policy Johannes Hahn will pressure the ministry to correct the tender request. "To give free and open source a fair chance, the technical specification will have to be improved", the groups plead.
We'll see if that route works. Regardless, to have money trouble and not consider open source software is just plain irresponsible.
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Filed Under: greece, open source

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  1. identicon
    Mr. Applegate, 9 Jan 2013 @ 4:39am

    Re: What money has to do here?

    "* laptops are irrelevant here - they always come with software included, be it Windows, Linux or OSX. BTW - Windows code is open for auditing (at least in US)."

    Well there is a rather large (around $100-$300) difference in a laptop that comes with Windows (and other software) and one that comes with Linux, but hey let's go with say a $50 savings per laptop. So, $50 * 26,400 = $1,320,000 saved by buying laptops with linux, over a basic Windows laptop.

    "Yea, open source is nice, but we're talking about insignificant amount of money anyway. "

    It is thinking like that that gets governments and companies in trouble in the first place. A million here a million there, it doesn't matter. Your not talking about real money till you start talking trillions. Well guess what it takes millions to make trillions and the more millions you save the slower you get to trillions.

    "* server side software can be open source, but that's really depends on what kind of "server" we're talking about. If we're talking about making Outlook work - Exchange is really a must; no open source alternative doesn't come even close."

    Outlook can be made to function quite well with a number of open source projects most with 90+% compatibility. Outlook even works with Novell's Groupwise fairly well. However, there are a lot of alternatives to Outlook as well that work extremely well, and with a lot less of the administration headaches as well.

    Oh, and for the record I am an IT Consultant with more than 30 years in the business, so I do know a little bit about this. I have worked with many, companies. Some I migrate to Open Source or alternative solutions, some stay with traditional solutions. This mostly boils down to the answer to one question. "How much do you want to spend on IT?" Or the question I am most often asked. "How can I cut my IT budget in half? It is killing my business." Once a proper needs analysis is done, and pre-conceived notions are set aside Open source (and other non-traditional) solutions become serious contenders in a lot of different arenas.

    Some businesses can afford to dump a seemingly endless amount of money in to IT, others can't afford to do that. The answer to saving money in IT doesn't lie in Microsoft, Apple, SaaS, or cloud. The answer comes when you get the right tools for the jobs you need to do.

    You don't need a shop full of mechanics tools to open a can of beans, yet that is often the approach when it comes to IT. Get the most expensive because it has 10,000 features. They never stop to consider, they only need 100 of those features and there is a lot of software that has the 100 they need and 9,000 additional ones as well and costs little to nothing.

    "So, as usually happen here, posts about technical subjects are plagued with factual errors. Next time - try writing about laws/patents/copyright/etc and leave bits and volts aside."

    So, I don't see any factual errors by the author of the article here. However, I have some issues with your post.

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