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. icon
    Keroberos (profile), 9 Jan 2013 @ 7:19am

    Ah...the age old open source vs. closed source argument.

    Switching to open source will only be cheaper in the initial purchase. The cost will quickly ramp up from there. Everyone seems to forget that the cost of the hardware/software is just a part of the full cost. You also have to factor in training and support. I, for one would not want to be the one in charge of having to train and support all 26,000 end users of those new laptops running open source software. That'll get real expensive, real quick. Switching from one version of MS Word to another is difficult--going from Word to Open Office would be a nightmare. Plus can your IT/IS departments handle the switch in server/networking software? How much will it cost in time and money to train them? How many will you have to fire/lay off? How many will you have to hire? What software do you need to run? Can you get open source alternatives? Do those alternatives actually work? Or are they buggy pieces of crap with little documentation or support?

    Don't get me wrong. I'm a strong advocate of open source software and use it every day. But I would never advocate any IT department switching to open source merely based on initial cost. Any switch has to be done with eyes open knowing the changes you'll have to make and all the added costs that those changes and the extra support you need will add.

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