Government Technology: Eric Raymond [An Interview]

“Q: Local governments face software challenges not shared by the
private — “

“A: — In fact, you could argue that governments have a
unique obligation not to use closed-source. What’s the logic behind
the Freedom of Information Act? If government should be
transparent, why should that stop at the software?

“Q: Beyond the transparency issue, many local governments face
similar software challenges. How can local governments utilize the
open-source development model?”

“A: If they would pool their resources, rather than treating
these pieces of software as territory, their costs would go way
down. What we ought to see is 100,000 Apache [Web server]

“Q: If someone in government wanted to start an open-source
project, how would he start?”

“A: First, learn the culture. Go out and understand how the
community works. Participate in an existing open-source project
yourself. Learn the tools. Learn the communications style. Learn
the platforms. Go hang out at a Linux or FreeBSD users-group
meeting. Do that for weeks, if not months. Learn the culture. There
will come a point at which you will understand instinctively what
you need to do, then act — not before.”

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