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osOpinion: Linux rulez (the country)

[ Thanks to Kelly
McNeill
for this link. ]

“Open Source is about global cooperation and sharing and
swapping of ideas. This, however, hardly is anything radically new.
Centuries before Richard M. Stallman and Linus Torvalds started
applying the model to the development of quality software,
universities and embassies had conducted congresses, meetings,
summits, delegations and correspondence around the globe to teach,
learn, discuss and often steal ideas and processes. With the
arrival of Open Source code, the two worlds could have a prolific
marriage: why not share the load of developing a customizable
tax-collection package among governments? And why not outsource
bits and pieces to local business schools and universities as
summer projects and theses? A nice by-product of this is that
useful parts can be fed back to the tax-payer who paid for the
effort, after all: I’d like to have my income-tax calculated by
some piece of software I can download from the IRS’ web-site. And
if I find some spare time, I might like to port it to LISP and
create a tax-sheet for Emacs and distribute that gem via the IRS’
web-site or tax-consultants everywhere. Similar things go for the
IT-infrastructure running the Non-IT-infrastructure. Railway
logistics, process control for nuclear power-plants, software for
scheduling books at the public library — you name it. Right now
such products and services are contracted out to large companies
and duplicated over and over again. Usually the public does not
have any access to the source code, which is pretty unfair, because
it was Joe and Jane Taxpayer who funded it. With the open
source-model in public service, anyone who feels for it could
scrutinize the wares some institution is funding and review it,
improve it or send a note to his or her representative telling the
folks that the contractor/vendor is an incompetent idiot (“Dear
Honorable Excellence, the object model in our software for the
allocation of food stamps pretty much sucks. You are wasting my
money by building the software on such a cumbersome architecture.”)
Are you a GALG (Government-Approved Linux Guru)?”

“IT-Infrastructure is more than just chips and wires. It takes
experts to support it, and with this need for skilled personnel
comes the need for picking the true experts from the
self-proclaimed chief super-honchos. The formerly government-run
telcos in Europe have shown that they not necessarily know how to
manage a large company efficiently, but they shine when it comes to
education and training of competent telephony-geeks. Anybody is
free to enter a curriculum, take the tests and leave as a brain in
demand. If some Unix is becoming the standard in public service
everywhere, the governments could take the burden of establishing
the officially acknowledged standards of IT-proficiency, which Open
Source-Software of all kind is still lacking. I’m not exactly a
cheerleader for government-regulation, but this issue is about
critical mass and credibility, so a standard skill set which is
backed by one or more governments is an attractive concept.

The actual ways of filling the appropriate knowledge into heads can
be developed by public and commercial institutions, just like, for
example, typing, shorthand or flying a helicopter. The important
point here is an established and trusted consent about what makes a
person a good sys-admin, Unix-hacker or even – gasp – Unix-cracker.
Right now this arena belongs to the Microsoft-thought police and
its not so merry bunch of brainwashed Certified Engineers.”


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