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Australian Tax Office Adopts Open Source Software 167

Posted by timothy
from the updated-fleecing-techniques dept.
James Roberts writes "AustralianIT is reporting today that the Australian Tax Office, or ATO (Australian IRS equivalent) has ditched its standard Microsoft SOE and will now adopt the Linux operating system 'where appropriate.' It was reported late last year that the ATO was originally considering Longhorn as its preferred SOE. This is a big step for Australian Federal Government, who have been slow in the uptake of open source policies despite ongoing petitioning by several high profile pressure groups."
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Australian Tax Office Adopts Open Source Software

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  • Why not call them what they are, "non-profit sales teams"?

    Here's a funny thought. The government saves money by not paying Microsoft licensing fees. Do they expect to return that windfall back to the tax payers?
  • by MacFury (659201) <me@johnkramli[ ]com ['ch.' in gap]> on Monday February 23, 2004 @10:55PM (#8370176) Homepage
    Just what operations are they moving to open source? Is this the standard day to day operating tasks such as word processing and spreadsheets, or are they writing custom software?
    • In the article it states that they currently are predominantly Microsoft centric on their midrange platform and this is the area that is expected to change as part of the Change Program.

      I guess this in turn means that they would primarily be doing custom developed software. I can't imagine too much off the shelf type stuff that would be of interest to ATO.

  • SOE what? (Score:1, Redundant)

    by Anonymous Coward
    No, I mean wtf is SOE?
    • Re:SOE what? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Duc de Montebello (751651) on Monday February 23, 2004 @11:01PM (#8370228)
      Standard Operating Environment

      another stupid TLA, meaning a PC running windows...

      • Re:SOE what? (Score:3, Informative)

        by Kaotiq (450904)
        Not Necessarily meaning a PC running windoze, its more general than that, even though thats probably the most common one.

        I've seen SOE applied to other boxen, including in one case Solaris 8 with a particular set of patches.

        Its just a way of saying "This is our standard box".
      • Not anymore! :-D
      • Re:SOE what? (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Sorry, for sme people it means more than that. In the world of IT Service Management, a SOE (aka Configuration Baseline) is a powerful tool to simplify the release management process. Without the concept of configuration baselines, an organisation with 3000 desktops and 200 servers would have potentially 3200 different configurations. Pretty hard to test against, to find the underlying causes of incidents etc. etc. etc.

        Many organisations have server SOEs as well as desktop ones.
    • Re:SOE what? (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      SOE - Standard Operating Environment
    • Re:SOE what? (Score:1, Redundant)

      by sparkie (60749)
      Standard Operating Environment, had you read the article, you'd know that.
      • Re:SOE what? (Score:1, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        The summary should be self-explanatory. The purpose of a summary is to let you know what the article is about. If the summary doesn't make sense without reading the article, it fails it's purpose. Had you completed high school English, you'd know that.

        And btw, that skimmer summary read like something by a crackhead.
        • Re:SOE what? (Score:3, Insightful)

          by sparkie (60749)
          Not everyone is an American, or attends American High School English. Being someone who completed high school English, I know summaries are *not* supposed to be self-explanatory. They are meant to entice you into reading the full article.

          Now, promptly remove your head from your ass and look at the light of day.
  • by wan-fu (746576) on Monday February 23, 2004 @10:57PM (#8370186)
    By using an Anton Pilar act [slashdot.org], SCO raided ATO offices demanding a AUD$904.32 (USD$699) licensing fee for each CPU.
  • by seriv (698799) on Monday February 23, 2004 @10:58PM (#8370192)
    Shouldn't the ITs over there start with thing less important then tax records to start with converting computers to Open Source? Don't get me wrong, I am all for a switch anywhere, but why start with such a massive undertaking?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      if something big like that can be done, so can the smaller less important things.

      it sets a standard, adn a wealth of info to learn from
    • by RedPhoenix (124662) on Monday February 23, 2004 @11:21PM (#8370359)
      We have..

      * Department of Veterans Affairs: Ditched a bunch of NT4 file servers for a big samba box running on an existing s390 machine.
      * Northern Territory Department of Education: Open Source focussed for many years.
      * NSW Department of Transport: Moving down the open source (particularly, open-office) path.
      * Aust Department of Defence: LOTS of open source here, regardless of lack of any official position om the issue.
      * About a dozen other government departments: Using open source security auditing agents (Snare, Snort) to comply with national security requirements.
      * ACT open-source legislation will probably mean a heightened open-source focus for the ACT government IT provider, InTACT.
      * Several small DB projects in quite a few agencies, using postgres/mysql.
      * Websphere (which has a apache backend) being used in a bunch of organisations, including the DVA.
      * many more examples...

      However, I'm not certain that the ATO are converting just yet, they're just not excluding it any more (ie: Allowing prospective bidders to NOT take into account the current (windows) SOE when developing proposals). I also suspect that the tax records will not be affected by this change - from memory, they're on a bunch of big-iron machines.

      Red.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @12:32AM (#8370753)
        IBM Websphere is not particularly valid point in the context of this article. The idea that deploying a Websphere based Intranet solution is actually cost effective is quite ridiculous to me.

        I am, right now, sitting next to a bunch of developers who are battling to get a single part of a Websphere implementation to work, let alone be productive. The current word is that the leader of the team should probably be looking for a new job because of the current budget blow-out.

        Sure, apache is no doubt working beautifully behind the scenes here, but from what I've heard that would be the only thing working. IBM have promised us the world, and are now helping us towards fulfilling that promise, without very much success.

        Developing an Intranet solution based on Websphere has little to do with what web server its running on, and more to do with the content management tools it provides, how easy it is to have it co-exist and integrate with existing applications, and how clear the business are in defining the requirements.

        Luckily, here, management are smart enough to understand that the problems lie with IBM's solution, and not the fact that we're using open-source software
        • I'd have to agree here. One particular agency (which I think you're a part of, based on your comments :) was recommended websphere by their outsourcer, when an overwhelming majority of the developers had experience with another platform.

          I remember commenting at the time, that although the solution was probably in the best interests of the outsourcer, it was probably not in the best interests of the agency (despite the fact that it used an open source component).
    • by iabervon (1971) on Monday February 23, 2004 @11:22PM (#8370372) Homepage Journal
      They're already planning a major change. This is not actually a commitment to use any OSS, but rather a decision to evaluate OSS solutions as part of the change. Furthermore, they run relatively little software on their desktops; most of the work is done on their mainframes. So the OSS portion of this is not really a massive undertaking. For that matter, if they start running Linux on their mainframes (side-by-side with what they're currently running), they can start a tighter integration between their mainframe and desktop environment.
    • Seen this one? FLAG (Score:3, Interesting)

      by tqft (619476)
      FLAG - Forensic and Log Analysis GUI

      Ran across this morning looking for something else

      http://www.dsd.gov.au/library/software/flag/inde x. html

      You may want to check the source or have someone you trust do so
    • What, would you prefer to entrust important things to Windows, id10t?
  • by gid13 (620803) on Monday February 23, 2004 @10:59PM (#8370206)
    As opposed to what they were doing before: adopting it where inappropriate! :)

    Seriously though, is it just me or does that wording imply that they've been inappropriately using Windows? Maybe it's good they can admit such a thing.
    • by Crypto Gnome (651401) on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @12:49AM (#8370836) Homepage Journal
      It all depends, if you consider the blanket deployment of a single solution without considering for *how appropriate* that solution is for the many and various expected uses to be "inappropriate" then YES they've been inappropriately using Windows.

      All they've said (and this now goes for many Australian Government uses, now) is that OpenSource solutions will now be considered on a case-by-case basis, whereas previously it was "roll out this solution everywhere, without considering other options" (mainly due to Government bulk-buying of off-the-shelf commercial solutions, mostly due to HEAVY lobbying/discounting/campaign contributions?).

      Yes, it's true, The Australian Government has made a commitment to officially (and seriously? one hopes) consider the use of OpenSource as opposed to (as previously) considering only mass-market commercial solutions.
  • Longhorn? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Espectr0 (577637) on Monday February 23, 2004 @10:59PM (#8370208) Journal
    It was reported late last year that the ATO was originally considering Longhorn as its preferred SOE

    What? How can they even consider an OS that won't be released for about 2 years?
    • Simple. (Score:2, Interesting)

      Bullshit marketing from MS. Remember Windows NT? Didn't it START at version 3.5? What happened to Windows NT 1.0, 2.0, and 3.0?

      Hitler also followed this numbering scheme. He started numbering his troops at something like 10,000 to make the first recruits think there were many before them.

      • NT started at ~3.1 IIRC. Probably to match up with Windows versions.
      • Nope, there was a NT3.0, which had a windows3.1 like GUI, NT3.5 had the Win95 tacked on. Releases prior to NT3.0 were internal MS releases, jsut the same as some products have irregular release version jumps, not all are public (and why do they need to be?).
    • 2 years, try 6 at the last estimate.
    • Re:Longhorn? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by askegg (599634)
      Since when has anything the ATO done made sense?
    • Really simple. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by The Fink (300855) <slashdot@diffidence.org> on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @01:30AM (#8371056) Homepage
      Australian bureaucracies -- doubtless, others worldwide, too -- take about two to three years to come to a decision. It's actually a really smart move on the part of their decision-makers to start the decision-making process about two to three years early, since that's about how long it takes them to make the decision.

      Heck, speaking with first-hand experience, I can plainly state that some places didn't upgrade to Windows NT until Windows 2000 had come out. And have only recently gone to Windows 2000.

      Of course, even with spending the next few years evaluating the unevaluable (an unreleased OS), that'd come up when they'd finally gotten to making a decision, which in turn means the evaluation would be thrown out, and restarted at point zero.

      ... and people wonder where Australian tax dollars go. :-)

    • Why do you think MS markets its oses 5 years in advance?
  • Does this mean... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by propellor_head (668863) on Monday February 23, 2004 @11:00PM (#8370220)
    Does this mean that in future, e-tax (the software the ATO provides for people to lodge their own personal returns) will run on Linux? At present it only runs on Windows.
    • Re:Does this mean... (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I would say no. The article mentions middle-ware applications, not end-user apps.
    • My guess is no. This would not fall under the 'appropriate' column.
    • How about all of the electronic lodgement apps comapnies are required to use? I saw a document which basically said we were required to have a copy of IE5 or so running on MS Windows. Is this government support of a monopoly or what?
    • Re:Does this mean... (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Just a note that the 2003 version ran just fine using wine.
    • I think I'll stick to the web forms...
    • Nice to see... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by wildchild978 (458123)
      ... that I'm not the only one who's noticed this glaring ommission. I dislike having to reboot into windows for e-tax. I've tried running e-tax under WINE, but had troubles, so unless they want to take e-tax online or port it to java instead of MS Visual Basic or whatever it is they use (the widgets are vaguely familiar but I can't remember where they're from) I would hope that since they're adopting a more open philisophy the openness would flow on to its "end user" applications.
    • I went back to manual filling in for the same reason. Weird, because the software is written in Java.
  • by calmdude (605711) on Monday February 23, 2004 @11:00PM (#8370223)
    Their web site runs IIS [netcraft.com].

    • by martinX (672498) on Monday February 23, 2004 @11:48PM (#8370517)
      Perhaps they don't run their own web servers. The government department I work for has a significant web presence but the hosting is contracted out to an outside company. In fact, none of the departments of this state government run their own web servers.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    You mean that there is free/inexpensive sofware that governments can use? I thought that they needed to pay tons of money for everything. That's just mind-boggling!
  • Among the Gartner Group's key findings were that the ATO should develop an open-source policy and review procurement processes to better enable the evaluation, selection and sharing of open-source software.

    It looks like someone at Gartner is going to get fired when big Billy finds out that theey have broken ranks!
  • by sr180 (700526) on Monday February 23, 2004 @11:11PM (#8370288) Journal
    I dont see why they dont do this government wide as China is attempting. The amount of money saved on licensing would hire a lot of staff for support and training. Thus the money previously paid for licensing would be directed into the local IT workforce, creating jobs, producing local IT experience and knowledge that can then boost the local industry instead of watching all our tax money go offshore...
    • The amount of money saved on licensing would hire a lot of staff for support and training.

      But wait...I thought one of the big draws with Linux is ease of administration. 1 Linux guy can admin more systems than a Windows guy. So either the government can reduce the support staff, or keep around redundant people.

      The idea of saving money is to actually not spend as much, not hire unneeded people.

      We can't have it both ways.
      • Oxymoron

        So either the government can reduce the support staff, or keep around redundant people.

      • by Eivind (15695)
        You're confusing two different things. Yes, one unix-admin can in general admin more servers, or maintain more desktops than one windows-guy.

        But that doesn't mean that you won't require more or less the same amount for user-support as you needed under Windows. Indeed you'd probably need more in the change-over period. Not because Linux is so much harder to use, but simply because *any* change requires some amount of retraining. (changing from Linux to Windows would also require extra user-support for a pe

    • I dunno, maybe because it would be an absolutely enormous undertaking that would require hitherto unforseen coordination between every single government department, exposure to a single enormous risk rather than small, controlled experiments, retraining on a massive scale, adoption of a platform that even leading advocates claim is not quite ready for the desktop, and the total absence of proof that any of the things you've just asserted would actually come true on such a large scale?

      I dunno about you, but
    • "Thus the money previously paid for licensing would be directed into the local IT workforce, creating jobs, producing local IT experience and knowledge that can then boost the local industry instead of watching all our tax money go offshore...

      So we give the money to IBM instead and let them take it offshore?
    • Thus the money previously paid for licensing would be directed into the local IT workforce...

      And then tax the workforce! I can see why a tax office would want to support Linux now...
  • by vistas (214241) on Monday February 23, 2004 @11:13PM (#8370309)
    The article did not say they were going to switch from Microsoft to Linux. The gist of it is that they will no longer dismiss open-source solutions out of hand, but will at least give it some consideration.
  • Probably due to... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 23, 2004 @11:16PM (#8370319)
    the hiring of Bill Gibson as CIO, and his review [news.com.au] of all things IT in the ATO.

    As a contractor on the ATO account, I for one, welcome our new open-source weilding overlords!

    Mind you, Bill did pull a huge tender [news.com.au] recently, so maybe this won't make it through the next month without being reversed.
  • by sashang (608223) on Monday February 23, 2004 @11:20PM (#8370350)
    it's GNU/ATO. In the future please correctly refer to the organization as GNU/ATO.
    All your taxes belong to us.
  • by emptybody (12341) on Monday February 23, 2004 @11:30PM (#8370413) Homepage Journal
    I would love to use quickbooks but am sick to death of microsoft. Maybe this will help them to see it is a good idea.
    • I'm running QuickBooks Pro 2000 under CrossOver (the commercial version of WINE) in Xandros [xandros.com] Linux, derived from Debian stable). The user interface is a bit ugly, with some of the buttons almost completely hidden and no online help, but it otherwise works as it did in Windoze. The critical accounting data is secure. Printing checks and invoices is not a problem.

      Other versions didn't work but QB Pro 2000 does. CrossOver should put more effort into supporting QB as a critical application that prevents bu

  • by rsilvergun (571051) on Monday February 23, 2004 @11:36PM (#8370446)
    Much as I'd love to see a Gov't move to OSS, I wouldn't be surprised if this turned out to be another bait'n'switch to get Microsoft to give 'em some discounts. What I really want to see is them roll out linux desktops. They might still (why any country in it's right mind would trust a foriegn company with a history of getting away with shady monopolitic practices is beyond me), but I'm not gonna hold my breath.

    The comment about mid range stikes me though. XP's a resource hog, but older Windows are insecure as heck. Linux could find itself a nice nitch where people need a secure desktop OS with access to patchs but don't want to buy new hardware.
    • Much as I'd love to see a Gov't move to OSS, I wouldn't be surprised if this turned out to be another bait'n'switch to get Microsoft to give 'em some discounts

      Keep in mind that even discounts help Linux by hurting Microsoft.
  • by penpen (145962) on Monday February 23, 2004 @11:45PM (#8370500)
    The Australian Taxation Office is the so entrenched with microsoft products, I doubt that will ever look at moving away from these solutions.

    Perhaps the greatest entrenchment is something called the ATO innovation centre. This is where they collaborate at a high level with microsoft, on new products and solutions to what they're working on.

    I'm sure I would have heard about news as big as the ATO closing down their innovation centre so one can assume, they aren't even close to getting rid of ms, but are still deep in bed taking a pounding in the wallet.

    Other reasons I'm doubtful of the move are custom pieces of software that have been made for the ATO would have to be ported.
    I know for a fact that the company I work has over the years written a large number of pieces of software for the ATO using, vb and .net. Now simply the cost of moving over these third party software pieces would make any more away from microsoft extremely difficult.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      If you've written code for the ATO, I wouldn't go bragging about it. Their database blows goats.
    • I know for a fact that the company I work has over the years written a large number of pieces of software for the ATO using, vb and .net. Now simply the cost of moving over these third party software pieces would make any more away from microsoft extremely difficult.

      I still can't figure out why customers don't try to factor in cost of lock-in. The only reason I can think of is that perhaps PHBs don't look at anything but information from software vendors, and software vendors are unlikely to include lock
  • ATO (Score:5, Interesting)

    by digitaltraveller (167469) on Monday February 23, 2004 @11:47PM (#8370510) Homepage
    In Australia you can file your taxes electronically using a WIN32 application that is terribly written. It consistently estimates your refund/liability incorrectly even with the simplest tax information. For example, a salary-only return with no deductions, no adjustments, etc.

    Putting their support for monopolists aside, government incompetence is so 90's. The concept of DETERMINISM needs to be explained to the ATO.

    If anything should be deterministic it's the tax code. The refund/liability amount should be perfect to the last penny, in all but the most complex returns.

    Even in that situation, the estimated return should be correct, but potentially there may be arguments about the content of the return itself, not the resulting amount.
    • I hate to quibble, but to judge the quality of the info by judging the quality of the source (i.e. you) I have to ask what you're doing filling out a return if you're a wage-earner with no deductions, etc. Do you have an alternate source of income or something?

      Just a friendly inquiry, not a flame.

      If anything should be deterministic it's the tax code. The refund/liability amount should be perfect to the last penny, in all but the most complex returns.

      Sorry, but while the tax system has to deal with fuzz

  • Quite Significant! (Score:4, Informative)

    by Antarius (542615) on Monday February 23, 2004 @11:57PM (#8370562)
    This is actually quite a significant development. The ATO doesn't usually adopt "new technologies" for quite some time.

    I was amazed when they snuck in fax numbers to allow businesses to submit their BAS (Business Activity Statement - paperwork for the "New Tax System." Is submitted anywhere from Quarterly through to twice-per-fscking-week depending on size of the business).

    Because they aren't publicised, here's some of the fax numbers that I've been able to find out:
    +61-3-9937-9200
    +61-3-9937-9400
    +61-8-8228-4399
    +61-8-8228-4297

    Of course, now I can sit back and watch these fax machines get slashdotted. Not that they don't every day that a BAS/IAS is due anyway! ;-)
    "Specifically "not recommended or supported" in the SOE are the GNU/Linux open source operating system and the Mozilla open-source browser."
    The non-Linux move comes as no surprise. It's no secret that the current hardware is great for Fragfests (Some of the best Quake players that I knew were ATO employees...)

    As to Mozilla? Also no surprise. If their own webpage isn't 100% Mozilla friendly, who'd expect any advances in this field?
    • Of course, now I can sit back and watch these fax machines get slashdotted. Not that they don't every day that a BAS/IAS is due anyway! ;-) "Specifically "not recommended or supported" in the SOE are the GNU/Linux open source operating system and the Mozilla open-source browser." The non-Linux move comes as no surprise. It's no secret that the current hardware is great for Fragfests (Some of the best Quake players that I knew were ATO employees...)

      That was the old SOE. The new SOE would allow Lin

  • I can't see the problem with sending boatloads of cash to Microsoft for Windows. I mean, the ATO can just purchase boxes of Windows make a tax write-off. ba dum dum ching...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @12:20AM (#8370694)
    All this means is the ATO has changed their policy to that non-Microsoft software *MAY* be used where appropriate. This does not mean they are ditching any existing software, just they will be more inclusive in future decision. Hardly newsworthy, I would say!

    Similar to an Australian hospital group I once worked for, ATO is so entrenched in Microsoft it is unlikely anything will change in the immediate future. Such organisation have many Linux and open source haters within their IT departments, it is very hard for pro Linux and open source people to have any impact.

    CIOs are only interested in the bottom line and this could just be the ATOs attempt at getting a better deal from Microsoft.
  • Interesting, but... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by The Famous Brett Wat (12688) on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @12:24AM (#8370713) Homepage Journal
    So does this mean that e-tax 2004 [ato.gov.au] won't require the use of Windows to lodge your tax return electronically? I do keep a spare Windows machine lying around for use in case of emergency, but I refuse to entrust it with any important financial information, passwords, or things that could facilitate "identity theft", so there's no way I'm going to fill out a tax return on it.

    I'm betting that e-tax will be Windows-only again this year, but it's a bet I wouldn't mind losing.

  • by sasha328 (203458) on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @12:24AM (#8370714) Homepage
    The comment is pretty misleading. The ATO had a SOE policy wich explicitly excluded non-Microsoft products. What they are doing now is ditching this part of the SOE policy. In other words, they will still be a Microsoft shop, but in the future, non-Microsoft products have, in theory, and equal footing to be accepted as SOE.
    Don't get me wrong. It is a positive move, and hopefully, good will come out of it.
  • Sharing Code Already (Score:4, Informative)

    by marko123 (131635) on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @12:53AM (#8370872) Homepage
    A beautiful thing I heard from the horse's mouth last time I was in Canberra:

    The Intellectual Property departments are sharing source code with the Taxation Departments instead of spending tax dollars to rewrite the same functionality (online identification verification using PKI in Java).

    Very good to hear already. This makes sense as well.
    • Intellectual Property departments are sharing source code with the Taxation Departments instead of spending tax dollars

      I'm cynical enough to say the tactical decision to use OS is election related. It's the timing that gives it away.

      SOE restricts its systems to IBM mainframe technologies such as the z/OS operating system and Cool:Gen development environment for back-office functions, Microsoft's Windows for its mid-range server and desktop platform and .NET as its front-end development environment.

      He

  • From The Trenches (Score:5, Informative)

    by ikeaboy77 (648728) on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @01:01AM (#8370928)
    Having spent more than my fair share of time (though not as much as some!) working on ATO mid-range systems, I can confirm most of the technical aspects of the article.

    Yes, all ATO mid-range systems are developed on the Microsoft platform. Most are recently developed .NET applications to web-enable existing mainframe applications; Others were designed to integrate across agencies via web-services; Others still do little more than send an email.

    And yes, the vast, vast majority of core business processing continues to take place on mainframes - tax processing, enforcement, GST, BAS. The data for these systems are all ultimately stored and processed on big iron.

    As for the SOE, well, mid-range developers have (you guessed it) an all Microsoft SOE running W2K server (progressively rolling out W2K3), SQL Server 2000, IIS 5, etc, etc, etc. Business users run XP with the usual collection of Office and Outlook, plus a good old mainframe client to connect to those core systems.

    Sure, the lip service paid to adopting open source might be encouraging, but I wouldn't hold my breath! The Change Program needs to make these announcements, but much of the technology solutions are already proposed and are only a rubber stamp away from approval.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    ATO, Australian for robbery.
  • Tax or Tux? (Score:4, Funny)

    by axxackall (579006) on Tuesday February 24, 2004 @04:37AM (#8371673) Homepage Journal
    I guess from now on we should call it "Australian Tux Office".
  • The IRS and its equivalents in other countries are the last organizations I'd want using F/OSS.
    Yes, I recognize all the advantages of F/OSS-- security, stability, supportability and lifetime, etc. I'd prefer not to have a BSOD or some worm-induced malfunction on, for example, the avionics systems of a jetliner.
    I'm also thrilled to see the Brazilian government taking steps toward independence from Redmond (and, indirectly, the US Government-- everyone down here remembers the "NSA Key" very clearly) by m
    • If the tax department lost its records and could not assess tax it would have only a few options:

      Reconduct its tax evaluation at HUUUGE expense, forcing employers to resubmit records, forcing taxpayers to resubmit tax forms and exponentially increasing audits to make sure that noone takes advantage of the chaos.

      Institute a desperate taxation scheme such as skimming off bank balances or taxing all transactions with a flat rate or similar crude methods that would cause investor panic and be sure to send the

    • I'm also thrilled to see the Brazilian government taking steps toward independence from Redmond (and, indirectly, the US Government-- everyone down here remembers the "NSA Key" very clearly) by moving toward F/OSS.

      How do you feel about the NSA-developed SELinux extensions that are being added to distros all over the place?
      • How do you feel about the NSA-developed SELinux extensions that are being added to distros all over the place?

        As long as the source code is available, I don't care who developed it. What worried me (and everyone I know in the information security field I know in Brazil) about Microsoft's "NSA Key" is that we can't see what's in the Windows source code, and MS may or may not have built in a "back door" allowing the NSA to circumvent any encryption without us knowing. I know of nobody who was convincd by

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