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Australian NSW Government Making Way for Linux 92

Posted by timothy
from the step-aside-please-step-aside dept.
seralick writes "Australian IT has reported that the Australian NSW government has established 'Australia's first whole-of-government panel to supply open source software and services to its departments and agencies.' Basically they have opened the way for the wide spread goverment usage of Linux software and services."
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Australian NSW Government Making Way for Linux

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  • Wow! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ta bu shi da yu (687699) on Tuesday April 05, 2005 @04:45AM (#12141920) Homepage
    I never thought I'd see this. I wonder if Bill Gates will fly in and offer massive discounting for govt depts, like he did for Telstra?
    • Re:Wow! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Morlark (814687) on Tuesday April 05, 2005 @04:50AM (#12141944) Homepage
      I think it's a bit late for that now. Governments around the world are starting to realise that Linux is a viable alternative to Windows.
      This reminds me of what's happening with the Computing Society at my university. The society is a strong supporter of Linux, so Microsoft has been offering us free software. They have yet to mention what the catch is, so we'll have to see how it all turns out.
      • Re:Wow! (Score:4, Funny)

        by Pants75 (708191) on Tuesday April 05, 2005 @04:55AM (#12141972)
        There probably wont be any catch.

        They wan't you familiar with and happy to use windows products when you hit the job market.

        • Re:Wow! (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Paua Fritter (448250)

          There probably wont be any catch.

          They wan't you familiar with and happy to use windows products when you hit the job market.

          That is the catch

      • Re:Wow! (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Technician (215283) on Tuesday April 05, 2005 @05:45AM (#12142114)
        Microsoft has been offering us free software. They have yet to mention what the catch is, so we'll have to see how it all turns out.


        In many places the catch is convert all IT programs to MS only. It's the only thing you will ever need, so that's all that needs training.
        Some places reject the offer as they train UNIX in one form or another and do not wish to be IIS only.
        • Re:Wow! (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Petrushka (815171) on Tuesday April 05, 2005 @08:50AM (#12142712)

          In many places the catch is convert all IT programs to MS only. It's the only thing you will ever need, so that's all that needs training. Some places reject the offer as they train UNIX in one form or another and do not wish to be IIS only.

          My latest example is when I tried applying for a job as a professor at a university in England (the application is still under way, so I will not name the university). The site is set up to accept covering letters and CV's only in Microsoft Word format: there is a notice expressly forbidding anything else.

          On a happier note, I contacted the university to complain about the stunning degree of narrow-mindedness shown by this -- do they really want to exclude anyone who doesn't use Microsoft Word from consideration??? -- and they replied saying that they were extremely sorry and they'd be happy for me to e-mail pdf files to them.

          Not quite OpenDocument support, but it's a start. And all without jeopardising my application. Yay!

          • On a happier note, I contacted the university to complain about the stunning degree of narrow-mindedness shown by this -- do they really want to exclude anyone who doesn't use Microsoft Word from consideration??? -- and they replied saying that they were extremely sorry and they'd be happy for me to e-mail pdf files to them.

            PDF actually works better for both you and for them. Since they are going to be printing your CV anyway, using PDF (as opposed to one of the many MS-Word formats) means that the fon

      • Re:Wow! (Score:4, Insightful)

        by plierhead (570797) on Tuesday April 05, 2005 @05:58AM (#12142139) Journal
        I wouldn't get out the champagne just yet. Selling to Government is a science all of its own, and one which many companies simply don't attempt as it is so expensive and frustrating. You will still find that the elaborate procurement steps government typically goes through will place far more emphasis on, say, how many other government clients you may have than, say, what computer operating system is used. And your proposal will still be reviewed by a bunch of dreary civil servants who, at worst, will be out and out corrupt and will go for the vendor who flies them to the Gold Coast for a "workshop", and at best, will often go for the MS solution because they have WIndows on their PC at home, use it for doing their genealogy research in the evenings and like it.
        • Re:Wow! (Score:3, Informative)

          That's not how government procurements work in my line of business. Actually, the contractors for the most part suggest and make the purchases. That's really because we simply have our finger on technology more so than the civil servants. It's nice to see that governments are starting to see the viability for linux. On my contract, we have been using Linux for clustering for several years - and that's simply not going to go away. And of course now that SGI and CRAY have linux offerings, it will only get be
        • I think the usual bribe *ahem* I mean workshop is a full funded golf day where MS supply the carts, the booze and a nice lunch. After that I dunno what the next level of "gifts" are I'm not high enough up to know :(

          On a side note our dept recently made the announcement they'd be going MS based. A few of us had already suggested alternatives like Linux or Apple. We weren't saying they should buy them on our sayso, but at least go as far as evaluating them as genuine alternatives.

          When the MS announcement

      • by ravee (201020)
        I have been an avid supporter and user of linux for the past few years. And my opinion is that as long as your university does not depend on propritery software like photoshop (Yes you have GIMP but it cannot be compared to photoshop), adobe illustrator and the likes which do not have a equvalent in linux as of yet, they can easily make the transition to linux in a smooth manner. Ultimatly to take the decision, there should be general consensus and the will to move over to open source equvalents of proprit
    • Re:Wow! (Score:3, Interesting)

      by lemnik (835774)

      Although I don't think it's as formal the South African government has an open source program. No sooner was it annouched but they went out and spend millions on M$ software for schools. Doesn't make a lot of sense to me when more than half of our teachers want to resign due to lack of pay (do I smell a kickback?).

      I would really like to see sucha program last.

    • Re:Wow! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mboverload (657893)
      Don't even get your hopes up. They will bribe the officials just like they do in all the other stories we have heard.
    • Re:Wow! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 05, 2005 @04:58AM (#12141985)
      Telstra is the lamest company ever. They had systematically gouged Australians and set-back the broadband and other Internet based industries decades.

      Bill Gates and Telstra deserve each other, scum bags.

      • Re:Wow! (Score:1, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Me: I don't need your dippy win32-only cable broadband client. I use Linux. I just want to know when you think your SMTP might be up again.

        Telstra service tech on phone: Linux? I've heard that's pretty cool. Does it run on XP yet?

        Me: Um, yeah, right.
      • Compared to other countries Australia has damn cheap broadband that is widely available. Try going to South Africa or anywhere in eastern europe. You'll be using dialup on a crackling line.
    • No way Bill Gates will fly in and do any such thing.

      He'll just send Steve instead.
    • Re:Wow! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Mr_Silver (213637) on Tuesday April 05, 2005 @06:33AM (#12142242)
      I never thought I'd see this. I wonder if Bill Gates will fly in and offer massive discounting for govt depts, like he did for Telstra?

      A very good point.

      I want Governments to be driving Open Source adoption in their departments because they realise the benefits that it gives, not pretending to do so in the hope that they can get better discounts out of Microsoft.

      It it is the latter, then we still have a very long way to go since the masses will equate Linux as being a barganing tool rather than a serious alternative.

      • Re:Wow! (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Atmchicago (555403)

        since the masses will equate Linux as being a barganing tool rather than a serious alternative.

        Maybe so, but that would definitely be based on flawed logic. If Linux can be used as a bargaining tool, it is because it has the potential to be used as a replacement for Microsoft's products. If Linux was not a viable alternative, it wouldn't be a viable bargaining tool either. Microsoft would just say "Sure! Go ahead and use Linux, you'll be running back to us in a year when you realize that it doesn't wo

    • by donak (609594)
      I think you'll find the government of the Australian Capital Teritory (ACT) beat them to it a couple of years ago. ACT is a small "state within the state" of NSW which surrounds our national capital Canberra. Coincidentally, Bill Gates paid a visit to Canberra and our (national) Prime Minister at about the same time ... but the PM is not in charge of ACT :-)
  • by Dancin_Santa (265275) <DancinSanta@gmail.com> on Tuesday April 05, 2005 @04:49AM (#12141937) Journal
    In short, NSW put together a group of companies that can be considered "preferred service companies" for when something is b0rken on a government machine. Until now, each problem report had to be handled individually, but with the "panel" in place, each problem can be pooled with other problems and the fix postponed en masse rather ignored on an individual basis.

  • Mmmm (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 05, 2005 @04:49AM (#12141938)
    The prime contractors include IBM, Sun Microsystems, Red Hat, Dell and Novell

    Isn't this just trading one monolith for another?

    Yes, the source may be open now, but as the NSW government gets more reliant on the company, the more one can expect the code to become proprietry.
    • Not really. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ta bu shi da yu (687699) on Tuesday April 05, 2005 @04:52AM (#12141958) Homepage
      If they are licensing via the GPL, and they are using Linux (which runs on open standards and doesn't play well on proprietary standards), then I very much doubt this. The code will remain open.
    • Pick the software you want carefully now and the GPL will do the rest for you in the coming years. Granted this is a government thing, so they may not be thinking that many elections into the future.
    • Easy math (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      MS: one monolith
      IBM, Sun Microsystems, Red Hat, Dell and Novell: ehm, more than one, so how can you speak of a monolith?

      And btw., one of the benefits of OSS is that you don't get locked in like you do with say an all out Windows shop. Sure, it might be inconvenient to switch to an other vendor, an other service provider, but at least it is possible without giving up your current solution.
    • Re:Mmmm (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mcc (14761)
      but as the NSW government gets more reliant on the company, the more one can expect the code to become proprietry.

      This is the entire reason the GPL has become so popular in the first place. It ensures you always have [i]some[/i] escape from such a situation.
    • Re:Mmmm (Score:3, Insightful)

      by 1u3hr (530656)
      >The prime contractors include IBM, Sun Microsystems, Red Hat, Dell and Novell
      Isn't this just trading one monolith for another?

      "Monolith" implies a single structure, if not company. There are 5 listed above, and several others.

    • Isn't this just trading one monolith for another?

      How is IBM, Sun Microsystems, Red Hat, Dell and Novell a monolith? These companies compete with each other, unlike MS who competes with MS until recently when Mozilla and Open Office invaded their turf.

  • Not just Linux (Score:4, Interesting)

    by MichaelPenne (605299) on Tuesday April 05, 2005 @04:50AM (#12141950) Homepage
    They can use Moodle [moodle.org] for employee training, service learning, schools, colleges, etc.

    And it's already translated into Australian (heck it's even translated into US for us 'mericans:-)!

  • by Pants75 (708191) on Tuesday April 05, 2005 @04:53AM (#12141964)
    Eeewwwwwwww!
  • by pressesc (873084) on Tuesday April 05, 2005 @04:54AM (#12141965) Homepage
    Firstly, this is old news. The formation of the panel was announced last year, and tenders were called to form the panel. The deadline for tenders was 28 Oct 2004. This is just to inform the people that the panel has closed.

    This in NO WAY makes NSW open source friendly. If anything it makes it harder for anyone in the govt to use open source. What this does is it requires users to buy open source software from a group of designated companies, basically locking small players out of the parket.

    This is bad news [pressesc.com] !!!

    Once again we see how slashdot story leads add so much spin to a story as to distort it completely.

    • by 0x461FAB0BD7D2 (812236) on Tuesday April 05, 2005 @05:20AM (#12142050) Journal
      The panel was formed to save government agencies the time and trouble of running open tenders. It was also formed to provide Linux-based services.

      Yes, perhaps this may lock out smaller companies or organizations, but it does promote open source usage by making it simpler to get.

      The main goal, as I see it, is to break the Microsoft stranglehold. If it requires the use of larger companies at the expense of smaller ones, so be it. If Linux captures a large share of the market, through these designated companies, then smaller players can come in and compete directly based on technical merit.

      If Ubuntu is better than SuSE is, let it compete against SuSE. But Ubuntu doesn't have much chance to compete against the might of Microsoft without the help of Novell, IBM and others.
      • The various distributions including non-profit ones like Ubuntu play a very important part in that they make it impossible for one particular company to monopolize the market like microsoft ended doing. As far as the choice of distribution is concerned, it filters down to one thing - support.

        If a distribution is able to give good support in terms of frequent bug fixes , software updation and technical support (need not be like redhat's 24x7 type but even mailing lists, news servers and email support will
    • You know, this is government we're taking about. They spend taxpayers' money and they are bound by very stringent rules on what that money can be spent. I reckon their decission is quite responsible, having in mind that the bloody TCO will be considerably reduced in the end.

      Besides, how many small players would realistically cut it when the matter is supply of services to government?

    • Good point. I wonder why there isn't any Australian based enterprise Linux distributers getting the go-ahead? Everything is RedHat RedHat RedHat these days. Where's the competiton? Ok sure, RedHat have a lot of kernel hackers on-board so it helps credibility but, where are the other Aussies? (when they're not working on SAMBA and IPtables)
  • Warning (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Link is NSW

    /sorry
    • Glad I'm not the only one that read this as NSFW: "Australian NSFW Government making way for Linux"... huh-wha?!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 05, 2005 @05:06AM (#12142010)
    We have to wait 8 months in Australia before this news is on the TV

    I better find a torrent for it!
    • No, this is text based news. You can get a copy from places like slashdot.

      Even better, you can wait until tomorrow and get a duplicate posting from slashdot.

      And if you like your text news delivered as a weekend omnibus edition, CmdrTaco or Timothy will post yet another duplicate of this story over the weekend.

      Of course, this story was about something that happened in NSW last october, so you may have recently seen it on ABC ;-)

      the AC
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 05, 2005 @05:08AM (#12142014)
    The idea is to present open source as just another tool. The vendor serves as an "abstraction layer". In this way, a NSW government employee, who might be primarily trained in public health for instance, can rely on the systems vendor to take care of the details irrelevant to the public health issues.

    It is what traditional commercial vendors have provided for years. What's new is that it will be implemented on top of Linux instead of Multics or Windows or VM/CMS.

    Looks promising.

  • by RyoSaeba (627522) on Tuesday April 05, 2005 @05:16AM (#12142037) Journal
    Microsoft already reacted, by putting a big ad on the article :)
  • by exekewtable (130076) on Tuesday April 05, 2005 @05:24AM (#12142062)
    My company Solutions First (http://www.solutionsfirst.com.au [solutionsfirst.com.au]) made it on the panel right next to the multinationals. We are a relativly small IT firm that specialises in Linux solutions, even if most of our clients don't know it. We have been providing linux solutions for 5 years in our current form.
    Nevertheless, this is a great thing for NSW. It means that all those government departments that previously had to submit a tender for linux services can now just call us up and we can help them.

    There is a more detailed article here:

    http://www.zdnet.com.au/news/software/0,2000061733 ,39187094,00.htm [zdnet.com.au]
    we are listed as Sol1 in that list.

    Its going to a great chance for our little company.

    dave
    • Got any jobs going?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 05, 2005 @07:22AM (#12142333)
      Go Dave!

      For some more context stuff, a contact of mine is an IT consultant hired by various large corporates primarily because he is tied into the nsw.gov.au old school tie network.

      He mentioned during a linux conversation that practically everyone in the NSW state government is "desperate to get rid of that Microsoft crap". Almost every department has people that have been hurt many many times by Microsoft, and have simply had enough.

      The key problem has been accountability. They are public servants, and so of course are never going to move until they are 100% sure they can do it and not suffer political/career repurcussions in the process.

      The (previously mentioned here) NSW Roads and Traffic Authority linux conversion was seen as their white knight project. From what I understand, that has been a strong success. With that out of the way, and now suppliers they can use without fear of repurcussion, I would expect to be seeing not just the odd single linux projects, but a whole swath of projects through most of the entire NSW government over the coming year.

      And you can bet once half of NSW is enjoying no failures from viruses and greatly reduced prices, the rest of .gov.au is going to model their efforts after them.

      Hazzah!

      Adam K
    • Hi Dave,

      Sorry, maybe it's 'cos it's so late, but I can't
      figure out how to contact you offline via slashdot. Very interested in what your company is doing, would you mind dropping me an email at from-slashdot-exekewtable@sonicbluebear.com please.

      Thanks!

      B747SP
    • Should also mention the other members of the team that cooperated with Sol1 to get on the panel:

      Babel Com Australia (us): www.babel.com.au

      Les Bell & Associates: www.lesbell.com.au

      Si2: www.si2.com.au
  • Hardly surprising (Score:4, Informative)

    by devious concepts (79338) on Tuesday April 05, 2005 @06:37AM (#12142252) Homepage
    This is not a spur of the moment action. Several years ago the NSW ALP had an open meeting regarding open source and more importantly open standards. Yes open standards, it is considerably more important than open source. Open standards span closed and open source and allow us to get on with business.

    Anyway, two years ago Della Bosca frankly admitted he did not know much of open source let alone linux, yet he was prepared to learn. To be honest he represents what we want. A politician who knows their limitations but is not afraid to ask. The result is a favourable movement towards open standards, which I believe is the way for governments to go.

    Three cheers for della bosca, he may not understand it but he is working for a better open world.
  • by jtangen (861406) on Tuesday April 05, 2005 @07:45AM (#12142421)
    Australians have tended to be rather anti-Windoze (see also http://apple.slashdot.org/apple/04/04/16/2311215.s html?tid=137&tid=175 [slashdot.org]). Odd that Apple is dragging their heels with iTMS Oz.
  • And wonder why in the hell there needs to be a freaking panel on opensource software in any government.

    I've read the articles left and right about hinderances to government implementing non-COTS environments but in the end it's just software!

    I don't remember these kinds of panels and hububaloo about implementing Windows here and there. Was there an implementation panel to provide service and support for Windows when it was brought into the Australian government?

    I'm all for open source as I like getting a
    • Well I think it has something to do with the lack of understanding of open source. When windows was implemented/installed, it was business as usual, just from a new vendor. OSS is a new paradigm and thus is far less known. Thats just MHO, though.
    • I'm all for open source as I like getting a paycheck but some of these "program" and "panels" and committees strike me as another sign of government waste.

      I think that you've missed an important point about free (as in speech) software, in that it is owned and developed by and for the community. The government is the body that should be organising the selection and development of NSW-specific open source software. It's like roads and sewage systems ... everyone benefits.

      A whole of government approach i

  • ... As opposed to the unAustralian NSW Government?

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