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Canada Government Linux Business Open Source The Courts Linux

Free Software Wins Court Battle in Quebec 172

courteaudotbiz writes "In a court battle in the province of Quebec, Canada, initiated more than two years ago, free software activists Savoir Faire Linux (translated 'Linux know-how') won the right to submit offers (Google translation; original French version) when the government takes public requests for submissions to replace its desktop operating systems and office suites. This opens the possibility in the future of replacing Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office in favor of Linux and, or any other operating system and office productivity suite. In his judgment, the magistrate said that the government acted illegally when it discarded the proposal of Savoir Faire Linux for replacing Windows XP with a Linux distribution."
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Free Software Wins Court Battle in Quebec

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  • by McGiraf ( 196030 ) on Friday June 04, 2010 @09:08AM (#32457210)

    Vive le Quebec libre!
    - Charles deGaule

  • by Errol backfiring ( 1280012 ) on Friday June 04, 2010 @09:08AM (#32457214) Journal
    Seriously, doesn't this yell corruption into everybody's ears? What right is held back next?
  • Re:Rediculous. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Etyenne ( 4915 ) on Friday June 04, 2010 @09:42AM (#32457532)

    If the government of Quebec wants to upgrade their AutoCad 2000 license to AutoCad 2010 licenses, do they have to accept bids from people who want to sell them the free software program "Bricscad" running under Wine?

    Close, but no cookie. It means the government has to describe the need they need to fill, instead of dictating a specific product, in their RFP. Any bidder that can meet these needs can submit a proposal. It's common sense, really.

  • It's always like that , and that's one reason why this decision is important - it means, at least in Quebec, that there's no more of this "it's just an upgrade" BS.

    From what I read in the original french, the judge wasn't buying any of the gov't arguments. To paraphrase, if buying new computers with Vista on them is just an "upgrade", then everything becomes "just an upgrade" and there's no reason for ever calling for public tenders. (Those new police cars are "just an upgrade - no need for tenders").

    The problem is that Windows boxes are a continuing cash cow because of their higher on-going support needs, so of course people are going to push Windows. They aren't tech-savvy, they just know how to push the boxes, maintain the anti-virus subscriptions, which icons to click to set up the network, and how to reformat.

  • This judgment was about the procurement process in this context, but it has far-reaching implications. It means that the government has to follow the rules that they laid down for public tenders, and not (1) try to subvert the process, and (2) lie about it afterwords. If you read one of the other articles on the french web page, you'll see that it's the Parti Quebecois that is trying to get the government to be more user-friendly with our data and our tax dollars, while Jean Charest' Liberals don't want to know shit

    Then again, Jean Charest is such a lying fuck it's incredible. I remember talking to reporters and saying "people actually believe this guy?" and the response back was uniform "he says one thing to one group, another thing to another, but our editors just want to report what he's saying, not that he's lying half the time". We saw it with the whole demerger thing. Make a promise to do the right thing, then lie lie lie while you fuck everyone over.

    Then again, what do you want from a former Mulroney Conservative. There are so many anglos in Montreal who vote PQ now in provincial elections because there's no way that they can trust him again.

  • by wrook ( 134116 ) on Friday June 04, 2010 @10:44AM (#32458236) Homepage

    I disagree - there is the probability that there already exists an infrastructure built around Windows desktops, including systems management and applications. In such a case, does it really make sense to consider bids for an alternative desktop OS, which would require extra unbudgeted expenditure in order to integrate into the existing infrastructure (or replace the existing infrastructure altogether, with all the costs associated with that)?

    The answer is YES! The government is required to consider all competing bids. It's not just a good idea, it's the law and for good reason. It helps stop corruption when doling out taxpayer's money. IF it can be shown that a competing bid is more expensive for the same value, then of course they are quite able to reject the bid. However, disallowing competing bids is extremely bad because you don't know what the cost will be, or what the issues are -- because nobody has made a bid! Given that the capital cost for the average Linux distribution is zero, there should be plenty of money left over for other expenditures required to integrate into the existing infrastructure. In fact, from a reputable integrator, this (along with training and support of course) should be the vast majority of the cost.

  • by Changa_MC ( 827317 ) on Friday June 04, 2010 @11:58AM (#32459390) Homepage Journal

    We put out for bid by task to be accomplished, not by tool used.

    Flying a bid to revamp the electricity in one of our old buildings using DeWalt tools would be... inappropriate. It's incompetence if accidental, illegal if collusion occurred (this is an example, I only wish I got bribed with power tools).

    This is subject to some caveats, since sometimes only one company makes the tool you want -- but generally that's means you reject other bids quickly/there are no other bids. Not that you get to circumvent the process by never presenting other bids to committee.

  • by DarthVain ( 724186 ) on Friday June 04, 2010 @12:18PM (#32459626)

    Yes because all our software licences we currently own are linux compatible. As is all our server software. All our web is hosted on linux. Also all all IT staff all know Linux, and also know how to support it which is pointless anyway as all the users know how to use Linux, as well as all the Linux equivalent office software.


    Heck some of the negative airspace here can barely use Windows. Giving them Linux would be akin to giving a caveman a cellphone. Ook Ook Ah Ah Ah!

    Just about everything is Windows. The cost to change everything over to Linux would be huge. All of which is a moot point as it all comes down to what the IT overlords are most comfortable with, and that is certainly the status quo. Heck trying to get them to set up an SQL Server is a challenge (MS or otherwise), as they are so entrenched in Oracle. Its like OCD I think, they get stuff set up a certain way just how they like it, and are then very resistant to change of any kind.

    I hear ya in a lot of this stuff, but in the large soul crushing enterprise world, physics works differently.

  • im in ontario (Score:2, Insightful)

    by chronoss2010 ( 1825454 ) on Friday June 04, 2010 @12:41PM (#32459872)
    and if you guys had candidates here id vote for you and ive heard this before its LIKE canada is crying for a new party, one thats for people not stuffy suits that are selling off our values , country and civil rights
  • by stakovahflow ( 1660677 ) on Friday June 04, 2010 @01:13PM (#32460272)

    For that, I think OS/2 would suffice...

  • Re:Rediculous. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by turbidostato ( 878842 ) on Friday June 04, 2010 @09:48PM (#32466240)

    "If the government of Quebec wants to upgrade their AutoCad 2000 license to AutoCad 2010 licenses, do they have to accept bids from people who want to sell them the free software program "Bricscad" running under Wine?"

    Of course not, and the sentence says no otherwise.

    It's simply that there's no thing as "upgrading AutoCad 2000 to AutoCad 2010". It needs to be a "public procurement for an overhaul of Computer Assisted Design software at the Quebecois Regional Government".

    Of course, in the procurement process things like the easyness and cost of the overhaul process, compatibility and/or moving-forward costs for porting in-house developments to the new platform, front licensing costs, guarantees and maintenance fees will be taken into consideration, so maybe (even probably) the winner bid will be the one proposing a migration from AutoCad 2000 to AutoCad 2010, but that will be *AFTER* proper consideration of the presented bids, not by negating access to the procurement process to anyone with the ability and desire to cover the functional needs of the publica res.

    "The government of quebec's argument (an office 2003 to 2007, xp to vista) UPGRADE is not a bid-spec for a complete wholesale exchange of all their software and systems for one that is not compatible with all the other software in their list."

    And the judge has clearly stated that this is illegal and it shouldn't have been done that way. If they need unbroken operations within the current environment, then so they need to state, not that the software will be from this or that brand and model. What if by some unstated means one of the bidders is able to give the asked for functionality, port all needed applications, with 0 maintenance stops, proper personnel formation, etc. and still get better price and guarantees? Should it be unable to bid because it happens not to be "Brand Foo Model Bar"? It's not up the government to say in advance "nah... that's impossible, so I'll ask for AutoCad 2010 instead", but to ask for functionalities and functional restrictions and then look what the bidders have to offer.

    "I agree that the government should be considering extracting itself from the control of the "multinationals" as google-translate in TFA renders it."

    And so the judge states too. It's not only that the government (illegally) asked for brands and models instead of functionalities, but that it didn't take its due dilligence not developing a study regarding what such needs and functionalities in fact were.

"I shall expect a chemical cure for psychopathic behavior by 10 A.M. tomorrow, or I'll have your guts for spaghetti." -- a comic panel by Cotham