Open Source Forum 2008

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

London, Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The most interesting, to me at least, part of the seminar was – no, not the food, though that was great as well – more than anything, the presentation by Graham Taylor of Open Forum Europe.

Here it was especially interesting to learn that, while the EU and the European Parliament, etc., claim to be open and all that, citizens wishing to – properly – interact and communicate with their MEPs are “forced”, by designs, to have to have computers running a particular operating system and also a particular piece of software from the same provider as the operating system, that is to say that the computers MUST be MS Windows and run Internet Explorer and Windows Media Player. Other operating systems, especially here Open Source Software and Operating Systems, do not work in that field. This is interesting to learn but, at the same time scary to some extent, realizing how much influence a certain software giant has over everything and that Europe and its institutions has locked itself so tightly into Microsoft and other proprietary software.

No, I am not Windows bashing – that would leave too many shards – and neither was the Open Source Forum really. Many Open Source Software can be run happily on Windows.

The other seminar sessions that I attended too were most interesting and informative and I would be happy to repeat such experience any day if the opportunity would present itself.

Unfortunately I had to leave straight after lunch needing to return home urgently for personal reasons. Therefore I also had to forego the other seminars sessions, especially the cases studies. I was particularly interested in the study of the use of Open Source Software (OSS) with the Oyster Card. Alas, as they say, such is life.

Obviously, to a degree, the forum, though being kept “vendor agnostic”, nevertheless, as it was sponsored by Red Hat Enterprise, had a slight RHEL slant to it. This was fine, however, and anyone could learn a great deal as to OSS and as to where the OSS “movement”, for a movement it is, is headed.

The way Open Source Software (OSS) is going and the great quality of the products, more often than not superior to that of the proprietary software available for lots of money, from operating systems, whether Red Hat or Ubuntu, to applications, and everything else in between, we should be seeing a lot more Open Source Software in use and that not only by the geek, the home user and the SMB sector but in enterprise and especially in government.

The United Kingdom in both industry and especially in government as the great, if not the greatest, laggard when it comes to the uptake, implementation and use of OSS. Aside from the USA, the world leaders as far as the use of Open Source Software and Technology is concerned are France, Germany and Spain, and that not only as regards to being leaders in Europe in this field.

In Germany and France we are twice more likely to see the use of Open Office than in the UK.

It is true that the world still uses to over 60% Microsoft Office, followed immediately by Open Office with a share of 25%. All other systems are just about “also rans”.

Many people, and I am sure some of my readers are, or have been, among them, see Open Source Software, including the operating systems, even such easy ones as Ubuntu, as the domain of the geek or of those that are anti-Microsoft. This is, however, not so.

Many also think and try to make it look as if Open Source Software movement and FLOSS movement are all about Linux-v-Microsoft, but this is not the case. It is a lot more nowadays. It is primarily a case of freedom, freedom in many points.

© M Smith (Veshengro), May 2008