[Linux-aus] Giving Australians work with Open Source
leon at cyberknights.com.au
Thu Jan 15 06:11:02 UTC 2004
> Legislation aimed at making open source software a preferred
> option for government departments and agencies could have the
> unintended effect of damaging the prospects of local IT
> service providers.
It will certainly undermine two specific classes of local IT service
providers, something which I'm very happy about.
The first class are basically the helpless minions of a dominant foreign
provider, echoing their sentiments and passing on their instructions
and demands as if they were gospel.
The major effect of undermining these businesses will be to return
control of their customers' IT departments to Australian hands.
This prospect actually terrifies a whole stratum of point-and-drool
incompetents, drones who will then be required to make their own
decisions and take their own consequences. The end result of this will
be the raising of the competence levels of the average Australian IT
worker, either because the idiots get fired, or better still because
the idiots are forced to get off their backsides and learn to be
The second class deliberately use their own dominance and the dominance
of the products that they resell (it used to be called "badge
engineering" but these days they often don't even bother to change the
badges) to artifically inflate their cost to the government departments
procuring from them.
A subset of this class are happy enough to sponge off the efforts of
Open Source developers, using robust Open Source components like
PostgreSQL, Apache and Linux as a base for their products, but still
managing to make the final product a lock-in trap - and still charging
for the final product as if they'd had to amortise out the development
costs of those Open Source components themselves.
The demise of these expensive parasites in the face of real competition
from smaller providers who lack the budget to wine, dine and bribe
representatives of their target market will eventually result in a
greater portion of the actual work (and money) falling on more
Australian shoulders, and less of that which is spent going towards
In the interest of full disclosure, I state that my shoulders will be
among those. I run a small computer consultancy based around Open
> "You're actually going to be forced to go into an open source model
> without having considered whether it will work for the long-term
> business model," Oi told attendees at the Linux and Open Source in
> Government Conference in Adelaide.
More fool them for having not examined their options over the last ten
years as Open Source began to have an ever-greater influence on the IT
landscape. It didn't appear overnight. Must we defend poor business
decisions (being blindsided by a newly revitalised design approach) at
a legislative level?
Look around the world; many countries which we consider borderline
"third world" are not asking "will this work?" or "should we try it?" -
they're saying "this *does* work, very well indeed thank you, and it
has had many positive social effects that we never foresaw when we
> agencies should "avoid the procurement of. . . software for which
> support or maintenance is provided only by an entity that has the
> right to exercise exclusive control over its sale or distribution".
In the wording of the Act, you can see this very effect: the Act doesn't
say "you will use Linux", but it does say "you will not buy your way
into servitude". If solution providers have a problem with that, it is
caused by their one-eyed and selfish view of the situation, or possibly
just by the dread of change, not by any real-life, demonstrable
deficiency in the Act.
For a clearer understanding of the protests of the entrenched suppliers,
I refer you to Frédéric Bastiat's "Petition from the Manufacturers of
Candles, Tapers, Lanterns, Sticks, Street Lamps, Snuffers, and
Extinguishers, and from Producers of Tallow, Oil, Resin, Alcohol, and
Generally of Everything Connected with Lighting":
http://cyberknights.com.au/ Modern tools; traditional dedication
http://plug.linux.org.au/ Committee Member, Perth Linux User Group
http://slpwa.asn.au/ Committee Member, Linux Professionals WA
http://linux.org.au/ Committee Member, Linux Australia
More information about the linux-aus