[Linux-aus] Giving Australians work with Open Source

Leon Brooks leon at cyberknights.com.au
Thu Jan 15 06:11:02 UTC 2004

Re: http://www.itnews.com.au/storycontent.asp?ID=10&Art_ID=17864

> 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 
unproductive ends.

In the interest of full disclosure, I state that my shoulders will be 
among those. I run a small computer consultancy based around Open 
Source software.

> "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 
adopted it".

> 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":


Cheers; Leon

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

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