FSFE Newsletter - August 2010
The focus of this edition is Free Software in the public sector: on a national level within the United Kingdom, in the Italian region of Bozen, and in the Austrian city of Linz. We introduce a new definition of mnemonic Open Standards, and invite you to participate in upcoming local Free Software events.
Additionally in July Maëlle Costa and Sam Tuke started their internships. Răzvan Sandu transcribed Richard Stallman's speech from eLiberatica, Maëlle created a structured web edition, and our active translator Stelios Stavroulakis translated it into Greek. Matthias Kirschner gave the first in a new series of radio interviews occurring on the 4th Monday of the each month for the public radio station 'Dradio Wissen'.
Europe is witnessing an ever increasing number of public administrations considering the migration to Free Software. Public administration represents the largest purchaser of software in each EU country, and is a critically important area of Free Software growth. Increased public sector use of free software means more money invested in the development and deployment of Free Software, which ultimately results in greater quality and quantity of Free Software programs.
Saving money with Free Software in the UK
In the UK, her Majesty’s Treasury asked 600,000 people working for the government how more savings could be made. They got 60,000 ideas out of it, processed them and put that into 31 proposals. Two of those proposals relate to Free Software. They include annulling the government’s contract with Microsoft to furnish government departments, and replace their products with Free Software, including GNU/Linux and OpenOffice. Supporting arguments for the switch included lower costs, improved security, and the opportunity to create a "more diverse spectrum of the IT industry, instead of [just] one corporation".
Public tendering: Bozen reconsiders deal with Microsoft
Progress in the public sector of Italy was also made this month, when the regional government of Bolzano accepted FSFE's request to discuss a rethink of a plan forged earlier this year to renew and extend their licenses from Microsoft. On the 25th of May Italian politicians agreed to spend 2.2 million EUR over the next three years on contracts with Microsoft Ireland, and increase the number of licenses that they had purchased. This decision was made without a public call for tender, making it impossible for competing suppliers to make offers of their own.
We asked the local government to rethink their decision and accept an offer of dialogue extended to them by local Free Software experts at the GNU/Linux User Group Bolzano (LUGBZ). The local government has now accepted LUGBZ's offer, and the first meeting is planned for the beginning of August. Also in attendance shall be representatives from the Free Software Center of TIS and the Free University of Bolzano.
Linz - region for Free Software
In the Austrian city of Linz, Free Software is already the norm, and a new scheme is being devised to crown it a 'Free Software Region'. Linz City councillors recognise the social importance of Free Software, and as a result are instigating a much wider programme of Free Software use and promotion. Government officials have identified 7 key characteristics (German) that an area should fulfil in order to merit the title of Free Software Region. Amongst them: general public sector support for Free Software, regular Free Software events together with local companies and user groups, usage of Free Software in universities, schools and other education bodies, as well as the suggestion that public administration and organisations should cooperate with Free Software organisations, or become members of them.
Open Standards on the political agenda in Germany
Beside the progress of Free Software in the public sector, Open Standards continue to be on the political agenda. In June, Thomas de Maiziere, German Minister of Interior, demanded Open Standards for all public IT systems, therefore supporting FSFE's long standing demands. The minister's permanent secretary and IT Commissioner of the German government, Cornelia Rogall-Grothe explained his position further in an interview: "only by using Open Standards can [the government] obtain independence from software development companies". She also recognised that "maximal interoperability can be reached with open IT-Standards".
Now available in English: AEIOU mnemonic for Open Standards
While publishing our press release Kai Eckert translated our German AEIOU mnemonic for Open Standards into English. We hope it helps you to remember a clear and meaningful definition of the term Open Standard. This definition requires formats and protocols to adhere to the following rules:
- applicable (without restrictions): free from legal or technical clauses that limit its utilisation by any party or in any business model,
- existing (implementations): available in multiple complete implementations by competing vendors, or as a complete implementation equally available to all parties.
- independent (of a single vendor): managed and further developed independently of any single vendor in a process open to the equal participation of competitors and third parties
- open (specification): subject to full public assessment and use without constraints in a manner equally available to all parties
- untainted (with dependencies to closed standards): without any components or extensions that have dependencies on formats or protocols that do not meet the definition of an Open Standard themselves
Get active: Help at local events
This month FSFE President Karsten Gerloff participated in local regional events, including RMLL Bordeaux (France) and Free Software events in Vitoria, San Sebastian, and Bilbao in Basque (Spain). For organising such events we depend local volunteers. Help us to introduce Free Software to people in your region:
- We have an event calendar where you can add Free Software events (Thanks to Paul Boddie for implementing this great feature!)
- Add the ical calendar to your own digital calender, and get in contact with us if you can help at one of the events.
- Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you organise an event and you need more help at the booth or a speaker from FSFE.
- Help us to improve our documentation for organising booths.
Matthias Kirschner- FSFE