Summary: News about European public sector bodies which are embracing Free software, open standards, and sometimes even GNU/Linux
EUROPE is changing. Some governments have already moved to GNU/Linux (on the desktops, not just the servers) and based on some news from the Canary Islands [1,2] and elsewhere in Europe , it is becoming common for public-facing systems to be Free software. Owing to Edward Snowden’s leaks, even the European Parliament may soon move to GNU/Linux , following baby steps of local governments and national governments  (yes, even the British government is slowly moving towards Free software). We are going through a phase where Free software isn’t just departing from “underdog” status; it is growing to be “dominant”. All that proprietary software giants like Microsoft can do now is sue, lie, blackmail, and bribe. But that too is a failed strategy as it leads to more backlash than benefit.
Microsoft is starting to look like a small/rookie shop that’s delivering/shipping just dozens of products out to individual clients. It’s close to the truth and Microsoft therefore makes simple errors (which mass production is robust to). Remember the type of KIN issues that buyers reported (reportedly just hundreds of buyers existed)? Well, Microsoft can’t even ship products with the correct processor. Yes, it has to be read to be believed. Tablets from Microsoft are a niche market so small that wrong processors are being put inside them! It’s worse than incompetence and in a sense it’s hilarious.
Microsoft is in a state of disarray/mess with many managers leaving, no central coordination, and instead just litigation, FUD campaigns like “Scroogled”, and perhaps even GNU/Linux security FUD campaigns, motivated by looming mass migrations to GNU/Linux, e.g. in highly security-sensitive areas.
Based on inside knowledge, some British businesses and parts of the public sector are quietly moving to GNU/Linux, even on the desktops. Microsoft must already be aware of that because it is reading people's private E-mails. █
Related/contextual items from the news:
Postgresql, an open source relational database management system, is now the default RDBMS for Spain’s Canary Islands, it was decided last Friday. Public administrations on the islands will also switch to OpenOffice, an open source suite of office productivity tools. Moving away from proprietary software solutions is in the public administration’s interest, the Canary Islands government’s High Commission for Information Technology explained in a statement.
The GNU Public Licence and variations cover a lot of FLOSS, like GNU/Linux operating systems. Then there is the database, PostgreSQL. It comes with its own FLOSS licence, allowing, “Permission to use, copy, modify, and distribute this software and its documentation for any purpose, without fee, and without a written agreement is hereby granted, provided that the above copyright notice and this paragraph and the following two paragraphs appear in all copies.” Piece of cake, eh? This is the way to do IT.
Open source software solutions will play a major role in Internet development research projects that are funded by the European Commission, says Federico Facca a computer scientist involved in the EC’s XIFI project, preparing large-scale test infrastructures for a next generation Internet and smart-cities. “XIFI is committed to open source.”
After months of hearing about their own vulnerability at the hands of intelligence agencies like the NSA and GCHQ, next Wednesday, European Parliamentarians and their staff will have an opportunity to learn about defending Internet communications using strong encryption and trusted hardware and software. Unfortunately, unless the Parliament’s own IT department shifts ground, it will be a theoretical discussion, rather than the practical first steps to a secure European Parliament that its organizers had hoped.
DebianParl is a version of the popular free software Linux distribution Debian, intended for use in parliaments around the world. It is intended to be bundled with tools to deal with tracking legislation, manage constituent correspondence, and most importantly allow lawmakers to use strong encryption to communicate securely with each other and with external parties.
Two months ago, the UK Government revealed that some £200 million (US$ 300 million) has been spent on Microsoft’s Office suite alone since 2010. Cabinet Minister Francis Maude believes this figure could have been significantly reduced by switching to open source software.