Feeds

UK unveils Open Source policy, may make it ‘default’ option

Good lord. Bill'll be over in a minute...

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

The UK government yesterday announced its policy on Open Source software, and as far as we can figure out, it seems to be cautiously pro. In answer to a parliamentary question (and we strongly suspect 'plant' here), Home Office minister Douglas Alexander said: "I am pleased to announce new policy on the use of Open Source Software within UK Government. It explains how we will consider Open Source Software solutions alongside proprietary ones in IT procurements and award contracts on a value for money basis, seeking to avoid lock-in to proprietary IT products and services."

The policy itself is somewhat brief, and hilariously miscommunicated by the Office of Government Commerce here, where at time of writing it said "Open Source Software Policy Document (Microsoft Word format 376 KB)," and proceeded to give you some unintelligible .asp file if you actually tried to download it. But you can get it in Word, PDF or RTF format at the home of the much-reviled e-envoy here, and we're sure the OGC will have its act together RSN.

But anyway, what does it say? Open Source software "has leapt to prominence by starting to take a significant market share in some specific parts of the software infrastructure market," it cautiously begins, then revs up. "OSS is indeed the start of a fundamental change in the software infrastructure marketplace, but it is not a hype bubble that will burst and UK Government must take cognisance of that fact."

Then it tells us why the UK has devised a policy: "The European Commission’s initiative eEurope - An Information Society for all is supported by an Action Plan dated June 2000. One entry within the plan addresses the topic of Open Source Software (OSS) and sets the target that:

'during 2001 the European Commission and Member States will promote the use of open source software in the public sector and e-government best practice through exchange of experiences across the Union (through the IST and IDA programmes).'

[we couldn't help noticing a piece of MS Brainiac ASCII in that - don't worry, we killed it for you]

"The UK’s response to this action to date has been through mandating open standards and specifications in its e-Government Interoperability Framework (e-GIF) and allowing market driven products to support these. It is now considered necessary to have a more explicit policy on the use of OSS within UK Government and this document details that policy."

So, the policy has been devised at the behest of Europe, and commences with something of a justification of what we've been up to so far. The intro is actually substantially longer than the policy itself, but the latter is potentially dynamite (and we think we killed some more MS ASCII here):

"- UK Government will consider OSS solutions alongside proprietary ones in IT procurements. Contracts will be awarded on a value for money basis.
- UK Government will only use products for interoperability that support open standards and specifications in all future IT developments.
- UK Government will seek to avoid lock-in to proprietary IT products and services.
- UK Government will consider obtaining full rights to bespoke software code or customisations of COTS (Commercial Off The Shelf) software it procures wherever this achieves best value for money.
- UK Government will explore further the possibilities of using OSS as the default exploitation route for Government funded R&D software."

The first two point are of little importance - they're just checkmarks and can mean as little or as much as the specifiers want them to. Avoidance of lock-in, though, is interesting, while the notion of obtaining full rights to COTS software is slap-bang in the territory of EU policy on pooling software across administrations. And that last one? OSS as the default? We may be getting somewhere here, friends. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Netscape Navigator - the browser that started it all - turns 20
It was 20 years ago today, Marc Andreeesen taught the band to play
Sign off my IT project or I’ll PHONE your MUM
Honestly, it’s a piece of piss
Return of the Jedi – Apache reclaims web server crown
.london, .hamburg and .公司 - that's .com in Chinese - storm the web server charts
Chrome 38's new HTML tag support makes fatties FIT and SKINNIER
First browser to protect networks' bandwith using official spec
UNIX greybeards threaten Debian fork over systemd plan
'Veteran Unix Admins' fear desktop emphasis is betraying open source
Admins! Never mind POODLE, there're NEW OpenSSL bugs to splat
Four new patches for open-source crypto libraries
Torvalds CONFESSES: 'I'm pretty good at alienating devs'
Admits to 'a metric ****load' of mistakes during work with Linux collaborators
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.