Feeds

Dear Obama: Please consider open-source a waste of your time

Ruby on Rails will not save the planet

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Reasonable but useless

Shameless sales pitches aside, what this group is asking for is reasonable. The federal government should be required to consider whether or not the code is open source as part of a technology acquisition process. That doesn't mean that some bloke in a windowless office in Washington D.C. be required to add Linux to a proposal for a government contract. It just means that when eight levels of committees are deciding what to spend money on, one of the lines of evaluation be how the software is licensed.

Reasonable in theory, toothless in practice. If you take two parts pathological aversion to risk, mix it together with one part apathy and a jigger of laziness, what you get is the government workforce culture. If the Santa Claus of Washington D.C. does by chance make the inauguration season dreams of a few good little boys and girls come true, in that next committee meeting at the Department of Redundancy Department, open source will be examined, considered, and dutifully ignored.

For government workers, open source is too much of a risk. They have used Microsoft and others in the past, and they works. Everybody is complacent with software they know. If one day somebody shows up to work and Microsoft Word has been replaced by OpenOffice, well, meetings will be called. Of course, nobody will get fired over open source software (very few things short of a felony conviction will get you fired from a government job), but there will be forms filed in triplicate, maybe even quadruplicate. It's not that government employees fear risk. They just have nothing to gain by taking one. Mandating that open source be considered doesn't alter the path of least resistance.

If open source is going to make any real headway in the government, there needs to be an incentive to choose it, not a rule. Time and again, this is where the open source community falls short: Quality code isn't enough of an incentive. You can put the best engineering in the world into your product, but if you don't know how to market, your project will rot in the source repository.

If this new marketing strategy is the one that the open source community is going with, let me offer a free piece of advice: This pitch will likely be more effective at the North Pole than on Pennsylvania Avenue. ®

Ted Dziuba is a co-founder at Milo.com You can read his regular Reg column, Fail and You, every other Monday.

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
UNIX greybeards threaten Debian fork over systemd plan
'Veteran Unix Admins' fear desktop emphasis is betraying open source
Netscape Navigator - the browser that started it all - turns 20
It was 20 years ago today, Marc Andreeesen taught the band to play
Redmond top man Satya Nadella: 'Microsoft LOVES Linux'
Open-source 'love' fairly runneth over at cloud event
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
Admins! Never mind POODLE, there're NEW OpenSSL bugs to splat
Four new patches for open-source crypto libraries
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.