Free/Libre and Open Standards

It is said that vendor-defendant file and communications formats are the "second hand smoke" issue of the Internet. Before consumers/citizens can be said to have choice on ICT there must be a strong government support for free/libre and vendor neutral standards.

Quebec broke law in buying Microsoft software

A CBC article by Peter Nowak includes:

Quebec's government broke the law by buying software from Microsoft without considering offers from other vendors, the province's Superior Court has ruled.

RFI for open source software aimed at wrong target

An article by Nestor E. Arellano for ITWorldCanada.com (NA) discusses the government RFI on "No Charge Licensed Software". The article included some material from a conversation that Nestor and I had. It makes mention of my own submission which I have made publicly available: OpenDocument version, PDF version.

Other submissions made publicly available: Evan Leibowitz of Xunil corporation, Mike Gifford of OpenConcept.

If you know of other published submissions, please let us know (add comment, etc)

W3C Member Submission Request: ccREL

A submission has been made to the W3C to introduce the Creative Commons Rights Expression Language (ccREL). This compliments a number of other projects they are involved in to help create standards around Rights Expression (IE: digitally encoded license agreements) which are fundamental to the technical side of what in Copyright is called "Rights Management Information".

See also: RFC4946 - Atom License Extension

PDF format becomes ISO standard

A press release from the ISO documents that PDF has become a standard.

I couldn't find the fine print that I wanted, which is any licensing on Adobe held software patents. Proprietary vendors have been slipping RAND licenses into "standards" which means that competing proprietary vendors can implement the specification, but FLOSS authors could not.

South African Bureau of Standards leads appeal against OOXML ratification

SABS leads appeal against OOXML ratification
28 May 2008

The South African Bureau of Standards is leading an international appeal against the ratification of Microsoft Office Open XML as an ISO standard.

Document formats seem like a technical, unimportant subject until you can't open an important document. The role that standards play in making things work is easily overlooked. But South Africa's standards body is working to ensure that documents are usable, that software does inter-operate, and it is taking a global lead.

Netherlands Government Goes Open Source

In yet another blow to vendor lock-in and proprietary software standards, the Associated Press is reporting that the Dutch Government on Wednesday adopted laws requiring all national agencies to use the Open Document Format by April 2008. Even state and local agencies are required to comply by 2009; though there is flexibility in the new policy - agencies can chose to use proprietary standards, such as MS Office, but they must justify use. The new laws also mandate the use of FOSS in all agencies in a similar manner, for cost savings and accessibility reasons.

GOSLING, eat your heart out!

Rob Weir: Cracks in the Foundation

Rob Weir has an article describing what has happened with Gary Edwards' self-called "OpenDocument Foundation, Inc" and their movement away from actually supporting the OpenDocument standard. This is just a few guys who have their own personal gripes, and not really a group representing a significant number of people. Hopefully their activities won't do too much damage to the common document standards process.

Want to meet four men who dared to fight MS -- and won?

Greoklaw has an interview (audio and transcript) of Georg Greve of FSFE, Jeremy Allison and Volker Lendecke of Samba, and Carlo Piana, their lawyer of record in the European case against Microsoft.

Sometimes folks try to characterize, or mischaracterize, the FOSS community. If you want to know what that community is like, it's like this, this interview, these four men who dared to try the impossible, with weapons of intellect and skill and integrity rather than money, men who couldn't be bought, who never gave up, and who happily lived to tell us the story with humor and pleasantness.

IBM to offer OpenOffice.org derivative free in challenge to Microsoft's line

An article by Steve Lohr of the The New York Times discusses the recent moves by IBM to further embrace OpenOffice.org as a way to promote the OpenDocument file format standard.

This is an attempt by various vendors to force a market correction to deal with the Microsoft Office monopoly. This is something that governments should be doing by properly including anti-trust/competition policy goals within PCT revision.

Any inroads IBM and its allies make against Microsoft, analysts say, will not come easily. "Three major players--IBM, Google and Sun--are now solidly behind a potential competing standard to Office," said Rob Koplowitz, an analyst at Forrester Research. "But it's a tough road. Office is very entrenched."


This article didn't adequately credit Novell which has also been a major contributor to the OpenOffice.org codebase.
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