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.

Belgian government chooses OpenDocument

This article by Dominique Deckmyn, Special to CNET News.com includes:

The OpenDocument Format (ODF) is to be the standard format for exchanging documents within the government, according to a proposal that is expected to be approved by Belgium's Council of Ministers on Friday.

I'm looking forward to similar interpretations in Canada of existing regulations, practises and trade agreements. While the article suggests this is about Microsoft, it really is about obeying existing policies which appropriately mandate the use of vendor-neutral standards where they exist.

Mark Shuttleworth Interview, Part I: on Dapper, and Ubuntu in the Enterprise

This 451 CAOS Theory (Commercial Adoption of Open Source) article by Nick Selby includes the following quotes from Mark Shuttleworth:

“So we see that trend absolutely continuing: anything that can be commoditized is going to become commoditized, and we see end-users becoming increasingly comfortable with the diversity that that brings. For example, in the consumer space, people are very protective about the desktop, but they’re not at all protective of the smart phone. So consumer adoption of Linux on the smart phone is enormous — people are absolutely willing to accept the idea that they might use new tools, new pieces of software, new user interfaces and so on, as long as you don’t threaten certain key applications that they’re comfortable with, that they know and trust.

“But we see even that traditional stronghold - the Microsoft Office stronghold - even that is becoming vulnerable, just because people are consciously aware that they need to retrain and embrace new ways of working.

IBM backs OpenDocument in Lotus Notes

This article by Candace Lombardi, Staff Writer, CNET News.com includes:

IBM has announced an upgrade to Lotus Notes that will include access to office productivity applications and support for the OpenDocument format.
...
IBM had previously supported ODF in its Workplace software, joining a growing movement to support an integrated file format that frees companies from having to use Microsoft Office documents.

See also: ISO approval 'unlikely for Microsoft Open XML'

The census online application now accessible to Linux operating system

A notice on the Census Website indicates that, "In response to demand, Statistics Canada has removed the restriction for Linux. This change takes effect May 13th, 2006."

While this addresses those who were concerned about Linux, this does not address the most critical concerns that have been expressed.

a) The vendor dependency still exists, which is the requirement for "Java virtual machine (JVM) from Sun Microsystems Inc. (Version 1.4.2_3 or higher), Microsoft virtual machine (any version), or Apple JVM (1.4.2_5 or higher)". This is a programming language option that is not installed on and/or available for all computers. This creates a technical barrier not only for those using alternative computing platforms, but for the majority of citizens who are not technical people who could download/install additional programming languages on their computer.

Canadian 2006 Census - A Lack of Standards Compliance

The Vancouver Linux User Group (VanLUG), in conjunction with other Linux user groups from across Canada, is co-ordinating an effort to draw attention to the 2006 Census web site's lack of standards compliance and to the detrimental effect this has on the ability of Canadians to participate in the census.

Please also read followups to Critical policy failures of the Canadian online Census for more detailed information.

Critical policy failures of the Canadian online Census

(Also carried by p2pnet)

I have seen this issue covered in a variety of locations, and is being discussed in a number of different forum. On Thursday there was a Newsforge article by Bruce Bayfield with the headline "Canadian online census discriminates against FOSS". A few citizens have written letters to their member of parliament about this embarrassment to Canada.

I thought I would weigh in on this issue as a technical, policy and security consultant.

Coming soon: ODF for MS Office

This eWeek article by Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols includes:

Just because Microsoft refuses to support ODF (Open Document Format) never meant that someone wouldn't write a plug-in to enable Microsoft Office users to read and write ODF documents. Well, it's happened.

In an interview with Groklaw's Pamela Jones, the OpenDocument Foundation Inc.'s co-founder and president, Gary Edwards, said the Foundation will be presenting Massachusetts with an Office plug-in that will allow Office users to open, render, and save to ODF files, while also allowing translation of documents between Microsoft's binary (.doc, .xls, .ppt) or XML formats and ODF.

Open Document Format Gets ISO Approval

This eWeek article by Peter Galli includes:

The Open Document Format has been approved as an international standard by the International Standards Organization, a move that supporters say will serve as a springboard for the adoption and use of ODF around the world.

The ODF allows the retrieval of information and the exchange of documents without regard to the application or platform in which the document was created. The format is supported by Corel, IBM, Novell, Opera Software, Oracle, Red Hat and Sun Microsystems.

See also: Open Document Fellowship

U.S. advised to promote open standards, source, innovation

A LinuxDevices article includes:

A business- and university-led public policy group has issued a downloadable 72-page report examining open standards, open source software, and "open innovation." The report concludes that openness should be promoted as a matter of public policy, in order to foster innovation and economic growth in the U.S. and world economies.
...
The report was released by the Committee for Economic Development (CED), a non-profit, non-partisan public policy research organization comprised of about 200 senior corporate executives and university leaders.
...
The CED report concludes that intellectual property (IP) law and business practices designed for the trade of physical goods threaten economic development and innovation in digital information product markets such as software.

(emphasis added)

OpenDocument Movement Gains Steam

An eWeek article by Peter Galli includes:

Membership in the OpenDocument Format Alliance has almost quadrupled over the past month.

The Alliance, a coalition of organizations from across the world whose goal is to enable governments to have direct management and greater control over their documents, was launched on March 3 with 36 initial members, but that has now grown to 138 members worldwide.

I'm wondering where Canadian Government departments stand on this issue. We need to move to vendor and business model neutrality for file formats. This not only means adoption of standards like ODF, but the clear rejection of business-model centric file formats such as Microsoft's OpenXML. OpenXML uses RAND (Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory) patent licensing which is an appropriate for licensing tangibles like hardware but fails in software as it excludes FLOSS, the largest growing segment of the software marketplace.

Syndicate content