[PLUG] Government Sponsored Vendor lock

Amarendra Godbole amarendra.godbole at gmail.com
Wed Jul 28 22:15:07 PDT 2010

On Thu, Jul 29, 2010 at 9:55 AM, Mayuresh <mayuresh at acm.org> wrote:
> On Thu, Jul 29, 2010 at 08:17:20AM +0530, Amarendra Godbole wrote:
>> lost the battle already. It is also surprising to see many Linux folks
>> who consider Microsoft as their #1 enemy. Hey, what about Oracle, IBM,
> At least on this list there was never a feel of anyone treating anyone as
> enemy or anything. (Or so I feel.) All vendors are respectable players in
> this ecosystem who have right to do their business.

My point was not restricted to this list -- but a generic idea that I
derived from looking at many linux mailing lists (I used to be a
zealot once, but have grown out of it now. Sadly even after a decade I
see no change in this pattern, newbies are converted to zealots by
stupid idealogies, and countless hours are spent over the
appropriateness of GNU/Linux, or merely Linux, which could be have
been used to write device drivers.). :-/

> The issue is, on nearly generic platforms such as web or office documents,
> the inter-operability is ignored. And when that is done not by a corporate
> but by an agency that is meant for public at large (such as admission
> forms or IT returns) that needs to be protested. The insistence is on, at
> least public agencies, supporting open standards for at least data (web
> pages, forms etc.) and leave the choice of software to the public.

I am more concerned about these systems working correctly, than the
software they use. I find most (there are notable exceptions like
irctc) of the govt. funded software to be of s**t quality - numerous
mis-configured pages, no data security, incorrect updates, and worst
still - denial of service with moderate to high load. I'd rather
complain about these factors, than moan about standards and evil
agendas. We'll come to the idea of licensing costs, and free software
when we have correct and working systems. As a parent, I care a hoot
about the OS that runs the online admission portal - as long as my job
is done, I am fine with it.

>> The right thing, IMHO, is continue showing people how Linux addresses
>> their problem, and solves it effectively - vendor lock-ins, money,
>> prop, philosophy are not the words that can change the mind of a
>> business owner. All he/she cares about "up and running" system, and
>> excellent support - which Microsoft (and most prop software vendors)
>> provide. I believe in using the right tool for the job - until people
>> feel that Linux is that right tool, no amount of philosophy is going
>> to change it.
> Agree with most of it. Just the licensing costs can be one of the major
> factors for common people and small businesses as well  - but only if
> piracy stops would they realize it.

There are other problems - most of the h/w vendors in India have no
policy to refund license cost if you decide not to have Microsoft
software on the machines. In US and most of the EU nations, you can
refuse and get the license cost back (~100 Euro, for eg.). No such
rules exist for Indian sales. So you don't even realize that the
software cost is bundled with the h/w!

> The second and right expectation is "up and running". One of the hurdles
> in that is a sort of chicken-egg problem - drivers for ever changing
> hardware are made available only on large user-base platforms. Whatever

Correct, and the h/w specs too are closed. This is a race lost -- even
if you manage to reverse engineer the card and cut a driver, the
stability is not guaranteed.

> the reason, no fault of a layman to choose what appears to work for
> him/her. More and more USPs of FOSS platforms (rather than the "me too"
> aspects) need to reach people to increase the adoption and break the jinx.

Ideally, I think the biggest USP of FOSS is the ability to run on
slow/older hardware, which comes cheap. When I instruct someone to
purchase a computer, I show then the savings by getting a slower
machine and running Linux on it. It does not fail to impress them -
for little under 15K, you can make a reasonable machine running Linux.
Building familiarity via analogies also helps a lot - my parents take
training classes in Windows, and work on Ubuntu at home (I
deliberately took out Win XP). Difficult initially for them, but now
that they can find similar software, they don't have much trouble
navigating Ubuntu.


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