Thoughts on the White House Executive Order on open data

31 05 2013

What the White House did right

Here is the genius of this executive order. At its core it deals with something that is hard to communicate to a lot of people in a meaningful way. Here is the executive order for dummies version: This is essentially a core change to procurement and information publication. From a procurement perspective it basically means from now on, if you work in the US government and you buy a computer or software that is going to store or collect data, it sure as hell better be able to export it in a way that others can re-use it. From a information publication perspective, having the ability to publish the data is not sufficient, you actually have to publish the data.

This change is actually quite wide ranging. So much so that it could be hard for many people to understand its significance. This is why I  love the emphasis on what I would refer to as strategic data sets – data sets on healthcare, education, energy and safety. While the order pertains to data that is much, much broader than this, talking about datasets like the 5-Star Safety Ratings System about almost every vehicle in America or data on most appliances’ Energy Star rating brings it down to earth. This is information the average American can wrap their head around and agree should be made more widely available.

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City of Munich: “Migration to sustainable desktop completed successfully”

30 05 2013

The administration of the city of Munich in Germany has completed the switch to the open source desktop, says Peter Hofmann, head of the migration project last week Wednesday. The IT department is now securing the strategy, to make sure it can be maintained by the city and to sustainably support interactions with citizens, businesses and other public authorities.

Hofmann, speaking at the Linux Tag conference in Berlin on 22 May, is confident that the city’s open source strategy can be maintained because it is focused on sustainability. “We took small steps, instead of a big bang approach. We prefer quality over time and choose making it ourselves over waiting or spending.”

The city is now using a unified desktop system, Limux, its own distribution based on the Ubuntu Linux open source operating system and open source applications, on 14,000 of the total 15,000 desktops, spread over 51 offices across the city. That is 2,000 more than it’s intended goal, using Limux on 80 % of its desktops. Hofmann confirmed that the city will now switch to using the LibreOffice, an open source suite of office productivity tools, replacing the current open source alternative OpenOffice, that is used since 2006.

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Spain’s Extremadura region switches 40,000 PCs to Linux and open source software

2 05 2013

Expects annual savings of €30m

THE SPANISH REGION of Extremadura has announced that it will switch 40,000 government PCs to open source software.

The government of Extremadura has worked out what many already know, that open source software can deliver significant cost savings over using proprietory software. The region’s government has decided to switch 40,000 PCs to open source software, including a customised Linux distribution called Sysgobex.

According to the Extremadura government’s calculations, the switch to Linux and open source software will save it €30m a year, an amount that should come in particularly handy given Spain’s economic challenges. The government has already migrated 150 PCs to open source software in various ministries, including the department for Development, Culture and Employment.

Extremadura’s previous government had already switched 70,000 PCs in secondary schools and 15,000 PCs in health care to a local Linux distribution called Linex. It said that PCs using its Sysgobex Linux distribution will be able to access health records and that because they can be centrally managed, it expects to save on administration costs

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The Document Foundation announces LibreOffice 3.6.4

5 12 2012

Berlin, December 5, 2012 – The Document Foundation (TDF) announces LibreOffice 3.6.4, for Windows, MacOS and Linux. This new release is another step forward in the process of improving the overall quality and stability for any kind of deployment, on personal desktops or inside organizations and companies of any size.

LibreOffice 3.6.4 arrives a couple of weeks after the successful LiMux HackFest, where more than 30 developers have gathered to hack LibreOffice code and work on features and patches.

Official Announcement

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Linux brings over €10 million savings for Munich

23 11 2012


Over €10 million (approximately £8 million or $12.8 million) has been saved by the city of Munich, thanks to its development and use of the city’s own Linux platform. The calculation of savings follows a question by the city council’s independent Free Voters (Freie Wähler) group, which led to Munich’s municipal LiMux project presenting a comparative budget calculation at the meeting of the city council’s IT committee on Wednesday. The calculation compares the current overall cost of the LiMux migration with that of two technologically equivalent Windows scenarios: Windows with Microsoft Office and Windows with OpenOffice. Reportedly, savings amount to over €10 million.

The study is based on around 11,000 migrated workplaces within Munich’s city administration as well as 15,000 desktops that are equipped with an open source office suite. The comparison with Windows assumes that Windows systems must be on the same technological level; this would, for example, mean that they would have been upgraded to Windows 7 at the end of 2011. Project parameters such as scope, duration, applied methodology or external support were assumed to be the same in all scenarios.

According to the calculation, Windows with Microsoft Office would so far have incurred about €11.6 million (£9.3 million) in operating-system-related costs. Microsoft Office and its upgrades would have cost €4.2 million (£3.3 million), and the Windows system about €2.6 million (£2.1 million). The LiMux project allowed a further €5 million (£4 million) for hardware upgrades in connection with the Windows 7 system upgrade. Application migration costs were estimated to be around €55,000 (£44,000). If the city council had chosen Windows but used OpenOffice, the estimated cost would have been about two thirds, or €7.4 million (£5.9 million).

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Microsoft dragging its feet on Linux Secure Boot fix

23 11 2012

Linux Foundation’s workaround held up by roadblocks

By Neil McAllister in San Francisco • Get more from this author

Posted in Operating Systems, 21st November 2012 23:21 GMT

The Linux Foundation’s promised workaround that will allow Linux to boot on Windows 8 PCs has yet to clear Microsoft’s code certification process, although the exact reason for the hold-up remains unclear.

As The Reg reported previously, the Secure Boot feature of the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) found on modern Windows 8 PCs will only allow an OS to boot if its code has been digitally signed with a key obtained from Microsoft.

That’s a problem for many Linux distributions, because some lack the resources to purchase a Microsoft key, while others simply refuse to.

To help get around UEFI’s restrictions, the Linux Foundation has been developing a signed “pre-bootloader” as a stop-gap measure that will allow Linux distributions to boot, until such time as open source developers can come up with more effective solutions.

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German govt comes out against Trusted Computing and Secure Boot

22 11 2012

Trusted Computing and Secure Boot, especially Secure Boot, are supposed to boost the security of devices that you own. Yes, devices that you own! However, judging from the manner that Secure Boot has been implemented, it sure feels like you do not own that device you bought with your money. Hence the phrase Restricted Boot is more apt.

And since corporations now run the government, a corporation with enough power (and money… the power comes from the money) can dictate what you can do on and with that device that you own. Microsoft’s ability to dictate to hardware vendors, and by proxy, dictate to you, how secure boot can be implemented, is a very good example.

So far, who has challenged Microsoft? Other than dissenting voices from the Free Software and Open Source community, nobody.

But the German government

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