14 votes

Governments Are Spending Billions on Software They Can Get with Freedom

16 comments

  1. [3]
    nic Link
    The article has incredibly poor gramma. I think, to make this argument, you have to point to successful private organizations doing the same thing. The only examples I can think of, is the limited...

    The article has incredibly poor gramma.

    I think, to make this argument, you have to point to successful private organizations doing the same thing.

    The only examples I can think of, is the limited move towards open source within tech companies.

    This is typically limited to their center of expertise, e.g.Software companies key differentiator is that they build software, and they choose to move to mysql/postgres as the backend. They all seem to happily pay for software outside their area of expertise, e.g. to process payments, track sales, market leads, enrich customer data etc...

    5 votes
    1. [2]
      NaraVara Link Parent
      I can see the pros and cons here. You’re right that there isn’t much private enterprise succeeding this way, but private enterprises tend to focus on their core competencies and farm out the other...

      I can see the pros and cons here. You’re right that there isn’t much private enterprise succeeding this way, but private enterprises tend to focus on their core competencies and farm out the other stuff. But the government isn’t run on the logic of what turns a profit, it’s about serving the public good, and you could make the argument that certain specific government functions could just be developed and maintained in house.

      We obviously wouldn’t be rewriting office productivity software, but it may not be the worst thing to have the US Digital Service build out software solutions for issues of social concern. This was how they did Bluebutton, for example.

      2 votes
      1. Greg Link Parent
        I agree, and I would add that the government tends to be obliged to consider longevity and accessibility more than most private enterprise. A prime example would be the US military's ongoing and...

        I agree, and I would add that the government tends to be obliged to consider longevity and accessibility more than most private enterprise. A prime example would be the US military's ongoing and expensive problems with Windows XP machines that still need to be supported because they are integrated into critical hardware.

        If you're integrating a computer system into a multibillion dollar warship with an estimated working lifespan of several decades, it just seems like good risk management to ensure that more than one company is capable of providing ongoing support. Going open source (or at least not external closed source) allows you to take bids from multiple organisations to pick up any support contracts as they expire, or even bring it in-house if you choose. Going proprietary forces you to pay whatever the single vendor asks for, especially if you're not in a position to feasibly refit the system.

        3 votes
  2. [13]
    CiTi Link
    Hmm, the article does make a good point. But governments want stability when it comes to their software, no? So why use free software that's not guaranteed to have 100% uptime and nearly zero bugs...

    Hmm, the article does make a good point. But governments want stability when it comes to their software, no? So why use free software that's not guaranteed to have 100% uptime and nearly zero bugs when it's in the budget to buy software from a big and trustworthy company like M$? And free software isn't always better. Just look at how many exploits there were in macOS 10.13 :)

    1 vote
    1. [3]
      esrever Link Parent
      macOS is not free in the sense that's being described in this article. This wiki page might give you better insight. The free they are speaking of is specifically this. Governments often use a...

      macOS is not free in the sense that's being described in this article. This wiki page might give you better insight. The free they are speaking of is specifically this.

      But governments want stability when it comes to their software, no? So why use free software that's not guaranteed to have 100% uptime and nearly zero bugs when it's in the budget to buy software from a big and trustworthy company like M$?

      Governments often use a good mix of both free and proprietary software, and software being FOSS or not has no bearing on its inherent stability. If you think that there are are nearly zero bugs in Microsoft products, I have a bridge to sell you.

      9 votes
      1. [2]
        CiTi Link Parent
        Hmm, I wasn't exactly trying to imply that M$ is perfect. Just that gov's of the world would prefer to pay for software thats, at least in their opinions, more trustworthy or stable. Also, a 365...

        Hmm, I wasn't exactly trying to imply that M$ is perfect. Just that gov's of the world would prefer to pay for software thats, at least in their opinions, more trustworthy or stable. Also, a 365 subscription comes with 2TB? of storage if I'm remembering right, and OpenOffice/LibreOffice don't. It sort of makes sense why governments would prefer to use M$ software. I'd prefer not to rely on Microsoft myself personally though, and I know a lot of people don't like them either. I only use office for school (because I'm not paying for it) and dualboot windows for the occasional software that dislikes OSX and/or Ubuntu.

        1 vote
        1. PaKYr Link Parent
          It could also be argued that governments should see FOSS as more stable and secure. After all, if you were a government, would you want to be unable to see the code for your software, and have...

          It could also be argued that governments should see FOSS as more stable and secure. After all, if you were a government, would you want to be unable to see the code for your software, and have that software be updated and maintained by one company (that could potentially be influenced by other governments), or would you rather that code be open for all to see and pore over, ensuring nothing untoward was being slipped in?

          4 votes
    2. Octofox Link Parent
      This comment has multiple factual errors. MacOS is not free software Literally nothing is guaranteed to have 100% uptime. Its measured in nines Linux distros come with service agreements the same...

      This comment has multiple factual errors.

      • MacOS is not free software
      • Literally nothing is guaranteed to have 100% uptime. Its measured in nines
      • Linux distros come with service agreements the same as windows.
      • There is no way you could classify windows as having nearly zero bugs
      • Linux distros like debian are far more stable than windows server.
      7 votes
    3. [8]
      Soptik Link Parent
      Please label this comment as offtopic I don't understand, why was CiTi's comment labeled as noise? It is hidden by default, which means it received multiple labels, probably noise. I don't think...

      Please label this comment as offtopic

      I don't understand, why was CiTi's comment labeled as noise? It is hidden by default, which means it received multiple labels, probably noise. I don't think the post deserves any of the labels.

      From docs:

      • Exemplary - Comments that are exceptional and deserve special recognition. Users can only label a comment as Exemplary once every 8 hours, and it requires entering a message/reason that will be displayed anonymously to the comment's author.
      • Offtopic - Comments talking about something unrelated to the actual topic
      • Joke - Comments posted for humor purposes (actual jokes, puns, references, etc.)
      • Noise - Comments that don't add anything to the discussion. This includes obvious non-contributing comments like "lol", "I agree", and responses to the headline like "finally!", but can also cover anything where the comment's presence doesn't add anything meaningful.
      • Malice - Comments posted in bad faith. Comments should be labeled as Malice if they're trolling, personal attacks, or other types of behavior that have no place in high-quality discussions. Using this label requires entering a reason, and serves as a method of reporting the comment.

      While I disagree with his opinion, especially about FOSS unstability, I don't think it's reason to collapse-by-default his comment.

      7 votes
      1. [7]
        deing (edited ) Link Parent
        Calling macOS "free" is obviously false, and therefore noise. Additionally, the comment is suspiciously worded with phrasings like "big and trustworthy company like M$", which both approves of MS...

        Calling macOS "free" is obviously false, and therefore noise. Additionally, the comment is suspiciously worded with phrasings like "big and trustworthy company like M$", which both approves of MS and name-calls them in the same sentence.
        So from my point of view the comment was deliberately written to be inflammatory, and I tagged it accordingly with Noise and Malice.


        Edit: emdash does have a point that this comment is not Noise, so I've removed my Noise label from it.


        Edit 2: Since there seem to have been some misunderstandings here:

        • I don't disagree with the point the comment makes as I understand it, that governments trust software they paid for, more than gratis software.
        • I labeled it because big parts of the comment are either factually wrong or making a point with a phrasing I found inappropriate and deliberately inflammatory.

        I did not label this because "of disagreement", but because of its assumed intent based on my view of the comment's presentation.
        Essentially I just reported that comment to Deimos (which is all what Malice does as far as I know) because I believed it to be a trolling attempt, and since he's not removed it, he probably disagrees that it's one.
        I am disappointed that people apparently jumped to conclusions about why I labeled this despite the fact that I never said anything about my opinion of the content in the first place.

        Ping @emdash

        6 votes
        1. [6]
          emdash Link Parent
          How in the hell did you jump from A to B here. Nowhere in the description for what "noise" is, does the comment match the definition of noise. It's not noise. It's not offtopic. It doesn't fit any...

          Calling macOS "free" is obviously false, and therefore noise.

          How in the hell did you jump from A to B here. Nowhere in the description for what "noise" is, does the comment match the definition of noise. It's not noise. It's not offtopic. It doesn't fit any label, yet it was hidden for disagreement anyway, which is a crass misuse of what tildes labels are for. The comment may be wrong, but it is not labellable by any definition of what @Deimos wrote.

          If it doesn't fit a label, don't shoehorn it into a label. The answer is simple: vote for something else.

          Disappointed to see Tildes users abusing label use here. (Meta: Maybe misuse of labels should result in reduced label weight for abusers, because clearly we have some already here).

          9 votes
          1. Deimos Link Parent
            Some users do have reduced label weight. Noise isn't a downvote, and if I see people repeatedly trying to use it like one, I reduce their weight.

            Some users do have reduced label weight. Noise isn't a downvote, and if I see people repeatedly trying to use it like one, I reduce their weight.

            10 votes
          2. [4]
            deing (edited ) Link Parent
            I am not sure whether your tone is appropriate. Regardless, a blatantly false statement does fit >Comments that don't add anything to the discussion. in my opinion. Edit: OK, it does not. Fair...

            I am not sure whether your tone is appropriate. Regardless, a blatantly false statement does fit

            >Comments that don't add anything to the discussion.

            in my opinion.
            Edit: OK, it does not. Fair point.

            I literally didn't say anything about my opinion on the comment's content, but rather on its presentation and assumed intent, and it is not exactly a charitable interpretation of my words to conclude that I labeled because of disagreement.

            I will not continue discussing this, as this thread already has too many off-topic comments.

            1 vote
            1. [3]
              emdash Link Parent
              Frankly I do feel my tone is appropriate when I see a clear regression to the Reddit way of old whereby downvotes came to be a disagreement button. It's in the best interest of the Tildes...

              Frankly I do feel my tone is appropriate when I see a clear regression to the Reddit way of old whereby downvotes came to be a disagreement button. It's in the best interest of the Tildes community not to abuse what labels are—comment labelling. Not disagreement. Stop trying to shoehorn in "false" to "noise".

              This includes obvious non-contributing comments like "lol", "I agree", and responses to the headline like "finally!", but can also cover anything where the comment's presence doesn't add anything meaningful.

              It's extremely clear what Deimos' intent here was, when he wrote that. And it certainly wasn't abuse of the noise label. Even worse, you apparently think it qualifies as "malice" too.

              Labels aren't (currently) for disagreement. Don't use them like that.

              9 votes
              1. [2]
                Amarok Link Parent
                Amen. Those who use 'malice' as if it were a downvote (rather than using it to point out truly inappropriate behavior such as hate speech and unwarranted personal attacks) will lose the ability to...

                Amen. Those who use 'malice' as if it were a downvote (rather than using it to point out truly inappropriate behavior such as hate speech and unwarranted personal attacks) will lose the ability to use the malice tag. That's how it works around here. If you use a moderator-style feature poorly, you lose access to it, so that your noise isn't polluting the system, and we can focus on the feedback coming from the people who are using the feature correctly.

                I think we might need something a bit softer like a 'tone' warning, that doesn't go to the admins per se but instead would privately notify a user that they've been raising a lot of eyebrows (after collecting enough of these things and crossing a threshold in a certain time period). If that's communicated to them privately, they have the opportunity to modify their behavior.

                6 votes
                1. cadentius_aurelius Link Parent
                  Greatly agree with a warning system. It is not clear from this thread but I would seriously hope that a user is at least informed when their weight is reduced, and given a chance to regain it....

                  Greatly agree with a warning system. It is not clear from this thread but I would seriously hope that a user is at least informed when their weight is reduced, and given a chance to regain it. Doing it silently, or permanently, or with no thought as to whether the misuse is out of malicious intent or just ignorance feels very unfriendly to newcomers (of which I am still one myself) and/or those not fully in the know.

                  Im a bit concerned now, to be honest.

                  4 votes