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tuubi 26 Apr

Quoting: ShabbyXAlso, it's all too common thay the government contracts someone for some proprietary software, then are left with it with zero support and all the bugs. Same could happen with open source in the worst case, so it cannot be worse than how they already work.
They can always hire someone to work on it if the source is free and open.


Quoting: ShabbyX
Quoting: tuubiDon't get me wrong, there are several aspects of open source that governments and corporations will see as weaknesses. And some of them will be easier to refute than others.

By all means please elaborate.
I meant that while you'll have some excellent technical, ethical and even financial points to make, there are other complications at play that are not as straight-forward.

You'll face annoying questions in the vein of: "If we're not paying someone for a software license, who takes responsibility" or "Everyone else uses <name-of-proprietary-software>, doesn't that mean it's the best choice?". Some of these assumptions are very difficult to challenge with facts, even if it seems like the answers should be obvious. You will need some serious sales skills to pull that off.

Then there's the fact that decision makers in political entities like governments, large or local, might have various reasons not to rock the boat. They also often base their decisions on different criteria than a business entity would. This last point can be a positive as well in some cases.

I know I'm not being very specific or helpful, but this is all I can manage off the cuff right now.

neocron 27 Apr

One catch with the adoption of open source software by governments is the lack of education about using os alternatives by public servants.

Samsai 27 Apr

QuoteFor example one of the major weakness of a lot of FOSS sofwares are being a one man project. The day said man don't want to do that any more most of the time the project is as good as dead. And that is not very reasuring for a lot of people to contemplate the possibility that a software they like/need may dissapear one day.
I've been doing my bachelor's thesis on the topic of FOSS life cycle and survival and while it is true that the majority of open source projects, even popular ones, have only one core developer, survival rate among popular open source projects seems quite high. One study I have used as my source (https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/8870181) indicates only about 16% abandonment rate and a 41% resurrection rate. Abandonment in open source projects also causes a smaller risk than abandonment among proprietary software (which also happens) because major government entities or businesses have the ability to direct developer resources towards critical components. And, like was previously stated, projects with a single core developer aren't necessarily projects governments etc would make use of. Enterprise-level FOSS solutions tend to also have enterprise-level project management.

Edit: words

Last edited by Samsai on 27 April 2020 at 10:11 am UTC

tuubi 27 Apr

Quoting: Samsaisurvival rate among popular open source projects seems quite low.
Don't you mean high?

Samsai 27 Apr

Quoting: tuubi
Quoting: Samsaisurvival rate among popular open source projects seems quite low.
Don't you mean high?
Too many rates, got confused. Survival rate is high among popular projects, abandonment rate is low, resurrection rate is quite decent.

mirv 27 Apr

Just because it seems appropriate, Australia's covid tracking app will apparently (only apparently because at the time of writing it hasn't happened yet) have its source code released. If actually done, then it's only because they need the public to have some confidence that it's not being used to spy on everyone and harvest yet more data for political purposes.
I'll try not to get into that conversation, but while there is the security-through-obscurity argument to make (not that I adhere to that personally, the argument shouldn't be ignored either), FOSS also allows for public goodwill and governmental transparency.

It would be worth noting for any official government application that has source code freely available, that for security purposes there should be an official and trusted build provided in cases for smartphone apps, or information pointing to a trusted and official source code repository. This is something that needs doing for closed source binaries as well of course, but maintaining a source code repository somewhere and ensuring bad actors can't mess with it, and how that might be incorporated into existing technical support facilities or what additional costs it might require, is well worth following through on.

DerpFox 27 Apr

Quoting: SamsaiI've been doing my bachelor's thesis on the topic of FOSS life cycle and survival and while it is true that the majority of open source projects, even popular ones, have only one core developer, survival rate among popular open source projects seems quite high. One study I have used as my source (https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/8870181) indicates only about 16% abandonment rate and a 41% resurrection rate. Abandonment in open source projects also causes a smaller risk than abandonment among proprietary software (which also happens) because major government entities or businesses have the ability to direct developer resources towards critical components. And, like was previously stated, projects with a single core developer aren't necessarily projects governments etc would make use of. Enterprise-level FOSS solutions tend to also have enterprise-level project management.

Edit: words

Your answer is perfect! It answers a question or an attack the people against FOSS could promote. "One man project is a risk!" - "We have a study that prove it's the opposite" - "yes but if our chosen software is stopped being developed?" -"nothing prevents you to hire developers to revive it for your own use that is the point of FOSS." end of argument.

I'm' sorry I feel I wasn't clear enough. That was the point I was trying to make, knowing your weaknesses or supposed ones. So when confronted to them you can answer with solid facts. And also try to be simple in your explanation plan as if you were talking to a 6 years old.

Quoting: mirvJust because it seems appropriate, Australia's covid tracking app will apparently (only apparently because at the time of writing it hasn't happened yet) have its source code released. If actually done, then it's only because they need the public to have some confidence that it's not being used to spy on everyone and harvest yet more data for political purposes.
I'll try not to get into that conversation, but while there is the security-through-obscurity argument to make (not that I adhere to that personally, the argument shouldn't be ignored either), FOSS also allows for public goodwill and governmental transparency.

That's the model France did choose. But for us its official it will be open source. And apparently we are the only ones at the moment to have chosen that path. It feels good to see and other country use the same path.

Last edited by DerpFox on 27 April 2020 at 3:43 pm UTC

Julius 1 May

https://www.invidio.us/watch?v=Je0NucWKsGg

A bit long but a nice looking primer to the general idea.

Dunc 1 May

Just found this thread, so here's my 2¢. Over the last couple of decades, I've gone from being an Open Source sceptic to an ardent supporter, and in that time it's become clear to me that the strongest argument in its favour is simply this: if someone wants you to run their software, it's only fair for them to be open and honest about what it's actually doing (as opposed to what they say it's supposed to be doing), by revealing the source code.

If you go to pick your car up from the shop, and the mechanic just presents you with a price, and no explanation as to how he came by it, you're going to wonder what he did, if anything at all. You might not know what every item on an itemized bill means, but the tradesman who gives you one is being open with you about his work. If you're sceptical, you can take it to another one who can look it, and the alleged work, over to see if it makes sense.

Same with software. I haven't read every line of the source to everything I'm running on my computer, but the developers have been polite enough to make it available, and that engenders trust: I can be reasonably sure they're not deliberately hiding anything.

This is surely doubly important when it comes to the government. Not only should the people running the software be able to find out exactly what it's doing, but so should the people on whose behalf they're running (not to mention buying) it.

Why would anyone, but especially a branch of government, use software on pure blind faith? I find it astonishing that, in this day and age, people in positions of authority aren't demanding to see the source code of the software their organizations are expected to use as a condition of using it. This isn't a crusade of the Open Source righteous; it's just common sense.

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