[nSLUG] Open Source Desktop Apps

David Potter dlpotter at eastlink.ca
Thu Aug 6 07:23:35 ADT 2009

Daniel Morrison wrote:
> Thanks for your reply, Carrie -- all very reasonable.
> I think you hit the nail on the head in saying that some depts. are
> more advanced than others. Ultimately, free software often gets
> deployed by techies like us where it does the best job, regardless of
> official policy, and so some depts. incorporate free software sooner
> than others.
> So there must be many conversations on this topic at different levels
> in different departments, in which surely any point of view may be
> expressed.
> Mr. Steele was kind enough to reply promptly to my email, confirming
> at least that the creation of a high-level committee that would have
> made the alleged statement is a rumour. He suggested it may all stem
> from a misunderstanding over an IT person considering the possible
> risks of certain software (certainly always advisable to examine
> risk). He went on to say that he does recognize open source software,
> and uses some himself.
> So I think we can lay to rest the concern that the province has
> mandated any shift to proprietary software, and the free takeover can
> continue as planned, one dept. at a time :)
> -D.
> PS: I also had to smile at the "Corel vs. Office" comment. I bet that
> what they find in Corel is WordPerfect, considered by many to be
> vastly superior to Word. So I understand. I think they're more likely
> to switch to openoffice.org than to Word.... but still. Wordperfect is
> good. There are OpenOffice.org feature requests to add 'Reveal Codes'
> to Openoffice Writer. I'm not sure it will ever be possible, though.
When Carrie mentioned Corel I immediately thought 'legal department'
because WordPerfect was usually the first choice in law offices.

My preference for WordPerfect was because of the character based
formatting rather than the paragraph based metaphor. I'd like to know
how many times (during the 10 years it took me to transition from WP to
Word) /(that) /I saved a document as ASCI and reformatted it from
scratch... I guess some brains work best in WordPerfect... ;-)


> 2009/8/5 Carrie Forbes <flunkiejunkie at gmail.com>:
>> Hello fellas,
>> This is my first time posting, but I work for the province, and need
>> to help clarify a few things. First, there is no CIO 'committee', it
>> is a new department. There are major changes underway in restructuring
>> the internal IT structure, and this is the group who will oversee it.
>> You also need to understand that they are concerned with internal
>> matters - the IT needs of the bureaucracy and it's work - not public
>> policy.
>> Now, that said, someone mentioned that open source is used. I am
>> working with an e-learning company that developed a linux based
>> program, and the IT group developed a linux server in order to house
>> it. When working with vendors, and 3rd parties, the province operates
>> on what makes sense for the end goal. In my case, building the server
>> met the objective. Cost is always a key consideration, and if open
>> source can keep the bottom line low and meet security/privacy
>> policies, then absolutely, it will be used. It also depends on the
>> department - some are more advanced in their use of technology, and
>> others are sadly behind. We have 30 year employees who have never
>> migrated from Corel to MS - they will not move from their comfort
>> zone. Can you see these folks using Open Office?
>> As with any large organization, we have big contracts with enterprise
>> corporations such as SAP. The investment in these kinds of systems
>> involves years of implementation, and are bound by strict procurement
>> rules. If the province made a commitment, it will mean they are
>> obligated to fulfill it without room to experiment or freely try out
>> competition. The question I have is what context were these comments
>> about the unsustainability made? Was it for internal operations?
>> Because that may very well be true in certain areas given the current
>> circumstances I've described.
>> Given that the average age of a gov't worker is 49, there is a general
>> resistance to embrace technology. This is rapidly changing with the
>> new generation entering the workforce, and I'm confident this will
>> mean a rapid move towards using new tools as expectations are also
>> changing. The new government isn't familiar with the inner workings
>> yet, and writing them would be futile, since they are concerned with
>> public policy - not in-house stuff. If you can clarify your concerns,
>> and spell out what aspects you think this will affect, I may be able
>> to have someone at CIO address them.
>> Cheers,
>> Carrie
>> PS - I am not truly an IT professional, but have an interest in Linux
>> and open source technology. I also have worked a lot with the IT
>> teams, and know a lot about the challenges they face.
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