Free software and public administrations?

João Miguel Neves joao at
Tue Nov 26 14:11:02 UTC 2002

On Tue, 2002-11-26 at 13:50, Anton Zinoviev wrote:
> Busyness oriented people often say "I am not a developer and I don't
> care about sources.  I am not going to develop new software, I am only
> using what is currently offered to me.  And I am also interested if
> this software is well supported.  How long will continue this
> development?  It can stop, can't it?  I also need to be compatible
> with the others."  I am interested which is the best strategy to
> advocate the free software to such people.
Ability to change the source code means vendor independence. That means
they can hire someone to correct or improve the software, even if your
vendor isn't willing to do them. It alsos means there are always several
companies that will be willing to compete for your business instead of a
vendor monopoly like you have with proprietary software.

In the worst case scenario, Free Software means you can continue the
development of the software your business runs on (either by doing it or
by funding those who do it) if that makes business sense. But you have
that choice. It's not unusual for a proprietary software vendor to make
you upgrade all your infrastructure if, for instance, you want a feature
that only exists in the latest version.

> I'd like to mention one argument against GPL which can be heard from
> time to time here.  If the government decides to use the existing GPL
> software for security related works, then they will have to publish
> all algorithms which are state secrets now.

That's a lie. Free Software gives you the freedom to publish the
software. If you do it or not is up to the Free Software user. If they
are good algorithms you don't have problems in publishing them and the
community would gladly accept them. If they're not, you can keep them
secret anyway, as they would be useless.

João Miguel Neves <joao at>
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