[Fsfe-ie] Ireland OA Policy

Andrew Clarke andrew.clarke at dkit.ie
Mon Jan 26 15:18:57 CET 2009


I was pleasantly surprised to hear of this letter in the Irish Times.

Whilst I fully agree with Bobs qualifying of the issues around the area 
of School ICT, I do think that there is room for improvement on this 
front. We are now clearly in deep recession and any reduction in budgets 
for Schools will of course also affect IT as well as other areas. If 
FOSS is more widely adopted in schools just simply to save costs, and 
without any understanding of the meaning / philosophy behind this type 
of software, then so be it.

Going back to the original letter, whilst I think that the idea of 
saving money by using FOSS is a good one, and every euro saved reduces 
the possibility of job losses etc., I do think that switching OS is a 
huge change for users. There is an argument that every MS Windows 
upgrade is quite a large change, but I'm not sure that change is on the 
same scale as switching for instance to Linux. A ''softer'' target is 
application software and I have easily persuaded many users to use 
OpenOffice.org in place of MS Office. Again, Office 2007 was a large 
change for users and instead of this, a migration to OOo can actually be 
less painful for users.

According to the governments own latest report on education funding, 
there are around 85,500 computers in education. If the political will 
was there, huge savings can be made without adversely affecting users 
too much. A back of envelope calculation on this would go something like 
this. If reduced / volume license / educational license is averaged as 
low as 30 euro, this still amounts to 2.5 million euro which would go 
some way to reducing the strain on educational budgets. If it simply 
saved a few jobs, it would still be worthwhile.

Money talks, especially in politics and especially in recession. Asking 
government to justify unnecessarily spending money on software which has 
an equivalent which is cost free is the right question to ask. It simply 
cannot be justified.

I realise that I have over-simplified the situation in order to 
highlight my point, but I do think that at it's core, this is a simple 
decision and we should take our lead from some of the many governments 
adopting FOSS widely within the public service. Any lobbying of 
government to this end is welcome.

kind regards,
Andrew Clarke

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