Congress sets public discussion on open source legislation

One blogger says “It’s about time.” But others are not convinced that this will go anywhere. The INQ7.net report states:

The Commission on Information and Communications Technology (CICT) chairman Ramon Sales has earlier expressed reservation on creating legislations related to the choice of software use in government.

The CICT official stressed free/open source software (FOSS) is now an established choice.

There are two schools of thought here: One that argues that open source legislation will open up the market. The other says legislating choice of software will end up nowhere. It is a futile excercise. So this will raise interesting debates in the halls of Congress. But I hope the lawmakers do understand what open source software is all about, and what benefits it has for local users. Just to set things straight: Free/Open source software is not about free software.

What this legislation hopes to do is to force government to mandate preference for open source software, which is an alternative to the more dominant/popular Windows. The alternative open source software will still cost government in the long run. The challenge here, however, is to produce enough local skills to support government’s proposed shift to open source systems.

Open source software espouses sharing of information. Developers of open source software share source code with other developers, giving others the chance to improve on a certain application or program or to make systems interoperable (they talk to each other). Proprietary software like Microsoft Windows don’t give out their source codes openly. They have their own communities of developers. The very brain or inner workings of proprietary software, known as the source code, is still closely held by the likes of Microsoft. So, people have to pay a certain license to use that source code. In open source software, usually these codes are given for free or a minimal fee with the caveat that you have to share your source code with the rest of the community.

This is a good development worth taking notice in the Philippines, nonetheless.

Meanwhile, we’ve seen Microsoft taking a different direction with the announced deal with Novell. It is now entering in more deals with Linux (a flavor of open source system) developers.

If you want to know about this deal, check out these blog entries and see how people are reacting to it. But this blog entry from CRN is interesting. This piece of news also revealed what really went down in the deal.

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Erwin Oliva

Putting a dent on the universe one day at a time