Monthly Archives: May 2005

Open Source and eGovernment 3

Is anyone else totally frustrated trying to deal with the Government electronically if you DON’T use Internet Explorer? I run my own small business and for 4 years, successfully used NetScape 4 and a digital certificate to access Government email, VAT, PAYE and Corporation Tax. Gradually the applications have stopped working under NetScape 4 (reasonably enough) but the ONLY browser supported with Digital Certificates is Internet Explorer.

Our company’s security policy prohibits IE – too insecure, too many patches and anyway we now run Linux on the Desktop. Some eGovernment applications have some support for Open Source browsers but not with digital certificates.

I have spent countless hours talking to eGovernment helpdesks with bug reports and screenshots. Eventually they all gradually fade away, especially if you ask about strategy with regard to supporting open source browsers. Didn’t this government have a splash in the press last October about supporting open source?

The argument is always “it’s not worth supporting open source because no-one uses it”. Self fulfilling prophecy! The Government should be leading the way on Open Source, not prohibiting it.

Does anyone have access to the office of Ian Watmore, head of eGovernment?? I tried writing to the CEO of the Office of Government Commerce (OGC) but other than a secretarial response saying it had been passed on, I’ve had no reply.

Jane Curry

Open Army 1

Hi all,

Over the past several months, I have been toying with an idea in my head. The idea is to create a site where anyone can come to “richly” collaborate (I’ll define richly in a moment) with other programmers and develop in this rich collaboration environment.

I also want the site to be an organization that develops its own open-source software. This development will be performed by members of the open-source community. Project members will be tracked in the system and a higherarchy of positions and responsibilities will be kept like a normal organization. The positions will be volunteer until donations or other money starts to come in for any of the projects developed for the Open Army. At such a point, some volunteer positions would begin to be solicited for hire.

The first project of the Open Army will be to create the Open Army online collaboration environment. The front of this environment is simply the Open Army website where visitors can view current projects in the forge, view products such as documentation, make donations, sign up, donate a project, etc.

The backend of the environment will be the actual collaboration section. It will be rich in that there will be embeded Java IRC clients, flash (laszlo) presentation layers for quick collaboration, there will be on-the-fly file transfers, private development stations (chat/file/bbs/whiteboard/desktop sharing). The idea is that when developers decide to go to work for the Open Army, they log in and are immediately jacked into the present timeline for their project. So idealy, instead of walking into a building to go to work, the programmer opens a website.

This architecture will also allow project to be slaved over 24 hours a day by developers all around the world. When new programmers come in, they just pick up where the project is at the present time.

Many of the projects behind OpenArmy will be actual OpenArmy projects that are being developed by approved developers. However, anyone will be able to create their own project on the site and allow developers to work on their open-source project. Anyone can also log in to get coding help, etc.

If you are interested in being one of the first programmers to assist in setting up this rich callaboration environment and you at least have HTML experience coupled with one other skill such as design talent, Java programming, or PHP programming, please contact me at

Thank you,

Aaron Belovsky

5th Workshop on Open Source Software Engineering

The overarching theme of this year’s workshop is “open source application spaces.” Specifically, the goal of the workshop is to bring together researchers and practitioners for the purpose of building a roadmap of the ways in which various computing application spaces have been impacted by open source software and also by open source development methods, tools and organizational structures.

For more information, visit

2005-05-17 from 09:00 to 17:00
Saint Louis, MO, USA
Dr, Joesph Feller
Contact Email

Call to boycott OASIS Standards that are not open 3

Computer Weekly (2005,01 March p.12) reports on a row between leading Open Source Developers and standards organization OASIS (Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards). OASIS has recently changed its rules allowing developers the right to charge royalties for contributed code.

This has met with strong disapproval from leading members of the Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) Community including Lawrence Rosen, Richard Stallman, Bruce Perens, Mitchell Kapor, Lawrence Lessig, Doc Searls, Tim O’Reilly, and Eric Raymond. They have all signed an email letter – a copy of this is shown at – calling for OASIS to drop its plans and to boycott any of its standards that are not open.

More about OASIS can be found on its website at which amongst other detail describes itself as a not-for-profit consortium that produces more web services standards than any other organization.

Lawrence Rosen has recently published a book entitled Open Source Licensing Software Freedom and Intellectual Property. An online version is available at published under the Academic Free Licence version 2.1.

Mark Elkins

Open Source as an Economic Model 1

Open Source Software and Activity has brought about the creation of many tangible items including the Linux Kernel, OpenOffice, Apache web server, PHP scripting language, Perl programming language, and MySQL DBMS. All of these are used directly or indirectly to produce Goods and Services. So a Bicycle manufacturer could be using OpenOffice to produce written reports and the Apache web server to host a website promoting its products.

Thus it can be argued that Open Source Software and Activity even if supplied free of charge to the user nevertheless adds to the Goods and Services available within an Economy. The ultimate extension of this theory might be to speculate on the possibility of a fully functional Open Source Economy.

Communism is an Economic theory that in essence originates via the work of Karl Marx although of course some forms of Communism follow his work more literally than others. So for example China is a Communist country but not in the way the former Soviet Union was under Joseph Stalin or Lenin. One of the many differences between the way Communism appears to operate and Open Source Activity is that the latter simply does not have the restrictions of the former. Indeed it could be argued that Open Source Activity is far less restrictive than uncontrolled Capitalist or Laissez-faire Activity, which amongst its possible faults has monopolistic tendencies.

A similarity with worker controlled Co-operatives could be made with those (workers) who contribute to and control Open Source Software Projects. In Mondragon, Spain a successful Co-operative Economy has operated for many decades.

Perhaps a mixed economy with each economic model competing with the other is the safest and most practical way to achieve a successful modern economy. However Open Source is yet to become a fully established player within the kind of mixed economy found in the UK and elsewhere. In that respect is it destined to be the next great advancement in Economics?

Mark Elkins