[kwlug-disc] OSS/linux politics

Insurance Squared Inc. gcooke at insurancesquared.com
Fri Oct 8 08:07:55 EDT 2010

I'm running for council as well, though not in KW (so I'm not trolling 
for votes here :) ).  In fact I'll preface this with these are my 
personal questions and thoughts, not part of my campaign.  There's a lot 
of things to do as councillors, some of the personal projects have to 
wait until more serious concerns are addressed.

I've got my business desktops now on Linux including my wife who was 
extremely resistant to the change.  And I've got my family moved over, 
including my almost 70 year old mother.  Neither my wife or my mother 
required any training to make the switch.  Better yet I've not had any 
tech questions from my mother since I switched over.  If my 70 year old 
mother can switch over with no difficulty, so can a gov't office.

I've done some chewing on the idea of moving a gov't office to linux 
because I know from personal experience it cuts both capital costs and 
operating costs.  It's cheaper - the fact that I believe it's a 
technically better OS than many others is a bonus.   Anyway, here's my 

There's two general groups that use linux at the office level:
1) technically literate, the move for technical reasons.  I'm an example 
of that.
2) non-profits.  They move to save money.  Non-profits live on the 
razor's edge financially and when many of them look at software costs, 
they end up using linux and OSS.  There's every reason to expect that a 
small gov't office should end up at the same conclusion.

So that's the motivation.  In terms of implementation:
1) Now's a perfect time.  I expect over the coming years there will be a 
push to move to Windows 7 or whatever the new version is.  And that's 
going to require new hardware as well.  The savings between a 
hardware/software upgrade to a new MS OS vs no hardware and an upgrade 
to linux must be substantial.  There's a strong case can be made that if 
you've got to upgrade, time to look at alternatives and in a comparison 
upgrade, linux should easily come out ahead.
2) There would be some instances where windows apps would require 
windows to be used.  The way to frame this in the right perspective is 
to require permission to buy a windows license, then run it inside 
virtualbox.  This keeps everything standard around linux, and puts a 
focus on any spending that must be done to run MS OS's.
3) Some hardware upgrades may be required as it's possible large office 
printers may not all have linux drivers- or maybe not.  But by the same 
token, there's likely hardware costs associated with MS upgrades as 
well.  So worst case scenario, it's even.
4) Mostoffice work falls inside the following: Browser, Word processor, 
email.  Most of the rest can fall into spreadsheet and powerpoint type 
software.  Linux is equivalent in all respects to this (I've been 
running my office for many years with no problem on linux).  Two points 
for that.  First, training for a switch on those programs is minimal, 
I'd say it may not even be required.  People who use word can figure out 
how to use openoffice without a $1000/day training program, see my 
mother's use above.  Secondly almost all office work these days can be 
done on linux, with very few exceptions.  We use virtualization right 
now for our accounting program and some industry software, other than 
that nothing is MS anymore.
5) as noted by others, the first step would be to transition backend IT 
6) As someone who's involved in marketing, part of me says that this 
would also be used to promote a politician's region.  Press releases, 
talks, etc, switching to linux right now is big enough news that it can 
be leveraged into lots of free promotion as well.  Which has other 
benefits as well.
7) Training the IT folks as the first step also helps them out - making 
them more marketable in their career.   Having been part of a corporate 
gov't rollout of linux at the desktop level seems like a pretty big 
thing to have an a resume.

Thoughts on my ramblings?  I'm especially curious about anyone who's 
worked with linux on the desktop in larger environments than mine, which 
consists of about 5 computers that I control.


On 07/10/10 09:38 PM, Eric Gerlach wrote:
> On Tue, Oct 5, 2010 at 7:34 PM, Paul Nijjar<paul_nijjar at yahoo.ca>  wrote:
>> In other news, there are at least a few candidates that are interested
>> in Open Data initiatives. I have to look up who they are, though.
> Jeff Henry in Waterloo's Ward 6 is one of them.  He's on the
> OpenDataWR mailing list.  I also happen to think he's the best
> candidate in Ward 6 by a long shot.  The third sentence of this email
> (not including quoted portion) is opinion, everything else is fact.
> Cheers,
> Eric
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