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GNU is Not Unix Government Software Politics Linux

Large FLOSS Study Gets the Real Facts 210

Hans Kwint writes "The European Commission's enterprise and industry department has just released the final draft of what could be the biggest academic interdisciplinary study on the economic / innovative impacts of free/libre/open source software (1.8-MB PDF). The study was done by an international consortium led by the United Nations University / University of Maastricht. The lead researcher, Rishab Aiyer Ghosh, has overseen a large volume of FLOSS studies in the last few years, including ones on FLOSS policies and worldwide FLOSS adoption. This academic-grade study has a very broad scope and has collected real-world information that is valuable for both companies and government bodies thinking about migration. The study is about the economic impact of FLOSS, not excluding the hidden indirect impact. It compares scenarios of open and proprietary software futures of Europe. The study looks at the FLOSS's competitiveness compared to proprietary software and also provides a few TCO comparison case-studies.
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Large FLOSS Study Gets the Real Facts

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  • Well? (Score:5, Funny)

    by RealGrouchy ( 943109 ) on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @02:13AM (#17642816)
    This study compares... This study looks at... It's the biggest FLOSS study since sliced breadboards

    Yeah, sure. It's a study. That's nice. What does it say?

    I'm not going to read a 1.8 mb PDF TFA unless I know whether or not its conclusions agree with my predisposed bias!

    - RG>
    • Re:Well? (Score:5, Funny)

      by nxtr ( 813179 ) on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @02:18AM (#17642850)

      I'm not going to read a 1.8 mb PDF TFA unless I know whether or not its conclusions agree with my predisposed bias!


      You must be old here!
    • Re:Well? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Technician ( 215283 ) on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @02:24AM (#17642894)
      I'm not going to read a 1.8 mb PDF TFA unless I know whether or not its conclusions agree with my predisposed bias!

      You don't have to. Start in the table of contents and you will find the conclusion is on a single page. It's on page 283. It's a PDF so I can't cut and paste and If you are not going to read it, I'm not taking the time to retype the conclusion page.

      For me, I like the conclusion. MS will not.
      • Re:Well? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @02:39AM (#17642964)

        12.7. Conclusions

        Our analysis has been performed on six organizations in different European countries.
        The majority of them are public bodies. The organizations have followed different types of
        migration on the base of their context.

        We have investigated the costs of migration, and the cost of ownership of the old and
        the new solution differentiating them between the costs of purchasing and the costs of
        ownership of the software solutions. Special attention has been put on the intangible nature of
        the costs. Costs have been classified in categories defined trough existing studies and selected
        by a top down approach called Goal Question Metric. This instrument has been also used to
        define the questionnaires used to collect the data.

        Our findings show that, in almost all the cases, a transition toward open source reports
        of savings on the long term costs of ownership of the software products.

        Costs to migrate to an open solution are relevant and an organization needs to
        consider an extra effort for this. However these costs are temporary and manly are budgeted
        in less than one year. The major factor of cost of the new solution even in the case that the
        open solution is mixed with closed software is costs for peer or ad hoc training. These are
        the best example of intangible costs that often are not foreseen in a transition. On the other
        hand not providing a specific training may cause and adverse attitude toward the new
        technology. Fortunately those costs are limited in time and are not strictly linked to the nature
        of the new software adopted.

        We also investigated the productivity of the employees in using Microsoft office and
        OpenOffice.org. Office suites are widely used and are a good test bed and representative for a
        comparison on issues like effort and time spent in the daily routine of work. Delays in the
        task deliveries may have a bigger impact than costs on the organization's management. Our
        findings report no particular delays or lost of time in the daily work due to the use of
        OpenOffice.org.

      • Re:Well? (Score:5, Informative)

        by perlionex ( 703104 ) * <joseph@g a n f a m i l y . com> on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @02:43AM (#17642990) Homepage

        I have no qualms about extracted good, useful conclusions from well-researched academic papers so others don't have to download a 1.8MB file. (Thanks for pointing out the usefulness of the conclusion, though).

        From page 283 (emphasis mine):

        Conclusion

        Our analysis has been performed on six organizations in different European countries. The majority of them are public bodies. The organizations have followed different types of migration on the base of their context.

        We have investigated the costs of migration, and the cost of ownership of the old and the new solution differentiating them between the costs of purchasing and the costs of ownership of the software solutions. Special attention has been put on the intangible nature of the costs. Costs have been classified in categories defined trough existing studies and selected by a top down approach called Goal Question Metric. This instrument has been also used to define the questionnaires used to collect the data.

        Our findings show that, in almost all the cases, a transition toward open source reports of savings on the long term - costs of ownership of the software products.

        Costs to migrate to an open solution are relevant and an organization needs to consider an extra effort for this. However these costs are temporary and manly are budgeted in less than one year. The major factor of cost of the new solution - even in the case that the open solution is mixed with closed software - is costs for peer or ad hoc training. These are the best example of intangible costs that often are not foreseen in a transition. On the other hand not providing a specific training may cause and adverse attitude toward the new technology. Fortunately those costs are limited in time and are not strictly linked to the nature of the new software adopted.

        We also investigated the productivity of the employees in using Microsoft office and OpenOffice.org. Office suites are widely used and are a good test bed and representative for a comparison on issues like effort and time spent in the daily routine of work. Delays in the task deliveries may have a bigger impact than costs on the organization's management. Our findings report no particular delays or lost of time in the daily work due to the use of OpenOffice.org.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          Our findings report no particular delays or lost of time in the daily work due to the use of OpenOffice.org.

          Crap, there goes my excuse. I hope my boss didn't see this.
          • Re:Well? (Score:5, Interesting)

            by ThePhilips ( 752041 ) on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @07:35AM (#17644468) Homepage Journal

            To be honest, when I first saw the line, I also wanted to make similar post.

            But then - just before hitting "Reply to This" - I recalled all the nightmares of supporting M$Office documents my company have had in past. All the bugs and regressions of OO.o cannot cover experience with M$Office in networked environment.

            Our favorite biggest sucker is M$O document with global system architecture spec: opening from network drive of the 20 page (about 200k thanks to diagrams) document takes 2 to 5 minutes. Always. Nobody knows what M$Word does - but it basicly hangs and then later happily pop-ups from background with open document reporting neither error nor warning. Copy the document from networked repository to local harddrive - and it opens instantly. Open it as it is supposed to be open - and locked - on servers and ... here we go. (Actually we also have several document which take ages to open regardless of where from you open them: locally or remotely. But it just everybody has to work with sys arch spec often - so it is major P.I.T.A.)

            OO.o is bloated, ugly, slow, feature-poor, buggy and inconsistent. Its macro language is total and utter undocumented crap (N.B. I hate VBA - no language could be worse. Or so I thought. Before I have seen StarBasic (or whatever that thing is called)). BUT. In three years of deployment we found no single major blocker, which prevented us from using OO.o internally.

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by CastrTroy ( 595695 )
              Well, you can also program macros in Python an Javascript if you like. Nobody said you had to use StarBasic, or OO.O basic, which is what it's called on my version.
              • Re:Well? (Score:4, Insightful)

                by ThePhilips ( 752041 ) on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @09:24AM (#17645696) Homepage Journal

                Okay, smart one, then try to find a single document describing hierarchy of internal OO.o objects - accessible from such scripts.

                OO.o documentation is ill with what I call "plug-in disease" and has very nice reference "everything is implemented with plug-ins and thus documented elsewhere" with link to dummy OO.o documentation page. There you can find the same plug-in reference quoted above. With no link to actual DOM documentation/specification/anything.

                Analogy. In past we used to joke around "know how to program in assembler": knowing insn op-codes gives one nothing. Programming in assembler is impossible with knowledge of assembler syntax alone - knowledge of computer's architecture is essential. Syntax is simple and fits several documentation pages - computer architecture is described on many hundred pages. So here we have the same situation: I know Python/Java/etc but I can't program anything for OO.o in it since DOM - main subject of programming - is documented nowhere.

                VBS is shitty, but you can always record macro and correct it to your needs. For sake of experiment try to record macro in OO.o and see/correct the results. Even "steep" isn't proper adjective for the learning curve.

                • by zooblethorpe ( 686757 ) on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @11:14AM (#17647384)
                  Okay, smart one, then try to find a single document describing hierarchy of internal OO.o objects - accessible from such scripts.
                  I know Python/Java/etc but I can't program anything for OO.o in it since DOM - main subject of programming - is documented nowhere.
                  VBS is shitty, but you can always record macro and correct it to your needs. For sake of experiment try to record macro in OO.o and see/correct the results. Even "steep" isn't proper adjective for the learning curve.

                  Thank you for making these points! I've had to use MSO with VBA for years due to in-house automation requirements (joy), and while the language isn't exactly fun :\, the DOMs and application APIs are immediately discoverable thanks to 1) generally extensive and useful documentation, and 2) autocomplete. So I can get something simple up and running usually inside of an hour.

                  Meanwhile, in OOo land, I've spent hours simply trying to dig through the documentation to figure out the hierarchy of objects and APIs for one frigging object. Who the hell wrote the API docs? I'm not familiar with Java, but the docs seem very Java-oriented -- is that terrible disconnected API soup a Java thing? I'm baffled. And frustrated enough (by other things as well*) that I've been unable to seriously recommend OOo.

                  * Lousy Asian-language support makes OOo a non-starter in my field of Japanese translation. It's galling, because OOo is sooo close to being a good idea, yet falls painfully far from the mark. <sigh.>


                  "OpenOffice.org -- it's almost a Good Idea!" TM

        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward

          However these costs are temporary and manly

          Conclusion
          If yoo use tha Microsoft, yoor jussed like dat Beel Gates -- a weak girlieman!

        • by the_olo ( 160789 )

          However these costs are temporary and manly are budgeted in less than one year.


          Considering the extensiveness of this report, couldn't they pass it through some corrective editing? Or did they really mean that only a true man can budget these costs in less than one year? (ducks)

      • Re:Well? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Wolfbone ( 668810 ) on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @03:47AM (#17643302)

        "Start in the table of contents and you will find the conclusion is on a single page. It's on page 283."

        No it's not. That's only the conclusion page for section 12, "Appendix 2: Report on user-level productivity and relative cost of FLOSS / proprietary software." The executive summary is the where the overall conclusions can be found in this paper. The whole thing is considerably more than just a TCO study.

      • Re:Well? (Score:5, Informative)

        by WaZiX ( 766733 ) on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @03:50AM (#17643324)
        It's a PDF so I can't cut and paste and If you are not going to read it, I'm not taking the time to retype the conclusion page.

        I Can:



        12.7. Conclusions

        Our analysis has been performed on six organizations in different European countries. The majority of them are public bodies. The organizations have followed different types of migration on the base of their context.

        We have investigated the costs of migration, and the cost of ownership of the old and the new solution differentiating them between the costs of purchasing and the costs of ownership of the software solutions. Special attention has been put on the intangible nature of the costs. Costs have been classified in categories defined trough existing studies and selected by a top down approach called Goal Question Metric. This instrument has been also used to define the questionnaires used to collect the data.

        Our findings show that, in almost all the cases, a transition toward open source reports of savings on the long term - costs of ownership of the software products.

        Costs to migrate to an open solution are relevant and an organization needs to consider an extra effort for this. However these costs are temporary and manly are budgeted in less than one year. The major factor of cost of the new solution - even in the case that the open solution is mixed with closed software - is costs for peer or ad hoc training. These are the best example of intangible costs that often are not foreseen in a transition. On the other hand not providing a specific training may cause and adverse attitude toward the new technology. Fortunately those costs are limited in time and are not strictly linked to the nature of the new software adopted.

        We also investigated the productivity of the employees in using Microsoft office and OpenOffice.org. Office suites are widely used and are a good test bed and representative for a comparison on issues like effort and time spent in the daily routine of work. Delays in the task deliveries may have a bigger impact than costs on the organization's management. Our findings report no particular delays or lost of time in the daily work due to the use of OpenOffice.org.

        12.7.1. Considerations

        With our analysis we achieve a good level of understanding of the costs, benefits and productivity of a transition. The following are the considerations we have drawn upon.

        1. Before buying, upgrading proprietary office software one needs consider that: OpenOffice.org has all the functionalities that public offices need to create documents, spreadsheets, and presentations Upgrading office programs is time-consuming and expensive. It requires installation time, potential document conversions, and new training. It also poses a risk because some documents containing code or macros may not be readable anymore OpenOffice.org is free, extremely stable, and supports the ISO Open Document Standard.

        2. In our study the motivations to transit to OSS are: the exchange of documents in an open shared format (ODS), reuse of old hardware in some cases, and being independent of software vendors even when creating a distribution or an application for local needs. Employees may perceive that their work is under-valued using 'cheap' OSS products or changing operating model to OSS is problematic. Economic impact of FLOSS on innovation and competitiveness of the EU ICT sector © 2006 MERIT. Prepared on November 20, 2006 284 To overcome these pre-conception it is recommended to adopt a policy of both ad hoc and periodic training to fill the lack of knowledge/experience in relation to what OSS products are appropriate and how they might be deployed.

        3. It is not always justified to base the migration on the promise of lower license costs, although in our study initial purchasing costs are lower for the OSS (they includes deployment and customization for the first run of the configuration). This is because these costs are too much influenced
      • Google for it, and then use the "View as HTML" option. Considering that it's a very long document, use "search as you type" (also known as Control-F) to jump to what you're looking for.

        Alternatively, download the document, and email it to yourself. Assuming you have Gmail, that is.
      • It's a PDF so I can't cut and paste...

        Just out of curiosity, what type of PDF reader can't copy and text to the clipboard? I have XPDF, Preview, and Acrobat Reader and all of them allow me to copy text.

    • Yeah, sure. It's a study. That's nice. What does it say?
      That's easy to figure out. Slashdot wouldn't have referred to it as "real facts" unless it said that free software was much better than proprietary software from an economic standpoint.
    • by Tenareth ( 17013 )
      Yeah, where's the 10k Executive Briefing, so we know if they picked our answer?
    • Well it says if your FLOSS Regualary the chances for Gingavites is greatly reduced. ...
      Rule of thumb to submitters. If you are going to use acranyms Spell them out at least once. So we know what they are, espectilly for lesser used terms. You need to realize that not all people use these terms on a daily bases.
  • FLOSS and get out all of that grimy, proprietary software - wait, I think you still have some M$ in your teeth!
  • by sameeer ( 946332 ) on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @02:33AM (#17642928) Homepage

    this is pure laziness by the story poster. I don't come to slashdot to read 286 page documents, the whole purpose of a news site is to give me news, and then link to the complete document.

    Anyway, for the benefit of others, I shall attempt to quote relevant sentences from the conclusion.

    Our findings show that, in almost all the cases, a transition toward open source reports of savings on the long term costs of ownership of the software products.

    Costs to migrate to an open solution are relevant and an organization needs to consider an extra effort for this. However these costs are temporary and manly are budgeted in less than one year.

    OpenOffice.org has all the functionalities that public offices need to create documents, spreadsheets, and presentations

    We also investigated the productivity of the employees in using Microsoft office and OpenOffice.org....Our findings report no particular delays or lost of time in the daily work due to the use of OpenOffice.org.

    Employees may perceive that their work is under-valued using 'cheap' OSS products or changing operating model to OSS is problematic.

    To overcome these pre-conception it is recommended to adopt a policy of both ad hoc and periodic training to fill the lack of knowledge/experience in relation to what OSS products are appropriate and how they might be deployed.

    It is not always justified to base the migration on the promise of lower license costs

    Another good crucial reason of costs is training. Although training costs are a substantial part of the migration costs their benefits can be realized over time.

    There are no extra costs due to lack of productivity arising from the use of the OOo.

    Someone who reads the whole thing might be able to do justice to the summary of the document, but for many, this should suffice.

    • Current Usage (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Figure 12 claims FLOSS systems used in European public bodies (900 bodies across European Governments):
      46.6 % GNU/Linux
      33.7 % MySQL
      33.4 % Apache
      26.0 % Mozilla
      24.1 % PHP
      21.5 % OpenOffice.org
      17.0 % Samba
      14.1 % Squid
      10.2 % KDE
      10.2 % Perl
      05.5 % Gnome
      04.7 % Zope
      03.0 % Free/Open BSD
      33.9 % other
    • > Costs to migrate to an open solution are relevant and an organization needs to consider an extra effort for this. However these costs are temporary and manly are budgeted in less than one year.

      Got that, folks? These are manly costs, so tell your boss no one will think he's gay for switching to OSS.
  • Interesting facts (Score:5, Informative)

    by omeg ( 907329 ) on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @02:34AM (#17642942)
    If you don't want to read through the entire PDF (which I can understand, since it's 287 pages in size), there are some interesting figures in the first paragraph which highlights the study's key findings.

    "Europe is the leading region in terms of globally collaborating FLOSS software developers, and leads in terms of global project leaders, followed closely by North America (interestingly, more in the East Coast than the West), Asia and Latin America face disadvantages at least partially due to language barriers, but may have an increasing share of developers active in local communities."

    "Weighted by regional PC penetration, central Europe and Scandinavia provide disproportionally high numbers of developers; weighted by average income, India is the leading provider of FLOSS developers by far, followed by China."

    "The existing base of quality FLOSS applications with reasonable quality control and distribution would cost firms almost Euro 12 billion to reproduce internally. This code base has been doubling every 18-24 months over the past eight years, and this growth is projected to continue for several more years."

    "The existing base of FLOSS software represents a lower bound of about 131.000 real person-years of effort that has been devoted exclusively by programmers. As this is mostly by individuals not directly paid for development, it represents a significant gap in national accounts of productivity. [...]"

    "Defined broadly, FLOSS-related services could reach a 32% share of all IT services by 2010, and the FLOSS-related share of the economy could reach 4% of European GDP by 2010. [...]"

    "[...] FLOSS and proprietary software show a ration of 30:70 (overlapping) in recent job postings indicating significant demand for FLOSS-related skills."

    There is a huge amount of information in this PDF, and while it pertains directly to Europe, it's also interesting to read for people who don't live there. Basically, it discusses the role of software libre in the European economy (both its direct and indirect impacts), and its general trends, scenarios and policy strategies. Everything is in great detail, too.
  • Load of FUD (Score:5, Funny)

    by bh_doc ( 930270 ) <blhigginsNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @02:35AM (#17642948) Homepage
    This is stupid! It's the biggest load of crap I've ever seen! I wonder who paid them to write this?

    What? Generally favourable?

    Well, it's about time someone did a proper study! I'm glad to see there are some people who aren't complete corporate shills!
  • by perlionex ( 703104 ) * <joseph@g a n f a m i l y . com> on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @02:39AM (#17642958) Homepage

    (of pages 9-12 of the PDF article)

    FLOSS role in the economy
    • FLOSS applications are first, second or third-rung products in terms of market share in several markets
    • FLOSS market penetration is also high
    • Almost two-thirds of FLOSS software is still written by individuals
    • Europe is the leading region in terms of globally collaborating FLOSS software developers
    • (more details on specific role in Europe in paper)
    Direct economic impact
    • The existing base of quality FLOSS applications with reasonable quality control and distribution would cost firms almost Euro 12 billion to reproduce internally... code base has been doubling every 18-24 months
    • This existing base of FLOSS software represents a lower bound of about 131 000 real person-years of effort that has been devoted exclusively by programmers... it represents a significant gap in national accounts of productivity
    • Firms have invested an estimated Euro 1.2 billion in developing FLOSS software that is
    • made freely available... represent in total at least 565 000 jobs and Euro 263 billion in annual revenue
    • FLOSS-related services could reach a 32% share of all IT services by 2010, and the FLOSS-related share of the economy could reach 4% of European GDP by 2010
    • (more statistics in the paper)
    Indirect economic impact
    • Strong network effects in ICT... risk leading to innovation resources being excessively allocated to defensive innovation. There is a case for a rebalancing of innovation incentives... (to target) publicly available technology for new functionality.
    • FLOSS potentially saves industry over 36% in software R&D investment
    • ...a large and increasing share of user-generated content is not accounted for and needs to be addressed by policy makers
    • Increased FLOSS use may provide a way for Europe to compensate for a low GDP share of ICT investment relative to the US
    Trends, scenarios and policy strategies
    • Doubling the rate of FLOSS take-up in Europe would result in a software share of investment at 1.5% of GDP, reducing but not closing this investment gap with the US
    • Europe's strengths regarding FLOSS are its strong community of active developers, small firms and secondary software industry; weaknesses include Europe's generally low level of ICT investment and low rate of FLOSS adoption by large industry compared to the US
    • FLOSS provides opportunities in Europe for new businesses, a greater role in the wider information society and a business model that suits European SMEs
    • Europe faces three scenarios: CLOSED, where existing business models are entrenched... GENERIC, where current mixed policies lead to a gradual growth of FLOSS... VOLUNTARY, where policies and the market develop to recognise and utilise the potential of FLOSS
    • (goes on to suggest policy initiatives to support FLOSS)
    • by DaveCar ( 189300 )

      Awww, that's stiiill too long for my short attention span to deal with :(

      Can't you trim it down to a simple "yes" or "no"?
  • by heretic108 ( 454817 ) on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @02:39AM (#17642962)
    I've never seen such a thorough and methodical compilation of real-world evidence in favour of F[L]OSS.

    However, the 'proprietary vs FLOSS' debate is a battle which each day seems to more resemble the 'biblical literalism versus evolution' debate. Just like the biblical literalists who hang on to their denials of evolution, despite the evidence, there'll be those who'll never be convinced about the benefits of FLOSS, and will always be there as suckers to sustain the likes of Microsoft.

    Kinda puts an ironic twist on the old adage: "To those who believe, no proof is necessary. To those who disbelieve, no proof is possible."

    • M$ is 'intelligent design', and FLOSS is punctuated equilibrium.

      No one gets fired for buying Microsoft is similar to the fall from grace: simple ideas that stop thought in it's tracks and stop the discussion of a whole host of inconsistencies in the record.

      Remember, "Balmer doesn't play dice with the Operating System..."
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ajs318 ( 655362 )
        No one gets fired for buying Microsoft
        They would if they worked where I did.
    • by paniq ( 833972 ) on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @03:32AM (#17643204) Homepage
      I don't think you can compare a discussion about whether to use FLOSS or not with whether to believe in "intelligent design" or not.

      Unlike with the Open Source issue, believing in evolution or not does not matter. No matter what you believe how the world was born, this will not change the past, and it will certainly have no influence on the way you work.

      The benefits of Open Source are nothing you can discuss about once the research has been done. And so far we are only talking about those objective business figures. The whole subjective part of it has only been covered in a handful of books, Eric S. Raymonds "Cathedral and Bazaar" being one of it.

      Now this is entirely subjective, and needs to be backed up by objective research, but I'm confident I'm not the only one:

      I am 26. I started programming when I was 9. For 15 years, I was exclusively using non-free products. Since I switched to working with open source products 2 years ago, my productivity has boasted. I have more work-related contacts than ever. I participate in various projects. I learn so much every day - about programming, and especially about working with other people. Because of those contacts, I get inside scoops and information that in non-free terms would be regarded as "classified". I feel that I shape myself into someone who will be able to do quite good consulting one day. I can safely say that my knowledge has never grown this fast.

      Now show me anyone who can claim the opposite: "I used free software for 15 years, now I switched to non-free software, boy my productivity sky-rocketed! And I know so many people now!" - in fact, try to twist arguments and see if the shoe still fits. I can not see free software going away, and I can not see longtime users migrating back to Windows.

      This is not a question of religion. This is a question of performance and optimal work flow.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        No matter what you believe how the world was born, this will not change the past, and it will certainly have no influence on the way you work.

        I have to disagree pretty substantially with what you've said. For starters, the discussion of evolution vs intelligent design/creationism isn't one of the creation of life. Instead, it's the creation of most species. The difference is pretty significant. The former is a very dynamic viewpoint while the latter two are more static (well, unless intelligent design

        • Creationists don't deny changes inside a species, such as developing resistances to pesticides and the like. What they deny is that one species can change so much that it becomes another species. In technical terms, what they refuse is the notion of macroevolution. That of microevolution isn't a problem for them.

          And in regards to genetic engineering, they also don't see new mixed species, or even entirely new ones created by men from scratch, as a problem either, since these can be thought about as species
          • by radtea ( 464814 )
            Creationists don't deny changes inside a species, such as developing resistances to pesticides and the like. What they deny is that one species can change so much that it becomes another species. In technical terms, what they refuse is the notion of macroevolution. That of microevolution isn't a problem for them.

            Which is a huge problem, very nearly a logical contradiction, since macroevolution procedes by exactly the same processes as microevolution, albeit under rarer circumstances (founder events and what
            • Which is a huge problem, very nearly a logical contradiction, since macroevolution procedes by exactly the same processes as microevolution, albeit under rarer circumstances (founder events and what-have-you.)

              What they question is precisely the assertion that both things are the same. Until a case of an actual speciation happens in a way we can observe and measure each and every step of the process, there's no way to know if macroevolution happens due to the same mechanisms involved in microevolution, or if

              • by spun ( 1352 )
                WTF? We've observed speciation in the laboratory. [wikipedia.org] It's a dead horse, my friend. Been dead so long it's starting to stink. Stop beating it. This, like most other issues raised by creationists/IDers, has been answered over and over again.
                • Oh, this is very nice to know! Thanks!

                  One might argue, maybe, that lack of interbreeding alone isn't enough for the characterization of what a "species" is, but the article is nevertheless interesting in that it adds a lot of weight to the evolutionary framework. I'll keep it for future reference.
      • This doesn't make much sense. I appreciate your enthusiasm, but the method used to write the software you use has little or, dare I say, *nothing* to do with how many people you know. I have know people on both sides of the camp who've switched to the other side, and both saw productivity boosts, for different reasons. I've known LAMP developers who sit in their cube all day and don't talk to people or join groups or projects or anything like that. Likewise, developers using MS products, for example, ca
    • However, the 'proprietary vs FLOSS' debate is a battle which each day seems to more resemble the 'biblical literalism versus evolution' debate.

      To me it's more like dogma. There are so many people who accept conventional wisdom without spending any time actually learning anything and refusing to listen to those who do. I'm continually surprised how many managers exhibit a depth of understanding of IT issues that one might get skimming an in-flight magazine.

  • FLOSS? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @02:44AM (#17642996)
    Since when did Libre get added? Is this another lame attempt at a cute acronym? At one time it was open source, then the acronym weenies attacked and we had OSS. The GNU zealots came along and insisted that we beat the definition of "free" into the ground, thus FOSS was born. Libre? Idiotic.
    • Re:FLOSS? (Score:5, Funny)

      by elf-fire ( 715733 ) on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @03:01AM (#17643070)
      Well. You know. Libre as in beer.
    • Re:FLOSS? (Score:5, Informative)

      by perlionex ( 703104 ) * <joseph@g a n f a m i l y . com> on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @03:09AM (#17643114) Homepage
      The Wikipedia article on "FLOSS" [wikipedia.org] states:

      "Libre software" was first used publicly in 2000, by the European Commission... The word "libre", borrowed from the Spanish and French languages, does not have the freedom/cost ambiguity problem that "free" does.

      "FLOSS" was used in 2001 as a project acronym by Rishab Aiyer Ghosh as an acronym for Free/Libre/Open-Source Software. Later that year, the European Commission (EC) used the phrase when they funded a study on the topic.

      Note that Rishab Aiyer Ghosh is the same author of this academic paper.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by arpy ( 587497 )
        Maybe tag with !dental to avoid confusion.
    • by mwvdlee ( 775178 )
      Actually, going from the acronym OS to OSS was a smart move, considering we already had an OS acronym which would clash with an OS-posterchild OS.
    • First there was free software, and all was well.

      Then some people noted that free software were easily confused with gratis software (freeware) that preserved none of the freedoms we care about, and they invented the Open Source tag.

      Microsoft started to note that some potential customers would choose solution from none of their known competitors, and started to investigate what this was all about in the "Halloween" papers. They invented the OSS acronym to describe this new alternative.

      Finally EU got involve
    • > Since when did Libre get added? Is this another lame attempt at a cute acronym? At one time it was open source, then the acronym weenies attacked and we had OSS. The GNU zealots came along and insisted that we beat the definition of "free" into the ground, thus FOSS was born. Libre? Idiotic.

      OSS -> FOSS -> FLOSS. If you project this trend 20 years into the future, you'll find a great deal of lost productivity just from the time people spend typing the name of it!
    • "At one time it was open source, then the acronym weenies attacked and we had OSS. The GNU zealots came along and insisted that we beat the definition of "free" into the ground, thus FOSS was born. Libre? Idiotic."

      Actually, at one time it was Free Software. Then some people came along and called it open source for marketing reasons....

      all the best,

      drew
  • The report starts with a four page executive summary, which is worth a read. Seems to include a few nice conclusions. I'd have to read the full report to assess credibility of course but I guess for most people here the executive summary should provide some nice new ammunition.
  • Document Properties (Score:4, Interesting)

    by OhneWorte ( 956071 ) on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @03:33AM (#17643218)
    Well, if you look at the document properties what do you find? It was created with PScript.dll under Windows.
    I hope they have learned their lesson from their study themselves... :-/

    Ohne Worte
    • Phew, I was just wondering what tool could produce such a hideous typesetting. At least now I know that it's a program running under Windows. :)

      I wouldn't be surprised if it's OOo Writer or MS Word. Is there any other tool out there which matches the output quality of LaTeX?

  • Funding sources (Score:4, Informative)

    by l2718 ( 514756 ) on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @03:37AM (#17643240)
    Based on project homepage [flossworld.org], especially the list of parnters [flossworld.org], it seems that this study was mostly financed by the EU. The secondary sources include interested parties (an association of Indian IT companies, Mitsubishi) and non-interested ones (e.g. the Soros foundation). This leads me to trust the study more than ones funded by Redhat and Microsoft.
  • To floss daily, keep those teeth healthy.
  • by Jeff_Kaplan_88 ( 915073 ) on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @03:46AM (#17643292)
    Reading stats on open source makes me wonder whether there is some equivalent to Moore's Law that applies to expansion of the open source code base.
    • by h4rm0ny ( 722443 )

      If Something A is better than Something B, and the only barrier to Something A's adoption is its minority status, then when it reaches a level of adoption that this no longer matters as much, you're going to see one HELL of a tipping point!
  • by PHPfanboy ( 841183 ) on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @03:54AM (#17643358)
    If you're on the commercial side of an open source company, it is imperative you read this report.

    This report answers bucketloads of questions about where to approach the market and how to do so. It also provides clear impartial metrics which you can present to decision makers and strategy people at your customers. Miss this at your peril.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      This report is a must-read for anyone interrested in questions regarding open-source versus closed-source/proprietary.

      For example, there is a complete chapter about user benefites, interoperability, productivity and cost savings. About cost savings a lot has been said on slashdot (and on the "get the facts" advertisments). When the report talks about TCO and the compatibility-problems that result from switching from (for example) MS-Office to Open-Office: (pag. 98)

      The issue of compatibility losses coul

  • FLOSS in Europe is mainly about leaches. Here in the Netherlands for example the government has subsidized various FLOSS studies and initiatives..GOOD you might think. But then you look a little furhter. First, what you see is they never pour money into the open source projects themselves, so to all you code monkeys, tough luck, but thanks for all the fish. No they are pouring it into Commities to Determine How Good The Fish Is. You got organisations who pretend to be -the- portal to open source, but it's o
    • by mwvdlee ( 775178 ) on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @04:51AM (#17643594) Homepage
      Actually, I think the Netherlands are funding a national group which is working on the Dutch spellchecker and thesaurus for OpenOffice. They are funding the work that programmers don't do, that's why you're not seeing it.

      As for the need for studies; I'm thankful they are researching before making decissions.
      You seem to assume OSS is always better and think a government should assume the same. What studies like these show is parameters for when moving to OSS is a good idea.

      There are already pretty large scale OSS migrations in the EU, so they are actually using OSS. I wouldn't be surprised if non-development related use of OSS is far greater in governments than in corporations at the moment.
    • From "4 Interesting" to "1 troll". This leaves two possibilities:

      1) It was a good troll attempt - but not good enough; 2) Instead of writing another report on Open Office, these guys are reading Slashdot on tax payer's money and trolling the "opposition" (a FLOSS developer) down.

      You choose.

  • by laplace_man ( 856560 ) on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @04:33AM (#17643522)
    The truth is that every country in EU made their own study on office software. I live in Slovenia and I just found similar study comparing transition of government 11.800 workstations to Open Office. It clearly says NO to open source for 3 years. It's a document dating 14.11.2005. This study has a conclusion that migrating software from MS to Open Office is possible and functionality of both packages are more then enough for government needs. The things that changed their mind and are considered greater risk that brings higher costs over this 3 year period are:

    - retraining people
    - doc-> odf conversion (especially concerned about automatic conversion of documents-especially macros in doc files)
    - and of course very concerned about support (there is no company's supporting Open Office - or they have no real business plans) what they see as the greatest risk migrating to ODF !!

    This is 5 page document giving some numbers WITHOUT ANY EXPLANATIONS where those numbers came from. The only thing I noticed is that they ware waiting what happens in Munich at the time.They clearly know for IDABC initiative for ODF - ISO format. Their strategy is making public tenders to create support Open Office.
    What I'm really concerned about is that there is no plan for gradual adoption of ODF. If there is a serious intent for adopting ODF I'd expect at least .gov sites offering ODF formats as well as .doc and .pdf. THIS IS THE PLACE WHERE REAL TRANSITION SHOULD START AS WELL AS INSTALLING OPEN OFFICE ON GOV COMPUTERS FOR TESTING AND GRADUAL ADOPTION.

    Anyway I see this document as excuse to FLOSS community without any REAL intent to change things in the future.
    This is the real picture of FLOSS support in EU. The point is that country's in EU take this reports as consideration but on the end they make their own conclusions based on MS deals because they can't make or don't want to make a real cost comparison.
    • by Bert64 ( 520050 )
      Sun will support Open Office, as will Novell... I imagine RedHat will provide support for it too in so much as it's part of their linux distribution, as will any other distro maker that provides support.
      On the other hand, support for MS formats is only available from one place, surely this is a bigger risk?
    • by Wylfing ( 144940 )

      - retraining people
      - doc-> odf conversion (especially concerned about automatic conversion of documents-especially macros in doc files)
      - and of course very concerned about support (there is no company's supporting Open Office - or they have no real business plans) what they see as the greatest risk migrating to ODF !!

      Ahem. Surely you knew that these "problems" with OSS are in fact the Holy Triumvirate of Fuddiness? You could time-travel back to 1980 and see IBM naming almost identical "problems" w

  • by giafly ( 926567 ) on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @04:40AM (#17643546)
    Conclusions and Comment [groklaw.net]

    One interesting negative point concerned those people (sometimes found here too) who believe that you only get what you pay for.
    Employees may perceive that their work is under-valued using 'cheap' OSS products.
    • by init100 ( 915886 )

      That might be true. Some people might feel more important if the employer spends a lot of money on software for them. They won't care that this is actually taxpayer money, that they are morally required to put to their most effective use.

      And some people certainly has the "you get what you pay for" attitude towards any software that is distributed free of charge. It has to cost money, preferably a lot, otherwise it cannot be good.

  • Real facts? Real facts?! This Slashdot bias is getting out of hand!

    What about a study with the false facts?!

  • IMO, one of the best sections is "9.4. Scenarios" which starts on page 201. This will be very valuable when trying to explain to politicians why they should oppose software patents and any legislation that penalises the exchange of ideas.
  • by jesterpilot ( 906386 ) on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @06:31AM (#17644112) Homepage
    FTFMS: The existing base of quality FLOSS applications with reasonable quality control and
    distribution would cost firms almost Euro 12 billion to reproduce internally.


    It's surely possible make that many lines of code for 12 billion euro's. But could it provide the same functionality? One of the strengths of FLOSS is the recycling of code. A closed system would need many more lines of code to get the same functionality.
     
    On the other hand, would a closed system build 287 different end-user apps for playing mp3's?
  • Now, I realise that I only have a degree and dropped out of my Phd before completing it (due to intense boredom), but what is "academic-grade" supposed to mean? (Before anyone suggests it, Google [google.co.uk] is being less than helpful...)
  • Page 254 has table with M$ stack costs.

    All I can say is - ZOMG!!!!! That freaking expensive. Especially costs of maintaining install base of M$Office (I expect most used application by bureaucracy organization) - 289€K/year.

    Now I'm slowly getting why the topic of migration is so annoyingly pushed by so many - and everywhere.

  • Business Opportunity (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ajs318 ( 655362 ) <sd_resp2 AT earthshod DOT co DOT uk> on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @08:45AM (#17645066)
    There's a business opportunity out there, migrating users to Open Source, and somebody is set to coin it in.

    "I want to totally own you. I want to hold your data to ransom, and if you don't keep paying me, I will make it unreadable. I want to force you to upgrade your software and your equipment when I say so. I will send my hired goons around when I feel like it, just to make sure you're behaving yourself, and if I so much as suspect you're even thinking of doing anything I don't like, you'll pay" really isn't much of a sales pitch, and the only reason anyone falls for it is they don't know there is an alternative. Well, ignorance is curable.

    Start by recruiting a bunch of school leavers, all of whom must hate Microsoft with a passion; just put "Send CV - NO MS WORD DOCS" on the advertisement. And mean it. You'll need one or two machines running Windows and Office; but these will be on a private network, air-gapped from the Internet, so no need for anti-virus/anti-spyware. Files will be transferred from the Linux machines on this network to the rest of your network by physically transferring hard disk drives. One of your staff must be absolutely fluent in some distribution; and it's best if you have at least one expert from each side of the deb/rpm wall.

    Document conversion isn't the problem you imagine it's going to be. Most of any user's old documents only occasionally ever need to be looked at, maybe reprinted, but probably not edited. So first off, archive all those legacy documents as PostScript files. (Emulating a standard JetDirect print server is as good a way as any of doing this.) You can (and should) gzip or bzip2 the files to save space, since none of the standard Linux file viewers mind about compressed files. In the course of doing this, you will identify those documents which might conceivably need to be edited and can begin prioritising. You will also, in all probability, run into a situation where a newer version of Microsoft software has trouble with a file generated by an older version of Microsoft software. If this happens, milk the sucker.

    Now work on replacing existing Office macros. This will come as a bit of a shock to the Windows power users, but: Many customers don't actually use macros for much, because they simply don't know how to. It's not uncommon to see people cutting and pasting between Word and Excel, or even dictating from a screen to another person at another terminal. And don't just go for straight work-alikes: look at the bigger picture. If data is coming in regularly by e-mail and normally gets handled by some contrived manual process, you want an end-to-end solution, beginning with a procmail recipe, that will do the whole thing automagically. "As good as" is not good enough. You have got to do better.

    Some documents will need to be recreated from scratch by hand in order to render them editable. This should not be overlooked. Slightly less drastic than retyping everything is transferring as plain text, then recreating the formatting -- which doesn't take long if done properly. Don't forget you have the Postscript "reference renderings" to work against.

    If you can get a foot in the door with a business that has recently been raided by FAST (and they don't suspect that the raid had anything to do with you), so much the better. Just convince them you can convert them to 100% FLOSS for half what they'd be expected to pay for licences for the proprietary stuff they're using.
  • Page 257 of TFPDF.

    As we have already said, productivity is a measure of the "speed of working" (the number of documents produced divided by the time spent working). Daily productivity is higher when using OpenOffice.org documents proving at the first sight that OOo users work faster than MSO ones. In Figure 10, the productivity of OOo is somewhat twice as high as the productivity of MSO.

    That's really big blow into M$' face - with all its "studies" of how M$O improves productivity. That's real number

    • by Slithe ( 894946 )
      The problem comes from Excel vs. OOSpreadsheet. I remember that when I had several rows (and a graph) with several thousand datapoints, OO DDRRRAAAGGGED along while Excel handled the datapoints very nicely. I can see that some financial work might require that many data points.
  • Does anyone else see the irony of a report on free/libre/open software being delivered as a pdf?

    (Yes, I know there are plenty of free/libre/open pdf creators, but this report, according to the properties, was created using "Acrobat Elements 7.0 (Windows)").

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