Thursday, January 8, 2009

Vietnam mandates "open source" software

Vietnam became the first country in the world to mandate open-source software on all government servers and computers this week.

Essentially the Vietnamese government has done what many of us would like to do and given Microsoft the shaft.

On January 6, Vietnam's Ministry of Information and Communications issued instructions for all state agencies to be open source compliant by 2011.

The first objective is for all government IT divisions to have 100 percent open source software on servers and desktop machines as well as full training of all government staff with an objective of 50 percent of the staff being proficient by June 3
0, 2009.

There is a further goal for the majority of all state worker in the country of 86 million people with one of the fastest growing economies in the world to be be using Linux operating system, OpenOffice word processing program, Mozilla Thunderbird email program, Mozilla FireFox web browser as well as other examples of open source services by year end.

Vietnam is also home to the open source keyboard converter Unikey.

"Open source" is an approach to software dev
elopment and distribution which is highly democratic, anti-corporate and free. Open source software is free to download, distribute and use, as opposed to the commercial license software which can be very expensive to purchase, upgrade and is usually illegal to share.

The programming code, the collection of text and numbers following a defined programming language which make a piece of software do what it does, is totally public and open to programmers to adapt, change and collaborat
e on. This not only allows for greater innovation and evolution of software, but makes the software more secure to use. Proprietary software is often targeted for viruses and other destructive and dangerous threats. A good example is the Microsoft Explorer web browser, which has had highly publicized security breaches, putting millions of users at risk.

The Vietnamese initiative also calls for the elimination of "cracked" software—programs with their commercial license bypassed—from computer bundles. In much of the developing world, software is pirated because of the excessive cost of proprietary licenses. Open source software is now growing in popularity in lesser-developed countries.

The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela pledged to increase use of open source tools in government agencies a few years ago, and last year introduced a "Bolivarian" desktop computer loaded with Linux open-source operating system.

Vietnam's recent bold move will certainly be a huge boost to the open source movement, increasing exponentially the number of open source users on the globe.

For more information on open source software and movement, visit the Open Source Initiative.

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