Monday, January 15, 2007

Not Ready To Use Open Source?

I was planning to go home when i read this a news from DetikInet saying that the Indonesian government will not be running if they migrate to Open Source right now and decided to write something about it first. It was said by Minister of Communication and Information Technology, Mr. Sofyan Djalil. He noted that there were three reason why :
1. The government's computer needs to be upgraded.
2. Incapable of human resources
3. Driver support for printer

I was laughing when i read this ridiculous reason, because actually we are ready to do that. It's not about technical issues, but about the mentality of the human resources itself. Since the government has also IGOS project and Minister of Research and Technology has said that IGOS is ready to be used, why don't we start using it? It has been developed very well and i don't think all GNU/Linux distribution/application requires high specification for computers (well, some does, but only a few of it) and upgrades can be done partially with the workstation that uses the most critical application comes first. Does an office workstation needs to be upgraded to the state-of-the-art specification just to use GNU/Linux? I don't think so. If they want to use Windows Vista, then it may be correct. Vista does requires high resources. In GNU/Linux, we have plenty of choices about Window Manager. If you don't have too high specification, don't use KDE/GNOME. Use IceWM, Blackbox, FluxBox, XFCE, etc. The same case applies to applications.

Talking about human resources, i think it's about habits. They gets strange feeling when they use Open Source because they never tried that before. When they have started to get a grip on it, everything will come back to normal as before. Let's take an example of the most common application being used in the governments which is office application suite. OpenOffice.org has been proven stable and it's being recommended by many big vendors as it supports for OpenDocument Format (ODF), which has been approved as ISO and IEC International Standard. Munich and Malaysian government has dare to migrate their documents to ODF format, why can't we? How long do we have to wait for standardized national format?

About lack of printer driver in OpenSource, i don't know too much about it, since i never tried to probe printers in my Slackware system, but as far as i know, CUPS project has maintain a lot of drivers for various printers. Buying TurboPrint license is cheaper than having to pay for Windows' license.

If we never start doing things, when do we learn something new? Remember, experience is the best teacher :D

I'm sure there will be a lot of post about this also in the next few days.
Let's just wait and see...

Update (15 January 2007 10:20 AM): Tim Anderson, Information Services Director at the NSW Department of Education and Training (DET) highlighted user retraining as a significant cost. Jonathan Oxer, president of Linux Australia, rather ask to move to Linux platform instead of having re-training for new version of Windows. Cited from ZDNet:
"One of the big costs the DET always faces when changing platform is retraining -- because we have 1.2 million users. Traditionally we try to make the new platform look like the old platform as much as possible.

"Clearly some of the changes to the user interface may well be things that users find attractive. In that case we will have to include the cost of implementation and training as part of the [Vista] rollout".

So, what will happen next when Windows Vista and Microsoft Office 2007 comes out? The prices that we should spend on re-training is very very expensive, because it came out with new features, new interfaces, and new complexity. And when people are being accustomed with that, a new big bang version has been released and another re-training should be conducted. Never ending stories...