Bristol Wireless helps the government (maybe..)
It cannot have escaped the notice of anyone in the United Kingdom that, after having slipped our profligate banks billions of pounds to prop them up, the public coffers are rather empty and that consequently central government is looking around for ‘efficiency savings’ and even the Prime Minister has been forced to say the ‘c’ word (i.e. cuts – not what you dirty-minded lot are thinking. Ed.).
Following discussions between your ‘umble scribe and Rich, another senior volunteer, at the weekend, we thought we could help the government make substantial savings on their IT costs (e.g. 60-80% on support, zero licensing costs) if they switched to free and open source software.
As a consequence we sent Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Chancellor Alistair Darling each a copy of Ubuntu 9.04 (so they’ll be able to do one side of Whitehall each? Ed.), along with a covering letter that is reproduced below:
Subject: Savings on public sector IT costs
Dear Prime Minister/Chancellor
It has come to our attention that HM Government is currently experiencing some difficulties with the public finances and is looking for efficiency savings. Bristol Wireless, as a responsible corporate citizen, may be able to assist you here.
Attached to this letter is a CD containing Ubuntu Linux, plus a selection of software (e.g. web browser, email client, Microsoft Office-compatible office suite) that should meet the needs of most users. The CD is a live CD, i.e. the operating system and software can be run from the CD without affecting your existing PC and software, so you can try it before installing.
Please note that Ubuntu and all the software on the CD are free of licensing costs, unlike the proprietary systems and software with which you are more familiar. Besides being free of charge, the software on the CD is also free software, i.e. it gives you the following basic freedoms:
0.The freedom to run the program, for any purpose;
1.The freedom to study how the program works and change it to make it do what you wish;
2.The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbour;
3.The freedom to improve the program, and release your improvements (and modified versions in general) to the public, so that the whole community benefits.
Ubuntu – and Linux in general – will run on desktops, servers and PDAs, etc. and so make an ideal addition to the public sector ICT infrastructure.
Moreover, I understand from a fellow Bristol Wireless member who provides IT contract services to HM Government that support costs far outweigh the costs of licensing. Ubuntu Linux can help you here too: it is extremely reliable, secure and immune to the viruses, spyware and malware that typically afflict proprietary operating systems. Furthermore, OpenLogic has discovered that using free and open source software can result in support costs savings of 60-80% for databases, web and application servers (source: http://www.marketwire.com/press-release/Openlogic-1022552.html).
I hope you will take time to examine the contents of the letter and CD. If you are not interested, perhaps you could leave them on your desk marked for the attention of your successor after the forthcoming election.
Company Secretary & Press Officer
We await their response(s), if any, with interest and will publish them here.
Today we received the following acknowledgement from a Mr R Smith of the Direct Communications Unit at Number 10:
Dear Mr Woods
The Prime Minister has asked me to thank you for your recent letter and enclosure.
As you can imagine, Mr Brown receives thousands of letters each week and regrets he is unable to reply personally to them all.
I have been asked to forward your letter to the Cabinet Office so that they may reply to you direct.
Yours sincerely, etc.
Yep, they can even use it for adding more people’s names to databases!
Thanks for your comment Jules. 🙂
Even if the database and surveillance state becomes more pervasive than it is already, I’d sooner have it running on free/open source software rather than vast amounts of taxpayers’ money being exported to the US West Coast to swell the coffers of American billionaires.
However, according to a piece in The Register today, HM Government is not even following its own limited guidelines on free/open source in respect of IT procurement.
As there’s an election due next year, one can only hope (vain one I know) that the next government will be less bad than the present one.
great post woodsy :O)