UK Government: Starts The Push For FOSS?

How’s this for an interesting statement from our beloved Government:

The Government considers that in order to deliver its key objectives a programme of positive action is now needed to ensure that there is an effective ‘level playing field’ between open source and proprietary software and to realise the potential contribution open source software can make to wider aims of re–use and open standards. This programme needs to consist both of a more detailed statement of policies and of practical actions by government and its suppliers. The key objectives will be to:

* ensure that the Government adopts open standards and uses these to communicate with the citizens and businesses that have adopted open source solutions
* ensure that open source solutions are considered properly and, where they deliver best value for money (taking into account other advantages, such as re–use and flexibility) are selected for Government business solutions.
* strengthen the skills, experience and capabilities within Government and in its suppliers to use open source to greatest advantage.
* embed an ‘open source’ culture of sharing, re–use and collaborative development across Government and its suppliers, building on the re–use policies and processes already agreed within the CIO Council, and in doing so seek to stimulate innovation, reduce cost and risk, and improve speed to market.
* ensure that there are no procedural barriers to the adoption of open source products within government, paying particular regard to the different business models and supply chain relationships involved.
* ensure that systems integrators and proprietary software suppliers demonstrate the same flexibility and ability to re–use their solutions and products as is inherent in open source.

Whoa! This comes from the Chief Information Office Council. Yes, the Government is so big they can’t have just one CIO like even the biggest Enterprise, they have to have a whole council of them 😉

You can download the whole Action Plan in PDF form from here.

If you write about FOSS and Government, you can use this tag #ukgovOSS to get it picked up and syndicated on a special public FOSS Aggregation page.

Well, I’m quite encouraged. I need to read it more thoroughly but there’s some very encouraging words in this “plan”. 10 Million Downloads in 4 weeks


Early on Sunday morning, the Community passed the ten million downloads mark for the latest version of its software, just four weeks after the launch on October 13th. The week also marked the first time the Annual Conference has been held outside Europe.

And this is only from the OOo servers. This doesn’t include mirrors and installs from distribution packages.

John McCreesh, Marketing Project Lead, explained the importance of the two events. “Since the launch of 3.0, we have had a verifiable record of downloads from central website. We were delighted to hit a million downloads in the first two days. Four weeks later, we have hit ten million, and we are still seeing an amazing 250,000 – 350,000 downloads a day. For a community with no advertising budget, this is an astonishing level of product awareness around the world. Add to this the success of our Beijing Conference, and there can be no doubt that is now genuinely a global phenomenon.”

That is just so brilliant.

Aren’t the UK Government are looking to save some cash… I wonder how much goes to M$ just on MS OfficeTM Licenses each year??? 3.0 immensely, staggeringly popular

Just a quick note really on the release of 3.0 yesterday.

A message on the OOo mailing list from Louis Suarez-Potts says it all:


We must apologize. 3.0 is proving immensely, staggeringly popular. And our site is down as a result. While we fix things, we urge you to be patient and try again later on tonight, tomorrow, this week. It will still be there.

Oh, by popular, we mean it: figure hundreds of thousands of users, mostly Windows users, but also Mac OS X and Linux and Solaris users, all trying to download it all at once…..

Cheers, and thanks for your patience,

Hundreds of thousands of users… That’s really great. Congratulations to everyone who has contributed in whatever way to this release.

If you are still struggling to get to a download, a very fast UK mirror (I just checked it) can be found here:


Alfresco says UK FOSS adoption growing fast

Well, well, well.

I am mightily pleased that it looks like, finally, the UK is waking up to FOSS. According to this press release from the Enterprise Content Management company Alfreso they have seen a rather dramatic swing:

Alfresco Software today announced that despite the global economic downturn, it has witnessed record levels of customer adoption in the UK as businesses rethink their proprietary software strategies, turning to more cost effective and scalable open source alternatives.

They go on to describe some the new customer roll-outs and just what a significant chnage they have witnessed in the recent past [emphasis mine]:

“The world is undergoing serious economic turbulence, but at a time when businesses know they cannot simply terminate IT projects, open source software provides the perfect solution,” explained John Powell, CEO, Alfresco Software.  “By resisting the demands of monopolist proprietary vendors, organizations in both the UK’s public and private sectors are reaping the benefits of creating flexible and scalable infrastructures while lowering their overall IT spend.  Open source powers the internet today and that low cost scalability is coming to UK enterprises. Today the agenda is reducing cost and improving productivity with the resources you have. Alfresco has just recorded its most successful ever quarter and we’re looking forward to continuing that success through 2009.”

That’s great news. I’m really pleased for Alfresco, who release their excellent product under the GPL and have built a solid community behind them. And I’m also even more pleased for the businesses who are seeing the true value that can be obtained from Free Software.

Their competitors, who haven’t yet discovered the value of FOSS, could be getting a very rude awakening over the coming months and years as those that have begin to reap the rewards of massively reduced costs, freedom from vendor lock-in and the upgrade-treadmill the proprietary vendors so love you to run on start to pull away. How much more flexible and agile will a business be when it gets the freedom to decide from whom, and what software products, to purchase or use?

Just perhaps, the times they are a changing…

UK Government Finally Sanctions Open Source! [Updated]


The Inquirer has broken the news that the UK Government, helped by BECTA, has finally approved at least two companies to be official suppliers of Open Source Software into our Education sector.

OPEN SOURCE companies have been granted official permission to supply software to the UK public sector for the first time in British history.

At least two Open Source software suppliers have been awarded places on the £80 million Software for Educational Institutions Framework, making them official suppliers to UK schools and scoring a victory in what has been a long and frustrating battle against favouritism shown to conventional commercial software companies in UK politics and procurement.

One of the suppliers is Sirius IT run by Mark Taylor.

Mark, here’s many congratulations from us at The Open Learning Centre. You have been a fantastic advocate for OSS for many years and this award to supply is thoroughly deserved. We wish your company every success.

Novell are apparently another “named” party to the supplier framework and having been long-time sponsors of the OSS eco-system also deserve congratulations. Now, if only they’d drop the deal-with-the-devil…

Novell didn’t make it; Becta have just announced and released the list of the 12 suppliers. And as Glyn Moody also considers, the “pact with the Devil” in which Novell sold its identity to Microsoft probably means that it isn’t such a bad thing in reality. By way of support, the article I wrote just 6 weeks ago “How to remove Mono from Ubuntu…” was, and remains, the most read piece on the whole blog. And almost all of the 50+ comments are in support of the objective. Clearly there isn’t much appetite for tainited code in FLOSS from the enlightened…

Number 10 and the Creative Commons

Number 10\'s WordPress Website
Number 10’s new website, from our beloved government who are such strong users and supporters of Open Source Software [NOT], is running on WordPress. This isn’t actually big news now. There’s plenty of comment about that on the web via Google.

Well, that’s OK I guess. At last they are starting to grok OSS perhaps, although I’m rather inclined to actually surmise that they [#10] don’t even know what WordPress is. They just bought a website…

Anyway, quite a nice site layout don’t you think? I wonder who designed their site?

Looking at the html source, we see that the stylesheets are in a directory called networker-10/ and many of the images are in a subdirectory called images/.

Firstly, see the bit above where it says ? Usually, in there, that line reads: where the X.X.X is the version of WordPress the site is running.

So they’ve removed changed that then. I wonder if they are trying to conceal the fact they are using WP? Not a very useful trick though is it? Having a directory tree called /wp-content/themes/... is a bit of a giveaway if you ask me.

Now then, if you visit and look at some of the themes they have created, there’s one on there called “Networker”. Here’s the demo page

Let’s look at the top few lines of the html source for this theme:

They look quite similar don’t they? The directory structure is identical and the top-level theme directory is called networker-10. Amazing…

The Networker theme is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License. Which you can read all about here:

I can only assume that Number 10 have requested, and received, permission of the author to remove all traces of this license and attribution from their WordPress site. I have left a “contact us message” at the author’s website to see if this is the case…

[Update] Anthony Baggett, the theme’s author, has just confirmed that No 10 have not requested that the attribution be removed. That’s not playing fair by my book.

[Update 2] Seems like I am not the only one to have noticed this. A bit more digging has thrown up the following sites also commenting on #10’s cock-up. One is also suggesting it cost £100k. Not bad for a ripped off theme running on an Open Source blogging engine… Links below]

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