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Open Source or MS for .govt.nz? 3 October 2001 Edition
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Our politicians are charged with a heavy responsibility -- spend as little of the taxpayers money as possible to the greatest effect.

Now, when it comes to IT and the Internet, we all know how easy it is to make a wrong decision and blow large wads of money on something that either doesn't do the job or traps you into a vicious and expensive upgrade cycle.

So would it make sense to listen to the cries of those who suggest that the nation's government ought to be steering away from Microsoft products and into the world of open-source software?

At first glance it seems hard to deny that the suggestion has merit.

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After all, Microsoft can't even spell Net (they keep putting a full-stop at the start of the word) and their security record is nothing short of abysmal.

Then there's the issue of price -- as we've seen in recent months, MS are really putting the fiscal squeeze on customers by changing their licensing policies for large buyers.

Just how much is the government giving to Microsoft for the privilege of using its software -- and how much more is it spending on IT staff who must be working 18 hours a day just applying security patches of late?

Surely switching to open-source would save the taxpayer a small fortune, increase the security of our politician's data, and provide that warm fuzzy feeling that giving a monopoly the one-finger salute tends to offer.

Unfortunately it's often not that simple.

There's a little thing called TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) which sometimes drags a gray curtain over the golden shimmer of free software.

Believe it or not, it's quite possible that using open-source software might actually cost more than using Microsoft's shonky wares, even with all its attendant problems.

What I want to know is -- has the government done (or does it plan to,) a cost/benefit analysis to establish whether open-source software is a viable option? And if not, why not?

It's our money and it's about time the government proved that it's using it responsibly by providing the proof that its decision to stick with Microsoft is the right one. There is an open letter to Paul Swain on this site which (as of this morning) carries 85 names and which asks the government to investigate the open-source option. If you support this move -- go check it out.

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So now we have .info top level domains (TLDs) -- did you notice?

There's hardly been a hiss and a roar involved with the launch of sites carrying this new TLD has there?

I tried a few of the .info names that I thought might have been snapped up and put to immediate use -- but nothing. Nobody home at news.info, and business.info certainly doesn't seem ready for the big-time.

One of the few .info sites I've found that point back to New Zealand is 2day.info.

There appear to be a lot of local sites that haven't registered their .info equivalent. Included in the list of those without a .info are: NZHerald, NZoom, SearchNZ.

Xtra.info has already been allocated to a trademark holder from Germany and, strangely enough, NewZealand.info has gone to a Hazim Jameel (no website yet though) from Sheffield who claims to have a trademark granted on 2040-01-02 (go figure!).

Danny de Hek will be pleased to learn that NewZealandNZ.info is still available though :-)

You can check to see if your favourite .info domain name has been allocated by using this page.

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Security Alerts
Microsoft tightens software security (CNet - 16/08/2001t)

Code Red Worm A 'Runaway Success' (7amNews - 20/07/2001)

Solaris bug gives hackers free rein (ZDNet - 22/06/2001)

Microsoft Admits Another 'Serious Vunerability' In IIS 7amNews - 19/06/2001)

Virus Alerts
Tripple-threat Worm Strikes (Aardvark - 19/09/2001)

New worm spreading slowly (CNet - 4/09/2001)

Trojan horse breaks Windows PCs (ZDNet - 24/08/2001)

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